Friday, March 21, 2008

Update, Geology in the Movies

The rather unremarkable picture above is more exciting than it looks! I had the opportunity to tour an operating tourmaline mine in the Pala District of southern California where tourmaline has been mined for the last 140 years or so. Walking underground in a mine like this is to walk through a series of tunnels in granitic rock and occasional peeks at the host pegmatite vein. We also saw one of the rare gem pockets, such as the one in the picture. No tourmaline was visible, but it is found in pockets like this along with kunzite and morganite beryl. The quartz crystal is almost a foot long...

The Accretionary Wedge Carnival is up in a day or two, over at Magma Cum Laude. I've already published my choices for best and worst depictions of geologists, but Chris Rowan's commentary about the all-knowing maverick character that appears in most such movies (Geologists in the movies: the myth of the maverick) reminded me of a well-hidden inside joke (maybe?) that only a mineralogist could appreciate. In Congo (1995), based on the Michael Crichton novel (and boy, what a favor he has been doing for climate scientists lately...), the plot of the otherwise dismal movie swirls around a search for some type of special diamond to be used some kind of weapon of mass destruction. I only saw the movie once, ten years ago, so forgive me if the details aren't entirely right, but in the pivotal climax scene a character (who was NOT in the novel) starts grabbing the diamonds and stuffing them in his pockets just prior to being dispatched by monsters or bullets or something. I couldn't help but notice that the "diamonds" were in fact large doubly terminated quartz crystals, sometimes known as "Herkimer Diamonds". The character's name? Dr. Herkemer Homolka...

Coincidence? You decide...

1 comment:

Brian said...

My entry is here

http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/03/action_paleontologists_to_the.php