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FLC scientists to benefit from El Pomar’s support of new Geosciences, Physics & Engineering Hall

FLC scientists to benefit from El Pomar’s support of new Geosciences, Physics & Engineering Hall

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

El Pomar, a foundation dedicated to promoting the well-being of Colorado’s people, has given $100,000 to Fort Lewis College’s Geosciences, Physics & Engineering (GPE) Hall. The hall will be a game changer for FLC, greatly enhancing the educational and research opportunities for the College and the community.

“The Trustees view Fort Lewis College as an important institution of higher education in Colorado,” says William Hybl, chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation. “We feel the students are some of Colorado's future leaders and are proud to support their education. We look forward to seeing the learning and research that will take place at the new Geosciences, Physics, Engineering building.”

“Thank you to El Pomar for their generosity in supporting Fort Lewis College,” says FLC President Dene Thomas. “The research our geosciences, physics and engineering students produce today is remarkable, but with state-of-the-art facilities to support them, the sky’s the limit for what our students can achieve.”

El Pomar’s funding will support FLC students seeking to unlock the mysteries of the Earth, such as Joseph Mason, a 2016 geology graduate. Joseph’s research was focused on discovering what moved the massive Equity Block near Creede, CO.

The Equity Block is a section of rock that formed after the eruption of several massive volcanoes around 27 million years ago. Over time this block has moved upward about 1,300 feet, which would require an incredible amount of force. While the geologic processes responsible for moving rock and building mountains are known, no one really knows exactly how the Equity Block moved.

“The purpose of my study was to try and figure out how this block could have possibly been uplifted so high,” Joseph explained during his presentation at the FLC Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Symposium in April.

“I was interested in conducting my own primary research that would have some kind of contribution to our geologic knowledge base.”

Two hypothesizes exist to explain the Equity Block’s movement. First, a normal fault, two plates of rock moving against one another, could have been responsible. Second, a shallow body of magma could have existed underneath the Equity Block and moved the rock as it expanded.

To see the surprising findings from Joseph’s research, you can watch his Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Symposium presentation on YouTube by clicking here.

To underscore the kind of scientists the FLC Department of Geosciences is producing, Joseph was one of two FLC students selected for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)/U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cooperative Summer Field Training Program. He’ll be conducting research into tectonic geomorphology and seismic hazard in northern California. 

With the support from people and organizations like El Pomar, professors in the FLC Department of Geosciences will have access to better facilities and equipment to teach their students. In turn, those students, like Joseph, will be able to utilize those new facilities to continue the research that is helping us better understand our world.

For more information on El Pomar, visit www.elpomar.org. To see the progress on the Geosciences, Physics & Engineering Hall live, visit www.fortlewis.edu/GPE

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