Lectures are FREE for museum members — $5.00 for non-members.


MARCH 24TH: Buzzsaws, Scissors, and Blades: Unraveling the evolution of unusual shark dentition in the fossil record. By Jesse Pruitt (Idaho Museum of Natural History)

Through a combination of CT scanning and novel 3D modelling techniques my team and I are piecing together the story of why the strange lineage of sharks known as Eugeniodonids evolved unique sets of teeth never seen before or after in the fossil record.  We’ll work our way through 30 million years of evolution and explore the amazing Buzzsaw mountain sharks of Idaho!

MARCH 25TH: Meteors and Meteorites – History, Mystery, and Magic by Patrick Cavanaugh (IMMG)


APRIL 28TH: A Natural History of Basalt by Terry Maley P.G.

Basalt is one of the most recognizable and common rocks in the Earth’s crust. It originates in the mantle and makes up a 1- to 2-mile-thick layer of pillow lavas and sheeted dikes in the oceanic crust. Most of the seamounts and islands in the ocean basins consist of basalt, including some of the largest volcanoes on Earth. The Large Igneous Provinces, including the Columbia River Basalt, are all composed of basalt. Basalt has a wide range of compositions, textures, distinctive structures and landforms. Most significantly, basalt plays an important role in the origin of rhyolite and granitic rocks.


MAY 12TH:  Putting it back the way we found it: Mine Site Remediation and Restoration by Historian Troy Lambert

We were all taught in kindergarten to put things back where they belonged and when we were done playing with something we were taught to put it back the way we found it. While modern mining is clean and well regulated, it wasn’t always that way. So while we can’t go back in time, we can re-mediate old mine sites and restore the area around it. Who is financially responsible for these actions? How do we go about them? What are the best solutions going forward? This talk will answer these questions and more.


JUNE 9th: Why is it that color? Reason for Color in Minerals. by Terry Panhorst (University of Mississippi, Retired)

Color is one of the first properties noticed about rocks and minerals.  Gemstones are often identified and classified by their color.  Few minerals, however, actually have a characteristic color, and many minerals can occur in a large range of colors.  Visible light, a form of electromagnetic energy, is what our eyes perceive as color, and within our population there is a range in color perception.  The color of any particular mineral is the combinations of light wavelengths not absorbed when white light, which is the combination of all wavelengths, is reflected or transmitted through the mineral.  Examples will be shown where mineral color is determined by the presence of particular elements, the electron charge of those elements, and how atoms are positioned within the crystalline structure.  Variations in color can also be caused by defects in the crystalline structure or by chemical impurities in the mineral.

JUNE 30th: The Asteroid Belt: Delivering Free Extra-Terrestrial Real Estate For Over 4 Billion Years by Steve Brittenham

The asteroid belt is the source for 98% of all meteorites that have hit the Earth. But how did it form, what is it comprised of, and how did parts of it get to our planet? This introductory talk will address these topics and a few more.


JULY 28th: Historical Mining Accidents and Safety by Westin Juarez (Summer Intern from CWI)



SEPTEMBER 8th: Just How Old Is the Earth? by Patrick Cavanaugh

Having an accurate age for the earth is critical to earth Science and our understanding of earth processes. As Lord Kelvin has said,

“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it. When you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.”

This is the story of the quest to know and understand the age of the Earth. This quest has lasted for many hundreds of years and has involved hard-working heroes and powerful villains. Recently we have been able to answer this question. And much of the answer has come, surprisingly, from space.


OCTOBER 13th: Cambrian ‘explosion’ of invertebrates, and Idaho’s bountiful Paleozoic fossil record. by Dr. Peter Isaacson (University of Idaho, Retired)