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16.10.04: Moonstone - Geosciences


16.10.04: Moonstone - Geosciences

On-Demand Webinars

The most costly struggle for staff is lack of training in basic field procedures and subsurface analysis skills. This comprehensive online course series provides the training and identifies the key steps essential for Taking the Mystery Out of the Subsurface®.

Learn to unravel subsurface complexities and improve your efficiency for creating meaningful boring logs.

Learn the essential steps to analyze sedimentary relationships and continue with how to create soil boring logs that are:

By the end of this module, you will gain key insights for managing subsurface information that will make your work easier, your documentation clearer, and your field efforts and project more profitable.


Everyone benefits when field staff have up-to-date skills coupled with the ability to recognize and manage geologic uncertainties as they arise in the field, rather than waiting to evaluate site conditions in the office once the field work is complete.

  • Develop insight for understanding sedimentary relationships.
  • How to create boring logs that are: Complete, Accurate and Effective.
  • Avoid common mistakes and demystify confusing terms.
  • Tips for defining and identifying subsurface units.
  • Avoid the "sample to sample" syndrome.
  • Ways to manage an overloaded list of field duties.
  • Ideas for helping your drilling subcontractor help you.
  • Strategies for managing out-of-scope issues.

It's not always simple to correlate sediments according to their depositional and stratigraphic context.

Tim Kemmis, PhD, PG is a Senior Hydrogeology Consultant and Project Manager for large-scale subsurface investigations. His unique experience as both an applied researcher and consultant has enabled Tim to effectively teach staff at all levels how unravel sedimentary complexities by making fundamentally sound observations, preparing complete and accurate boring logs and confidently correlating geologic units.

Tim worked 14 years for the Iowa Geological Survey, during which he received his Ph.D., and where he:

  • Carried out glacial sedimentologic investigations
  • Remapped the Des Moines Glacial lobe
  • Established the formal glacial stratigraphy for the lobe based on depositional environments
  • Discovered a new type of hummocky glacial topography
  • Determined the geometry and origin of jointing in glacial tills
  • Developed a lithofacies code to decipher the history of glacial outwash and alluvial sequences

Tim worked 15 years for Earth Tech, on a variety of hydrgeologic and geotechnical projects, where he:

  • Created project standards for soil boring logging and subsurface characterizations
  • Provided technical and expert witness support
  • Managed hydrogeologic and geotechnical projects around the world
  • Mentored and trained staff
  • Helped clients achieve their financial objectives when faced with technical challenges

Tim is a co-founder of Midwest GeoSciences Group and has successfully taught many courses and webinars dedicated to improving boring logs and helping geologists think on their feet.

Tim received his bachelor's degree in agricultural soil science from the University of Illinois and his master's degree in glacial geology while working as a graduate assistant at the Illinois State Geological Survey.

Dan Kelleher, PG, CIPM is a hydrogeologist and co-founder of Midwest GeoSciences Group which was formed to simply help consultants do a better job preparing accurate and complete soil boring logs.

Dan is recognized for his technical expertise in quantitative hydrogeology (in porous and fractured media), geotechnical analysis of sedimentary sequences, aquifer testing, fractured rock hydrogeology, and predictive ground water modeling. Course participants will benefit from Dan's experience with field analysis from boring to boring in order to utilize QA/QC and help identify unexpected conditions as soon as they arise. Dan received his bachelor's degree in Geology from Monmouth College and his master's degree in Hydrogeology from Northern Illinois University.


June Birthstone - Moonstone


Moonstone is one of the modern June birthstones and an accepted gem for the 13th wedding anniversary. See other June birth stones: Traditional, Mystical, Ancient, Zodiac Sun Signs (Star Signs), Talismanic and Ayurvedic birthstone charts.

