Rock and Mineral Collections

Keeping good records is an important part of building a rock and mineral collection. All specimens should be labeled with basic descriptive information. As your collection grows, you may want to consider setting up a system of cataloging:

  • List each specimen within your collection and assign each a unique number. For\example
    X-1 - Minerals
    S-1 - Sedimentary rocks
    I-1 - Igneous rocks
    M-1 - Metamorphic rocks
    F-1 - Fossils
  • Create an index card for each specimen, listing where the specimen was  collected. You may also want to record specific information about each specimen, such as physical properties, uses, and date collected.
  • Label specimens using white enamel paint (model paint) and a fine-tipped  permanent marker. Paint a small area on the bottom side of the specimen, let it dry, and then write your specific file number on the white space.

Mineral Identification Worksheet

example index card and labeled rock

Equipment for Collecting

  1. Hammer (bricklayer's) with one chisel or pick head. (Chisel end works best for sedimentary rocks.)
  2. Cold chisel about 6 inches long and an edge about 0.5 inches wide.
  3. Dilute hydrochloric (muriatic) acid (10% solution) in a dropper bottle for testing the presence of carbonate minerals. Mark the bottle POISON. If acid is spilled on skin or clothing, wipe immediately and, if possible, rinse with water. (Note: Strong white vinegar can be substituted for acid.)
  4. A small water bottle, with water.
  5. Magnifying glass or hand lens; 10× power is probably the most useful.
  6. Hardness testers: penny, window glass square, pocket knife, nail.
  7. Streak plate or a piece of unglazed white porcelain such as the back of a tile.
  8. Notebook and pencil or pen for keeping records of the locality and bed from which specimens are collected. A topographic map may be useful.
  9. Collecting bags or backpack of strong material to carry your equipment and specimens.
  10. Heavy gloves and goggles to protect hands and eyes.
  11. Labels and wrappings. Field identification of specimens may be written on adhesive tape and attached to the specimen or on a slip of paper enclosed in the wrapping. Newspaper, brown paper, or paper bags can be used for wrapping specimens to protect them from damage by other specimens. Label the outside of the wrapped specimen, too.