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The rules for B & C are the same
What to expect
There are 20 stations around the perimeter of the room.
The students will rotate from station to station.
Some boxes will have samples with questions,
others will just have questions.
The number of questions per station will vary
There will only be 2 minutes per station.
This is all that time allows.
Each team may bring only one magnifying glass
one commercially published resource
that may be tabbed and written in
( example: The Audubon Field Guide )
and one 3 ring binder (any size)
Containing “ pages ” of information in any form from any source.
The pages must be 3-hole punched and into the rings
(sheet protectors are allowed)
a. Equal time intervals, as determined by the supervisor, will be allotted for each station.
When the start signal is given, participants will begin work at their initial station.
b. Participants may not move to the next station until prompted to do so,
may not skip stations, or return to any previously visited station.
c. Specimens and other materials placed at the various stations
may not be taken to other stations.
d. HCI will not be provided, nor may it be brought to or be used during the competition.
Written descriptions as to how a specimen might react
were it to be tested with HCI may be provided.
e. Only those specimens appearing on the Official NSO list (see
will be used in the competition with the following exception:
Tournament Directors may include up to five additional specimens
important to their own state.
If additional specimens are to be included,
all teams must be notified no later than three weeks prior to the competition.
4. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
a. Specimen identification
b. Rock cycle
c. Properties of minerals
d. Mineral groups
e. Economic importance
f. Formation and properties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks
g. Clues to past environments
h. Composition and structure of minerals
i. Bowen's reaction series
Specimen identification
Rock cycle
The rock cycle is an ongoing process, beginning as rocks are pushed up by tectonic forces,
and eroded by wind and rain.
The eroded rocks travel by wind or moving water until they are deposited, settling into layers.
More eroded rocks may squeeze and press the layers into sedimentary rocks.
Additional eroded rocks may bury these layers until heat and pressure
change the underlying layers to metamorphic rock.
Buried rocks may also melt and recrystallize into igneous rocks.
Rocks can also be sunk down into the lower layers of the earth by plate tectonic processes.
Metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks may then be pushed up by tectonic forces,
starting the rock cycle again.
Properties of minerals
A mineral, by definition, must satisfy five conditions:
IT MUST BE naturally occurring – This means that the mineral is not human-made. There are examples of
minerals that occur naturally but can now be manufactured artificially, like diamonds. However, a substance that
is manufactured artificially and does not occur in nature would not qualify as a mineral.
IT MUST BE of inorganic compounds – Inorganic means that minerals are not alive and never were alive.
Therefore, anything made of plant material would not qualify as a mineral. For example, coal, which is made
from dead plants, is not a mineral.
IT MUST BE a solid element or compound – All minerals are solid and occur as solids at normal temperatures and
pressures that exist on the surface of the Earth. Thus, mercury, which is a liquid at room temperature, is not a
mineral. Water is also not a mineral, but its solid form, ice, is a mineral. So are snow flakes.
IT MUST HAVE a regular internal crystal structure – The atoms that make up a mineral are arranged in a regular,
repeating, orderly pattern. You cannot see this pattern with the naked eye. There are some solids that look like
solids but do not have a regular internal structure. For example, glass is not a mineral because the atoms that
make up glass are not arranged in a regular pattern. Glass is actually a super-cooled liquid. Given enough time,
glass will flow. If you look at the windows of really old buildings, you may notice that the bottom of the window
is thicker than the top of the window.
IT MUST HAVE a definite chemical composition – All minerals have a regular chemical composition. Sometimes
this composition is made up of just one element, like gold. More commonly, minerals are made of many
elements called compounds. Most minerals are made up of various combinations of only 8 elements: Oxygen,
silicon, aluminum, sodium, potassium, chlorine, iron, and magnesium.
Mineral groups
These are the major mineral groups.
Cabonates Carbonates are commonly deposited in marine settings when the shells of dead planktonic life
settle and accumulate on the sea floor.
Carbonates are also found in evaporitic settings (e.g. the Great Salt Lake, Utah) and also in karst regions.
Halides Halides, like sulfates, are commonly found in evaporite settings such as salt lakes
and landlocked seas such as the Dead Sea and Great Salt Lake.