Moonstone belongs to the large mineral family of feldspars. It is an opalescent stone which can range from colorless to blue, peach, green, pink, yellow, brown or gray with a silvery scheen. This iridescence is known as schiller but in moonstone it is called adularescence. Clarity ranges from transparent to translucent. Rainbow moonstone is milky white with a rainbow colored sheen. Moonstone is the most valuable form of feldspar and is composed of albite, which gives it the bluish scheen, and orthoclase feldspar.

Moonstone is found in Brazil, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the United States.

Moonstone was used in jewelry by the Romans who believed that the stone was formed from the light of the moon. Moonstone is considered a sacred stone in India.

It is believed to bring good fortune, to enhance passion, and balance the yin and yang and is said to protect women and children. In early times, it was believed that one could see the future if the stone was held in the mouth during a full moon. According to legend, moonstone will ensure abundant crops

Moonstone's healing properties are said to promote digestion, to protect against epilepsy, to calm emotions, cure headaches and nose bleeds, and protect against sun stroke.


Birthstones Colors

There are many variations of birthstones dating back to early civilizations. The Modern Birthstone List is the official list from the American National Association of Jewelers, Jewelers of America. These gemstones were officially adopted in 1912 (tanzanite was added in October 2002). In the US, this is the accepted list.

For at least 10,000 years, man has used colored stones as talismans and amulets. He used them to predict the future, to protect him from harm and as healing aids. Religious traditions from early times included gemstones as important elements in their ceremonies and practices. Many people believe that the planets influence different stones and that planetary birthstones transmit powers associated with those planets.

The two birthstone color tables show a range of aqua, black, blue, brown, clear, orange, pink, purple, red, violet, white, and yellow birthstones.

Chart I lists birthstones by their colors and includes the month(s) and birthstone chart(s) associated with that stone.

Chart II lists the months of the year and includes all the colors of birthstones associated with that month.

Birthstone colors listed below were compiled from a number of lists (sources):



2 The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Before we get to the books by Anthony Trollope you’re recommending, how did you get into him?

First of all, I should declare that I am passionate about Trollope and I’m also madly in love with him. He’s like my husband from another century. That’s Anthony [points at photo on her desk]. He sits on my desk. Look at him! So now that you know this fact…

Is it true that you’ve never read a Trollope?

[Big intake of breath]. Sorry, I need to compose myself, but just the shock of this news.

What happened was that I came to Oxford to do a second degree and someone that I was staying with, a family friend, mentioned Trollope. As a keen reader, I always had this policy that if someone mentioned an author I’d never heard of, I would read them. So, I picked one up and found it like a ‘guide for the perplexed’ about everything to do with British society.

Trollope is brilliant on class and money and the nuances of these things. I was very puzzled about the role of lawyers and doctors and how the whole class system worked. It was very, very confusing to me, but he was just great on social niceties.

The other thing is that he’s unbelievably pertinent, I think, especially to women. One of his big things is single women trying to get married and the marriage market in all its facets, where people are very blatantly trying to measure up: ‘Who could I get? How much money do they have? What’s their social status? What can I trade for that?’ I think that’s still relevant today, people do still weigh those things up, they measure social status, it’s just not so blatant. ‘I went to Yale. Oh, you went to Connecticut College? Hmmm. I see.’

He’s also brilliantly funny because he’s amused by these things. His sense of detail is great. Also, as a writer, I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s got this very warm relationship with his audience. He often will refer to ‘my reader’.

The other point about Trollope is that, even though the books are long, they’re brilliant if you are looking after small children, because like many Victorian novels, he’s really great at saying, ‘The reader will recall that last time we met Lady Carbury she was debating two offers of marriage’ and you go, ‘Yeah, right, I completely forgot that because it’s been a month since I’ve been able to pick up a book.’ So, they’re really good if you have to read in short snatches of time.

So, are Trollope’s books not hugely plot-driven then, if you can dip in and out of what Lady Carbury has been up to?

