ASC Staff Helps Create "Geo Walk"

July 23, 2012

ASC Staff Helps Create "Geo Walk"

Dale Gnidovec, curator, Orton Geological Museum; and Joan Leonard, coordinator, Biological Sciences Greenhouse, helped create a large scale geological exhibit that shows Ohioans what’s right under their feet. Ribbon-cutting for “the Geological Walk through Time,” or, Geo Walk, a 286-foot-long walkway in a park-like setting, is July 25, the opening day of the Ohio State Fair.

The Geo Walk will be a permanent exhibit in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) area at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Not just another historic exhibit, it gives visitors the opportunity to time-travel--millions of years back in time to “see” Ohio’s geological past.

The walk is meant to be touched, climbed on, and experienced viscerally; it gives its travelers the opportunity to step on, among other things, 360 million-year old sandstone and 318 million year-old hunks of coal.

It may come as a shock to some to learn that what is now squarely in the heartland was, millions of years ago, located 20 degrees south of the equator and that water covered most of the state.

The Ohio limestone that is a prominent component of many of the state’s monuments and public buildings was formed from the remains of seashells from that water.

An exhibit highlight is the world’s largest geological bedrock map that shows all of Ohio’s 88 counties. Visitors can stand on the map, find their home county and discover what’s beneath the surface of their own back yards and under their town’s main streets.

The Geo Walk examines ancient natural materials that have shaped Ohio’s economy, its agricultural output, recreational opportunities, even its fine and practical arts--including the state’s pottery and glass industries.

Visitors will find everything they might want to know as they follow the pathway—through plenty of informational signage throughout and posted URL codes.

”They’ll also learn why no dinosaur fossils have been found in Ohio,” Joan Leonard said.

“During the dinosaur era, Ohio was above sea level and rocks were being eroded by wind and weather.

“With all the erosion going on, there was no way for their bones to become buried so they could turn into fossils,” she said.

“Ohio has lots of other fossils, though, including plenty of trilobites (an extinct, prehistoric marine creature), found in rocks deep under water 470 million years ago when Ohio was about where Australia is today. The trilobite is the state fossil,” Dale Gnidovec said.

Gnidovec knows a thing or two about fossils and has found his share of them. A tireless educator, who gives talks around the state and tours at the museum, he is thrilled about this new exhibit and proud to have had a hand in creating it.

“It’ll appeal to all age groups,” he said, “and that is the important thing.”

The project is the brainchild of former Ohio first-lady, Hope Taft and made possible by a number of individuals and groups, mostly volunteers, who wished to share the state’s amazing geological story with others. It is privately funded through statewide monetary and in-kind donations to the Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden.

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