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May 03 2012

Geology on the Job

Don’t get a chance to do much of anything geological at work. Call center, cell phones, all a matter of fixing what’s wrong, and we haven’t even got any rocks on our part of the property. We used to have one of those old decorative trash containers that looks like concrete with pebbles embedded in, and I would amuse myself during smoke breaks trying to identify bits of rock, but they replaced those with some sleek metal things that may be more aesthetically pleasing to non-geologists, but is dead boring to rock addicts. So, not much chance at geology.

But we’re launching a newsletter, and this led to a little geology on the job. You see, we’re putting folks’ photos in, and our training department had some very cute and clever ones. Well, the editors (hello!) of the newsletter can’t be one-upped by the trainers, now, can they? So I recruited a coworker and friend who’s becoming a photographer. “We must pwn them,” I told her. And she, being of a competitive and artistic spirit, took up arms – otherwise known as a camera. We discussed matters. We decided I must bring the rock hammer to work. So I had the pleasure of swinging a hammer about at work without causing management to call security.

There’s a rock wall just down the parking lot. We decided this would be our field of battle. I went over there on a break earlier, looked it over, thought, “Maybe limestone,” but it was so weathered it could have been anything from basalt to tuff to who knows. Still. Lovely. Amanda and I headed over for our photo shoot, hammer in tow. I’d thought we’d be doing something static, rather like this:

Love my hammer! Photo Credit: Amanda Reese. Hammer credit: George Wiman.

Amanda looked rather bored. She switched the cameras over to burst mode and told me to get hammering. Well, it’s not my wall. But action shots would in fact be awesome, and it’s not like I had to take an actual chunk out of the wall, so why not?

Hammer time. Photo Credit: Amanda Reese.

Got a couple good swings in. Not the kind of swings I’d use were I serious about breaking off a fresh surface, but enough to make it look legit, even though I was pulling the strike.

Hot Hammer Action. Photo Credit: Amanda Reese.

We did this a few times, to ensure getting a decent shot. And although I wasn’t swinging hard, rock fragments still went spraying up. So, this stuff definitely isn’t metamorphic. And I discovered you really shouldn’t wear lipgloss whilst doing geology, because rock fragments get stuck in it. Incidentally, kids, this is why eye protection is key.

At the end of the session, I’d knocked a bit of the weathering off. In case the owners of the wall see this post and become upset: relax. It’s a scratch. See?

A fresh surface. Hammer for scale.

Not even a dent. But it’s enough of a fresh surface to determine what this stone is. Have a look.

Fresh surface macro. Note the difference in color between the fresh and the weathered.

This, my darlings, is why geologists schlep hammers around. You quite often can’t tell what you’re looking at just by looking at a weathered surface. You don’t even know what color it really is.You can’t tell it’s all shiny and pretty much white.

Fresh surface macro. Sparkly!

Looks like calcite to me. Likely limestone? I’d have a better idea if I could’ve dropped some acid, but I’ll stake my admittedly small reputation on limestone or dolomite or, hell, even a dolomitic limestone. For now. I reserve the right to switch to some sort of quartz something-or-other if the evidence begins swinging that way. I wonder whether the owners of that wall will become terribly upset if I sneak over there with a bottle of hydrochloric acid and attempt to make their wall fizzy in the name of science? Heh.

So that was a little bit of all right. Amanda has a whole passel of photos she’s editing overnight, so you may be subjected to more me demonstrating some sweet hammer action by way of demonstrating that I knew her when. She’s going back to school for photography, which is only going to make her more awesome, and will possibly lead to many fruitful collaborations. I’d certainly like to highlight more of her work here and at Rosetta Stones. She’s got a fondness for the outdoors. She takes nifty action shots of geologists at work. And she’s an artist with an eye for beauty and absurdity, who isn’t afraid to make you cry one moment and laugh the next. Expect to see much more of her.

And remember to keep an eye out for geological opportunities where you least expect them. Even at a job that has got nothing to do with geology, you can find the occasional rocky moment. How sweet is that?

3 comments

  1. 1
    aspidoscelis

    I vote for marble.

    (Not that I’d actually know…)

  2. 2
    cope

    Thanks for the action shots. I myself prefer a one-handed approach, the other hand raised to cover my lip gloss face.

    Also, too, I’m a bit surprised you didn’t pick up a small piece of ejecta and do the tooth thing to check hardness. That might have nailed the calcite diagnosis.

    Anyway, my eye is always open for geologic opportunities even though they are sparse living, as I do, in Florida. I did, however, once take my earth/space science classes on a field trip to a supplier of decorative stone.

  3. 3
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    This post contains one of the best geo-puns yet.

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