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Michigan Tech leads group on geoheritage tour along the Keweenaw Fault
by Sarah Blakely

LAC LA BELLE -- Meg North is just one of 19 people from around the Copper Country and even other states spending two days trekking the backwoods of Lac La Belle along the Keweenaw Fault.

“I love where I live, but I don’t necessarily understand everything about it,” said North. “For instance, I never knew that waterfalls and the fault were connected, that there’s a connection there.”

She also happens to be a high school science teacher at Horizons Alternative High School in the CLK school district and is learning about geoheritage, or how the geology of an area influences culture.

Michigan Tech research professor Bill Rose is leading the group and said without the Keweenaw Fault, we wouldn’t have so many waterfalls, rock formations, or the once-booming copper mining industry.

“We need to improve earth science education everywhere so that people understand better how the earth works and so that they can take intelligent positions on things like resources in the earth for energy, global warming,” explained Rose.

He said even though it was once an active fault, it’s not a danger anymore.

“Plate tectonics has shifted and now affects other parts of the earth, and it’s not pushing against this great fault. There is a zone of weakness there,” he said. “It would move if it got pushed, but it isn’t being pushed the way that it was in the past.”

The group mapped out a path along Bęte Gris to look for different lava rock types in the waters as well.

As for North, she said it’s an opportunity to not only learn for her own pleasure, but to have new material to teach to her students in the classroom.

“When we’re out at a waterfall, to be able to explain to them, or give them a broader understanding of the processes is, as a teacher, that’s just what we do,” she said.

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