Thursday, May 15, 2008


Photo from Talking Proud.

A meme of sorts has been started: What was your first geology field trip - by Geology News, and What was your first geology tool, by the Lost Geologist.

On the first subject: I took many field trips at very young ages to places like Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Crater Lake, and also traveled across the country at the age of 5 collecting rocks from roadcuts (I may still have a few of those rocks). My first formal geology field trips took place during my third quarter of college (1971) and in the years immediately following. Many of the field trips were short affairs, going to roadcuts to draw the structure, seeking out stream bottoms to find outcrops of mostly Ordovician strata and finding occasional trilobites while doing so, and traveling across the wide, green countryside looking for thrust fault erratics. One trip that stands out particularly in my mind was a trip taken during an Economic Geology class to a kyanite mine. Perhaps this trip stands out because not only was the kyanite fun to collect, it was probably my first tour through a mine and mill. I don't have any pictures from that trip as far as I know. The photo above is a picture of the largest producing kyanite mine in the world at Willis Mountain, Virginia; it is probably the mine we went to on the field trip. More photos of the kyanite mine and the countryside surrounding it can be found at Talking Proud.

The company mining the kyanite, Kyanite Mining Corporation, is the same company that was producing in the 1970's. Their history, more photos, and a bit about how kyanite is now processed can be found through links on their home page.

On the second subject: the first geology tool that I remember thoroughly was my dad's Brunton compass (I probably had a rock hammer and hand lens prior to field camp; those are long gone). I first had use of that compass when I went to field camp in 1973; I kept the Brunton and used it for work for a very long time, into the 1980's, when I was finally given a company compass to use. Sometime after that, I reluctantly returned the old Brunton compass to my dad; he presumably has been using it to carefully measure strikes and dips up and down all of Alaska's many paved roads, and possibly up and down the Alcan. Now, if he will submit a photo of the compass to this blog, I will duly post it. (The posting of that photo might have to wait until I get a new computer; I have only limited means when editing these posts, and adding photos after posting is something I don't think is possible under current operating conditions - no cursor movement!)

UPDATE: Kyanite Mining at Willis Mountain, Virginia - field trip at NOVA Geoblog.

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