Hall of Planet Earth
If you are coming to the Museum on Sunday, May 26, please use one of the following entrances: 79th Street and Central Park West, subway entrance, or Weston Pavilion (Columbus Avenue entrance). The 81st Street entrance will be closed, but the Hayden Planetarium Space Show will be shown on a normal schedule.
The David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, located in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, displays an outstanding collection of geological specimens from around the world to show how our planet works. The hall is organized around five major questions: How has the Earth evolved? Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains? How do we read rocks? What causes climate and climate change? Why is the Earth habitable?
The hall features 168 rock specimens, many of which can be touched, and 11 full-scale models of classic outcrops chosen to illustrate an important aspect of Earth’s dynamic story. Interactive exhibits let visitors explore geologic time, peer into the planet’s depths, and understand the scientific methods used to study it. The regularly updated Earth Bulletin highlights important topics in Earth science.
Featured specimens come from nearly all corners of the globe and include pure sulfur formed in an Indonesian volcano, a fossil stromatolite from the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, and a rock from New York City’s Central Park. The hall’s oldest specimen is a zircon crystal from Australia that formed about 4.3 billion years ago, only 200 million years after Earth itself.
A nearly 3-billion-year-old banded iron formation from Canada shows that the atmosphere and ocean once had no oxygen. Photosynthetic organisms were making oxygen, but it reacted with the iron dissolved in seawater to form iron oxide minerals on the ocean floor, creating banded iron formations.
The Earthquake Monitoring Station in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth features a recorder showing real-time ground shaking at stations in Alaska, Arizona, and Japan. The stations are part of a network that monitors global seismic activity to provide warnings.
Deep-sea hydrothermal vents may produce chimney-like structures made up of sulfides. Known as black smokers, such structures are common on mid-ocean ridges where volcanic activity heats the crust and causes water to circulate through the hot rocks, which leach sulfur and metals that are discharged into the ocean.