Decorah Crater Interpretation and Tourism Promotion

Underwater Image of Ancient Sea Scorpion



Around 465 million years ago, a football-stadium-sized meteor crashed into the shallow seas covering Iowa, leaving a three-mile-wide basin where Decorah now is. The discovery of the fossilized remains of a 6-foot sea scorpion, Pentecopterus decorahensis, within the now-buried Crater basin made international headlines and shifted scientific understanding of the evolutionary history of aquatic arthropods. Understanding and celebrating the Decorah Crater is an important and growing feature of community pride and self-identification in Decorah and Winneshiek County. 

Northeast Iowa RC&D is partnering with community members and organizations to conduct and support public outreach, school-based education, and tourism-promotion efforts based around the Decorah Crater, the unusual life that inhabited it, and our unique regional geologic history. 

More information about the Decorah Crater can be found at Project partners are listed at the bottom of this page. 


Current Projects

Project partners are currently focused on two initiatives.

Pentecopterus decorahensis Model

Project partners have “brought home” a life-size model of Pentecopterus decorahensis that had been housed at the University of Iowa. The colorful model is on indefinite loan to Luther College, where it will be placed on display for public viewing. In late Fall / early Winter 2022-2023, the model will be temporarily displayed at Impact Coffee in downtown Decorah. 

Around the Crater Tour

Because the Crater is buried deep underground, there are no physical places to visit or easy-to-see evidence. This makes it challenging to understand the story of the Crater and also makes it difficult for the local community to promote the Crater as a reason to come visit Decorah. An “Around the Crater” Tour with markers placed at points in and around the Crater, a brochure/map, and a website will help overcome both of these challenges by providing interpretive and educational information about the Crater and offering numerous opportunities to cross-promote natural resources, outdoor recreation, Luther College, and Decorah’s numerous crater-inspired local businesses.


Support These Projects

As a 501(c)3 organization, Northeast Iowa RC&D can accept and hold tax-deductible donations in support of these projects. Online donations may be submitted using the form below. Checks may be sent to the RC&D Office. Questions may be directed to 

Northeast Iowa RC&D
PO Box 916
Postville, Iowa 52162


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Project Partners






Header Image Credit: A pair of P. decorahensis in their habitat illustrated by Patrick J. Lynch.