The State of Idaho is studying an unknown 2 billion years of Earth’s geology

Kendra Murray, assistant professor of geosciences at Idaho State University, left, Dave Pearson, associate professor of geosciences, and Anna Miller, graduate student, inspect a rock outcrop at Pocatello. Idaho State University photo)

There is a 2 billion year old hole in what geologists know about planet Earth.

Two Idaho State University geosciences professors and their students are part of a research team trying to fill this knowledge gap.

You will examine rocks located beneath the Great Unconformity. In scientific terms, an unconformity represents a surface separating the rocks of two different geologic ages. The Great Unconformity exists around the world — and closer to home, it leaves scientists with unanswered questions about how tectonics shaped the Northern Rocky Mountains.

“Here in the northern Rockies, when you put your hand on the Great Unconformity in a place like Teton Canyon, you touch billions of years of missing time — more than 40% of Earth’s history,” said Kendra Murray, assistant professor of geosciences at Idaho State . “For geologists, such rock records correspond to profound gaps in our knowledge of Earth’s history.”

Murray and Idaho State Associate Professor of Geosciences Dave Pearson will collect samples from locations where the Great Unconformity is exposed — along the Idaho side of the Tetons, in Utah’s Uinta Mountains and southwest Montana. Back in the lab, they will grind up the samples so they can examine individual mineral crystals under a high-power microscope. By examining the chemistry of the samples, they hope to determine when rocks were deposited or eroded as the Great Unconformity developed.

Six students from the state of Idaho will participate in the research.

“This project is an amazing opportunity to uncover a part of Earth’s geological history that we don’t know much about,” said Anna Miller, a graduate student in geology from Fishers, Indiana.

Columbia University and Montana State University will also participate in the research, which is funded by an $800,000 grant from the National Science Federation.

The state of Idaho introduces a simulation lab for healthcare professionals

A new lab will allow healthcare students at Idaho State University to learn in a simulated hospital environment.

The Healthcare Professions Simulation Lab includes seven simulated hospital rooms and two clinical rooms designed to simulate a doctor’s office or an emergency center. Students can also view simulations in adjacent control rooms and classrooms.

The lab is designed for students in a variety of fields—such as nursing, respiratory therapy, and EMT programs.

“The interdisciplinary approach is particularly important in the clinical or hospital settings when healthcare providers from different disciplines work together to provide effective and efficient patient care,” said Henry Oh, Chair of the Department of Health Professions, Idaho State College of Technology.

Next door, a second simulation laboratory is aimed at nursing students.

“Given the current shortage of clinical sites, the simulation allows students to receive clinical hours using real clinical scenarios,” said Jennie Brumfield, director of nursing programs at the College of Technology. “By using simulations, our students have the opportunity to gain experiences that they would not otherwise be able to see in the hospital environment.”

BYU-Idaho reports a drop in fall enrollments

Brigham Young University-Idaho reports a nearly 6% drop in fall enrollment.

The Rexburg-based private school reports total enrollment of 24,131, including students in face-to-face classes and on-campus students enrolled online and/or working on internships.

The total last fall was 25,630.

Female students make up a slight majority of the total enrollment at 12,495.

There are now 5,343 married students on campus — accounting for more than a fifth of total enrollment.

Previously, the other two private four-year schools in Idaho reported similar enrollment declines. Northwest Nazarene University saw a 7% decline, while enrollment at the College of Idaho fell 5%.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education policy and education policy. He has over 30 years of journalism experience in Idaho. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television; and “Idaho Matters” on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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