Jan 022011
 
Garnet Augen

So, the project to photograph a rock every day for 2010 has finally come to an successful completion. The original idea, foolishly conceived around a camp fire in a Bedouin encampment on the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco last New Year, became Rock365. It never really was a chore, but there were times around the Dog Days of August that I did wonder if I’d have the energy to finish it. The closer I got to the end, the more paranoid I became about not missing a day. Only once did I forget during daylight hours but my better half’s photographic lights saved the day.

It generally took about half an hour for each photo. The majority of hand specimens were shot using natural daylight, a 100mm macro lens and my Canon 5D camera with up to 30 second exposure time to get a decent depth of field. For cut surfaces I found that smearing hand gel over the surfaces gave a better depth of colour and wasn’t absorbed or evaporate as fast as water did. Some images have had their colours tweaked a bit (like the image above) but I think it works better as an image – it looks like a thin section but actually is just a macro. Images were mostly processed using Aperture. Each image was uploaded to my posterous site, my flickr account and added to my Rock365 google map.

Geotagging the images probably to the most time. Trying to track down mines and quarries was one of the biggest challenges, particularly from specimens from Keele University’s excellent rock and mineral collection which I had to resort to when I ran out of my own specimens. For this I found the resources of Mindat invaluable, with just not only mineral and location information but also occasionally latitude/longitude co-ordinates of the mines. I’ve tried to be a accurate as possible with the locations, but some of them had to be an educated guess. The unknown ones I just put at Keele.

Only twice have I been really stuck, when travelling and had to resort to photographing the stone floors of Gatwick and Casablanca airports with my iPhone. Two days in Birmingham also proved challenging as most of the buildings were brick or concrete/glass. The last ten days, spent on the island of Madeira had to focus on basalt as that is all of which the island is composed.

It helped having mini-themes to concentrate on, such as erratics, staffordshire building stones, mantle rocks and meteorites. This strategy does help you keep ticking over.

I suppose my favorite images have to be the metamorphic and igneous rocks. It was in these areas, along with geophysics, that I specialised in for my geology degree thirty years ago, and they still hold a particular fascination. Note that fossils don’t feature much. I have always maintained that the only good fossil is a strain marker!

Anyway, if you have been following the project, thank you. It has, in retrospect, been fun to do. Yesterday was the first day in over a year that I haven’t taken a single photograph. This was deliberate, to make the break and move on, but it did feel a very strange thing to do. I’ll try and return to ‘proper blogging’ on this site as it has been a bit neglected of late as I have had a lot to do with work and the Rock365 posterous posts took precedence.

Have a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2011 and I’ll leave you with the complete Rock365 google map. Note that there are two ‘pages’ of locations on the map so about half the world coverage is actually on ‘page two’.


View Rock365 in a larger map

Jul 212010
 

In this month’s accretionary wedge David Bressan at History of Geology invites us to contemplate the geoblogosphere. He asks how geology can impact society and real geology, should and can we promote the geoblogosphere and are blogs private business or public affairs, and [are] institutions under-evaluating the possibilities given by this new medium of communication?

Why Blog?

There are probably as many motivations for geoblogging as there are geoblogs. The collective of the geoblogosphere is, of course, no such thing. We just happen to blog on a similar scientific topic. There is, I’m please to say, a good degree of camaraderie among those who geoblog and I’ve virtually met some people that one day I hope to meet in the flesh and share a cold (or warm) beer with. But does the geoblogosphere, what ever that is, need promoting and is it too nebulous to actually be promotable?

I blog for my own amusement. There are no ads on this site and I make no money from blogging. I started because I have always liked playing with shiny new technology and to try to cure myself of a bad case of writer’s block. I have always found it difficult to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and forcing myself to write more I hope(d) will make it an easier process in the future. Since I blog for fun, actually having someone read these ramblings is actually a bonus. I don’t really care if nobody reads this. Ok, I’d be slightly miffed, and one of the first things I do when logging on to wordpress is look at the stats, but I don’t actually think that my little corner (or cupboard under the stairs) of the geoblogosphere actually needs promoting. I don’t blog to impact society or real geology. I blog in hope that someone one day might stumble across one of my musings via a google search and find the contents helpful or interesting. It is ironic that more people read this whimsy than the (rare) scientific ‘real geology’ papers that I write. (At the time of writing I note that my recent post on coal bed methane ranks #8 on a google search of that topic).

