This is a companion book to
Weather: A Guide to Phenomena and Forecasts that I
have had since I was a little girl. You can see it formerly had a thin shiny coating on it, of which little remains. They both were first printed in 1957, but this
one was a later edition from 1962. They are pocket-sized guide books, from a whole series of nature subjects that I wish I owned (but never did). Still, I'm
happy to have both of these for so many years.
When I was a child, we went to Canada every summer and stayed on the York River in a rough little cabin or boathouse owned by a family of farmers who were our longtime friends. A short trip down the river, or through the woods brought us to a retired couple also from Ohio, who owned a very nice summer cottage. They were rock collectors and always had interesting specimens to show me, and even gave me quite a few. My favorite thing, however, was going into the dark room where the fluorescent and phosphorescent rocks glowed in beautiful colors. So, as you can see, I spent many hours looking through this book and its pages of fascinating illustrations.
But I apparently didn't actually read it back then. Now, I was an excellent reader even as a very young child, but egad! This book is some complicated stuff, as I just recently discovered. I found it interesting, but way more than I could comprehend. I looked up additional information online for further clarification, and have certainly gained a great deal of knowledge, albeit having just scratched the surface. And, even now, some fifty-four years later, I still really enjoyed looking at the pictures!
This guide is written for amateurs who have a strong interest in pursuing the collecting and classifying of rocks and minerals. It begins with basic tools for testing samples in order to identify them. I would guess that today's tools would be much more technologically advanced, but the properties being tested would most likely be the same, or similar.
Most of the book examines the numerous minerals that make up rocks, and thus the inorganic structure of the earth, (as opposed to organic chemicals like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen), which make up living things, but are also often included along with inorganic chemicals in rocks. Different typical crystal forms are illustrated, and a list of hardness, specific gravities, and other characteristics are supplied for different minerals to aid in identification.
Major and minor metallic minerals, such as copper, lead, gold, silver, mercury, iron, and aluminum, plus numerous related minerals are each briefly discussed, along with interesting pictures of most. This includes some typical uses, and often mining and processing information, which, again has no doubt been greatly updated over the decades.
Next, non-metallic minerals are reviewed, of which sulfur, graphite, borax and quartz are included. Many of these can be quite lovely, and good specimens can be used for jewelry and other ornamentals objects. Gem minerals, therefore, include many of these non-metallic minerals, and others. Emerald, garnet, sapphire, diamond, and numerous varieties of quartz would be examples of valuable gem minerals.
Rock-forming minerals are the next category. What makes this all so confusing is that the combinations and qualities of all these minerals are so diverse. For example, garnet is known as a gem, but is also a rock-forming mineral. Feldspars, which are the most abundant group of minerals, are also very beautiful. I remember the couple in Canada mentioned above had made me a lovely and unique necklace of feldspar, which I wore for years.
The last major section in the book is about the formation of the earth's crust itself: the different layers and types of rocks of which they are comprised. These are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Many of them are organic, or contain organic materials. Soil is considered a rock, and also clay. Others include sandstone, limestone, coal, slate and marble. The formation of petroleum is also discussed.
All-in-all, though outdated in many aspects, this is still an interesting little book, and has provided me with a basic background knowledge of rocks and minerals, plus an inspiration to pursue the subject in greater depth.
Rather than including images from the book itself, I have instead chosen some interesting examples from the vast variety online. They are as follows:
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