This week I am answering a question that I received from two readers, Alliondra and Alexandria. Their questions were so similar that I thought I would answer them together. They want to know:
Can I be a geologist some day and how can I make my dreams of becoming a geologist easier? In this video, I’ll tell you a little secret about how I came to be a geology major in college along with some tips on things you can do to prepare for college and your career.
Well girls, my answer to you is that if I can do it, you can do it too! I will tell you a secret though; I didn’t originally set out to be a geologist. When I went to college I thought that I would be a business major. My freshman year, I took a microeconomics class and a geology class as basic requirements and I hated my economics class and I loved my geology class. Those two classes determined my future.
Based on your emails, I cannot tell how old either of you are but if you are not in college yet, the best things you can do is to learn about different areas of geology. Because geologists can have many, many different types of jobs, you do not have to be an expert in every area to have a long and successful career. You might find that you love environmental geology and dislike petrology or you might love earthquake research or mineralogy and want to stay away from environmental assessments. That is one of the best things about this field is that you can choose your favorite area for your career.
If you are still in a school that has science fairs, I would encourage you choose a different geology topics each year and try to find out what you love the most. If you need ideas, you can always contact me here at Mini Me Geology and I will help you come up with ideas for a project.
If you are in college or heading to college soon, research the different schools where you have some interest and see what their geology departments are like. You will find that each school may have different strengths depending on their professors, research and even their location.
Remember that you can always contact me if you have more specific questions about a geology project or choosing a college program. I hope you girls will let me know how your studies are going and what type of geology you plan to pursue.
Remember to keep your questions coming in through the Dig Into Geology section on our website or email us at email@example.com. We are planning to shoot some Ask-a-Geologist videos on the beach in just a few week. So, send us your beach questions! Also, please comment below and subscribe to our channel so that you get the next installment of ask a geologist. Until next time, rock on everybody.
Do you love clip art? I do…sort of. I know that this might not be a popular stance. However, when it comes to some things, like rock and mineral products; I HATE clip art. I know that a lot of product manufacturers use clip art because it is readily available and “cutesy,” but a real rock or mineral sample is nothing like a blob drawing of a rock with feet and eyes. It drives me crazy that people give kids (even young ones) pictures of nondescript “rocks” and personify them thinking that it will interest kids in science.
Do you know what actually gets kids excited about rocks and mineral? Actual rocks and minerals! If you cannot give them actual samples, then pictures of real rocks. Kids are smart and they don’t need clip art to learn. I do not mind illustrations of geologist processes like the inside of a volcano, but please, please don’t put eyes on the magma.
Cory wrote to us and asked: What rocks are changed by high pressure and high temperature?
Metamorphic rocks are the rocks that change either physically or chemically by heat and pressure. The term metamorphic comes from the Greek words “meta” which means change and “morph” which means form. Metamorphism is a solid state change meaning that the minerals within the rock recrystallize in response to heat, pressure and the chemical reaction with hot fluids without melting the original rock.
Metamorphism happens deep in the earth’s crust. There are many types of metamorphism that geologists talk about but four general types that you might want to know are:
Contact metamorphism which occurs along the edges of cooling magma. The change occurs mostly from heat and circulating waters along the edges of the cooling magma chamber. The existing rocks along the edges of the magma are altered; therefore, this type of metamorphism happens over a small area.
Regional metamorphism occurs over a huge area due to high heat and high pressure. This type metamorphism occurs very deep underground and often along plate boundaries and can also occur from the burial of rock below many layers or rock and sediment. Regional metamorphism often happens over huge areas that are greater 1,000 square miles and can be associated with mountain building.
Cataclastic metamorphism occurs along fault zones from intense pressure. This type of metamorphism involves brittle deformation which is where the rocks break into small pieces.
Hydrothermal metamorphism occurs when hot, mineral rich waters alter the existing rock. Generally this type of metamorphism occurs in areas of low temperature and low pressure.
Remember to keep your questions coming in through the dig into geology section on our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please comment on our video and subscribe to our You Tube channel so that you get the next installment of ask a geologist. Until next time, rock on everybody.
The kids just started their last nine weeks of school which means it is time to think about signing up for summer camp. If you live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area or plan to visit us this summer, we would love to have you join us for our annual Rock Detectives Camp. The camp will be held at the Park West Recreation Building in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, on June 16 through 20, 2014 from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.
