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January 7, 2015

Geology Word of the Week: I is for Ice

Geology Word of the Week: I is for Ice

def. Ice: Water (H2O) in a solid state. When naturally occurring, ice is considered a mineral. There are many forms of ice: lake ice, river ice, sea ice, snow, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and frozen ground (such as permafrost).   If you ask a geologist what he or she considers to be Earth’s most important mineral, you will probably hear many different answers, depending on the person. Some might …

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January 1, 2015

Geology Word of the Week: H is for Hand Lens

Geology Word of the Week: H is for Hand Lens

I’ve decided to bring back the long-lost “Geology Word of the Week” posts in 2015. For those of you who don’t know, for a few years I regularly posted about a geological word every week. These posts included a brief definition (written by me) of the word and then some additional information and pictures. However, starting in 2012 I stopped posting these words regularly. I was quite busy in 2012 because …

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December 16, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: G is for Glacial Erratic

Geology Word of the Week: G is for Glacial Erratic

def. Glacial Erratic: A rock which has been transported and deposited by a glacier and which has a different lithology than the rock upon which it has been deposited. Often, erratic rocks have an angular shape because they were broken off of bedrock by glaciers and have not yet had time to be weathered and rounded by water, wind, and other erosional forces. Glacial erratics can range in size from very …

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December 9, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: F is for Float

Geology Word of the Week: F is for Float

def. Float: Loose pieces of rock that are not connected to an outcrop. If you’re in the field with a geologist, you’re very likely to hear the word “outcrop” and the phrase “in situ“. When describing, identifying, mapping, and understanding rocks, geologists like to see rocks in context. If rocks were alive, you might say that geologists like to observe rocks in their natural habitats. You might say that geologists …

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December 2, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: E is for Eurypterid

Eurypterid fossils on display in the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. Picture courtesy of Tony Martin.

def. Eurypterid: 1. A group of extinct arthropods that were fearsome marine predators of the Paleozoic. There were over 200 different species of eurypterid, and they ranged from very small (less than 20 cm) to very large (greater than 8 feet). Because of their long tail, eurypterids are sometimes called “sea scorpions.” Indeed, they are closely related to today’s scorpions and other arachnids. One species of eurypterid, Eurypterus remipes, is the …

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November 23, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: D is for Drumlin

Geology Word of the Week: D is for Drumlin

def. Drumlin: An elongated hill or ridge with a shape resembling an upside-down spoon or a half-buried egg that was formed out of glacial till– and sometimes other material such as gravel and even bedrock– that was shaped by the movement of a glacier. A drumlin carved in bedrock is usually called a “rock drumlin.” Drumlins have a steeper end and a less-steep, more tapered end. The shape of a …

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November 18, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: C is for Columnar Jointing

Geology Word of the Week: C is for Columnar Jointing

def. Columnar Jointing: A structure that forms in rocks (most commonly in basalt) that consists of columns (mostly commonly hexagonal in shape) that are separated by joints or fractures in the rock that formed when the rock contracted, most often during cooling. Columnar jointing is always a joy to observe in rocks in the field. Stumbling upon perfectly geometric columns of rock can only be described as magical. Even the …

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November 11, 2012

A Second Geologist’s Alphabet

I’m already at the letter B of my third geologist’s alphabet, so I thought I should compile a list of my second geologist’s alphabet. During the last year of my PhD, my weekly words were not so weekly. Thus, I blogged my second geologist’s alphabet over the last year and a half or so. My first geologist’s alphabet can be found here. Here’s my second geologist’s alphabet: A is for …

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Geology Word of the Week: B is for Botryoidal

Geology Word of the Week: B is for Botryoidal

def. Botryoidal: Shaped like a bunch of grapes. The word botryoidal comes from the Greek word “botrus”, which literally means a cluster or bunch of grapes. In geology the word botryoidal is often used to describe a rock texture or mineral habit (appearance). Here are a few pictures of some botyroidal rocks and minerals: ***Thanks to Patrick Donohue for suggesting this week’s word and to Patrick and Lockwood DeWitt for …

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November 4, 2012

Geology Word of the Week: A is for Amygdale

Geology Word of the Week: A is for Amygdale

def. Amygdale (also spelled Amygule): Vesicles, generally in extrusive igneous rocks, that are filled with secondary minerals, most commonly quartz, calcite, chlorite, and zeolite. When a rock contains amygdales, geologists often describe it as an amygdaloidal rock. For example, basalt is often described as amygdaloidal basalt. Here are a few previous, related geology words of the week that may be of interest: V is for Vesicle (and Vug) Z is …

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