This Saturday seven Sierra Nevada College Geology Club Students pilled into a car to go hike points of Mount Rose to collect minerals and crystals.Secretary of the geology club Joe Paolini said, “Everyone who participated today was really involved.”
Students look mostly for double terminated crystals. This is when the end of a crystal grows in such a way that it forms flat faces that intercept one another on a certain axis depending on the mineral. Crystals that form a terminated point on both ends are referred to as doubly terminated. We found multiple specimens exhibiting this geological anomaly. Once the more experienced hunters determine when the group had arrived the students scatted with their hunting hats on. They sifted through the top layer of dirt in the surrounding areas looking for their crystals.
“Jai found quite a few crystals in this one particular area” Paolini said, “So everyone just went over to dig the patch up.”
Jai Odyssea, president of the club, said, “There’s probably a pocket”. The students flocked the patch. “The north eastern corner of the Tahoe basin is a fascinating area geologically,” said Odyssea, “There are multiple different rock types from different eras of activity meeting in this area which often is a sign for metamorphic activity”.
There are three types of rocks, Sedimentary, which are formed from particles of sand, shells, pebbles, and other fragments of material, Igneous, which are formed when magma (molten rock deep within the earth) cools and hardens, and Metamorphic, which are formed under the surface of the earth from the metamorphosis (change) that occurs due to intense heat and pressure.
Paolini said, “Because there are multiple different types of rock meeting in this area it is more likely for minerals to be coming up through the earth’s crust. Which indicates that rocks have undergone metamorphose in its form”.
The crystals and minerals that were found in abundance on this trip were smoky quartz, feldspar, and epidote. Smoky quartz is a grey translucent-opaque variety of quartz. The smoky color results from free silicon, formed from the silicon dioxide by natural irradiation. It terminates into six faces so it shapes in a hexagonal form.Feldspar constitutes approximately 60% or the earths crust, it forms directly from cooling magma. Its crystals are typically colorless/pale in color. Epidote is a monoclinic crystal system, which means its vectors are of unequal length and size. It usually takes on a pistachio-forest green tint but can be found in grey, brown, or nearly black.
“The examples of feldspar that we collected had phenomenal examples of cleavage” student Grant Long said.
Cleavage is the tendency of a mineral to break along flat planar surfaces as determined by the structure of the mineral. Student Mona Ramirez found a terminated smokey quartz point with a greenish hue. Paolini and Odyssea speculate that it is an inclusion of the epidote they were finding in the area inside of the smoky quartz.
Odyssea said, “We scouted an area near incline creek with interesting rock formations. You’ll find quartz everywhere you go in the Tahoe Basin.”
Sierra Nevada Student tend to wander a fair amount but usually with their eyes focused on the lake. These students have a knack to appreciate the things that are usually over looked and stepped. Between the leaders knowledge, support of Science Professor Andy Rost, geographical location, and student passion the club will make great trips this school years
By Joie Rhein