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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 2016-2017 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: Monday, Sept 26, 2016 7:00 PM

”Thar be Fe & Mn in 'dem dar’ hills!" A mining history and geology of the Cuyuna Iron Range” 
Leif Johnson,  M.Sc., Barr Engineering
Location: University of Minnesota East Bank campus,
Kenneth Keller Hall, 200 Union St. SE, Minneapolis MN 55455
Room 3-210. MAP

The Cuyuna Iron Range, situated underneath the lakes and glacial overburden of Central Minnesota, was once a prolific mining district. It had humble beginnings beginning with its name; "Cuy" after Cuyler Adams, a surveyor, and "Una", his dog. The story goes that magnetic anomalies were noted by Cuyler and low-grade iron ore was discovered by exploration drilling in 1904. Mining followed, starting in 1911 and lasted until 1984. Somewhere in between, peak mining production averaged 2 to 3 million tons a year and Minnesota's worst mining accident occurred.

The geology of the Cuyuna Iron Range is similar, but different, than the more well known Mesabi Iron Range. The amount of manganese in the Cuyuna Iron Range is the main ingredient that differentiates the two. In more modern times, manganese, rather than iron, has been the metal of interest in the Cuyuna. This talk will explore the history of the Cuyuna Iron Range, its geological setting within Minnesota, and recent developments in manganese exploration.

Leif Johnson has been a professional geologist for over 12 years. He started his career in the iron mining business, working in Minnesota, Michigan and eastern Canada. He then moved to the engineering consulting industry, working for Barr Engineering Company for nearly nine years. He has done work with Barr in over 20 states related to geotechnical investigations, mining, and environmental projects. He obtained a B.S. in geology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (Go Bulldogs) and a M.Sc. in geology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Direction to Keller Hall

Summer Fun Activities

Visit our Road Marker web site GSM Road Markers where we have create a geologic summer vacation game called Marker Treasure Hunt visit the site for more details.


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 camaraderie 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.

Upcoming Field Trips

Starting this fall, GSM plans to arrange one or more of weekday tours of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory each semester as member interest dictates.

We are planning to offer a half-day weekend tour of the Wildlife Science Center in Columbus, MN later this year.

Specific information on these upcoming tours and any additional field trips will be posted on this page when it becomes known.

Past Field Trips

Click here for descriptions of previous GSM field trips.



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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