Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CGS - Candy for Geology Students

Okay, I lied. CGS Mule is actually a store here in Sparks called Complete Geological Supplies (everything but the mule...) But in all seriousness it IS like a candy store for a geology major. You walk through the door, and the first thing that comes to mind is "if I had a million dollars" - I would spend it all there! Forget the casinos downtown, or paying off my mortgage. What fun is that?

Certain "tools" are hard to ask for when people in your family ask what you want for your birthday or for Christmas. Gee Mom, I really want a Brunton - they ONLY cost around $400, or a Garmin eTrek 30 bundle from Cabela's that is ONLY $350. Yeah, that goes over like a fart in church! I am lucky to get a C-Thru 60-scale ruler to use for profile graphs of topographic maps.

My Wish List however did get a little smaller today, because of an unusual lack of textbooks I needed to buy this semester. English had none to buy, got my "Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology" text for lots less through Amazon, and my Geology Mapping Course is optional book (ridiculously priced because it was last printed in 1985 which means people think they can ask you for an arm and a leg)!

So, I ended up with a little money and decided to purchase my own Brunton. I am so excited I could hardly write my English papers tonight. I just wanted to go out and measure strikes and dips. In fact I think this weekend calls for a little practice with the Brunton down at Peavine Fields (which is only a few blocks from my house). I want to become proficient with it because in March the geology majors in Geology 260 are heading to Red Rock to do a three-day mapping project.

Geology majors in their senior year spend 6 weeks out in the field doing a mapping project. Mapping is an incredibly important task for geologists, and allows us to gather information regionally to help decipher the events that created the rock formations. Of course all rock comes from melt, however there are igneous rocks that are either barfed out onto the Earth's surface through volcanism or intrusive (in magma chambers). The Sierra Nevada is a granite batholith of intrusive rock that was once the magma chamber deep in the Earth's crust (about 3-6 km down). The ancestral Sierra eroded away, allowing for the granite to surface to become what the Sierra Nevada is today. Some rock is metamorphic meaning they were altered by heat and/or pressure deep down, and sedimentary rock that has been altered mostly from weathering, transportation and deposition to become mudrock, sandstone (arenites), limestone, and breccias to name a few.

Each rock type tells a story. The Brunton allows geologists to measure those rocks in the hopes of recreating that story. Much like a detective, the clues are there, you just have to understand how to collect them.

If anyone feels like spending money on a student, I still want that Garmin eTrek 30 (hint-hint)!  If interested here is a link to CGS Mule and you can download their catalog to peruse.

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