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The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook

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The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook
A Falcon Guide
By Garret Romaine
Falcon Guides: The Globe Pequot Press (2014)
An Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 978-0-7627-8470-7

By Harry S. Chou - May 18, 2015

When embarking on any new hobby, it can be hard to figure out where exactly to start - both in terms of outfitting yourself and in educating yourself out your new hobby. In The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook, Garret Romaine has taken the guess work out of at least two related hobbies - rockhounding and prospecting. In this handy guidebook, Romaine provides a wealth of information and resources that you can use to choose the proper gear and tools that you'll need. He is equally generous in providing information and resources that you can use to teach yourself just about everything from the basics of geology and map reading to how to plan your collecting trips and displaying your finds once you get home.

While most of the 'hunting' locations mentioned in this book are to be found in the Western reaches of the United States, the information in this guide is applicable throughout the US, and most of it also applies to locations around the world. Throughout, Romaine uses nontechnical language and the information presented is clear and unambiguous. Although geared more toward beginners, even more advanced rockhounds will find much to delight them. For instance, I learned a new term - Pebble Pub. According to the book, "A Pebble Pub is a camper who usually comes home with at lease one pretty rock in his or her pocket." It is a little thing, but I've never come across this term before, but I'm sure it will now be an active part of my vocabulary in the future!

Over the course of this book, Romaine provides readers with a very brief overview of some geology basics, along with a list of some of the most popular finds, ranging from agates to zeolites. Each find is annotated with a description, picture, and tips on where you might find some samples for yourself. In addition to collecting rocks and gems, Romaine also covers fossil collecting, meteorite hunting, panning for gold, and much more. Throughout, he provides a plethora of resources, both traditional (i.e., books) and electronic such as the websites, apps, and social networks, where you can find tons of information on each subject mentioned.

Romaine also covers planning for collecting trips, and how to get your finds home, and most important, how to 'get' your specimens in the first place. In this regard, Romaine includes information on not only locations where you can find 'things' but also tips on working in veins, vugs (cavities inside rocks), tailings, and the like. In addition, he also covers such necessities as safety and first aid equipment and supplies you should have with you, the tools of the trade such as chisels and hammers, and the legalities of where you can, and cannot hunt for specimens. The last part of the book provides information on what to do with your finds once you get them home, including how to tumble pebbles, carving soapstone, knapping (and its associated dangers), preserving fossils, jewelry making, and of course, tips on how to display your newly found treasures.

This combination of information serves as an ideal introduction to rockhounding and prospecting, and if you are already engaged in one of these activities, this book may well encourage you to expand your interest in some of the other activities covered in The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook.

Related Reviews:

Collecting Fluorescent Minerals, by Stuart Schneider
This book offers an informative introduction to finding and collecting fluorescent minerals. The bulk of this book consists of around 870 color photos showing various rocks pictured in natural daylight, followed by one or more pictures showing the same rock under an ultraviolet light, highlighting the fluorescent minerals in the rock.

Iowa's Minerals: Their Occurrence, Origins, Industries, and Lore, by Paul Garvin.
Informative and engaging, Iowa's Minerals is a book that provides a detailed, yet a highly accessible overview of Iowa's minerals, along with information on collecting and identifying these varied minerals.

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