I’ve processed some photographs from a recent trip to the Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences on June 4th, 2010. I’ll just string this into a long post of photos and comment on them as I go along.
In these photographs, the legend plate is located underneath each display. Each photo will open to a higher resolution version in a new window. I didn’t rotate these guys, or dress them up all nice ‘n pretty like, so please go easy on me!
Mineralogy is a fascinating sub-discipline of geology. It is technically rigorous with it’s chemistry, yet it still possesses the mystique of medieval alchemy. Identifying minerals using field tests can be a challenging exercise fraught with easy pitfalls. For example, one should avoid using mineral color as the sole identifier. Once long ago, I was handed a sample of halite to identify during a laboratory mineralogy exam. It was a cubic sample [about 4 inches per side] with well-worn faces, edges and corners, and it contained a cloudy azure blue inclusion. Everyone thought I was stumped until I gave this sample a big old lick with my tongue. They were flat-out astonished as I gently placed the sample back into it’s tray. I think that was one of three times I had ever seen Dr. Mumpton smile. Just don’t do a taste test on certain minerals, like orpiment or cinnabar.
So let’s take a look at some colorful minerals of North Carolina…
That’s pretty much it for the picture show. A low tech presentation here; however, when we come across any of these minerals in the field we can use this post as a reference point and discuss what the minerals tell us about the big picture. Once we get into the nitty-gritty of the mineral geochemistry, we can ascertain what types of environments the rocks surrounding these minerals “lived in”. Then we can, for lack of a better phrase, back-engineer what was going on geologically in a particular region in a bulk sense.