Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club Places third in NWFMS Website Competition

The results are in and the Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club is proud to announce we’ve won third place in the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies website contest. The contest was open to all Federation member rock clubs within the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington, which comprise the NW Region of the American Federation.

“We’ve really come a long way considering only a few years ago we didn’t even have a web presence” Webmaster Mitch Metcalf Said. “So this is a really big deal for us and a huge honor.”

This was TVRGC’s first time entering the Federation’s annual contest. The First Place website was the the Yakima Rock and Mineral Club, which went on to compete at the American Federation Level.   Results were not available as of this posting.

Website Award - NW Federation of Mineralogical Societies - 3rd Place to Tualatin Valley Rock Club 2016

Congrats to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to ensure our site was a contender, bringing it up to date to be compliant with web standards and national and international laws for web accessibility and the ADA, way beyond the scope of the contest rules and requirements. We’re eager to keep you updated on all our activities and news from around the rock and mineral world as we continue to move forward.

Remember, you can subscribe to this site to receive email notifications when it updates by using the subscribe to site option in the sidebar.

New Timeline for Tetrapod Biodiversity found in Fossils

A new study and timeline has been released showing 190 million years of tetrapod biodiversity, exceptional data for fossils and paleontology.

Recently, we have been able to provide some answers to the questions of how diverse through time has life been, based on the building of large fossil occurrence databases and new methods of analysing them. One such development has been the Paleobiology Database, a professional crowd-sourced archive of fossil history, where the context of fossils is provided in both space and time, and largely based on the published record of fossil discoveries.

…By applying SQS with our development of large fossil occurrence datasets, voila, we are able to gain renewed insight into the diversity of life through history in a way that accounts for the inherent biases of the fossil record!

And that’s just what a new study in PLOS Biology set out to do. Led by Roger Benson of the University of Oxford, an international team of researchers applied SQS to one of the largest tetrapod fossil occurrence databases ever assembled (if not the largest!), comprising more than 27,000 individual fossil occurrences! This represented almost 5000 fossil species, and the data were restricted to just those fossils that dwelled on land – so this excludes groups like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, for example. They also excluded flying tetrapods, so birds, bats and mammals, as these are known to have very different preservational histories in the fossil record. For palaeontology though, this is definitely ‘big data’.

The team restricted their analyses to just the Mesozoic to early Paleogene, a time span of around 190 million years (a fairly long time, even by geological standards!). If you think about it, that’s 5000 species over about 190 million years, which compared to 30,000 around today is pretty weird even in itself.

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Smartphones Help Create Global Sesmic Network

MyShake App - Zoom Into Map for Recent Earthquakes ViewIf you have a smartphone, why not join others worldwide to help track earthquakes.

For the past few years, the US Geological Survey department and others want to know how cell phones can be used to monitor and possibly detect earthquakes. Inside of each phone are sensors that can be used to create a worldwide seismic network to help with the study of earthquakes.

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that The University of California at Berkely has released MyShake and MyQuake. MyShake is for Android users and MyQuake is the Apple version.

The app is free and runs “silently” in the background. The app has the ability to distinguish between natural body and transportation movements and ground disturbances. The goal of the app is to collect enough data to help track earthquakes in a way that may lead to a global early warning system.

The app offers four key features in addition to collecting and transmitting earth movement data to Berkeley.

  • Recent: The Recent tab displays earthquake data globally with a magnitude of 2.5 or more within the past 7 days. Using a Google Map, the user may zoom around the globe to observer recent earthquake activity.
  • Safety: Simple steps to ensure the user is familiar with how to take cover before, during, and after an earthquake.
  • Senor: While mostly for fun, shake the phone around and you will see the phone’s senor record the movement.
  • Past: This is another Google Map highlighting the most powerful and noteworthy earthquakes throughout known history, some dating back hundreds of years.

According to “With “MyShake” App, Your Phone Feels Earthquakes and Automatically Warns Scientists” in Popular Mechanics, says: Continue reading “Smartphones Help Create Global Sesmic Network”

Oregon Pioneer: Thomas Condon

OPB-TV’s Oregon Experience honored Thomas Condon last week with his story. A preacher and pioneer geologist, Thomas Condon arrived in the Oregon Territory in 1853 and settled in The Dalles, and eventually became Oregon’s first state geologist and professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and later to the brand new University of Oregon in 1876.

Thomas Condon always loved geology. He subscribed to scientific journals and collected rocks and fossils wherever he lived. Townspeople, teamsters, and soldiers stationed at Fort Dalles knew of his great knowledge of geology and began bringing him fossils to examine and identify.

By 1865 Condon was accompanying the soldiers on trips into Oregon’s interior and was the first to recognize the scientific significance of the area now known as the John Day Fossil Beds – where nearly 50 million years of time are preserved.

The mid 1800s was considered the Golden Age of Paleontology. Scientists were in competition to discover fossil specimens that would support Charles Darwin’s new theory of evolution. Early on Condon had began corresponding with prominent East coast paleontologists and sent them fossil specimens he’d collected for identification. The paleontologists in turn had the status and money to write articles and get the new discoveries published in leading scientific journals.

