Haematite – Day 19 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Haematite find out more about it below..

It’s the 19th of December, so you know what that means – it’s the last posting day for second class postage to reach it’s recipient before the 24th. So you have probably had those scissors out doing all your wrapping and sticking over the last couple of days. But don’t worry if you missed the 2nd class post today – you still have the first class post – until Monday!

Sharp scissors are essential for nice wrapping!

Sharp scissors are essential for nice wrapping!

However, in order for your beautifully wrapped presents to have been wrapped, you need nice scissors, preferably sharp steel ones – and for steel scissors you need iron, found in the ore Haematite (yes I know some people spell it Hematite, but I was brought up to include the ‘a’, so I look at it the same way that colour is spelt WITH a ‘u’).

A gorgeous photo of haematite by Jean-Marc Johannet from the MinDat website.

A gorgeous photo of haematite by Jean-Marc Johannet from the MinDat website.

Chemical formula: Fe2O3
Colour: Steel-grey to black in crystals and massively crystalline ores, dull to bright “rust-red” in in earthy, compact, fine-grained material.
System: Trigonal
Hardness (Mohs): 5 – 6
Can you find it in the UK? Yes

Unfortunately the map showing locations you can find Haematite in the UK isn’t working, but needless to say it is a fairly common mineral easily spotted by it’s rust red colour when it has been weathered.

For more information about Haematite please visit the MinDat website.


The geology of Super Bowl XLVIII

So this year, for the first time in YEARS, I didn’t stay up all night watching Super Bowl Sunday. No I was being sensible as I had to be up early do go to a first aid course. In hindsight, I would much rather have stayed up for Super Bowl (go you Seahawks!) as the first aid course was not as interesting as they usually are. So here I am, knowing the Seahawks won (yey!), watching the catch up on the t’internet. So I thought whilst I was doing so I would have a little look at the Geology of the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl XLVIII image from Wikipedia.com

Super Bowl XLVIII image from Wikipedia.com

Let’s start with the location. Super Bowl XLVIII was in New Jersey this year – at the MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants. The geology of this area is a mudstone/siltstone/shale that was deposited in the Lower Jurassic to Upper Triassic. The area has been extensively glaciated, and at the end of the last glacial period, Lake Hackensack formed and was gradually filled with layers of silt and clay. The site eventually became the marshlands of the Hudson River and a part of the floodplain for the same. As such when the stadium was constructed, piles were used to prevent the building moving under its own weight on the unstable ground. Details of the geology of the stadium area and the geotechnical engineering plan are avaliable here.

Now the game is going well, but it wouldn’t be controlled at all without the ref’s whistle. The whistles used by the NFL are produced by Fox40 and are made of polycarbonate plastic. They are pealess which makes them more reliable (apparently – I’ve never tried one) and produce a sound of 115dB!!! The polycarbonate plastic is a very durable type of plastic, usually made from hydrocarbons – so oil and gas…

TOUCHDOWN!!! And you know what that means – it’s time to go for the conversion. And you wouldn’t be able to get the extra point without the goals. The goal posts in yesterday’s game are aluminium (or aluminum in the States!) and are made by a company called Sportsfield Specialities. Aluminium, those of you who saw the mineral advent calendar may remember, is a metal found in the mineral Bauxite (among others). Still I’m not sure that’s what Malcolm Smith was thinking in the moment he flung that ball at the goal in victory after an AWESOME touchdown. Or Steven Hauschka when he lined up for the conversion.

Well done Seahawks!!!!

Bauxite (image from Wikimedia.com)

Bauxite (image from Wikimedia.com)

Its half time and how the heck do they manage to get that stage set up so quickly?!?! I mean there was a whole football game going on on that field about 2 minutes ago!!!! Anyway. I like the fact that the lights are on people’s heads apparently. It gives me a funny image of all these people with free headlamps stuck on their heads!! To make those lights work little LED lights were embedded into black hats by a company called PixMob. LED lights depend on gallium nitride (or other gallium based compounds) on a sapphire substrate to work. Gallium is a rare element found in the minerals Sphalerite and our old friend Bauxite. So you could say that the audience were wearing tiny crystals wrapped in a rare element. Awww, makes it seem all special doesn’t it!!

Little LED lights sparkle in the stadium...

Little LED lights sparkle in the stadium…

Now, as much as I am supporting the Seahawks (because they are from Seattle and my favourite part of the States so far is the Pacific North West in general and Washington in particular and not because they won, I would have supported them anyway), are the Broncos even there? I mean I see people in orange shirts and that looks like Peyton Manning, but 29 to nuthin and we have only just started the third quarter? Come on – a little more fight for the Super Bowl guys!!!

So the Broncos score, but is it enough? (we know it’s not) At least the Broncos mascot Thunder the horse got to have a little run. Ah that’s nice. Thunder, like many horses in the US, is probably shod with steel. Steel is an iron and carbon alloy and iron is a metal found in many minerals; pyrite, ochre, haematite and goethite. Poor Thunder – you won’t need long lasting shoes tonight – you might as well just head for the stable.

This is Thunder - the Bronco's mascot (image from Wikipedia.com)

This is Thunder – the Bronco’s mascot (image from Wikimedia.com)

And the Seahawks win! Whoop! Well it’s a bit less exciting when you know the score before you see the game, but it would have been better if the Broncos had been in it more. But anyhoo – it’s now all about the prize – the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It is 56cm tall and is entirely made of sterling silver by Tiffany’s jewellers.

Congratulations Seahawks, you deserve it.

To the victors, the spoils.

To the victors, the spoils.

Any more geology from the Super Bowl? This was just a quick skim really….