I’m usually a geophysicist, trying to figure out what’s down there while staying safely up there. For geophysicists, classification of rocks is by their physical properties. Is it conductive, resistive, magnetic, or opaque to all my methods? This results in a rather rough classification: hard, soft, thar be gold, here be the base of a glacier. When I work as a disaster researcher, the classifications get even more basic: will it fall on me, yes/no? When it falls, will it come in chunks, or as a flow? If it flows, what type of fluid is it?
…this gets a bit embarrassing when a summer outing with friends turns into an accidental field trip, and they want to know the real technical names for the rocks, how they got there, and what they tell us about the history of where we are.
One of the things I deeply love about geoscience (along with treating it as a murder mystery) is that the actual principles are based on common sense. Although the real-life complexities can make me chew on my field hat in befuddlement, it’s entirely plausible to gain theoretical understanding through independent study, particularly with a bit of a helping hand to guide the way. Using the APEG BC Sedimentation & Stratigraphy learning objectives, and a series of prompts written by the always-awesome Stuart Sutherland, in the next 20+ weeks I will hopefully learn enough to give impromptu beach lectures on sandstone cliffs. I’m reading from Prothero & Schwab’s Sedimentary Geology and Bogg’s Principles of Sedimentology & Stratigraphy, with sporadic individual papers. The full bibliography for my sedimentation & stratigraphy independent study is in this PDF.