Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rock collecting for beginners

Are you the outdoors type? Well, if you’re thinking of starting a rock collection, you have to be! Of course you can get rocks from different sources, but the most exciting way of actually obtaining new additions to your collection is to in fact get your tools and digging out the rock yourself.

If you’re just getting started, here are a few things to take into account for your first steps as a rock collector.
The tools of the trade
There’s more to rock collecting than just carrying them around in your pockets when you run into them. But then again, I bet you already know that…You need some basic and pretty accessible tools to get started.
·         Geologist’s hammer: You can get one online, a hardware store or scientific supply store. They usually have a dual-head. One blunt end and a versatile end that has a pick/chisel style. The hammer is used to break off rock or to accommodate them to a smaller size, trimming them down.
·    Lens: it can be a simple magnifying glass and you can get one online, a jewelry store, a scientific supply shop, among other places. It is recommended to get a six to ten power, and it can be optically uncorrected. Although, if you are contemplating on collecting on a larger and deeper scale, you might want to get an optically corrected lens. This instrument will help you identify mineral grains.
·         Knapsack: You will need something to carry the rocks you collect in your trips, along with the tools, a journal for field notes and a pocket knife.
·    Sledge hammer: some trips might require the use of larger tools. A sledge hammer will be necessary for breaking larger and harder ledges of rocks.
·         Dilute hydrochloric acid: this will be helpful for identifying dolomite and limestone.
A rock house
Now you know the tools that you need and after you go on your first rock-gathering trip, you will need a more permanent spot to keep your specimens.
This is not a difficult thing to do since rocks are tough in nature and don’t really need special treatment. Collectors usually use some sort of box: cardboard, egg cartons (for smaller rocks), among other options.   
What’s your name?
Even if (when!) you become a rock collecting expert, recognizing the specimens won’t be easy to do. That’s why you need a concrete labeling system in order to not get them mixed up.
A good way to do this is to paint a small portion of the rock and write a number. Later, on a different media (computer, notebook, spreadsheet) record the rock name, your name, the date of the collecting, the site, the geologic age and formation and everything you consider you need to document for the collection.
It’s best to label everything, even those rocks that are extra. You can use them for trading with other collectors, and having them correctly labeled will help you find them faster.

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