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Andrew Alden

Answers to the 2012 Christmas Geology Quiz

By December 31, 2012

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Here are the answers for the 2012 Christmas Geology Quiz. Let the aftermath commence!

1. In what place might you find bacon? baguettes? blackjack? boudins?
As flowstone in caves; in jewelry shops as gemstone cuts; in mines as sphalerite; in metamorphic rocks as deformation features. "At field camp" is also correct if you mean meat, bread, card games and sausages.

2. Which mineral is named for a person: kainite, kernite, kornite, kyanite?
Kornite is named for the German geologist Hermann Korn. Kainite is named for its "youth" as a replacement mineral, kernite is named for Kern County in California, and kyanite is named for its blue color.

3. Which of these lakes is prone to erupting: Kivu, Loch Ness, Nyos, Vostok?
Kivu and Nyos are two of the three "exploding lakes" in Africa, hazards because of their supersaturation in carbon dioxide gas. Vostok is under several kilometers of Antarctic ice, and Loch Ness has a different special feature.

4. Which rock type can float on water: aerolite, pumice, reticulite, scoria?
Pumice is a frothy lava with closed bubbles that make it watertight. Reticulite and scoria are also frothy lava, but with open bubbles. Aerolite is an old name for meteorites, which have no holes at all in them.

5. On what plate is Copahue? Etna? Kilauea? Tolbachik?
These volcanoes, all of which erupted in 2012, are respectively on the South America, Eurasia, Pacific and Okhotsk plates.

6. On what plate is Madagascar? Malaysia? Maldives? Mauritania?
They're on the Somali, Sunda, India and Africa plates respectively.

7. Quick, name the four agents of metamorphism.
Heat! Pressure! Fluids! Strain!

8. Which of these does not belong: bolson, playa, salar, turlough?
Salar. All four may refer to dry basins, but the other three terms also mean a lake in that basin.

9. Can ball clay form a clay ball? Can ball coal form a coal ball?
Yes, no. Clay balls are eroded lumps of clay, which can consist of any type of clay including ball clay (highly plastic mixed clay). Coal balls are mineralized concretions and don't consist of coal at all, let alone ball coal (spheroidal coal).

10. Which of each pair of geologic time periods is earlier: the Stenian or the Tonian? the Roadian or the Wordian? the Carnian or the Norian? the Danian or the Ypresian?
The first one is earlier in all cases. The Stenian and Tonian are periods in the Proterozoic while the rest are time units of age rank in the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, respectively. By the way, I think the Ypresian should be pronounced "EEP-rian," but I've never heard its name spoken.

11. The state mineral of Kentucky does not contain minerals. Why is that?
The state mineral of Kentucky is coal, which consists of macerals (classes of organic material) rather than minerals.

12. The state gemstone of Florida is not found in Florida. Why is that?
Florida named moonstone (opalescent feldspar) as its state gem by way of tribute to the Florida space industry.

13. Which of these qualifies as commercial granite: basalt, dolomite, greenstone, gneiss?
Commercial granite is defined as any rock consisting of large grains of quartz and feldspar. And that is why your granite tabletop might be made of gneiss.

14. Which of these would professional geologists probably not do: fossicking, frolicking, rimrocking, rocklicking?
Fossicking. Defined by Australian law as recreational prospecting for personal purposes, fossicking is definitely an amateur activity. But I have seen professional geologists frolic. Rimrocking is prospecting for uranium around the rim of the Colorado Plateau. And the best geologists don't hesitate to lick rocks to identify certain minerals by taste.

15. In which Australian state is the gemstone opal honored: Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia?
None and all of these. Opal is the state mineral emblem of two states (New South Wales and South Australia), but Australia's national gemstone is opal.

16. What word means all of these: a lamina, a sighting error, a subfacies, a zero-crossing?

17. Which does not belong: cat clay, cat coal, cat face, cat's-eye?
Cat's-eye. The other three all have to do with pyrite (iron sulfide): cat clay and cat coal are ruined by its presence, and cat face is what miners call nodules and veins of pyrite glittering out of a coal bed. Cat's-eye is a gemstone that displays chatoyancy.

18. Does heavy oil have high gravity?
No, it has low gravity according to the industry-standard API scale.

19. The distance of a teleseism is (a) a great-circle radian (b) far enough to distinguish surface and body waves (c) 1000 km (d) far enough for a first arrival from the mantle.
1000 kilometers.

20. The largest earthquake this year in North America struck: Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States?
Canada took the prize this year with the Queen Charlotte Islands quake, of magnitude 7.7, on 28 October. Costa Rica had a 7.6 on 5 September, Mexico had a 7.4 on 20 March, and the USA's biggest was a 6.4 in the Aleutian Islands on 26 September.


December 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm
(1) Rod says:

Ok, that was a very tricky quiz… Lots of tricks to lead me astray! I must say I did very poorly.

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