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.


Geologic Information: The Devil seems to have inspired many geographic place names. According to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 34 geographic features bear the name Devils Kitchen, and three of them are found in Utah. The Devils Kitchen that is the subject of this “GeoSights” article is a relatively small (about 700 feet across) south-facing amphitheater exposing redrock hoodoos at the head of Red Creek in the Wasatch Range, about 14 road miles northeast of the town of Nephi in Juab County.

About 60 to 70 million years ago the rock at Devils Kitchen was gravel, sand, and mud deposited by streams flowing out of a now-long-gone mountain range. Continuing deposition resulted in deep burial which, coupled with deep time, compressed and cemented the sediment, transforming it into rock.

With its red hoodoos, Devils Kitchen looks a bit like a miniature Bryce Canyon. The mineral hematite (iron oxide) creates the red color.

Beginning roughly 17 million years ago, movement of the Wasatch fault slowly uplifted the Wasatch Range, with Devils Kitchen along for the ride. The rise of the Wasatch Range empowered erosion to excavate and expose the rock we see today.



Residents in south-central Utah awoke to an earthquake Wednesday morning.

The University of Utah seismograph center has downgraded the magnitude of the quake to 3.8. It hit at 6:51 a.m. about nine miles southwest of Cedar City, at a depth of about four miles.

The magnitude of the quake was originally said to be 4.1.

Emergency dispatchers say there have been no reports of damage or injury.




A recent exploratory bike ride near St. George reminded me that there are always new jaw- dropping views and intriguing adventures to discover close to home if you’re willing to spend some time studying maps and Google Earth’s virtual globe.

Looking south from popular trails near Green Valley, a massive tilted plateau can be seen rising steadily southward until breaking away to, well, I never could place what exactly lies beyond that horizon.

Maps reveal that this hulking mass does have a name-Blake’s Lambing Grounds-and what lies beyond is an impressive vertical drop of nearly 2,500 feet straight down to the floor of the winding Virgin River Gorge.

I imagined the view from this precipitous brink and plotted out a 13-mile long route of dirt roads that would lead me and my trusty two-wheeled steed there. Turns out, my imagination didn’t give the view justice.

Start the ride in Bloomington, where the western extension of Navajo Drive crosses a cattle guard and turns to dirt. Plenty of space near the flood-control pond allows you to park and unload your bike.

The colorful rocks enveloping the route, including the striped badlands of the Triassic-age Moenkopi Formation, tell a fascinating story of what southwestern Utah was like more than 200 million years ago. Instead of the majestic mountains, iconic plateaus and deep canyons seen today, southwestern Utah was a flat-as-a-pancake coastal plain positioned near the equator on the western edge of the supercontinent Pangea. Sea level would alternately rise, inundating much of Utah with shallow tropical waters, and then fall, placing the shoreline far off to the west.

From the parking area, pedal west on the main graded dirt road, ignoring numerous sidetracks, and wind across a couple of low drainages before dropping into the larger Curly Hollow.

Light-gray Moenkopi siltstone adjacent to the road was deposited by shallow mineral-laden sea water that also left behind an abundance of the mineral gypsum that gives the rock its chalky appearance.


Carole McCalla and Sandy Eldredge

Fossils – remains, traces, or imprints of past plant and animal life – are widely found throughout Utah. Depending on land ownership, some fossils can be collected for personal non-commercial use.

However, vertebrate fossils (see description below) may not be collected on any federal or state lands.

Whether you can keep a fossil or not depends on
1. the type of fossil, and
2. who owns or manages the land where the fossil was found.