Wednesday, July 05, 2017

After Barring Geologist From Grand Canyon Because He’s A Christian, Park Service Relents


Geologists love rocks. They collect rocks, study rocks, and buy hats that say “I Love Rocks.” I imagine a disproportionate number of geologists have purchased some sort of paraphernalia at the Hard Rock Café—you get the idea. So if you want to start a quarrel with a geologist, you take away his rocks. If you want to crush him, you take away his access to some of the best rocks in the world—the ones in the sizeable hole known as the Grand Canyon. That’s what the U.S. National Park Service officials who oversee the Grand Canyon did. The geologist who had his world rocked: Dr. Andrew Snelling. Snelling has a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney, which is not only one of the most prestigious universities in Australia, but among the most highly ranked in the world. For decades, Snelling has conducted field research on several continents; has won multiple awards for technical excellence; is affiliated with at least eight geological, mineralogical, or other scientific societies; has authored well more than 100 publications; and is a sought-after speaker. In short, his professional resume likely looks far better than yours or mine. Snelling’s work has included three previous research projects within the Grand Canyon, all of which were completed successfully without complaint from any National Park Service official. His latest proposed project, however, firmly wedged park officials between a rock and federal court case. In November 2013, Snelling requested permission to gather a total of 60 half-pound rocks at four locations within the Grand Canyon to study the folding of Paleozoic sedimentary structures at those locations. There was nothing unusual about the application. Park officials have routinely authorized similar requests,..more

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