Rockhounding is the recreational activity of searching for and studying rocks, minerals and fossils in nature. A person that searches for rocks, minerals or fossils in nature for fun is called a rockhounder. Rockhounders are rock lovers of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world. Rockhounders go out into nature and dig in the ground in hopes of finding interesting or unique rocks. Once they find a gem, fossil, rock or mineral, they perform various types of research about their find. If a rockhounder finds a rock that they are not familiar with, they begin with researching the look and feel of the rock. Upon researching the physical traits of the material, they can generally identify what they have found. Once they identify the rock, they study it further and may attempt to discover how the material was formed over the years or just how old it is. When they have learned everything that they can about what they have found, they often label and store the rocks, minerals, gems or fossils in a collection. Throughout different rockhounding expeditions, rockhounders expand their collections and can look back on the many natural items that they have found.
Rocks, minerals, gems and fossils can be found in just about any natural area of the world although some areas are better known for certain types of rocks than others. For instance, minerals are much easier for a rockhounder to discover in areas that are mountainous or have accessible mines where digging is allowed by law. If a rockhounder is searching for a specific type of material, they will first begin with trying to discover where the material is most commonly found in the world. When they have identified the ideal location after some research, then they can travel to the location and search further for a perfect digging site.
Before beginning to dig in any location, it is important to first make sure that digging is allowed on the property. Once permission is granted, a rockhounder can begin to dig. Rockhounding tools can be expensive and dangerous, so basic tools are recommended for beginners. Small metal shovels, chisels, hammers and metal sieves are ideal tools for rockhounders. Shovels are necessary to begin digging while hammers and chisels are useful if hard clumps of soil or small rocks are in the way of digging further into the ground. Sieves are small screens that sort soil from rocks and other materials that makes it easier to discover smaller rocks, minerals or gems that can be difficult to find if covered in dirt. With the proper tools and location, the possibilities for geological discoveries are endless.
One of the biggest tasks rockhounders are faced with is identifying the objects that they find while digging for rocks. At times, it can be difficult for a rockhounder to realize what they have found. In fact, a lot of rockhounders keep charts where they can list the various physical traits of the rocks and what kind of natural location they discovered the item in. After they have finished their rockhounding expedition, they can use resources such as the Internet or books to compare photos of their finds. If the location of the item and its physical characteristics match up with the photos, chances are the rockhounder has successfully identified their rock, mineral, gem or fossil. Once it is identified, the rockhounder can perform further searches to discover more about the origins and history of what they have found. When they are done researching, they can correctly label and store their find along with the rest of their collection. Some of the most common finds for rockhounders vary greatly by location but can include items such as mammal fossils and fool’s gold.
- Where Do Gems Form & Where Are They Found?
- Rockhounding, Mineral Collecting and Our National Forests
Digging for Rocks
- Geological Methods
- Rock Hunting with Children
- Virtual Dinosaur Dig
- Fossil Dig Lesson Plan
- Geology for Kids
Identifying Rocks, Minerals, Gems and Fossils
- Rock Identification
- Rocks & Soil Interactive Learning Game
- Build Your Own Minerals Game
- Interactive: Rock Cycle
- Mineral Identification
- What are Fossils?
- Fossil Fabricator Game for Kids
- Fossil Facts
- Exploring Fossils & Fossil Records
- Rocks and Mineral Basics
- Why Study Rocks?
- All About Rocks
- World of Fossils
- Hard as a Rock Lesson Plan & Rock Chart (PDF)
- Mineral Identification Exercise