Do your coat pockets weigh ten pounds because you can’t bear to leave any newfound rock specimens behind? Perhaps you have an entire drawer filled with rocks from different places you’ve traveled or a collection of crystals and mica that has grown since you were old enough to know not to throw rocks at your little sister or brother. Well, then this is the chapter you have been waiting for! According to a young geologist I know, holding a rock in the palm of your hand is like “holding a piece of time.” While holding this record of time, questions immediately arise, what kind of rock is it, how old is it, and where did it come from? These questions form the basis of the scientific process and by asking them you are following in the footsteps of geologists and earth scientists everywhere. Geology, the study of the origin, structure and history of the earth, is a complicated field and people study it for their entire lifetimes. For our treasure hunting purposes, we will glaze over the science focusing more on how to gather cool and perhaps even valuable rocks and minerals and be able to tell what they are.
The hobby of gathering rocks and minerals is known as rock hounding. Younger rock hounds are sometimes called “pebble pups” but basically you are hounding, like a dog, for rock and mineral specimens worthy of your collection. What is amazing about rock hounding is the incredible variety of colors, textures, and shapes that are created from the earth. That these glittering gems and bold specimens are pushed up through the ground is nothing short of magical. When mining the earth for a rock or a mineral, you are pulling something out of the earth’s dusty chamber that no one else has ever seen or touched. This unearthed treasure could very well be a valuable piece of jewelry. But keep in mind the advice from rock hound, John Allen May, “It is a hobby without parallel…you may become rich but you are more likely to become happy.”