Geology department celebrates Earth Science Week

Taylor Fussman

Focusing on everything from water to the solar system, this year’s Earth Science Week will feature a lecture- oriented experience with the Earth’s elements.

Grand Valley State University has been celebrating the event annually since 2001. Earth Science Week, with the help of the geology department and several guest speakers, works to bring awareness to the role the earth sciences play in the daily lives of billions of people around the world.

The American Geosciences Institute has organized Earth Science Week as a national and international event to increase public understanding and appreciation for the earth sciences and has been occurring worldwide since October 1998.

Last year, 262 people attended the talks held throughout the week.

Peter Riemersma, associate professor of geology at GVSU, has been involved with organizing the events for many years.

This year’s events features a different guest speaker every day through the week of Oct. 12 to Oct. 16.

“I look for interesting lectures about earth science, the earth and the environment,” Riemersma said.

The presenters for this week included Katelynn Braunschneider, a GVSU alum and member of Peerless-Midwest, Inc.; Peter Wampler, professor of geology at GVSU; John Scholtz, director of the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission; Kevin Thaisen, a visiting professor of geology at GVSU and Timothy Fisher, a chair member of the department of environmental science at the University of Toledo.

These presentations covered a variety of topics such as sustainable safe water solutions, the duties of a hydro geologist and creating a greenway on the Grand River.

Today, Kevin Thaisen will present “Revelations of our Solar System: New Knowledge from Recent Missions,” from noon to 1 p.m. in 122 Manitou Hall. On Oct. 16, Timothy Fisher will present “How Coastal Sand Dunes in the Great Lakes Region Fulfill Our Needs” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 1113 of the Kirkhof Center.

“We want to show our geology majors what geologists do and expose Grand Valley students and the community to different topics,” Riemersma said.

Earth Science Week is an opportunity for the GVSU community and student population to broaden their span of knowledge and become more involved with various topics outside of their academic area.

“We all benefit daily from the work of earth scientists and geologists. This week, series of speakers explain the role of a geologist in supplying a Michigan city with water, restoring the Grand River, the role of coastal dunes, the challenges of providing clean water in Haiti and recent discoveries as we explore the solar system,” said Steve Mattox, GVSU professor of geology. “Most of this work goes on quietly, with little public recognition. It celebrates the role science has in meeting our daily needs, improving the environment and exploring new horizons.”

For more information on the Earth Science Week events or the national and international role Earth Science Week plays, visit or