Native Elements The elemental group includes native metals
Oxides Oxide minerals are extremely important in mining as they form many of the ores
from which valuable metals can be extracted.
Silicates Quartz the largest group of minerals by far are silicates
Sulfates Sulfates commonly form in evaporitic settings where highly saline waters slowly evaporate
and commonly form in evaporitic settings where highly saline waters slowly evaporate
Sulfides Many sulfide minerals are economically important as metal ores. Common sulfides include pyrite
Phosphates The phosphate mineral group actually includes any mineral with a tetrahedral unit.
By far the most common phosphate is apatite which is an important biological mineral
found in teeth and bones of many animals.
Organics The organic mineral class includes biogenic substances in which geological processes
have been a part of the genesis or origin of the existing compound.
Economic importance
Minerals can be found in abundance in Earth’s crust.
These minerals are important for humans.
Some, such as calcium and iron, are required for diet.
Others are necessary for the functioning of our society.
This is because practically every manufactured product
contains material obtained from minerals.
Obvious examples are aluminum in beverage cans,
gold and silver in jewelry,
and copper in electrical wiring.
Baby powder is essentially the ground up mineral talc.
Many industrial drill bits are composed of diamonds,
which is one of the hardest minerals on Earth.
As well, the common mineral quartz is the major ingredient
in both glass and silicon, which is used for computer chips
Formation and properties of
igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks
How do igneous rocks form? They form as magma cools and crystallizes.
If magma is inside the Earth,
the rocks it makes are called plutonic or intrusive rocks.
If magma is on the surface, it loses its gas and is called lava,
the rocks it makes are called volcanic or extrusive rocks.
Composition is explained by Bowen’s reaction series, which shows the order of mineral crystallization.
Composition is influenced by crystal settling in the magma,
which may cause different rocks to form from the same parent magma.
The two major properties used to classify igneous rock are:
Crystal Size/TextureSmall crystals are indicative of rapid above ground cooling of lava
into what is classified as extrusive igneous rock such as basalt, obsidian, or rhyolite.
Large crystals are indicative of slow cooling magma underground,
resulting in what is called intrusive igneous rock such as granite, gabbro, and diorite.
Chemistry or Mineralogy- Igneous rock is also classified by its elemental composition.
Igneous rock, whether intrusive or extrusive...
that is high in silica is classified as felsic.
Igneous rock that is low in silica, but higher in heavier elements like iron is classified as mafic.
Rocks falling between the two are classified as intermediate.
How do Sedimentary Rocks form?
They form from sediments produced by weathering.
Sedimentary rocks are either clastic or organic.
Particles are compacted and cemented together by calcite, silica or iron oxide.
Clastic rocks,
like sandstone, form from other rocks and minerals, further classified by particle size.
Organic rocks,
like limestone and coal, form from the bodies or shells of organisms.
Properties of sedimentary rocks used to identify them include
texture, composition, particle size and sedimentary structures.
Not only do these properties help you identify the type of sedimentary rock you have,
but also in what type of depositional environment the rock was formed.
How do Metamorphic Rocks form?
They are rocks which have “changed form” from parent rocks ...
which can be igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rocks.
To understand metamorphic rocks you must first know what metamorphism is.
Metamorphism is the changing of one rock into another rock.
Metamorphism occurs under the influence of extreme heat and pressure.
A rock undergoing metamorphism changes the texture and mineral composition of the rock
but never leaves solid form.
If the rock were to melt and be changed that would classify it as an Igneous rock.
Metamorphic rocks are transformed through the solid state.
Two types of metamorphism:
Contact metamorphism:
is a result of heat generated from a nearby magma source, changing it by extreme heat.
Regional metamorphism:
consists of change through intense heat and pressure over a wide area, deep within the earth.
The two types of metamorphic rocks are Foliated rocks contain bands or layers of minerals in parallel alignment.
Nonfoliated rocks contain equidimensional crystals, resemble coarse igneous rock.
Clues to past Environments
Different types of environments contain different types of sediments.
The type of sediment and the way that it is deposited determines the types of sedimentary rocks
that will eventually be formed.
