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Letter: Geological mystery, LBN Parkway cut, solved!

Learned Adair Countian rises to intellectual challenge, cleverly stalks the wily Summer Professor to get answer to 50-million-year-old LBN Parkway geology question, proves ColumbiaMagazine armchair sciencing is easily accurate to within 450 million years, plus or minus.

By Robby Morrison

Having grown up in the Gradyville area, I had pondered that interesting geologic formation earlier in life. As a result of seeing your photo of it on Columbia Magazine weeks back during in my morning browse of important global news sites, I put resolving this so-called 50-milion-year-old puzzle on my list of intellectual challenges.

Unfortunately, I did not study geology in college nor did I have the privilege of either of my college roommates studying geology. But, I have to say that if you discussed geology with your college roommate, your roommate discussions were very different from mine. In fact, despite my best efforts to engage in deep intellectual discussions and hypothetical academic debates with my college roommates, the only conversations remotely related to science, that I recall, were either about the miraculous transformation that results when yeast combines with plant sugars or certain aspects of human anatomy related to the female form. I am sure this comes as a shock to my parents and the parents of my two roommates, all of which currently reside in Adair County and will likely read this. At least we are now too old to have our allowances cut off and at least we all somehow managed to graduate.

Despite lacking the apparent Columbia Magazine prerequisite of 1 roommate hour of college geology, I set off on my knowledge quest. Fortunately, I work very close to a real geology lab where real geologists are known to gather. Unfortunately, college professors are notoriously difficult to track down on campus during summer. So, much like I use to do decades ago when stalking deer and other game in the area of the geologic phenomenon in question, I set up a tree-stand and patiently waited for an unsuspecting geologist to walk into my cross-hairs. To my good fortune, a renowned petroleum geologist recently appeared and I pounced with my printed Columbia Magazine photo in hand.

He quickly identified the formation as a river cut. The area below the somewhat plano-concave line is the result of sediment. However, you could have used a few more hours of roommate geology. Being on the Mississippian Plateau, this formation is probably in limestone from the Mississippian to Ordovician periods more in the 300-500 million year old range, similar to Rock House Bottom at Creelsboro and Mammoth Cave. But don't worry, what is a few hundred million years in geologic time anyway? Just do as I do and blame your academic shortcomings in college on the negative influence of your roommates.

--Robert Morrison, PhD

This story was posted on 2017-07-19 16:11:21
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