They are plot-driven, but they’re not suspenseful, in that sense. In fact, I tried to get my son to read a Trollope and he was just outraged. For one, that there was no map (he likes fantasy), and two, he felt there was no plot. He described it as ‘the Reverend Obadiah Slope gives a sermon that no one likes, 50 pages pass while everyone discusses this.’ That’s not entirely true, but it is more character-driven. It’s about how people make decisions. Tolstoy was supposedly a fan of Trollope and that doesn’t surprise me, because Tolstoy is also brilliant about how people make decisions and the back-and-forth of decision-making. Trollope is just incredible at getting inside people’s heads with all their vicissitudes. He’s a lot of fun. His set pieces are so witty and alert.

“He’s extremely readable. I could go so far as to say that he’s an easy read”

I’ll give you an example. In one of the books, Miss Mackenzie, Miss Mackenzie is trying to decide between three suitors and one suitor, sadly, is wearing bright yellow kid gloves. It’s a lapse of taste. What it says to her is that he’s not quite a gentleman. Trollope is great on those details.

The other thing it’s important to remember about Trollope is his absolute fixation on money. He was the first cousin of a baronet but grew up in the most precarious financial situation. His mother, Fanny Trollope, was a writer and supported the family because his father was useless. Trollope is brilliant at the small humiliations of not having enough money—while trying to maintain your position. That’s what we don’t see in Pride and Prejudice with the Bennett family. If Pride and Prejudice opened with Mr. Bennet’s death: that’s a Trollope novel. What happens to those girls in that family having to live on the charity of relatives, having to turn their gloves inside out? Which tradesmen do you pay? He’s very alert to that kind of fine detail of life.

I’m intrigued that you found Trollope useful as an American coming into 20th century Britain. You don’t just like Trollope’s books as novels evoking the Victorian age he was writing in?

Absolutely not. I was thinking about this today with the first book I chose, The American Senator.


Precious, semi-precious or ornamental stones

In the mid-1800s, gemstones were first classified as either &rsquoprecious&rsquo or &lsquosemi-precious&rsquo. However, these divisions are not scientific and have never been truly meaningful. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds were originally considered the &lsquoprecious stones&rsquo, but sometimes this category included opal, jade, or pearls. Gemstones that were referred to as semi-precious are used in jewellery and ornaments. These include:

agate chalcedony hematite lapis lazuli peridot tanzanite
amber chrysocolla jade malachite rhodonite topaz
amethyst chrysoprase jasper moonstone sodalite turquoise
aquamarine citrine jet obsidian sunstone tourmaline
aventurine garnet kunzite onyx tiger&rsquos eye

Some Australian examples of these gems can be seen at Google Arts and Culture - Gems from the Safe.

Faceted amethyst. R30715. Source: Geoscience Australia

Many people in the gem and jewellery industry do not like the terms precious and semi-precious, because they do not take into account the grade of the gemstone. Precious gemstones are not always rarer or more valuable, than semi-precious gemstones. Gemmologists use grade as a general measure of gemstone quality, using the 4Cs (clarity, colour, cut, and carat) to determine the potential price.

The 'beauty' of a gemstone is evaluated by examining how light is transmitted or refracted through the gem or reflected from the gem's surface. A gem can be coloured or have changing colour patterns, differing levels of transparency, lustre and brilliance. In addition, in some gems there is dispersion of light or 'fire'. Some of these properties are qualitative, so can be described rather than measured and some are quantitative and can be measured using appropriate optical instruments.

Another term sometimes used is &lsquoornamental gemstone&rsquo. This term is used to describe minerals that lack transparency, but have attractive colours, textures and patterns such as jade, malachite, chalcedony and lapis lazuli. They are not all rare, and most have a hardness of less than 7 on Moh&rsquos scale.


