Laws applicable to rock collection in Michigan

I manage a group of rock enthusiasts in Michigan. In order to clear up questions, confusion and controversy, I have thoroughly studied the laws applicable to rock collecting in Michigan and summarized them here.

Infographic made by the Michigan Rockhounds team

There is a 25lb annual limit on the collection of rocks, minerals and fossils from state-owned land and lands held in the public trust in the state of Michigan. Collecting artifacts and antiquities of any kind (including shipwreck material and native artifacts) from state and public trust lands is illegal. State-owned lands refer primarily to state parks. Lands held in the public trust by the state…


In addition to the “bones don’t melt” answers which can be supplemented with “meat does not melt”, it is interesting to note what happens on the rare occasions that people have fallen into lava.

The lava is very close to its freezing point as it oozes across the ground- it is basically just barely molten. When something falls into it- we’ll say a leg in this case- the lava freezes around the surface of it to create a rock cast. …


Sharing some geology knowledge

Most mountain ranges are built along plate boundaries where the plates are crashing together. This collision of tectonic plates can result in a crumpling of the crust (as you find in the Himalayas) or a buckling of the crust over a zone of subduction (subduction being where one tectonic plate is pushed over another).

If you have a collision of tectonic plates without one being subducted under the other, as is the case in the Himalayas, you will have a (geologically) violent crumpling of the Earth and, as we all know, that is where you have the highest mountains of…


a word with 45 letters

The most useless word in the English language is the longest one and is from my own study area: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

We English speakers like smaller words and we’re ok with putting several together to describe something if we have to. We generally leave the 20-syllable compound words to the Germans who really dig that sort of thing.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is damage to the lungs caused by inhaling volcanic ash. When silicosis happens to anyone else, like a coal miner, it’s just called silicosis. But this is caused by volcanic ash. Silicovolcanoconiosis I guess. …


Step by step investigation of a rock and how it formed

Rock picture (credit: Amber Page Myers)

I participate in a group of rock enthusiasts in Michigan and was asked about this very strange rock. In particular, the asker wanted to know what it was and especially how did it end up looking so bizarre, with these odd patterns all over it. My answer follows…

This one might be the most bizarre I’ve ever encountered. Keep in mind that I haven’t handled it in person, I’m working from all the photos you sent me so this is highly speculative. Now, what you have is a sedimentary rock. In all of your photos, there was not a single…


The reason is simple: it is due to the Coriolis Effect.

This effect is caused by the way objects move in “straight lines” in a rotating reference frame. Here is a Wikipedia gif that I love using to help explain the effect:

From a north polar perspective, which is appropriate in the northern hemisphere, all moving objects are deflected to the right as they move, which gives them a clockwise trajectory on the surface of our counterclockwise rotating planet (from the northern perspective).

Now, meteorologically, and in the simplest terms, high pressure attempts to move toward low pressure in the atmosphere. Having areas of extremely high atmospheric pressure right next to…


Happy Father’s Day

My Dad, brothers and I visiting the Badlands

One time my dad decided to do some electrical work on the house by himself. Who needs a licensed electrician? Not this guy!

It only took him about 15 minutes to do whatever he was trying to do, and in the end, everything worked… just not how it was supposed to. My bedroom light switch now controlled the living room lights. The bathroom light switch controlled the garage lights. Everything was random and horrifically mixed up. I still don’t understand how the hell it happened.

Still, there’s clearly no need to get an electrician out for this, my dad decided…


My two cents

I wrote the following piece on Facebook a few years ago after chasing a thief through my neighborhood while walking my dog late one night in Australia (I’m an American back in the States now). While not perfectly suited to the question, I think it is still relevant and I hope you think so too:

With the current debate on guns raging and with both sides contributing near equal amounts of sound reasonable points along with whack-job crazy assertions, I’d like to relate what happened to me a few years ago.

Here in Australia, almost nobody has guns. They are…


shared an old story of mine

I was living in a house full of college students (being a grad student myself) where people would move in and move out pretty frequently. As I moved my food into the refrigerator my first day there, I noted a half-gallon of orange juice in an unlabeled container in the back. I didn’t think much of it since the fridge was completely filled with stuff. Here is what it looked like:

It looked exactly like this image in every possible way. Anyway, we all had a policy of not throwing away anyone else’s things, and this bottle remained at the…


The answer might surprise you.

I might be the only person actually qualified to answer this question, so allow me to try to explain. Not only am I a geologist, but I was also a creationist when I began my studies. Moreover, I know several geologists who are currently creationists. The answer might surprise you. And no, the answer is not “because creationism explains things better.”

I started studying geology in the late 90s at Michigan Tech, a fantastic school for that (formerly a mining school). I’ve always had a passion for volcanology- the study of volcanoes. I was also a fundamentalist Christian and a…

Craig McClarren

Geologist, a lover of all science, father of a young child, published writer on Forbes and Mental Floss

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