Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review: 'Minerals of Georgia' provides indepth geological showcase

ATLANTA -- A new book designed to showcase Georgia's geological beauty while educating amateur geologists on the scientific makeup and locations of the minerals found in the state was released on Thursday during a public event at the Tellus Science Museum.

Minerals of Georgia (University of Georgia Press) by Dr. Robert B. Cook and Julian C. Gray, and edited by Jose Santamaria, accounts for every type of rock, mineral and gem discovered in the Peach State and places them on display using high definition photography. The beautiful imagery spotlights the minerals detailed information and their known locations.

Dr. Cook is a professor emeritus of the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University. Gray is executive director of the Rice Northwestern Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, Oregon and a former curator at Tellus. Santamaria is Tellus' executive director and penned an informative Forward for this book.

"The three of us got the mineral collecting bug early when we were kids," Santamaria said as he, Cook and Gray sat down for a candid discussion on Thursday. "We have pursued that interest in various manners, but I think it circles back to this book - a passion of love and interest. Getting it done and getting it into peoples hands was our goal."

This updated project to Dr. Cook's original book of the same name published in 1978 digs deeper into new mineral discoveries; includes a strong scientific narrative of each classification; and adds photographs not included in the first edition. Cook offers this book as his legacy, while Santamaria refers to both editions as "the bible of Georgia mineralogy to mineral collectors."

Minerals of Georgia is a backpack explorers connection to the hidden treasures embedded within Georgia's vast mountains, grounds and rivers. The nature enthusiast and trail hiker will appreciate the information contained within its beautifully designed layout.

"The section on gold has been expanded as there had been so many questions about Georgia gold that I went back and I was able to document the gold specimens that were donated to the state of Georgia starting back about 1880," Dr. Cook explained. "There were good gold collections, large numbers of nuggets, and we've added all that into the section of gold."

Laughing and relaxed prior to the books official release, the geological trio offered up what they enjoyed about the book itself. Their conversations drew up new remembrances over the past 15 years in which they collaborated to create this expanded new edition.

"To me the most exciting and important thing is the fact that since the original book was published, doing more through collecting and finding new minerals from sites which were already mention," said Santamaria. "There's a chapter were we added new minerals to Gray's Mountain. There were originally around 20 listed and now it's close to 50. This is through not only diligent collecting, but the passion of some mineralogists that put them under a microscope to find out what are those minerals that exist only in that area."

"Jacksons Crossroads in Wilkes County is one of the most famous amethyst locations in the world," Gray jumped in to offer. "A band of collectors from Athens went out there with hand tools and began to find some amazing things. Following a commercial mining effort, they began pulling out some world class crystals. They're in museums and collections all over the world. This discovery at Jacksons Crossroads was not known about when the original book was written."

The soft cover book includes several indexes, and is laid out to support quick research for the average user. "An important aspect for this book is there are three indexes beginning with minerals, locality and there is an index of counties," Santamaria continued. "If you have a family trip to Heard County, and you think about what could be found there, you can actually look up on the index and it will refer you to all of the different minerals and the pages."

Cook, Gray and Santamaria expressed that they each signed over their royalties of the book over to support the museum. Santamaria has served as the museum's director since 1996 when the then Weinman Mineral Museum expanded to become Tellus in 2009.

Minerals of Georgia is available at the Tellus Science Museum gift shop and available for order online within the United States for the book's $32.95 price plus shipping. The museum notes that members receive a discount in the store.

Minerals of Georgia, Their Properties and Occurrences

By Dr. Robert B. Cook, Julian C. Gray and Jose Santamaria

Illustrated. 344 pp. University of Georgia Press; 2nd edition (2016)

ISBN 978-0-8203-4558-1

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