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March-April 2010

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Chips from the Quarry: March/April 2010

PHOTO FAVORITES: Although Jeff Scovil travels the world taking thousands of photos of beautiful mineral specimens, only a portion of them ever get published for all of us to enjoy. Thus, four years ago Rocks & Minerals established the annual pictorial in which Scovil shares some of his unpublished favorites along with a bit of text saying what he particularly likes about each. You'll find his choices for 2009 on pages 134–139.

Caption: Robert B. Cook at the surprise reception where the endowed chair was announced.

Caption: Robert B. Cook at the surprise reception where the endowed chair was announced.

HONORED: Robert “Bob” Cook, long-time executive editor of Rocks & Minerals and Connoisseur's Choice columnist, was honored this past fall by having an endowed professorship established in his name. The Robert B. Cook Endowed Professorship is the first of its kind in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University and one of only a few such endowments in the entire university. It was made possible through gifts from alumni and other friends and with matching support from Auburn's central administration. The professorship is designed to support superior geology and geography faculty.

Dr. Cook has distinguished himself at Auburn University from 1972 to the present, first as an assistant professor and ultimately as a full professor. He served as department head from 1984 through 2006 and is currently a professor emeritus. In addition to his exemplary efforts in departmental leadership, he established a reputation for excellence in undergraduate and graduate instruction, research, and service that centers on mineral resources and other facets of economic geology. Notably, despite his retirement in 2007, he continues to contribute to the teaching and research mission of the department.

As readers of Rocks & Minerals will recall, in 2006 Cook received the Dr. Charles A. Salotti Earth Science Education Award from the Seaman Mineral Museum Society at Michigan Technological University for excellence in teaching and for his many contributions to Earth-science publications.

Caption: A diagram of the Trail of Time at the Grand Canyon.

Caption: A diagram of the Trail of Time at the Grand Canyon.

A WALK IN THE PARK: Most of the 5 million annual visitors to the Grand Canyon leave with plenty of photographs of the 2-billion-year-old northern Arizona landmark but with little knowledge of its geologic history. Four university students have changed that. Mike Williams (University of Massachusetts), Steve Semkin (Arizona State), and Karl Karlstrom and Laurie Crossey (University of New Mexico) created a walking trail along the South Rim that teaches visitors about the vastness of geologic time. The nearly 3-mile walk, called the Trail of Time, represents Earth's entire 4.6-billion-year history. About half of the time period is visible in the Grand Canyon's rock formations; the other half of the trail documents the pre-canyon history of life using panels, rock samples, and maps. On some sections of the trail, pipe telescopes are aimed at areas of the canyon to show rocks whose formation corresponds to trail time where the viewer is standing. The trail uses existing paved and accessible walking paths between the Yavapai Observation Station and Grand Canyon Village, giving visitors who never venture down into the canyon a sense of the “canyon experience.” The official opening of the Trail of Time is set for sometime this spring.

Caption: A postcard with the Douglass Houghton cancellation. The reverse side shows the 1960s painting, by Robert Thom, upon which the cancellation was based

Caption: A postcard with the Douglass Houghton cancellation. The reverse side shows the 1960s painting, by Robert Thom, upon which the cancellation was based

POSTMARK UNVEILED: Readers of Tom Rosemeyer's series of articles on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan's Copper Country are well aware of the role Douglass Houghton played in the development of the state's copper mining industry. As Michigan's first state geologist, Houghton conducted a survey of Lake Superior in 1840; his findings, published in 1841, spurred a boom in population and commercial copper mining. To honor the 200th anniversary of his birth, a pictorial postmark cancellation depicting a sketch of Houghton was unveiled on 7 November 2009 in Douglass Houghton Hall at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. U.S. Postal Service employees were kept busy at the event stamping cancellations for the crowd, which included local dignitaries, speakers, guests, and many descendants of Douglass Houghton. The Houghton Post Office continued to provide the cancellation stamp for the following thirty days.

HE DID WHAT? We have used this column to periodically mention ways to get more kids involved in the mineral hobby. In this issue's Who's Who in Mineral Names column, Peter Tarassoff tells how Luiz Menezes began a mineral club for kids. What's noteworthy is that Menezes was only twelve years old at the time, and he started the club at his school in São Paulo, Brazil. Read how Menezes, now a well-respected international mineral dealer, went on to discover seven new minerals in addition to his namesake mineral.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: As with every issue, there are many individuals and groups to thank for supporting the magazine. The Cincinnati Mineral Society and the Mineral Section of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society underwrote color costs for the Connoisseur's Choice column, and donors to the Color Fund made color possible in the other articles. On pages 106–108 a note of thanks is extended to those whose names are listed for their support of Rocks & Minerals in 2009 by volunteering their time and donating to the Color Fund and benefit auctions held in Tucson and Denver as well as those conducted online. Also listed are those events that provided booth space for the sale of subscriptions and back issues of the magazine. All are thanked for their generosity.

M.E.H.

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