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Mt. Baldy rescue compels IUN geological research

IU Northwest scientists at forefront of Indiana Dunes research

In July 2013, Nathan Woessner, then 6, of Sterling, Ill. explored a depression in the sand at Mount Baldy, a favorite tourist spot at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. He suddenly found himself trapped beneath 11 feet of sand, and his rescue riveted the public as much as the implausibility of it baffled scientists.

Erin Argyilan, Ph.D., associate professor of geosciences at Indiana University Northwest, witnessed the frantic struggle to free the boy. She said that, according to everything she knew about geology, this sort of thing just could not happen. But it did, and Argyilan has since devoted countless hours on the dune, taking photos, scrutinizing sediment, and pouring over her knowledge of coastal landscapes in an effort to eventually be able to explain what is a previously unreported geological hazard.

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