Rocks, minerals and fossils are the raw material of the science of geology. They may be either the basis of high level research, or the eminently collectable items which are prized by amateurs and professionals alike.
Identification of specimens comes with practice. The more specimens you investigate the better you will become at understanding and classifying them. It is important to adopt a logical approach, looking at each aspect of the specimen in turn. It will not always be possible to match a specimen with an illustration, but the photographs and descriptions herein will, it is hoped, provide a fair level of identification if not absolute naming.
The minerals are arranged in the conventional manner starting with native elements and continuing with sulphides, oxides and so on. The specimens chosen include some perfect crystals but are mainly typical material rather than exquisite museum pieces. It is hoped that this will make it easier for you to match a specimen to a photograph. Each mineral specimen is accompanied by a full description of its properties and some indication of its distribution along with its more usual modes of occurrence.
The rocks are divided into three sections: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. In this section of the book there are a number of 'field' photographs, for it is in the field that geology comes alive and where the relationships between strata and their contents are best understood.
The fossils are the most difficult group to identify. They are arranged in biological groups and within each group the genera are stratigraphically organized as near as is possible. It is not easy to identify fossils below generic level from photographs and naming has been left at this level in nearly every case. This is, nevertheless, a good level to reach. For more detailed classification
one of the standard reference works will have to be consulted, or you may need to visit a local museum or university department. I have given an indication of geographical distribution. However, it should be borne in mind that the distribution of species is constantly being modified by fieldwork and research. The expression 'worldwide' is sometimes used and this obviously means only where favourable strata occur. The geological range of each genus is given with each description. Microfossils have not been included because they require certain specialized techniques of study and are numerous enough to fill a book on their own.
When collecting specimens be sure to place each item in a separate container with the name of the locality carefully recorded. The importance of this location of material cannot be over-emphasized, and is of equal importance to the name of the specimen; indeed, the location will help when trying to name the material. Try to make a catalogue of your collection and if it becomes extensive then lodge a copy with your local museum, as you may have material which, if properly curated, is of scientific