Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a Geologist Sees - Part 31 [Original Post Date 5/16/10]

OK, maybe it was because I was raised with both cats and dogs. Or there may be other reasons for my eccentricities. That can be discussed at another time and place.

As for Geology, I am one of those strange creatures that dwells within both "Soft-Rock Geology" and "Hard-Rock Geology". And for that reason, I am regarded with some suspicion by the zealots in either of these two camps.

For the normal folks out there, "Soft-Rock Geology" this is not an analysis of the type of music that we like, but rather an informal division of Geology that includes the study of sedimentary rocks, fossils, stratigraphy, geomorphology, weathering and erosion, Earth history as revealed in the sedimentary rocks, petroleum-related issues, and so on.

"Hard-Rock Geology" is the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks, minerals, mineral economics, structural geology, plate tectonics, mass wasting, and so on.

I enjoy all aspects of Geology, thus I have always seen Geology as a buffet, of sorts. This is reflected in my coursework and various jobs. As I enjoy a wide range of Geology, I have had no desire to become an expert at anything, rather a learned student about different geo-disciplines. As an opportunity presents itself, I pick from the Geological Buffet. It might be fossils this time, metamorphic rocks next time, tracing old river terraces another.

It has been my experience that, the more interests one has, the less likely one is to become bored with a situation. This also extends beyond Geology to the hobbies (and other science interests) that we have, in my case, Photography, especially Scientific Photography. Having a wide range of interests, I generally am able to find something to do, if the weather is good while visiting an area. I am not as likely to go "stir crazy" as an igneous or metamorphic petrologist would, if confined to Mississippi or Florida or Kansas.

In other words, I have less difficulty in finding a way to entertain myself, geologically speaking. I used to find river gravels boring, until I started noticing them on hilltops and began to think about "how this came to be". If I happen to see old gravels a half-mile (or more) from a present-day river, that immediately piques my interest.

I used to consider sands to be a tedious subject, until I started looking at them under a microscope, to look beyond the dominant quartz in most samples, to the accessory and trace minerals and what they mean.

If I happen to be in a place where I have already "scoped out" the local geology, I can go back for a more detailed look, just to find something "new". It always helps to have done a little study beforehand, online or by way of various geological publications, whether they be from governmental entities or private organizations.

I just wish I could convey the notion to my teenaged son that - you are only bored if you allow yourself to be. I wish I could engender that fascination with learning that I have come to value. That is one of the most valuable tools I have picked up along the way in my geo-journey. There is almost always something new to see, even when I revisit the same patch of woods for the 10th time.

So, herein this rambling prattle has been my attempt to explain my wide-ranging interests in Geology. An attempt to explain the "Method to my madness".

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