Some of Condon’s most famous ancient discoveries included parts of small three-toed ancestors of the modern horse. Yale University professor O.C. Marsh called the fossils the “missing link” in horse evolution and would write significant papers on the subject using Condon’s fossil discoveries as part of the evidence.

Today, you can find Condon’s fossil collection at the University of Oregon, and explore the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Central Oregon.

Agates Exposed on Oregon Coast

Fire Agate
Credit: Wikipedia Wiki Commons
If you were along the Oregon Coast over the past couple weeks, you would find an agate collector’s dream.

According to the The News Guard: Regional News, recent storms in a series this winter have exposed rock beds along the coastline as the sand is washed away by the high waves and current. This makes agate hunting there hot right now.

Laura Joki, Lincoln City rockhound and owner of the Rock Your World Rock Shop, 3203 SE Highway 101, broke down what makes an agate an agate.

“Silica is the second most common element, and that’s what agates are made of,” Joki said. “An agate is crypto-crystalline quartz or quartz in which the crystals are too small to see with the naked eye, even with a microscope hand lens. They are interconnected. Almost woven together.”

Agates are formed in ocean seams called amydales—bubbles formed during volcanic lava flow. The available silicas form into agate and jasper from surrounding volcanic materials, Joki said.

She added that from the 1930s to the 1950s, a particular form of agate, known as a sagenite agate, was considered valuable.

The article also noted that there are fossils, chert, jasper, petrified wood, and zeolites to be found along the exposed shoreline.

Several of our members stay and travel to the coast often, so if you find some oceanside treasure, bring it to our meetings and events for identification and sharing.

Member Julian Gray Releases Book on Minerals of Georgia

Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club member, Julian Gray, recently released “Minerals of Georgia,” a long-time project with co-author Dr. Robert B. Cook, edited by Jose Santamaria.

Announced in the Examiner and in a public event at the Tellus Science Museum in Atlanta, the new book showcases the geological beauty of the minerals in the state of Georgia, and provides an exceptional educational guide for amateur geologists on the scientific makeup and locations of minerals.

Julian Gray, Executive Director of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, Oregon, previously worked at Tellus Science Museum as its curator. He was a long-time resident of Georgia and intimately familiar with its geology as a geologist, and as a hobbyist from an early age.

Called by many “the bible of Georgia mineralogy to mineral collectors,” this is the updated edition of the 1978 original book. It includes more information on new mineral discoveries, a stronger scientific narrative of each classification, and many more beautiful photographs, many taken by Julian.

He spoke to our group about agates and his upcoming book in August. Julian will be speaking at a variety of events here in Oregon as part of the book tour and promotion. We’ll announce them as they become available.

Congratulations to Julian Gray for the outstanding work he did on the book and the fantastic contribution to mineralogy.

Giant Rock Falls in Umpqua, Oregon

Living in the Pacific Northwest, falling rocks are a part of life and the myths of the infamous Native American throwing rocks at the strange and noisy creatures moving at high speeds through the mountains. We’ve had our share of devastation as people continue to build on steep mountainsides and fragile geological areas and suffer the consequences of slides.

With all of that familiarity, news out of Umpqua that a massive rock fell onto Tyee Road near milepost 6 in Douglas County would not have created much excitement save for the size of the rock that landed on the road.

Rock Falls on Tyee Road - Umpqua - Mike Henneke - The News Review 2016
Citation: Mike Henneke – The News Review 2016

No one was hurt, and a contractor was able to break the rock up for removal in just over 24 hours, and road crews moved in to temporarily shore up the mountainous road.

Umpqua is part of the Southern Oregon Coast Range, part of the Roseberg volcanics. Much of the geology along that area is a mix of igneous rock, pillow basalt, and sandstone, mudstone, and other sedimentary rock.

Oregon Field Guide produced a 10 minute piece on the North Umpqua Geology, offering more insights into this beautiful area of our state.

Scientists Release List of the Rarest Earth Minerals

BBC News Science and Environment column reported that scientists have catalogued the largest list ever of rare minerals. The list, published in American Mineralogist, was authored by Dr Robert Hazen, from the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, and Prof Jesse Ausubel of The Rockefeller University, in New York, and includes more than 5,000 mineral species.

“Scientists have so far tracked down 5,000 mineral species and it turns out that fewer than a 100 constitute almost all of Earth’s crust. The rest of them are rare, but the rarest of the rare – that’s about 2,500 minerals – are only found at five places on Earth or fewer,” Dr Hazen told BBC News.

“And you ask: why study them; they seem so insignificant? But they are the key to the diversity of the Earth’s near-surface environments.

“It’s the rare minerals that tell us so much about how Earth differs from the Moon, from Mars, from Mercury, where the same common minerals exist, but it’s the rare minerals that make Earth special.”

The list includes rare examples including cobaltominite, abelsonite, fingerite, edoylerite, and the extremely rare “vampire-like minerals” that fall apart immediate when wet or the sun shines on them: edoylerite, metasideronatrite, and sideronatrite.

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