Birthstones lists with pictures and links to information:


Pictures of Birthstones by Color:

Sources of Information:
The Curious Lore of Precious Stones
by G.F. Kunz. J.D. Lippincott. 1913
International Colored Gemstone Association http://gemstone.org
Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Gems and Jewelry by Joel E. Arem. Geoscience Press. 1992
Gems in Myth, Legend, and Lore by Bruce G. Knuth. Jeweler's Press 1999
Healing Crystals by Cassandra Eason. Vega 2003

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The Geology of Skyrim: An unexpected journey

Back in January I did a talk at an event called Science Showoff, a comedy night based in London where scientists stand up in front of an audience in a pub and talk about funny stuff to do with their work. I talked about video games. Not any video game however, I talked about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a fantasy role playing video game. It is a great game with some beautiful graphics, especially the scenery including flora, fauna and rocks. So I did what any other geologist would do. I mapped Skyrim. This means I used all the internet resources I could to find out the locations of every major ore deposit in the region of Skyrim, colour coded them and placed them on a map. My aim was to find out a possible story for the geological evolution of Skyrim.

Like any scientific investigation, you start off with a theory and you commence your investigations to try to prove it wrong. In some cases it is very difficult to prove the theory wrong and so it remains valid, but in most others you do manage to prove it wrong somehow. However, this does not mean that the time and investigations were wasted instead this process brings up new answers, and questions that scientists investigate further. In the case of mapping the geology of Skyrim, I came up with an initial theory that I presented at Science Showoff, and have since found that my initial theory was probably wrong. This doesn’t dishearten me though, it has proved an interesting journey – if unexpected – that I am sure has engaged and enthused many people.

First, I will introduce you to my map of all the major ore deposits in Skyrim. I am by no means claiming that this is accurate and I am certainly not claiming that the final interpretation is accurate either (forgetting for a moment we are discussing a fantasy location). My main reason for taking on this little project was to introduce geology to an audience that may not normally engage with the sciences and so the results of this investigation are not meant to be 100% accurate, but they are meant to be inspiring.

My initial map of Skyrim with ore locations indicated as coloured blobs over the coloured topographic map. Red = iron, blue = corundum, purple = orichalcum, white = quicksilver, grey = silver, yellow = moonstone (click for larger). (Base map modified from one produced by Tim Cook)

For a geologist it is not enough to just have a map of where lots of rocks are. What we need is an understanding of the nature of the earth beneath our feet. In finding out how the rocks got where they are today, we can then build up a history of the evolution of the area – including different environments that one area of land went through over millions of years.

The most common types of rocks we find in Skyrim are iron ore and corundum. In this world, corundum isn’t actually a rock – but it is a rock forming mineral. Rocks are simply amalgamations of other minerals in the form of crystals or grains. In igneous and metamorphic rocks, formed from cooling magma or changed through heat and pressure deep in the crust respectively, the minerals are crystalline in form. In sedimentary rocks the minerals are generally granular – from other rocks that have been ground down as sediments into their individual minerals. Corundum most commonly occurs as a mineral in metamorphic rocks, so we are going to assume that our ‘corundum ore’ is a metamorphic rock of some kind.

It is really important to know in what order the rocks got where they are – which is the oldest and which is the youngest. The map above gives us some clues to the order in which the rocks were laid down. Near the top left there is an area of low topography, and inside this is a red blob with a blue blob in the middle of it. The most likely way for these rocks to be in this formation is that the iron (red) is older than the corundum (blue), so the corundum was deposited after the iron ore. Quicksilver is another name for mercury in our world, the most common ore of which is cinnabar. Cinnabar formation is associated with volcanic activity and hot springs. On the map you can generally see quicksilver (white) associated spatially with corundum and iron ore. If you look closely it appears that quicksilver is usually found on the higher topography, so from this it could be inferred that quicksilver was formed later than both the iron ore and corundum.