Promotion of the Geoblogosphere

There are parts of the geoblogosphere, far more worthy than my humble scribblings, that do need promoting. Public understanding of science is a very good thing. There is a hell of a lot of stupid out there and any well-informed geological post is one small whack with a geological pick at that monolith of general ignorance. A single, apropos geological blog post turning up in an ignoramus’s google search can only be a step forward. In this respect, by lodging itself in google’s indexes, the geoblogosphere promotes itself. I’m not a great one myself for using blog aggregators like Geoblogosphere News or Regator, although this blog is featured in both. I have to say that blog collectives largely pass me by. I’ve only really noticed ScienceBlogs on their recent implosion. Of course a couple of blogs that I regularly read use(d) the platform, but I follow the messengers, not the medium. Would a GeoscienceBlogs blogs collective help promote the geoblogosphere? I doubt it.

The thing that has promoted this blog more than anything else has been RSS feed readers in general and Chris Rowan’s allgeo newsfeed in particular. My readership on the previous incarnation of this blog rocketed when Chris added it to his feed. RSS feeds mean that I, and everyone else, don’t have to trawl through a list of favorite blogs, any new posts will just turn up in my feed. The allgeo feed has also introduced me to a whole host of other blogs that I probably wouldn’t have found myself and interesting topics I would have never picked up a journal to read. RSS feeds also take the pressure off a bit of having to come up with a stream of posts to maintain a readership. It is now easy to take a blogging sabbatical and the articles will just pop into the feed on the author’s return.

On casualty, however, of my RSS feed use is my blogroll. Before RSS I had the incentive to maintain my blogroll as I used it myself to visit my favorite blogs but now that it isn’t necessary. Blogrolls are pain to maintain at the best of times, and at the moment with Pepsigate over at Sb, my blogroll would be highly dynamic. There is also the risk of offending someone by not including them and a comprehensive list will now take up a whole lot of sidebar. I suspect that very few people click through blogroll links and a central compendium like Geoblogosphere News is probably the way to go. Despite this, I do try to spread as much link love as reasonable, which is probably the best form of cross-promotion – along with twitter tweets of shortened links.

Impact on Society and Real Geology

Just because I blog for fun, doesn’t mean that I, or any one else can’t make an impact on society. There are two current geoblog themes that have great potential for impact on society. The first is Dave Petley’s remote monitoring of the dam breach at Attabad, which appears to be the main means by which technical information is getting to the general affected population. The other is Garry Hayes’ crusade to stop lawyers in California allegedly starting a lucrative litigation gravy train by sneaking a defenestration of serpentine’s status as state rock into a bill on compost. I do hope Garry succeeds, but even if he and others don’t they will have contributed to society in increasing public understanding and awareness of geology.

Impact on real geology, whatever that is, is much harder to quantify. I’m a strong believer of the peer review processes but with internet publishing I suspect that the differentiation between blogging and journal articles is going to get blurred over the next few years. Research blogging on journal articles is already potentially impinging on the traditional ‘comment and reply’ of paper journals. Blogging does, however allow the journal article author to expand on a theme, present their information to a non technical audience and interact in a much quicker way than traditionally. The palaeontological community in particular appears to be getting its act together particularly in this respect (see Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings as an example but there are many others).

Private Business or Public Affairs

As previously noted, there are as many motivations for blogging as there are blogs. I have no problem with ‘corporate blogs’ as long as they are clearly labelled. The geoblogosphere is greatly enriched by the likes of geological surveys and societies. The likes of Lee Allison’s Arizona Geology consistently punches above its weight but generally I think that many organisations are missing a trick. Compare the USGS with blogs and podcasts to the blog bereft UK version, the British Geological Survey that is hardly known outside of academia. A well-written and informative blog can only help raise the profile of an organisation and in the days of tightening budgets, it doen’t cost much and a bit of link love from the geoblogosphere goes a long way.

Whither the Geoblogosphere?

So, indeed, whither the geoblogosphere? In general, we are slowly building a compendium of knowledge that courtesy of search engines will, in the long run help in the public understanding of our science and educate the great unwashed. This can only benefit society. But where technology will take us in the next ten years and what will become of the geoblogosphere is probably anybody’s guess.

Jul 202010
 

202 days ago I was on holiday in Morocco, sitting round a fire in a Bedouin encampment in the desert with a group of fellow travellers and we started making new year’s resolutions. I made the extremely rash promise to take a photograph of a rock every day of 2010. I’m starting to regret doing that. I’ve just reached the milestone of the second hundred days. At least I’ve past halfway and it should be down hill from here on in.