Thus, sedimentary rocks formed in a lake will be different from those formed in a desert.
Sedimentary rocks may contain fossils.
Fossils tell us what type of environment the rock around the fossil formed in.
Continental Sedimentary Environments
Glacial: deposits may have wide range of grain sizes (poorly sorted).
Fluvial: (river): mostly sand, (not perfectly sorted)
Lacustrine: (lake): muddy, thin layers on lakebed
Aeolian: (wind blown): silt and sand dunes produces thick crossbeds; ( best sorted )
Marine (Nearshore) Sedimentary Environments (Transitional)
Deltas: where rivers empty into the sea; clastic sediments are deposited
Beaches: deposits of sand at the coast; brought in by wave action
Shelf: sand, mud or limestone sediments just offshore in shallow water
Reefs: build-up of skeletal limestone (calcite) secreted by marine organisms
Sedimentary Environments (Deep Sea) Marine (Offshore)
Slope and rise: steep drop off and gentle slope offshore; mixed clastics
Deep marine: very finely layered limestone mud;
Composition and structure of minerals
Minerals may be composed of one element such as carbon (DIAMOND) or of several elements.
Most minerals are characterized by a definite chemical composition, expressed by a chemical formula
Structurally, minerals are grouped into 7 crystal systems, each giving rise to characteristic geometrical shapes.
cubic (isometric),
and triclinic
The Students will also need to know:
Group / Class
Chemical Formula
Crystal System
Specific Gravity
Bowens Reaction Series
Bowen determined that specific minerals form at specific temperatures as a magma cools.
At the higher temperatures associated with mafic and intermediate magmas,
the general progression can be separated into two branches.
The continuous branch
describes the evolution of the plagioclase feldspars as they evolve from being calcium-rich to more sodium rich.
The discontinuous branch
describes the formation of the mafic minerals olivine, pyroxene, amphibole, and biotite mica.
a. Using the materials provided, fingernails included,
determine the relative hardness of each of these six minerals.
List the specimens, by name and number, in order of increasing hardness.
b. Match each metamorphic rock with the type of rock
from which it may have been formed.
I highly recommend...
Have a copy of the list in it.
Separate the binder into sections with tabs
tab the binder for: rocks – minerals – color of minerals – questions –
any miscellaneous information the students may want to include.
Have them make it easy to find the section to quickly identify the specimen.
A binder is easier to find information than the field guide.
If your students prefer the guide, tab your field guide as well.
It is harder to find information in the guide without doing so.
I highly recommend...
Get the samples.
Have your students get hands on experience with the rocks and minerals.
Recommended Resources:
All reference and training resources including:
the Science Olympiad Rock & Mineral Teaching Guide,
the Bio/Earth CD
Rocks and Minerals kits (*excluding only silver, gold, and diamond)
may he purchased by check or School Purchase Order from
ESES, P.O. Box 503, Lee's Summit, MO 64063
(No Credit Cards or Phone Orders- PH 816-524-5635; FAX 816-525-4263)
item OLY01 at $85.00. Price quoted includes shipping and handling.
Separate the responsibility for gathering the information
amongst the team members. Don’t let one person do it all!
If you can, get them to meet after school hours at someone’s home.
Set up practice drills,
so they have an idea of what it’s like to move in two minute segments.
The correct answers for the properties of Rocks & Minerals
will be taken from the AUDUBON FIELD GUIDE
– Not From Wiki!
Questions and Tie Breakers - will be related to Rocks & minerals on the list,
but will be of a more general means derived from:
past tests,
tests from other locations
information from the rocks & minerals CD.
related on line sources
Knowledge isn’t memorizing massive amounts of information.
It’s knowing where to look it up.
For this event, quickly!
(These are for all the events. )
( and scroll down the page )
( These are for Rocks & Minerals. )
Your students will need PowerPoint for some of the information on line.
Some computers don’t have it.
Google PowerPoint Viewer 2010. It is a free download from Microsoft.
It will allow you to view PowerPoint presentations, just not create them.
The same goes for Adobe Reader, this will let them view PDF presentations.
I can be reached by email at
[email protected]