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Welcome to the Geological Society of Minnesota

The Geological Society of Minnesota is a public-spirited, nonprofit educational organization that has been in operation since 1938. Our ongoing mission has been to promote public interest and supply educational support in the geological sciences. We do this by sponsoring free lectures and labs at the University of Minnesota, conducting statewide and regional field trips, holding classroom presentations for schools, maintaining a media library, publishing relevant information for public distribution, and maintaining and expanding upon a series of geological markers located throughout the state.

GSM's exciting, illustrated Seminars are presented by leading professionals in their fields of Geology or Earth Science. These engaging talks are free and open to the public, and are especially valuable for enthusiastic learners from secondary school students to adults. A question and answer opportunity is always included. Where else can you enjoy an intriguing exchange with a leading scientist or educator? Our novice-friendly labs demonstrate at a comfortable pace the ideas and principles of geology and earth science. They allow an involved, hands-on learning experience for beginners, or a helpful refresher for the seasoned enthusiast. These instructive sessions are also free and open to the public. Where else can you actively practice science, under expert guidance, for free? 


Seminars and Labs

The schedule of seminars and labs for 2015-2016 is now available; click here

The seminars are on Mondays at 7:00 PM on the University of Minnesota campus, except where noted otherwise.


Next Seminar and Spring Banquet: Monday, May 2, 2016


Have Canoe, Will Travel: Geology of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Mark Jirsa, M.Sc., Minnesota Geological Survey

The final meeting of the Geological Society of Minnesota for 2015-2016 is the Spring Banquet at U Garden Restaurant (, 2725 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, (612) 378-1255, near the east bank U of MN campus. This is the same location as the Fall Banquet held in September, 2015. The restaurant is on the north side of University Ave SE, east of 27th Ave SE.  Map  There is a parking lot behind the restaurant.  


The banquet starts at 5:00 PM. No reservation or registration is needed. We recommend the buffet, which is priced at $10.95 + tax & tip. The buffet includes hot tea and water, with other beverages extra. Ordering from the menu at the posted price is also an option. To make payment easy, we encourage everyone to plan to pay using cash. The restaurant does not accept checks.


You may come for just the lecture, skipping the meal if you wish; however we encourage you to enjoy the meal also, as the restaurant appreciates our business in return for hosting this event.  


Following the banquet, starting at 7:00 PM, is our final lecture of the year. As with all GSM lectures, this lecture is free and open to the public.


Have Canoe, Will Travel: Geology of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Mark Jirsa, M.Sc., Minnesota Geological Survey


The bedrock geology of the BWCAW is extremely diverse and incredibly well exposed.  It spans nearly 2 billion years of earth history, and preserves evidence of tectonic origins that range from island arc and rift, to accretionary wedge and extensional basins. This presentation explores that diversity using examples from mapping conducted over a 15-year period supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, Precambrian Research Center, University of Minnesota State Special appropriations, USDA-Superior National Forest, and various programs of the Minnesota Legislature. Bedrock exposures in the BWCAW, even in areas not recently burned, are sufficiently closely spaced to trace individual map units, contacts, and other structures to unravel the complex temporal sequence of geologic events.  This is the only place in Minnesota where this can be done on such a grand scale, making the BWCAW not only a scenic wonderland, but also a geologic one.


Mark Jirsa is a geologic mapper with the Minnesota Geological Survey—a research, outreach, and teaching branch of the University of Minnesota.  He obtained a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin, and an MSc from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (1980).  His mapping and research utilizes the combination of outcrop, petrographic, geochronologic, geophysical, and drilling information to improve and convey the understanding of Minnesota’s ancient bedrock crust.  He is author/coauthor of more than 100 maps and other publications.


Mark’s recent project areas, topics, and activities include:

         Current: project manager and mapper for geologic atlases of St. Louis and Lake Counties

         Geology of Blue Mounds State Park (Sioux Quartzite)

         Lead compiler—State-wide bedrock geologic map and related digital data

         Mapping in the areas of the Cavity Lake, Ham Lake, and Pagami Creek forest fires (BWCAW)

         Mapping “greenstone” terranes of northern Minnesota

         Mapping Mesabi and Gunflint Iron Ranges

         Mapping gneiss terranes in Minnesota River Valley

         Mapping migmatite terranes in NE and north-central Minnesota

         Research on structure and sedimentology of Timiskaming-type successor basin deposits

         Research related to the 1850 million year-old Sudbury meteorite impact

         Research related to ancient soil horizons (paleosols) indicative of paleoclimate

         Review coordinator and content editor for all MGS map products

         Executive board member and 2016 field trip leader—Institute on Lake Superior Geology

         Instructor— Precambrian Research Center (UMD) geologic field camp 2007-2015


Field Trips

During the months of May through October, GSM conducts a series of professionally-guided, statewide and regional field trips. These are one to three day excursions made to points of geologic interest not usually experienced by the casual traveler. They afford a very memorable and satisfying learning experience as there are always plenty of hands-on and question-answering opportunities. A comaraderie with enthusiastic learners and people curious about their natural environment is always a reward in itself. There is a small charge for any shared expense, and a liability waiver must be signed for each participant.

Next field trip:


Speakers for metro area elementary schools are available through the Public Service Committee to help enrich the education of young learners, particularly the 2nd to 4th grade levels.


Membership in the society is open to anyone with an interest in geology. The benefits of membership include:

  • Extensive Media Library - GSM maintains a collection of more than 240 geological DVDs. These are available to the members at lectures or through the mail for a nominal rental fee. Catalog
  • GSM Newsletter - A quarterly publication containing announcements of upcoming activities, interesting and informative articles on the earth sciences, GSM project and activity reports, and general club news and notices. Past issues
  • GSM Directory - An annual book that is a handy information resource, and makes it easy to access your organization.
  • The opportunity to meet others of diverse backgrounds who share an enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity for the natural world around them.
  • The rewarding feeling of supporting a public-spirited, nonprofit organization dedicated to public education.

Membership Information

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