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And Now, the Christmas Geology Quiz

By December 25, 2008

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Introducing the About.com Geology annual Christmas Geology Quiz, 20 questions ranging from absurdly easy to absurdly tricky. Ideally you will do these without looking anything up; failing that you may try hard-copy sources such as books and your old class notes. But you should know that not even the Internet will save you. Answers will be posted the day after Christmas. Enjoy!

1. "Smilla's Sense of Snow" featured what murder weapon?

2. What is the mineral name of ice?

3. What is the rear end of a trilobite called? What about the other end?

4. What do these have in common: lead, belt, polynya, bummocks?

5. What do these have in common: suevite, hyaloclastite, lechatelierite, tektite?

6. "Slab pull" is (a) a field-camp game, (b) a lithospheric traction, (c) a step in artificial diamond manufacture, (d) the design strength of a concrete mixture?

7. Put these in order from bottom to top: colonnade, entablature, pillows, vesicular cap

8. Which of these does not belong: muscovite, kutnahorite, franklinite, dolomite?

9. Which of these does not belong: cinnabar, massicot, orpiment, realgar?

10. Which plate is smallest: Arabian, Caribbean, Nazca, Scotia? Which is largest?

11. Which was first to go extinct: ammonites, archeocyathids, eurypterids, trilobites?

12. Which is a radiometric dating method: carbon-14, potassium-argon, samarium-neodymium, uranium-lead?

13. Which rock is plutonic: foidolite, komatiite, lamprophyre, phonolite?

14. Which rock is volcanic: taconite, tephrite, tonalite, troctolite?

15. Which of these does not belong: rille, fosse, corona, catena?

16. Is the Black Sea one of the Seven Seas? Is the Mediterranean?

17. Which midocean ridge spreads the slowest: Gakkel, Gorda, Juan de Fuca, Reykjanes?

18. What comes next: olivine, pyroxene, amphibole, . . . ?

19. What comes next: plinian, vulcanian, strombolian, . . . ?

20. Which starts first: Archean, Eratosthenian, Hesperian?

Answers on Boxing Day

Stolen with thanks from Jon Carroll, who has an infinitely better Christmas Quiz.


December 29, 2008 at 12:58 pm
(1) Pete Modreski says:

Oh, man, you are right, what a quiz! Some pretty easy, and some “really tough”. Some terms I have to admit (embarassment?) I never heard of (of course, all of us geologists have to admit to SOME areas of the field that we don’t know much about, right?).

It’s after Christmas, so now I’ll go and look at the answers! Thanks for the quiz,

December 30, 2008 at 9:02 am
(2) john says:

jeez…I majored in Geology, am now an Accountant, but it looks like I retained NOTHING!!

January 1, 2009 at 5:31 am
(3) P. C. Avadich says:

From soft to very hard nuts. a ccmplete Moh’s scale of hardness

January 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm
(4) Pete Modreski says:

Having finally looked at the answers, I can’t resist a few (little bit tongue in cheek maybe?) comments, because I was sure curious to see what some of the answers were going to be…
(1) Am I the only one who had absolutely no clue in the world what “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” was?
(4) Oops, I must have overlooked this one entirely and not read it at all; if I had, I think I’d have been fairly clueless here. I did know that a polynya had to do with arctic ice; maybe this would or wouldn’t have clued me in that “lead” was that kind of lead and not the Pb kind. “Bummocks”, you’ve got to be kidding, right? : )
(8) I was really puzzled by this one; I could only guess that muscovite didn’t fit, as a silicate whereas the others are non-silicate minerals. Dolomite?–I’m embarassed to admit–I should have known better–I thought it was named after the Dolomite Alps, not vice versa and after a person! (though once I read this, Dolomieu did “ring a bell”)
(11) I only guessed “archeocyathids” because they sounded more ancient. What are they?–hey, I’m a mineralogist, “not my area of expertise”.
(12) C-14, that’s a tricky one, we generically usually refer to them all as “radiometric dating” (don’t we?).
(15) I’ve heard of a catena but couldn’t remember what it was. Does “corona” have some relevance to other than the sun?
(16) Oh, who can ever be expected to remember those ancient/medieval known “seas”? (I’ll have to look it up, be fun to know this.)
(17) Oh, right, anybody has ever heard of the “Gakkel Ridge”, wherever that is! Surely you made it up.
(20) I give great credit to anyone who knew these outside-Earth geologic age terms! (Interestingly, I see that on the Moon they are called Periods, on Mars, Epochs, and of course on Earth, the Archaen is an Eon.)
Cheers and thanks again for the quiz,

January 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(5) Pete Modreski says:

I just have to add one more comment! I looked up “the seven seas” and find that just about every source gives a slightly different list, including such comments as,
“There is no definitive answer to this question. The phrase is a figure of speech and has been used to refer to different bodies of water at various times and places.” and “…can refer either to a particular set of seven seas or to a great expanse of water in general.”
BUT, most of the lists one sees DO include the Mediterranean and Black Seas as among the “seven”! So much for your “No, No” answer to #16 !

January 5, 2009 at 10:14 pm
(6) Geology Guide says:

You’re right, I should have specified the movie “Smilla’s Sense of Snow,” since I’ve never read the book. As for the rest, bwoo-hah-hah-hah-haaa!

January 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm
(7) Pete Modreski says:

Oh no, don’t worry, no need to have specified the movie–you have to give people SOME credit for knowing something on their own! I figured it was obviously a book or movie; and, hey, it was one of the few things in this “Christmas” quiz that had anything to do with, Winter at least. But how were you interpreting the Seven Seas question? In terms of the version that counts what we normally now call Oceans, as “seas”? If I may…

“Some ancient civilizations used the phrase “seven seas” to describe the bodies of water known at that time. The ancient Romans called the lagoons separated from the open sea near Venice the septem maria or seven seas. Most current sources state that “seven seas” referred to the Indian Ocean, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Adriatic Sea, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea.

“Some geographers point to the Age of Discovery and suggest that the seven seas represent the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Other geographers state that the seven seas were the Mediterranean and Red Seas, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, China Sea, and the West and East African Seas. ”

It’s an entertaining question. (The above quotes are from http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/seas.html

January 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm
(8) Matt says:

Hi Pete and all! I would have to agree that there is no definitive list of the Seven Seas. I’ve been meaning to write about the topic but I would say similar things to that which the Library of Congress said on their page!

Matt Rosenberg
Geography Guide for About.com

January 12, 2009 at 10:50 am
(9) simon says:

Thank you so much for the Xmas Quiz.I really enjoyed it.My only problem is that I dont have a computer to study on my own.

January 15, 2009 at 4:01 am
(10) Jilvert Mondido says:

Thanks for the quiz it really helped me to use my think tank….

March 15, 2009 at 7:19 am
(11) P. C. Avadich says:

This has reference to the puzzle of ‘Seven Seas’. Today, numbers in billions and trillions are frequently mentioned, still popular numbers are few and that too very selected. These figures have been frequently mentioned in folklores and folk tales world wide. They are 1,2,3,5,7,10,12 and 20. The figure 7 is also one such number. There are seven days in a week. In ancient times, when our knowledge was limited to seven planets, the Sun,Moon, Mars, Mercury,Jupiter, Venus and saturn. each planet was worshiped on a specific day this made a weak of seven days. It was thought that all the seven planets travel in their own specific sky and at different heights, thus came the existance of seven skies. As all these heavenly bodies had their own specific skies, they must have their own seas to set in, thus came the existance of seven seas. All the cultures had their own versions of seven seas and there is nothing to debate over this

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