Paleontology: Fossils, Fossils, Fossils!

Paleontologists are geologists and scientists who specialize in the study of fossils. Fossils help to tell the story of our great Earth. Almost all fossils are found in sedimentary rock such as shale, limestone, and sandstone. A fossil is formed when an animal or plant dies and is quickly buried by sediment before it has time to decay. The hard parts of the animal or plant such as shells, bone and wood are fossilized in the rock formed from the sediment.

Ask-a-Geologist #19: What gives amethyst that pretty purple color?

Lily wrote to us and asked about the mineral amethyst. Specifically, she wants to know what gives amethyst that beautiful purple color. In this video, we talk about why amethyst is purple, its relation to quartz and an interesting fact about how citrine fits into that mineral family.

A Rock Weathering Experiment You Can Do In Your Kitchen!

very day, rocks are subjected to wind, rain and other mechanical processes that cause them to breakdown into smaller pieces and different forms. This process of weathering is part of the rock cycle and causes sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks to break down into smaller sediments and soil-sized particles. You can learn a about rock weathering right in your own kitchen! Try this fun experiment to learn more about the mechanical weathering of rocks and post your results in the comments below.

Rock Layer Folding Experiment

lthough the land you stand on seems like it is firmly in place, it is actually moving. The Earth’s crust is divided up into pieces that are called “plates.” These plates are slowly moving around the Earth. While they are moving they sometimes bump into one another which cause the rocks on the plates to fold and push their way into mountains. All rock layers are originally created horizontally. This is a simple experiment that is great for showing the possible effects when pressure is applied to horizontal rock layers.

The Fizz Test for Limestone & Marble Rocks

Many rocks can look alike. Sometimes telling the difference between a limestone or marble and other rocks such as shale and quartzite can be difficult. One way geologists test the rocks is by performing the acid or “Fizz” test. Calcite is the main component of limestone rocks and its varieties like oolitic limestone, fossiliferous limestone, coquina and marble. The calcite mineral is made of calcium carbonate which reacts with acid. Other varieties of calcium carbonate minerals such as aragonite and dolomite will also fizz during this test.

Growing Salt Crystals is a Fun Geology Experiment for Kids (and adults, too)!

Hey Mini Me Geologists! Try this fun experiment to learn more about growing salt crystals. Did you know that the salt you put on your food is actually a mineral? Salt forms naturally by precipitation or evaporation. In this experiment, you will watch salt crystals form by precipitation because it is just more fun than watching water dry and leave salt behind, although you can try that method, too. Grab an adult to help you with the stove and boiling water but the rest you can do on your own. In nature, salt will precipitate from mineral-rich water in oceans or lakes so you will simulate ocean water to grow your crystals.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Mini Me Geology! We wish you a fun, relaxing weekend.

Ask-a-Geologist Q&A Video #17: Can I Be a Geologist and How Do I Make My Dream Come True?

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.

Ask-a-Geologist Q&A #16: What types of rocks were changed by high temperature and high pressure?

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.

Join Us for Rock Detectives Camp or Throw One Yourself

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.