The strata measuring process starts with identifying a layer of rock to use as a base to start measuring at. Once an easily identifiable base was selected, Will grabbed a tape measure and tried not to slide down the steep (but small) slopes as he measured the thicknesses of limestone layers. Riley and Dr. Sedlacek stood diligently and took detailed notes of every thickness measured and the properties of the rocks seen. Tray was ready and eager to collect samples. He struck the rocks violently with hammers and broke off many perfect samples for use later in the lab. Kayla collected all the samples broken off and carefully annotated, bagged and tagged them. This small grouped worked efficiently as a team and was finished measuring their section in a couple hours! They brought back a large tub of limestone samples and feelings of accomplishment.
Tray, Will, and Kayla discuss breaking off samples
The Rock Team is picking up speed. BETA members have already visited the Rockford quarry once this year. On Saturday, September 30, Dr. Sedlacek, Riley McMorran, William Spurr, Kayla Beck, and Tray Hickie met at another local quarry. The team started their early morning learning about the stratigraphic sections with BMC Aggregates geologist Sherman Lundy. They then started working on measuring the strata exposed in the quarry and taking samples.
Tray, Kayla, Will, and Riley in front of the strata measured
Back in the rock preparation room, Rock Team members have begun cleaning, polishing, and describing rock samples taken during one of last year’s BETA outing at a different local quarry. Team members start the process by washing samples in water. Water brings out many details in these samples that wouldn’t be visible otherwise. Rock Team members then go about polishing a flat face on each sample. To polish a sample, put a small amount of water on a hard surface, something like a cutting board. Mix some fine grained powder in with the water. Take a sample and rub it in small circles in the powder until you start checking your watch every 15 seconds. It’s a simple process, but takes a little elbow grease. Polishing these samples is very important and brings out even more detail in the rocks. It turns sometimes dull pieces of limestone into beautiful records of geologic history!
A polishing station in use
A newly polished sample, look at the fine detail!
The Rock Team has also been working hard at translating field notes taken during one of last year’s BETA excursions into usable data. The data in question holds measurements of rock layers and descriptions of rocks during a previous outing to a local quarry. Once the data has been translated, it can be visualized in a diagram called a stratigraphic column. The columns being made display layers of rock stacked on top of each other. The order and thickness of each layer describe how the rocks look in real life. Each layer is filled in with a different pattern that represents the composition and character of that layer.
The Rock Team is working on exciting projects in their exploration of Devonian period atmosphere and life. They’re hard at work continuing past projects and starting something new!
On this page we'll post updates of the BETA Project's progress- stay tuned!