Police are trying to track down a man suspected of stealing an estimated $3,000 worth of minerals, meteorites and mammoth teeth from the geology department at Utah State University.

Department head David Liddell said the thief smashed through a basement window of the Geology Building last Saturday night and stole items from several glass cases — leaving behind some blood. Among the items lost — 10 fossils, 25 minerals and an iMac computer and printer.

“These are rocks and minerals which are pretty heavy,” said Liddell. “They would be hard to carry off. But we did lose somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000 worth of specimens.”

Police were able to get a description of the suspect. According to Liddell, a doctorate student saw a thin man about 6 feet 3 inches tall with dark eyes enter the building Saturday night. Police say he was wearing a green and white beanie and had cuts on his face — possibly from breaking through glass.

Liddell says the person responsible likely doesn’t have much expertise in the field of geology. Most of the items stolen were common minerals that could be found along the side of the road, while several valuable items — such as a large mammoth tusk believed to be from the Ice Age — were left behind.



Floods are not the only hazard homeowners have to be concerned about as the melting begins; the risk landslides pose to Summit County homes is steadily increasing as the soil becomes more saturated, according to Richard Giraud, a Senior Geologist with the Utah Geological Survey.

Unlike floods, which can be predicted, monitored and prepared for ahead of time, landslides pose a sudden and random risk with little that can be done to prevent or foresee them. As developments continue to expand into hillsides and weaken soil, more roads and structures are poised to be affected by a landslide.

“We have significant potential to see landslides this spring, there have already been some minor ones near Pinebrook and Chalk Creek Road,” said Kevin Callahan, the Public Service Works Director for Summit County.

One of these recent landslides, which occurred in the Aspen Acres neighborhood near Oakley, pushed a summer cabin off its foundation and knocked out utilities to neighboring homes. The county is anticipating seeing more of such incidents.

“We are very aware of the conditions and observing any changes. If there is lots of water coming out of a hill, that is reason for concern that a landslide could happen there,” said Callahan. “Little else can be done to prevent a landslide, even when an at-risk area is identified.”




There’s good news and bad news with regard to flooding.

The good news is that as of Tuesday morning Rudd Canyon in Farmington seems to have stabilized, and no new mudslides are reported there.

The bad news is that a rock slide has indefinitely closed Farmington Canyon and the mountain is still moving.

Kirk Schmalz, Davis County’s director of public works, said there have been no new reports of slides in Rudd Canyon. He said the Utah Geological Survey inspected the canyon Monday and reported the slides which occurred last week have settled.

However, on Sunday the U.S. Forest Service closed Farmington Canyon after a mudslide hit about a mile past the pavement, just past the first switchback. Large boulders and debris have covered the road.

Forest Service spokesperson Kathy Jo Pollock said at that time, the agency put a 48-hour emergency measure in place, to allow Forest Service engineers to evaluate the stability of the area. But even before the day’s end forest service managers received the go-ahead to close it indefinitely.




Exploring, hill climbing and digging are all popular activities to keep childeren entertained.

Throw in some pretty rocks, reptiles and animals, and you have a can’t-miss adventure.

That combination is exactly what one can find at the Dugway geode beds in Utah’s West Desert.

Geodes are essentially volcanic rock bubbles. Over time, the hollow space inside the bubble fills with water-carrying dissolved minerals that eventually form crystals. Dugway is among the best places in the country to find these unusual rock specimens.

But in spite of the unique nature of the Dugway geode beds, the site doesn’t attract many visitors. About 100 miles west of Lehi, the area is remote and not widely known. There are no gas stations or convenience stores along the route, so visitors should take plenty of water, fuel, food and anything else they might need.

Locating the geodes is simple. Take shovels and look for places where there is evidence of previous digging. The biggest excavations cover hundreds of square feet, and there will be small geodes and broken pieces of larger geodes lying on the surface. Digging can produce unbroken specimens. Most of the geodes will be fist-size or smaller, but it is possible to find some that are much bigger.

Anyone who wants to break open geodes at the site should take a hefty hammer and some safety goggles for eye protection.

Geodes have no real value except as unique and pretty rocks. The crystals inside are usually white or clear but can be found in other colors, such as pink or purple. When cut and polished, they can be quite beautiful. Samples of other unique rocks are also common in the area.