Q&A with Steve Tomecek, author of NG Kids Everything: Rocks & Minerals
What’s your favorite mineral and why?
This is a tough question because I have many different minerals in my personal collection so picking just one favorite is really hard. I’m really fascinated by metallic minerals such as pyrite and galena because of their luster and crystal shapes. I have one piece of pyrite that is a perfect cube which is probably my favorite.
When did you first realize that being a geologist was a cool job?
I wanted to be a geologist ever since my mother took me to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC when I was about 5 years old. I loved looking at the minerals and gems and especially liked the dinos and other fossils. I remember I went right home that afternoon and started digging holes in my yard and I’m still digging today!
What’s your take on the pet rock phenomenon?
I never really thought about it. I have lots of rocks, minerals, and fossils in my collection but I don’t consider them to be “pets”. I generally think of a pet as something that you care for and it gives you love and comfort back. Rocks are fun to look at and cool to handle, but they really don’t need to be fed, cleaned (except for an occasional dusting), or walked. Truthfully if people want to collect rocks that’s, cool but if you really want to share love and affection get a turtle.
Have you ever met a rock you didn't like?
I find that all rocks have a story to tell so if I’m traveling in a place that I haven’t been before I like to check out the rocks. I don’t collect every rock that I find, but most are worth a look. Probably the only rocks I don’t like are the ones that get in my boots when I’m hiking.
Why is it important for people to be educated about rocks and minerals?
Every rock has a story to tell… Not only can they tell you about how the local environment has changed over time but many rocks and minerals are also valuable resources. Knowing something about the properties of these rocks and their history can lead to the discovery of new resources.
How can we treat our earth's rocks and minerals better?
The most important thing that we must do is take care when we extract minerals from the Earth. Mining can lead to all sorts of pollution and environmental problems. Also working as a miner is a dangerous occupation so we should always put safety first.
There's a section in the book called "Crystals with Class." Tell us about it!
This section is designed to introduce the readers to some of the variability that the shape of mineral crystals can take. Many minerals such as quartz and halite have crystals that have a unique shape. This allows geologists to identify them easily. This section shows some spectacular photos of crystals and some of the unusual forms that crystals can take.