Rock Collecting

Fun Right Under Your Feet- Rock Collecting

Collecting rocks and minerals can be a wonderful way to appreciate the wonders of our earth.
Rocks are available for free almost anywhere and can be transported without worrying about damage to them.
They exist in a myriad of colors, textures, and lusters. But before you begin a collection, there are basic things you need to know about rocks and their origins.

Rocks came from the earth’s solid crust as it broke into ever smaller pieces, worn down by water, wind, freezing temperatures, and massive heat and pressure. Sometimes they were moved around by glaciers during the ice age, so are far from where they first broke off a larger rock. Minerals are the more pure forms, made from the elements making up the earth, and rocks are combinations of those minerals.
Rocks are further divided into three types according to their origin.

Sedimentary rocks are produced when the heavy soil or rock layers above them cause great pressure which squeezes small particles together, like when you squeeze small pieces of Playdoh together to form one larger piece.
You can often see layers of differing colors in sedimentary rocks and sometimes even fossils of plants and animals that lived long ago.

Igneous rocks are formed in the intense heat at the center of the earth and flow out as lava in volcanoes. They may be glassy like volcanic glass or light and filled with gas holes like pumice.

Metamorphic rocks began as one of the other types but then were changed when heat and pressure melted their particles into a smoother whole, like when crayon shavings are ironed between sheets of wax paper and they flow together.

You can find rocks almost anywhere, but some of the best places are the sides of newly made roads, gullies, rivers, lakes, mountains, and beaches. You may collect a large variety of rocks just for their beauty and interesting qualities, but if you are a serious collector, you will want to identify and classify your rocks.

Qualities used to determine the name of your rock include evalutaing it’s luster (shinyness), hardness, density (heaviness for its size), crystal shapes, cleavage ( shape of broken places), transparency and color. And some rocks have special features like embedded fossils, crystals, or magnetism. Identification charts can be found in books and websites dedicated to rocks and minerals.
And many natural science museums have great collection of local rocks and minerals as well as those from exotic places. You can compare your rocks to those in the display.

Finding rocks can be an adventure, taking you off the beaten path and into areas where nature is seldom visited. But you can find interesting rocks when you’re digging in a garden or walking along a country road. And, although you can’t get a sample, in the city many buildings are constructed of beautiful stones, polished to make them look their best. You could add photographs of the various building stones to your collection. Rock shops and sovenir shops may also sell rocks that aren’t available near your home.

Once you have collected and labeled your rocks, find a good way to display them. You might use a shelf in your bedroom or set up your collection in a suitable box. Your collection will grow as your knowledge and interest grows. And even when you’re not out collecting, you can enjoy looking at the collection you’ve made.

Fun is always just underfoot when you’re a rock collector.