Department of Geosciences

School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Rock Garden Exhibit

About the "Rock Garden"

The rock garden displays 19 large rock specimen. It is located between the Founders and Founders North buildings, and is a focal point on campus.

The 19 large rocks range in weight from about 100 pounds to nearly a ton. There are five sedimentary rocks, six metamorphic rocks, and seven igneous rocks. Twelve of the specimen come from Texas.

The oldest rock, a 3.5 billion-year-old gneiss from Wyoming, is about three-quarters of the age of the Earth! It is a sample of one of the oldest known rocks in the United States.

Another interesting metamorphic rock, a specimen from Wyoming, is a pyrometamorphic shale. The natural burning of buried coal resulted in the conversion of overlying shale into hot magma-like material on the floor of the cavern left from a burning coal seam.

One of the most interesting sedimentary rocks is a large sample of a petroleum-reservoir limestone from near Uvalde, Texas. The lighter hydrocarbons have evaporated, leaving behind an asphaltic tar-like residue in pores and replacing fossil seashells. On very hot days, the asphalt oozes from the pores and forms blisters on the side of the specimen.

Rock Garden History

Originally presented as a gift from incoming program head, Dr. Kent Nielsen, to outgoing program head, Dr. James Carter, in January 1993, the rock garden completed its major "growth spurt" in the summer of 1998.

  • Updated: April 9, 2010