It takes about half an hour on average to do this every day. After I’ve found the specimen, photographed it, adjusted it in aperture, there is often the task of trying to find out where the sample came from so that I can geolocate the samples. I have to say that mindat has been invaluable with details not only of the minerals themselves but also a comprehensive catalogue of mines and their locations.

I then e-mail the image and a short description to my posterous blog – it is so much easier than having to do a wordpress post here. I then upload a copy to my flickr account, insert the description and tag it. Finally, I then go to google maps, try as best I can to locate the mine and then update my google map with the description, a link back to the posterous blog post and a thumbnail image from flickr. I then go back to flickr to geolocate the image there.

Here are the second one hundred images (you can find the first one hundred here).

Rock365 : 11 04 2010 : PyromorphiteRock365 : 12 04 2010 : DescloiziteRock365 : 13 04 2010 : AbsiteRock365 : 14 04 2010 : GlauconiteRock365 : 15 04 2010 : Colemanite
Rock365 : 16 04 2010 : TurquoiseRock365 : 17 04 2010 : Mylonitised LimestoneRock365 : 18 04 2010 : Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic AshRock365 : 19 04 2010 : BarytesRock365 : 20 04 2010 : Barytes
Rock365 : 22 04 2010 : CelestineRock365 : 21 04 2010 : Daisy GypsumRock365 : 23 04 2010 : Ruby and EdeniteRock365 : 24 04 2010 : Carboniferous LimestoneRock365 : 25 04 2010 : Faulting
Rock365 : 26 04 2010 : Fault Propagation FoldRock365 : 27 04 2010 : Three ChimneysRock365 : 28 04 2010 : Ridgeway ConglomerateRock365 : 29 04 2010 : IgnimbriteRock365 : 30 04 2010 : Siderite Conglomerate
Rock365 : 01 05 2010 : Cuprite and MalaciteRock365 : 02 05 2010 : Rhodonite and magnetiteRock365 : 03 05 2010 : WolframiteRock365 : 04 05 2010 : Magnetite and PyriteRock365 : 05 05 2010 : Rubellite and Lepidolite
Rock365 : 06 05 2010 : Pyrite and QuartzRock365 : 07 05 2010 : Calcite and MarcasiteRock365 : 08 05 2010 : Fluorite and CalciteRock365 : 09 05 2010 : Tourmaline and QuartzRock365 : 10 05 2010 : Barytes and Dolomite
Rock365 : 11 05 2010 : Quartz on FluoriteRock365 : 12 05 2010 : Fluorite and HeulanditeRock365 : 13 05 2010 : Sphalerite, Fluorite and CalciteRock365 : 14 05 2010 : Specular HaematiteRock365 : 15 05 2010 : Glacial Striations
Rock365 : 16 05 2010 : Glacial TillRock365 : 17 05 2010 : Pyrite on QuartzRock365 : 18 05 2010 : FluoriteRock365 : 19 05 2010 : Aragonite and SulphurRock365 : 20 05 2010 : Malacite
Rock365 : 21 05 2010 : LabradoriteRock365 : 22 05 2010 : HexagoniteRock365 : 23 05 2010 : BronziteRock365 : 24 05 2010 : EclogiteRock365 : 25 05 2010 : Eclogite
Rock365 : 26 05 2010 : EclogiteRock365 : 27 05 2010 : EclogiteRock365 : 28 05 2010 : EclogiteRock365 : 29 05 2010 : EclogiteRock365 : 30 05 2010 : Eclogite
Rock365 : 31 05 2010 : PseudotachyliteRock365 : 01 06 2010 : ProtocataclasiteRock365 : 02 06 2010 : Tectonic brecciaRock365 : 03 06 2010 : CataclasiteRock365 : 04 06 2010 : Mylonite
Rock365: 06 06 2010 : Folded MyloniteRock365 : 07 06 2010 : ProtomyloniteRock365 : 05 06 2010 : Fault in Carboniferous LimestoneRock365 : 08 06 2010 : Folded UltramyloniteRock365 : 09 06 2010 : Fuchsite bearing Mylonite
Rock365 : 10 06 2010 : ProtomyloniteRock365 11 06 2010 : Cataclased MyloniteRock365 : 12 06 2010 : Mylonitised GabbroRock365 : 13 06 2010 : Mylonitic Augen GneissRock365 : 14 06 2010 : Blastomylonite Schist
Rock365 : 15 06 2010 : Calcareous MyloniteRock365 : 16 06 2010 : Mylonite GneissRock365 : 17 06 2010 : Star Wood DolomiteRock365 : 18 06 2010 : Acid Blastomylonite SchistRock365 : 19 06 2010 : Biotite Blastomylonite Schist
Rock365 : 20 11 2010 : Blastomylonitic Psammitic GneissRock361 : 21 06 2010 : Lapilli TuffRock365 : 22 06 2010 : Lithic TuffRock365 : 23 06 2010 : Lithic TuffRock365 : 24 06 2010 : Crystal Lithic Vitric Tuff
Rock365 : 25 06 2010 : Crystal Lithic Lapilli TuffRock365 : 26 06 2010 : Andesitic crystal lithic tuffRock365 : 27 06 2010 : Crystal lithic tuffRock365 : 28 06 2010 : Crystal Lithic Lapilli TuffRock365 : 29 06 2010 : Ash Flow Tuff
Rock365 : 30 06 2010 : Welded tuffRock365 : 01 07 2010 : Native AntinomyDay 183 : 02 07 2010 : SiliconRock365 : 03 07 2010 : Silver OreRock365 : 04 07 2010 : Graphite
Rock365 : 05 07 2010 : Native CopperRock365 : 06 07 2010 : Gold MatrixRock365 : 07 07 2010 : BismuthRock365 : 08 07 2010 : MolybdeniteRock365 : 09 07 2010 : Stibnite
Rock365 : 10 07 2010 : SphaleriteRock365 : 11 07 2010 : Crinoidal LimestoneRock365 : 12 07 2010 : OrpimentRock365 : 13 07 2010 : BismuthiteRock365 : 14 07 2010 : Tetradymite
Rock365 : 15 07 2010 : OrpimentRock365 : 16 07 2010 : Pyrrhotite and HornblendeRock365 : 17 07 2010 : RealgarRock365 : 18 07 2010 : CovelliteRock365 : 19 07 2010 : Sphalerite

