I'm not mocking this at all—it's vital and enlightened work; it keeps Iowa's water clean—but with the best will in the world it's not exactly dodging lava bombs on Mount Pinatubo or scrabbling over crevasses on the Greenland ice sheet in search of ancient life-bearing quartzes. So we may well imagine the flutter of excitement that swept through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources when in the mid-1980s the world's geological attention focused on Manson and its crater.
Trowbridge Hall in Iowa City is a turn-of-the-century pile of red brick that houses the University of Iowa's Earth Sciences department and—way up in a kind of garret—the geologists of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. No one now can remember quite when, still less why, the state geologists were placed in an academic facility, but you get the impression that the space was conceded grudgingly, for the offices are cramped and low-ceilinged and not very accessible. When being shown the way, you half expect to be taken out onto a roof ledge and helped in through a window.