A myriad of minerals, dinosaur fossils, petrified wood, agatized coral and a 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite graced the debut of Santa Fe College’s newest geological collection Tuesday afternoon.
The exhibit includes one of the largest collections of minerals in North Florida and one of the world’s largest collections of agatized coral.
It will be open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In about two weeks, a 14-by-24-foot mural depicting a geographic timeline of the last 540 million years will be added to the exhibit.
“Through this exhibit, we can provide students education outside the classroom and even to the community,” said Edward Bonahue, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SFC.
The college obtained about 80 percent of the collection from the Earth Wonders Geological Museum in Flagler County. To get it, Santa Fe had to present its case to the museum’s board of directors against other competitors in the North Florida area.
Margaret MacDuffie, the president of Earth Wonders Geological Museum, said SFC stood out among the other applicants. The college has a large student population with a significant educational reach.
“Out of all the offers we had, this was the most comprehensive,” MacDuffie said.
Michael Patrick, an SFC natural sciences professor, said he thinks elements on SFC’s campus helped the school win the donation of the exhibit.
“We have a beautiful lobby in front of a planetarium, lots of students and the publicity to educate people,” he said. “We are grateful.”
Patrick said the mural, which Harimandir Khalsa will paint, will be a valuable teaching tool.
“The mural is the icing on the cake,” he said.
The modification of the exhibit is far from done, Patrick said.
Donahue said the exhibit has potential to catch on.
“This is going to snowball the academic community who are very interested in the natural sciences,” he said.
A version of this story ran on page 8 on 9/25/2013 under the headline "SFC debuts new exhibit — with 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite"
Michael Patrick, natural sciences professor at Santa Fe College, explains to attendees that the new geological exhibit is more than the department could have ever expected.