Rockology 101

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Rockology 101: Learning
Rockology 101: Fun Facts
Mine Boggling Rocks
Ingredients of Camping Equipment
Geological Sites of Interest
Rockology 101: Activities

Rogers Group Experts in Crushed Stone, Aggregates, Gravel, Asphalt Paving, Road Construction, Quarries for 100 Years Geological Sites of Special Interest

The United States is a nation rich in geologic treasures. Every section of the country has many first-rate sites, it's quite likely that you'll find something of great interest close to home.

The following locations, listed region by region, are just the beginning of the list. One good place to learn more about geological treasures in your area is your local National Park Service Headquarters.

The Northeast
The Mid-Atlantic States
The Southeast
The Midwest
The North Central States
The South Central States
The Rocky Mountain States
The Southwest
The Pacific Coast

The Northeast

Eastern New York and the New England states abound in mineral and gemstone collecting localities, while much of New York, along with the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and Connecticut, is a prime fossil-hunting territory.

There are many museums to visit in the large sites of the Northeast. Among the most appealing to geologists are the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City; the Peabody Museum of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; and the Pratt Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. Vermont has two wonderful quarry exhibits: in the marble center of Proctor, and in Barre, which is world-famous for its granite.

There are also numerous outdoor attractions. Maine's beautiful
Acadia National Park combines rugged hill and seacoast scenery with a fascinating geologic history; in Connecticut, a dramatic display of ancient reptile footprints is preserved at Dinosaur State Park. The Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts is an excellent place to learn more about beaches, sand dunes, and the Ice Age, and the well-known Niagara Falls near Buffalo, New York, is one of North America's greatest natural spectacles. New Hampshire's magnificent Mount Washington, is the tallest mountain in the Northeast, as well as one of the best places to see the work of past glaciers.

The Mid-Atlantic States

In this region gemstones and other minerals are most common in northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern New Jersey. Museums with earth science exhibits include the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Academy of Science, and the Mineral Museum in Franklin, New Jersey.

Several Atlantic Coasts sites, such as
Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and Sandy Hook State Park in New Jersey, are ideal places to study the movement of sediments borne by ocean waves and currents. Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania displays several intriguing Ice Age land forms, and you can see a great river that has cut through a towering hillside at Delaware Water Gap, on the boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Southeast

Fossil corals are plentiful in Florida, petrified wood occurs in Mississippi and Louisiana, and there are other good fossil sites in northern Kentucky, western Tennessee, and the eastern sections of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. As far as minerals and gemstones go, the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama are a good bet, as are western North Carolina and the central portions of Virginia and Kentucky.

Several museums are of special note. You can see the Hodges Meteorite and other geologic attractions at the
University of Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa; another big attraction is the Louisiana State University Museum of Geoscience and Natural History in Baton Rouge.

Kentucky's famous
Mammoth Cave National Park contains stalactites, stalagmites, and other amazing limestone cavern features, with Stone Mountain, outside of Atlanta, Georgia, is the largest exposed hunk of granite in the south, with a commanding view of the surrounding Georgia landscape. North Carolina's Mount Mitchell State Park contains the highest point in the eastern United States, and the Mississippi Petrified Forest near Flora offers a self-guided tour and examples of ancient plant life.

The Midwest

Every state in this region contains good fossil-collecting sites; mineral and gemstone hunting is particularly good in Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the northwestern part of Illinois. Geology exhibits may be found at Chicago's famous Field Museum and the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, as well as the Cleveland and Cincinnati natural history museums, and the Indiana State Museum.

There are also many outstanding natural areas. The
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, features huge slowly migrating hills of sand; at scenic Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin you can see a large body of water dammed by debris left behind by retreating glaciers. Illinois' Starved Rock State Park is an excellent place to see sediment strata, and Isle Royale National Park, in Lake Superior, has outcrops of rocks formed by volcanoes more than a billion years ago.

The North Central States

The mining district of northeastern Minnesota is a prime site for mineral collectors; other minerals and gemstones may be found in eastern Iowa, northern Nebraska, as well as the western parts of both of the Dakotas.

There are a number of interesting public areas, from
Mount Rushmore and the unearthly Badlands National Monument, both in South Dakota, to Minnesota's Pipestone National Monument, Nebraska's Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, and Iowa's Preparation Canyon State Park. You can also visit the Geology Department Museum at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, or the A. M. Chisholm Museum in Duluth, Minnesota.

The South Central States

Texas fossil sites are found in the central and western portions of the state; also check out eastern Missouri, southwestern Arkansas, and southern Oklahoma. Gemstones and minerals are most common in northeastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Missouri, and much of Arkansas and Texas.

If you are a mineral collector, don't miss
Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. If you're more interested in learning about fossils, canyons, or volcanic formation, the remote but awesomely beautiful Big Bend National Park in western Texas should be a top priority. Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Missouri features natural bridges and sinkholes, while Oklahoma's Alabaster Caverns State Park has unique gypsum caves. In addition, the University of Kansas at Lawrence has a Museum of Natural History, with geology exhibits.

The Rocky Mountain States

Collecting areas for minerals, gemstones, and fossils abound in all the states -- Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.

Some of the biggest fossils you're likely to see are on display at
Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, and the Denver Museum of Natural History is one of the very best. This region boasts some of the most geologically fascinating national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain in Colorado, Glacier in Montana, and Zion, Canyonlands, and Bryce Canyons in Utah. Extinct volcanoes can be seen at the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, and dramatic sedimentary rock units are found at Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction.

The Southwest

The Southwest contains some of the richest fossil- and mineral-hunting locales, many of which are in the western half of New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

In Arizona, the privately administered
Meteor Crater demonstrates the power of a meteorite hitting the earth's surface in fairly recent times; Petrified Forest National Park is a showcase of giant fossilized tree trunks over 200 million years old; and at Grand Canyon National Park you get one of the best geological lessons available. New Mexico has Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument, and Nevada has the stark grandeur of Great Basin National Park.

The Pacific Coast

Fossils are found in many places in California, as well as the western sections of both Oregon and Washington. Gemstones and minerals are even more broadly distributed throughout much of these three states.

A number of natural history museums, such as the
San Francisco Academy of Sciences, feature geology exhibits. Outdoor wonders are plentiful, too: Yosemite National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in Washington.

Source of this material: The Amateur Geologist: Explorations and Investigations by Raymond Wiggers, published by Franklin Watts.