The current google map is shown below:

View Rock365 in a larger map

Only 165 days to go …

Apr 102010
 

Some time around last Christmas I made the rash decision to attempt a photographic 365 project – to take a photograph every day of 2010. As a geologist, the natural theme was rocks, mineral and fossils, and so Rock365 was born. Well, I’ve just finished the first 100 days. To be honest I didn’t think that I’d get this far. I’ve pretty much run out of my own samples but fortunately Keele has been teaching geology for sixty years come this summer and I’ve got an excellent teaching collection to fall back on.

I’ve not been putting the images here on this blog (other than in the sidebar widget down on the right) for two reasons. The first is that I thought that they might clutter up this blog and get in the way of the other posts. The second is that by using posterous I can post images via a simple e-mail which might be easier for me when I’m away in the field.

If you haven’t been subscribing to my posterous blog (either directly or via Chris’ allgeo feed) then this is what you have been missing …

Rock365 : 01 01 2010 : AmmonitesRock365 : 02 01 2010 : Sandstone CairnRock365 : 03 01 2010 : PlagiograniteRock365 : 04 01 2010 : BlueschistRock365 : 05 01 2010 : Rhyolite
Rock365 : 06 01 2010 : LarvikiteRock365 : 07 01 2010 : HaematiteRock365 : 08 01 2010 : Chile SaltpeterRock365 : 09 01 2010 : Blue JohnRock365 : 10 01 2010 : Sideritic Conglomerate
Rock365 : 11 01 2011 : SphaleriteRock365 : 12 01 2010 : AmmoniteRock365 : 13 01 2010 : Vesicular BasaltRock365 : 14 01 2010 : Specular HaematiteRock365 : 15 01 2010 : Selenite
Rock365 : 16 01 2010 : Granite ErraticRock365 : 17 01 2010 : Limestone ErraticRock365 : 18 01 2010 : Bunter ErraticRock365 : 19 01 2010 : Granite ErraticRock365 :20 01 2010 : Eryops megacephalus
Rock365 : 21 01 2010 : GalenaRock365 : 22 01 2010 : Native SulphurRock365 : 23 01 2010 : Volcaniclastic SedimentsRock365 : 24 01 2010 : Triassic brecciaRock365 : 25 01 2010 : Kniveden Sandstone
Rock365 : 26 01 2010 : Chatsworth GritRock365 : 27 01 2010 : Chatsworth GritRock365 : 28 01 2010 : Cheddleton SandstoneRock365 : 29 01 2010 : Rough RockRock365 : 30 01 2010 : Lum Edge Sandstone
Rock365 : 31 01 2010 : Cannel CoalRock365 : 01 02 2010 : Minn SandstoneRock 365 : 02 02 2010 : Kidderminster FormationDay 34 : 03 02 2010 : Bromsgrove SandstoneRock365 : 04 02 2010 : Hollington White
Rock365 : 05 02 2010 : Hollington RedRock365 : 06 02 2010 : Extreme GardeningRock365 : 07 02 2010 : Ecton LimestoneRock365 : 08 02 2010 : Milldale LimestoneRock365 : 09 02 2010 : Milldale Limestone (Dark Facies)
Rock365 : 10 02 2010 : Grinshill WhiteRock365 : 11 02 2010 : Grinshill RedRock365 : 12 02 2010 : Red MarbleDay 44 : 13 02 2010 : Gabbro DreikanterRock365 : 14 02 2010 : Nummulitic Limestone
