…I would like to say that I have seen an uncounted number of glacial erratics, but I have never seen one that had so many interesting features as this one does. – Charles S. Gwynne (RS 13/8/12)
If you’ve been in the vicinity of Science I, you may have seen an unusual boulder. It stands approximately 6 feet high and is criss-crossed with bands of a lighter rock. It’s what is known as a glacial erratic – “Glacially transported rock whose lithology shows that it could not have been eroded from the local country rock.”1
Charles S. Gwynne was a geology professor at Iowa State from 1927-1970. He used the boulder in his teaching by taking students to the rock regularly as part of class field trips.
According to Gwynne, the boulder was originally located on what became the campus golf course. Various efforts to move the boulder were made over the years, but Gwynne always objected as he “remained strongly committed to the idea that the boulder should be left where the glacier put it.”2
Eventually it was decided that the boulder was at risk from potential vandalism and the inevitable widening of Stange Road. Gwynne gave his unofficial blessing and it was moved to its present location by the geology students.
Interested in seeing the erratic for yourself? You may want to participate in this earthcache about the boulder. See the rest of the Gwynne papers (RS 13/8/12) for more on geology in Iowa and the midwest.