“Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected.”- Spock
Geology has many wondrous or “sexy” things to share with the world; the Grand Canyon (above), glaciers, volcanos, the list goes on! There is a lot of romanticism in geology as well, even the phrase “Its what’s on the inside that counts” can apply! For example:
Last fall I was enrolled in my Mineralogy course and as an aside, the topic of Flourescent Minerals came about. It had no relation to whatever lesson we were discussing, but the topic was intriguing so my professor took out several sample of rocks that fluoresced and we proceeded to turn the room lights off, and the UV lights on.
Well I was enamored, the beauty that came forth from some otherwise dull exteriors was amazing! There were yellows, pinks, oranges, blues, reds and of course the greens!
A few weeks later, our Geology Club sponsored a day trip to the Franklin Fluorescent Mineral Mine in New Jersey to collect some of theses rocks for ourselves. This trip not only served to start my collection of flourescent minerals, but it also sent me on a path that makes much more sense for a studying paleontologist like myself, fluorescent fossils!
It makes perfect sense of course, calcite and other minerals common in fossils are among those that fluoresce, so why wouldn’t there be fluorescent fossils? Well it wasn’t untill I saw the exhibit at the mine with the glowing ammonites and other critters that it struck home. I immediately started searching the literature for any research that may have been done on fluorescent fossils. Sadly there really hasn’t been all that much. UV light has been used on exquisite fossils to show features hidden to the naked eye, but that is just about it.
I also played with the fossils in my collection, and those in the university’s collection and found a handful of specimens that did fluoresce to some extent. Before/After photos posted below.
For now I do not have the resources to pursue fluorescent minerals/fossils with any kind of research, but I certainly hope to study their alluring glow sometime in my career!
If you want some more information on fluorescent minerals I would recommend these books:
Part of the current Accretionary Wedge: Sexy Geology! Cheers!