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Rocktober: Minerals Day

October 12, 2020

Today, Monday, 12 October 2020, is the inauguration of Minerals Day. Science. Value. Beauty.

It’s a new part of Earth Science Week. Minerals Day is a partnership of the professional scientific organizations, the Mineralogical Society of America, the American Geological Institute. Industry partners are the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, and the Industrial Minerals Association-North America. Both science and value are represented by the governmental agency, the United States Geological Survey. Value, science, and beauty are the purview of the Gemological Institute of America.

The science? That’s my part- Minerals are information. Remember that. Ever since my first Mineralogy class, I have had a conviction that no geologic process could be understood until you understood the minerals involved. Minerals tell you how hot a rock was when it formed, how deep it was buried, how long ago it formed and was metamorphosed. Minerals tell you how much water was there. Many of these processes can be reproduced in the laboratory.

Value is in the minerals that provide the basic raw materials of a technological society. Materials science gets more and more sophisticated, and as it does, it needs elements from further down the Periodic Table of the Elements, more and more rare. The Rare Earth Elements, the Platinum Group Elements, and tantalum, and niobium. Those hard-to-find elements make up even harder-to-find minerals, but oh, so valuable minerals.

Then there’s value in the rare ones, the clear crystalline ones, rubies, sapphires, the gemstones. There are minerals that form that are the equal of any sculpture produced by men. That leads us to beauty.

So there’s talks available starting today, on minerals. The mineralogy of Mars, quartz, gemology, mining in the solar system (Oye, beltalowda? Anybody else watch the Expanse?), and the best way to fight the use of conflict minerals.

Schedule and links are at Earth Science Week webinars.

Consumers – The Most Potent Army Against Conflict Minerals. Vitor Correia, International Raw Materials Observatory

The Need and Solutions for Robots in Responsible Raw Material Exploration and Mining. Norbert Zajzon, University of Miskolc

Resources Beyond Earth: Enabling Future Exploration and the New Space Economy. Angel Abbud Madrid, Center for Space Resources, Colorado School of Mines

Advances in the Mineralogy of Mars. Elizabeth Rampe, NASA Johnson Space Center

New Insights into Wire Silver and Gold Formation. John Rakovan, Miami University

Gemstones: Timecapsules Connecting Us Through History. Aaron Palke, Gemological Institute of America

Data-Driven Discovery in Mineralogy and the Evolution of Planetary Bodies. Shaunna Morrison, Carnegie Institute of Science

May The Quartz Be With You. Shannon Mahan, U.S. Geological Survey

The Global Supply of Critical Minerals: Assessing and Tracking Critical Mineral Commodities Nedal Nassar, U.S. Geological Survey

When you go through all of those, these are still excellent videos of state of the art mineralogy at the Centennial Symposium for the Mineralogical Society of America.

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