Rock365 : 15 02 2010 : Boulby PotashRock365 : 16 02 2010 : SylviteRock365 : 17 02 2010 : HaliteRock365 : 18 02 2010 : Boulby HaliteRock365 : 19 02 2010 : Billingham Main Anhydrite
Rock365 : 20 02 2010 : Galena, Fluorite, QuartzRock365 : 21 02 2010 : Folded PsammiteRock365 : 22 02 2010 : Boulby PotashRock365 : 23 02 2010 : Triassic EvaporiteRock365 : 24 02 2010 : Halite Hopper Crystals
Rock365 : 25 02 2010 : Haematite and CalciteRock365 : 26 02 2010 : GypsumRock365 : 27 02 2010 : LarvikiteRock365 : 28 02 2010 : Fishing BearRock365 : 01 03 2010 : Grinshill Base Sandstone
Rock365 : 02 03 2010 : Portland LimestoneRock365 : 03 03 2010 : Graded Conglomeratic Cross BedsRock365 : 04 03 2010 : Monks Park LimestoneRock365 : 05 03 2010 : Blue YorkstoneDay 65 : 06 03 2010 : Tormaline
Rock365 : 07 03 2010 : SphaleriteRock365 : 08 03 2010 : Mantle XenolithsRock365 : 09 03 2010 : Caliche ConglomerateRock365 : 10 03 2010 : RhodoniteRock365 : 11 03 2010 : Beryl
Rock365 : 12 03 2010 : SodaliteRock365 : 13 03 2010 : Quartz AreniteRock365 : 14 03 2010 : TafoniRock365 : 15 03 2010 : SerpentineRock365 : 16 03 2010 : Kyanite
Rock365 : 17 03 2010 : ChloriteRock365 : 18 03 2010 : EpidoteRock365 : 19 03 2010 : PrehniteRock365 : 20 03 2010 : Wenlock ReefsRock365 : 21 03 2010 : Wenlock Reefs
Day 81 : 22 03 2010 : HemimorphiteRock365 : 23 03 2010 : Hollington StoneRock365 : 24 03 2010 : TourmalineRock365 : 25 03 2010 : Scolecite on StilbiteRock365 : 26 03 2010 : Harmotome
Rock365 : 27 03 2010 : FavositesRock365 : 28 03 2010 : Bioclastic LimestoneRock365 : 29 03 2010 : LepidoliteRock365 : 30 03 2010 : ZinnwalditeRock365 : 31 03 2010 : Daphnite
Rock365 : 01 04 2010 : PseudolithiteRock365 : 02 04 2010 : HaematiteRock365 : 03 04 2010 : ChrysocollaRock365 : 04 04 2010 : LazuliteRock365 : 05 04 2010 : Apatite
Rock365 : 06 04 2010 : Chatsworth GritRock365 : 07 04 2010 : TalcRock365 : 08 04 2010 : BowstonesRock365 : 09 04 2010 : CampyliteDay 100 : 10 04 2010 : Chatsworth Grit

The images can also be found on flickr or on google maps.


View Rock365 in a larger map

Only 265 days to go …

Aug 292009
 

With now 100 blog posts under my belt now I’m picking up on an idea from Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous who recently tweeted that he had geotagged his blog posts. It makes some kind of sense that blog posts in the geoblogoshere should be geotagged. So, after a couple of hours in google maps here are mine. [Non-location specific, opinion pieces have been tagged with my Keele office]


View Hypo-theses in a larger map


View Hypo-theses in a larger map

Hat-tip to Chris for the idea and thanks to him for adding my new blog URL to his allgeo feed.

You can see Chris’s map here.

You call follow Chris on twitter at @allochthonous and yours truly at @hypocentre.