The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Office of Geology is recognizing National Fossil Day on Wednesday, Oct. 13 and Geologic Map Day on Oct. 15.
These national events emphasize the essential work the Office of Geology’s Surface Geology Division does in the areas of research and education.
“MDEQ’s Office of Geology produces important maps and publications that are used daily by all types of Mississippians as well as researchers outside the state. In addition, the staff stays actively engaged with outreach and education explaining the importance of Mississippi’s unique fossils and helping people identify their interesting finds,” said Chris Wells, MDEQ Executive Director.
“Mississippi is world famous for its marine fossils of Late Cretaceous, Late Eocene, and Early Oligocene age," said David Dockery, Director of MDEQ’s Office Geology and the State Geologist. "Scientists from many foreign counties have come to Mississippi to collect and study the state’s fossils including British geologist Charles Lyell who collected Pleistocene fossils at Natchez, Oligocene fossils at Vicksburg, and Eocene fossils at Jackson in 1846.
"We encourage the public to learn more about Mississippi’s fascinating fossil history,” he added.
The Surface Geology Division conducts surface geologic mapping and research into the geology, paleontology, and mineral resources of the state. It produces surface geologic information such as maps, bulletins, and circulars that provide the basic information needed for assessment of the distribution and availability of energy and mineral resources, location of geologic hazards, occurrence and availability of water resources, and the suitability of land for various uses.
Staff from the division are also active with exhibitions at shows, outreach to schools and other groups, and helping the public with fossil and mineral identification through social media and the “Ask a Geologist” feature on the MDEQ website.
“Geology is the basis for the environment, and geologic maps provide the fundamental resource for our understanding of the environment with a three dimensional framework,” said James Starnes, Director of the Surface Geology Division. “In geologic mapping, fossils provide the essential tools for decoding these layers of environment and time. Geology is at its core a multidisciplinary study, and education about our rich geologic history and paleontological resources instills a broad sense of curiosity about the natural world and fosters environmental stewardship.”
National Fossil Day is an annual celebration held to highlight the scientific and educational value of paleontology and the importance of preserving fossils for future generations.
Geologic Map Day focuses the attention of students, teachers, and the general public on the creation, study, uses, and significance of geologic maps for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.