Winter 2020

How Minnesota was made

Jackie Drazan examines the cliffs near Duluth.
Brett Groehler

“There is a principle in geology called uniformitarianism. It means that the present is the key to the past. Peperites hold that key. They’re created when molten lava comes in contact with wet sediment and creates an interesting texture that looks like salt and pepper. I’m comparing peperites formed recently by volcanoes in Iceland with those that formed nearly 3 billion years ago in northern Minnesota. They’re very similar. They tell us that Minnesota at one time had a lot of volcanoes and water, just like Iceland. To have two sites where the peperites were formed similarly is really exciting.”

--Jackie Drazan, doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Drazan received support through the James R. Frantes Graduate Fellowship and the Harry and Margaret Walker Geological Sciences Research Fund.