Each day of the camp has a different theme.
- Day 1 = Minerals
- Day 2 = Igneous Rocks
- Day 3 = Sedimentary Rocks
- Day 4 = Metamorphic Rocks
- Day 5 = The Rock Cycle
On the first day, the kids receive and decorate a rock box to hold their collection that they assemble during the camp. Each day begins with a puzzle related to the day’s theme then a short lesson about minerals, rocks or the rock cycle. Each day of the camp, the kids receive two mineral or rock samples to identify and keep for their own collection that coincide with the day’s theme. On Rock Cycle day, the campers receive “mystery” samples that may be either minerals or rocks.
Each day, the kids will perform experiments related to mineral and rock formation including growing salt crystals, making and exploding a volcano, making edible metamorphic rocks, panning for crystals and more. During the camp, kids will participate in a Rock Bingo tournament and play Rock Jeopardy. You can sign up for the camp here.
If you do not live in our area but know a group of kids who might love attending Rock Detectives Camp, you can throw one yourself! My entire Rock Detectives Camp plan is available in our Rock Detectives Camp Guide. The guide includes the information you need to teach a week-long camp including, handouts, activity plans, supply lists, suggested rock and mineral samples for each day, the Rock Bingo game cards and call slips and the Rock Jeopardy board, questions and answers, and additional activities for extra time at camp. If you need rock and mineral samples, we give you a code for a discount on anything in our store for your camp. You can view details about the camp guide here.
If you have questions about our camp in June 2014 or about our Rock Detectives Camp Guide, please email me and I’ll be happy to help!
Ellie wrote to us and asked what notes she should take when she finds rocks and minerals. Geologists use fancy notebooks with waterproof paper but a simple notebook and pen will work just fine. Watch this video to find out what notes to take and how to organize your notebook for your collection.
What types of notes do you take?
Remember, if you have questions about geology like Ellie did, please send them to us at the Ask-a-Geologist page on our website or email them to me at email@example.com.
Minerals come in many colors. Some minerals only form in one color, like yellow sulfur, while others can form many different colors like fluorite which can be purple, blue, yellow, white, red and green. The color of a rock depends on the minerals that are present in the crystal structure. These pictures show just a few of the subtle and vibrant colors that minerals form in nature. Which is your favorite?
These samples are pink rhodonite, yellow sulfur, purple amethyst and blue azurite!
Sophia asked: what are the properties of calcite? I’m especially interested in its cleavage directions and fracture pattern.
Calcite is a common mineral but has some unique properties. Calcite is very common and you can find it in most geologic setting around the world. It is the main component of limestone and marble. Calcite will dissolve in an acid which is why many caves form in massive limestone terraines when the mineral dissolves due to acid rain. Here are a few calcite fun facts:
- Made of calcium carbonate,
- Many colors; white, purple, yellow, red, orange, blue, green, brown and clear,
- Very soft, a 3 on Mohs Hardness Scale,
- Luster: Vitreous (Glassy) to Pearly,
- Streak: White,
- Specific Gravity: 2.71 g/cm3,
- Cleavage: Three (3) directions of perfect cleavage means that it will break smoothly along cleavage planes, and forms a rhombohedral shape,
- Fracture: Conchoidal
Not all samples of calcite that you will have that perfect rhombus shape. In the video I show you three samples of calcite. One of the samples is not a perfect rhombus but gives you hints of the cleavage.
Iceland spar calcite is a special version of clear quarterz. Its rhomb shape and clarity give it a unique optical property. When you put a sample of the Iceland Spar calcite over writing or an image it appears doubled through the mineral crystal.
I hope this gives you some fun information and a new appreciation for the mineral calcite. You can find out more about calcite on our website at minimegeology.com.
There are many, many different crystal shapes in the world. In fact, there are too many to list in a simple blog post! Determining the shapes of different minerals can help you uncover their identity. Some of the most common minerals and their shapes are shown in this fun image. The most interesting part about crystal shapes is that minerals can sometimes form more than one shape depending on how it grows or its environment! Do you have any fun minerals with great shape?
Minerals can also form where many crystals form in a group or layer and are attached to one another side by side. This is called a mineral “cluster” or “druze.” Quartz, amethyst and citrine are commonly found in a druze form inside geodes.
What kind of minerals do you have and what shape are they? We’d love to hear from you in the comments and post a picture here or on our Facebook page!