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UWRF graduate, professor write Nugget Lake guidebook

September 25, 2009

A UW-River Falls graduate and professor have collaborated to create a guidebook featuring Nugget Lake’s meteorite impact structure.

Geology Professor Bill Cordua worked with Amy Nachbor, a spring 2009 geology graduate, as a senior project. They performed research, tested directions and received help from editors and park staff in creating the guidebook.

“It was an area I’d been doing research on for a number of years,” Cordua said. “A lot of people wanted me to take them out and show them…[and] Amy was looking for a senior project in the fall.”

Nugget Lake Park is the impact site of an asteroid from 450 million years ago, according to the guidebook. Now it is a four mile wide crater that is mostly covered with sediment and growth. Most of the visible evidence of the impact has been slowly covered up and eaten away by erosion, according to the guidebook.

“If you don’t have somebody pointing that out, people would never see it or understand it… most people say it just looks like farmland,” Cordua said.

The guidebook gives a walking and driving tour of the geological features in the park, including stop-by-stop latitude and longitudinal instructions with pictures and maps printed in color.

The specific locations, Nachbor said, were chosen to best show the hiker and actual effects of the meteor.

“The field sites were chosen based on the clarity of the geologic features present, proximity to major trails and, whenever possible, sites were picked that would allow visitors to actu- ally touch the rocks they were learning about,” she said.

The guidebook is a casual tour of the park and avoids using many scientific terms, Cordua said.

“This is for the general public; the family out on a hike or the people interested in the natural history of the earth,” Cordua said. “People can see just about everything walking or a short drive.”

The guidebook explains in detail the importance of the science of geology.

“Geologists are the crime scene investigators of planet Earth. By looking at the rocks and soils around us, geologists begin to put together a picture of what the world we live in looked like thousands, if not millions, of years ago,” accord- ing to the guidebook.

Scott Schoepp, the park superintendent for Pierce County Parks, assisted Cordua and Nachbor in creating the guidebook. “[Schoepp] was really interested in the project and would come out when he knew I was there and ask questions about the project,” Nachbor said. “Quite a few of his questions actually helped me figure out how to present the information about the park’s geology.”

The guidebook has been on sale at the park since this summer. “We’ve sold quite a few this summer,” Schoepp said in a news release.

The guidebook is being sold for ten dollars at the park office, and is currently in its second printing.”The proceeds go to the park,” Cordua said. “Neither Amy or I make a penny off it.”

Nugget Lake Park is located in Plum City, Wisc., off County Road HH.