Rock collecting is a wonderful hobby. It is interesting, educational, and a great way to spend time outdoors. In addition, families can enjoy rock collecting trips together.
It doesn’t take hundreds of dollars to start rock collecting. The beginner can start with two tools, a geologist’s hammer to break off rock specimens, and a hand lens for identifying minerals. Other helpful supplies are a book for identifying rocks, a bag or other container to hold rocks, a small notebook and pen, a pocket knife, and a first aid kit.
It is important to dress correctly for rock collecting. Sturdy boots protect toes and feet, and work gloves protect hands. Dress comfortably and bring plenty of water and snacks.
The beginner may want to get together with other mineral collectors. Clubs in many areas often sponsor trips and have meetings. Experienced rock collectors enjoy sharing their hobby and helping novices.
Collectors new to the hobby are likely to pick up a lot of rocks. A big bag of rocks can be very heavy. Before leaving the collecting site, look at what has been collected and pick out a few of each kind of rock to bring home.
There are many places people go to collect rocks. Go to Rock Collecting Sites for a good list of collecting locations, news and information. The Roadside Geology books are a great help for rock collectors of all experience levels. There is a book for each state with detailed information as well as maps, cross-sections, and photographs.
Many people find geology maps useful. The United States Geological Survey has a comprehensive collection of maps in its database.
The first step to identify rocks is to recognize the 3 classes of rocks. Igneous rocks are formed from melted rock which solidified as it cooled. The second class, sedimentary, are rocks which have formed weathering of pre-existing minerals and which often appear to have a layered structure. Metamorphic rocks are ones that have changed from one mineral to another by being heated and compressed deep within the earth.
Once the class is identified, observe the color, texture, and see how hard the specimen is. The collector can then use online tables, as well as books to identify the collected rocks.
As rocks start accumulating, the collector may want to create a collection of a particular sort of rock. This can be done by many criteria, including type of rock, color, size, and where the rocks are collected.
Rock collecting is an enjoyable activity for many people. What begins as picking up a few stones along the way can end up becoming a life-long passion.