Rocks are books, as long as you know how to read them. The next time you see a geologist looking at a rock crop, remember he or she is actually ‘reading’ the rock history.

Personally I know that people do not seem to understand what geologists actually do on their field trips. In addition they do not seem to realize the significance in ‘rock reading’.

Yet this action of geologist ‘reading’ rocks is the beginning of many in the history of man. Many inventions started with geological mapping, such as mining. In addition we now know a lot of natural disasters because of studying rocks.  

Listed a below are the actions geologists do on the field while reading rocks and how to translate them if you ever see them.

Rock and mineral collection

The most important work of a geologist is to know the name of the rocks. Therefore geologist needs to study them. Sometimes it is enough to see it, especially if the geologist has experience. 

But if it is not possible to observe rocks with a naked eye, a magnifying glass makes it easier to see mainly crystals of minerals.   

However most the times geologist takes samples of rocks and minerals to study them in the laboratory. That is why a geologist is carrying a geological hammer, to dig out a sample of the rock. 

There there are many different analyses to find different things about the rocks, such as chemical composition or examination under the microscope.

These many investigations for rocks and minerals help geologist to learn about the rock identity. Finally this will help to learn about the rock history: how it was made and where it traveled through.

This is why rocks are books for geologists, and they can be for everyone interested to learn.  

Measuring the angle of rock dipping

Another feature that a geologist is observing is the angle that the rock is dipping. If you stand on a road crop where the rock is cut, you can notice sometimes that it has layers. In more specific the layers are parallel to each other and they are dipping in an angle in relation to the ground.

In order to measure the angle and the direction the rock is dipping, the geologist uses a compass.

This information is very important for a geologist and it consists a valuable puzzle for the geological storyline. In more specific it is a feature that tells the geologist what is happening under the ground surface.

That is why geology is complex. In order to tell the whole storyline of a place, a geologist needs to know the rocks that appear in the surface but also the ones that are underneath.    

Mapping, finding out that rocks are books

Rocks are books but the complete story is in geological maps.

The final chapter for a geologist is to collect all the information gathered in the field and draw the geological map. Hence all the above information are the outline of the story.

In addition the geologist is also sketching of specific geological features that are map. Another source of information are aerial photos and satellite image which can fill the gaps on information for vast areas.

There are more techniques that a geologist uses in the field and they are comprehensively outline in the book ‘Geological Field Techniques‘. This books describes in depth all the above from using the compass to making geological maps. Therefore is an essential guide for every student, amature or professional geologist. 

Keep learning. Keep growing. 


Posted on 21/02/2018. This article contains affiliate links.

Download this free e-book to learn how Earth science can change your daily and work life.




5 books for curiosity and creativity of a scientist


Books that cultivate Curiosity and Creativity for the world of Science

what geologist does


Why to become a geologist and how to achieve it

Let us know what you have to say

Your email address or website will not be published.