Geology app helps students hunt for fossils, study waterfalls

Mar 19, 2013 by Don Campbell

A new app is making it possible to discover the natural wonders of Ontario all in the palm of your hands.

Called Let's Rock Ontario! the is the brainchild of UTSC geology professor Nick Eyles and two of his undergraduate environmental : Richard Gao and Shane Soohkan. It uses Map technology to pinpoint the exact location of significant geological and sites across Ontario, while Google Street View and Navigation aids bring the sites a click away.

"This has huge educational potential because it brings the outdoors and the natural wonders of Ontario into the classroom through technology," says Eyles.

Field trips to remote sites by bus are becoming prohibitively expensive for schools notes Eyles, but this technology allows students to take a virtual tour for free. In addition to photos and descriptions, the app and website utilize providing a detailed, panoramic view.

"I really like this approach because it frees up information that was only available in a textbook or journal article," says Eyles.

The website and app will correspond with a guidebook Eyles has written, scheduled for release in April. More information about Let's Rock Ontario! can be found at

The app and website currently include more than 370 locations, divided into 11 categories including fossils, waterfalls, rocks and minerals, ice age, earth history, nature, recreation, landscapes, viewpoints, historic events or places and top sites.

While some well-known sites are obvious – Niagara Falls and Killarney Provincial Park are on the list– the real benefit comes in discovering the lesser known gems, such as fossil hunting in Courtice or discovering the Elora Gorge near Fergus.

Existing apps and websites focus on the location of hotels and restaurants close to major tourist sites with very limited information on natural history, says Gao. But Let's Rock Ontario! offers detailed and easy-to-access information on where to discover the natural wonders of the Ontario landscape for free.

"There's no better guide to Ontario's geological and natural history sites than Nick Eyles," says Sookhan of his former professor who has written extensively on Canadian geology and hosted several documentaries on the topic for CBC and TVO.

The trio are encouraging users to send them feedback and offer suggestions of more locations to add to their growing list of sites. Meanwhile, they are looking at developing a virtual field trip function as well as making the app available for iPhone and Blackberry.

Explore further: Radioisotope studies show the continental crust formed 3 billion years ago

Related Stories

Corrosive behavior? There's an app for that

Feb 04, 2013

It may not be as popular as Angry Birds, but the Corrosion iPhone app developed by Engineering student Jason Tam is finding a grateful audience among professional engineers and engineering students.

Butterflies for your phone

Oct 08, 2012

Fluttering onto a smartphone near you soon, a field guide to the butterflies of Northern California, created by UC Davis students.

Augmented reality apps have some work to do

Aug 23, 2011

Imagine if you could wander the streets of a new city and get monuments and shops to reveal detailed information about themselves in a speech balloon. Like in a cartoon.

Google Street View comes to Israel

Apr 22, 2012

(AP) -- After months of discussions with Israeli security officials, Google has launched its popular Street View service in the country's three largest cities.

Recommended for you

ESA image: Northwest Sardinia

Jul 03, 2015

This image over part of the Italian island of Sardinia comes from the very first acquisition by the Sentinel-2A satellite.

Experiments open window on landscape formation

Jul 02, 2015

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

Jul 02, 2015

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.