Towards the bottom left of the province of Skyrim, in the west, you can see a distinct area where there is a quicksilver blob inside an iron ore blob. This would imply that here the quicksilver is directly on top of the iron – but we know that there should be corundum between these two. This is what geologists call an unconformity. An unconformity represents a missing chunk of time in the geological record. When rocks get laid down – by volcanoes or rivers – it takes millions of years. If we are expecting a rock to be somewhere and see that it is missing, we know we are missing a period of geological time in this area and it presents an interesting puzzle: why has this happened? It could be because of tectonic movements of the crust: raising mountains, eroding them then redepositing other sediments on the eroded mountains, but all we see is a road cutting with some different looking rocks and some missing in the middle. This is one of the most important principles in geology, and for many other subjects. It was through identifying an unconformity that James Hutton discovered the concept of ‘deep time’ in 1788 – that the Earth is thousands of millions of years old.

Orichalcum is a bit of an enigma. Many historical texts in the real world refer to orichalcum and yet there is a lot of dispute over what kind of metallic material it was – was it an ore, an alloy or something else entirely? From around 428 BC in Ancient Greek texts began implying that orichalcum was chalcopyrite, a copper ore that can be formed in a number of ways, but always associated with hydrothermal circulation and precipitation in either a sedimentary or volcanic environment. Orichalcum can be seen on the map adjacent to quicksilver on high topography, indicating this may be the most recent rock to be formed in Skyrim’s history.

A cartoon of the four main rocks and the order in which they were laid down (oldest at the bottom). (Credit: Jane Robb)

Iron ore in our world is most commonly derived from banded iron formations. These are at least 2,400 million years old! They represent the point from which organisms started photosynthesising and producing oxygen. As these rocks are so old, many of them have been deformed through metamorphism.

Knowing how individual rock types form doesn’t tell us the whole story about Skyrim’s evolution though. The crust of the Earth is mobile – in some places it pushes together (compresses) and in others it pulls apart (extension or rifting), destroying and forming new crust in those areas respectively like a large conveyor belt around the Earth. When different rocks that should be on top of another (like in the diagram above) can be seen next to each other on the same topographic level, we can infer that some tectonic movement has happened. In the east of Skyrim, we see an area of higher topography and several of the different rocks aligned next to each other.

A topographic base map of Skyrim with my annotations of a compressional fault (line with triangles on it, compressing approximately north-south) and extensional faults (lines with little lines on them). The yellow line A-B is showing the location of a cross section cartoon (below). (Map modified from one produced by Tim Cook)

Cross section cartoon A-B of the rocks as they might be underground, showing extensional faulting and erosion. The black ‘ticks’ on the diagram indicate the direction of movement of the land relative to the areas around it. (Credit: Jane Robb)

Skyrim is surrounded to the south and west by mountains, the largest being the Throat of the World. Mountains usually form through landmasses compressing together and bunching up. As this happens the rocks around the area of compression undergo an intense amount of pressure and heat that changes the rocks from their original state – forming metamorphosed rocks. Two of our most abundant rock types are metamorphic – iron ore and corundum. These rocks are also the oldest we see in Skyrim, indicating that for the first part of Skyrim’s history (spanning at least 2 billion years) it was under the sea forming iron ore sediments. A rock, we cannot be sure what it was originally, was deposited on top of the iron ore several millions of years later and then both were squeezed and pushed into mountains and the rest of Skyrim.

Millions of years later, the land started to pull itself apart in the east of Skyrim. Extension is a common trigger for volcanic activity, and combined with what could either have been a warm and wet or marine environment quicksilver and orichalcum deposits began to form above the previously metamorphosed rocks.

In modern day Skyrim, we still see some hot springs and nearby volcanic activity in Solstheim as well as the east being aptly named The Rift.


The ABC Murders

By Agatha Christie

There’s nothing quite like an Agatha Christie when it comes to listening to a whodunnit as an audiobook, and because they were written in the 1930s, they’re good for listening to with children as there is no swearing or graphic violence. Often it’s actors we’ve got to know on TV or in movies who narrate them. The ABC Murders works particularly well as an audiobook, performed by Hugh Fraser (who played Captain Hastings, Hercule Poirot’s sidekick, in the TV series).

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Watch the video: Einführung in die Geowissenschaften I Exogene Dynamik, sedimentäre Gesteine 00 (October 2021).