Identifying fossils, rocks and more at Museum of Geology

Fossil(Jeffrey Lindblom)
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 5:16 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Saturday, the Black Hills were covered in snow. However, underneath the winter blanket all kinds of rocks still lurk beneath.

The Museum of Geology at South Dakota Mines gathered volunteers and staff to help the public identify their unique finds.

“Every rock has a unique story of how it was formed,” explains Collete McAndrew, President of the Paleontology Club.

Volunteers and museum of Geology staff at South Dakota Mines are taking a peak at backyard finds, and trying to discover that very story.

“Basically,” McAndrew says, “identify the rocks, minerals and fossils that members of the public give in.”

Using tools, acid, research and more they’re able to better understand where something came from. That’s a benefit to the person hoping to learn more about their find, and students and staff to get some practice outside of class.

“We generally only see the same 20 or so minerals. But,” McAndrew says, “this allows [us] to see a lot of different minerals. To see what these minerals actually look like in the wild, and that’s a really invaluable experience.”

Although the Geology of the Black Hills is unique, McAndrew says some things pop up more so than others, like “a lot of quartz, because quartz comes in a million different varieties.”

She says they see a lot of agates and cool sedimentary rock, because “it can be like any color in the rainbow.” Which, is exciting to get to the bottom of. “We’re like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Calcite!’”

Especially thrilling when it’s your favorite, like McAndrew’s, which is called Galena, because “it forms these really beautiful cubes, just naturally.”

Finally figuring something out, that makes for a satisfying moment, for her “to just be able to say, ‘yeah we know what this is.’”

She says paleontology blends history with a love for creatures long dead, but still have a story to tell, “that are just really fascinating. You wouldn’t see [them] in the modern world. Every rock has a story of how it was formed and what it went through.”

Each with a unique path underground. Perhaps, making its way to the surface by way of the ocean, a small opening or maybe a volcanic eruption, “and that’s one of the coolest parts about geology.”

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