NEWPORT - Winter visitors to the Oregon coast can learn how the coast was formed - and how it is still being formed - in a series of exhibits, lectures and special events at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center in Newport.

"Coastal Hazards" is the focus of displays, exhibits, special events and lectures taking place at the center through March. The HMSC Visitor Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays all winter. Admission is free, although donations are suggested.

The Coastal Hazards activities kick off Saturday, Jan. 29, with a pair of talks by Eugene fossil expert Dr. William Orr, along with an opportunity for visitors to bring in their own fossils and beach finds for identification.

Orr is a University of Oregon professor of oceanography, geology and paleontology, and director of the Thomas Condon State Museum of Fossils in Eugene. He has written 80 articles and collaborated with his wife, Elizabeth, on six books, mainly on the geology of the Northwest.

Beginning at 1 p.m., Orr will talk about how scientists believe Oregon's Coast Range was created, and how that history ties to monster earthquakes still possible today. The lecture, "Oregon's Coast Range Rising to the Occasion," will focus on the geologic forces at work in the Coast Range.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, Orr will discuss "Oregon Fossils and Volcanics: Yin and Yang," a talk about how the high quality and diversity of fossils found in the region may be the result of the volcanic activity over the last 400 million years.

Visitors are invited to bring in fossils and other items they've found on the beach for identification by HMSC marine educators that Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local fossil and rock enthusiasts will also have their collections on display.

Through March, the Visitor Center will feature exhibits and hands-on science activities focused on coastal geology. Displays include photographs of ancient stumps and snags from uplifted trees uncovered during extreme coastal erosion, samples of local rocks and fossils, tsunami hazards maps of the Yaquina and Siletz Bays, and earthquake hazard maps. Films on tsunamis, undersea volcanoes and fossils will be shown regularly in the HMSC auditorium.

For more information call 541-867-0271.

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Hatfield Marine Science Center, 541-867-0271