SACRAMENTO, CA - Searching for a new career after an accident left 34-year-old firefighter Chris Day with titanium rods in a leg that wouldn't withstand another fracture, the president of the Sacramento State Geology Club could not be more enthusiastic about the group's 10th annualrock auction on Friday.
For students like Day, proceeds from the auction enable them to partially defray the $2,700 cost of a week of required field studies.
The former Air Force serviceman says he hit upon the field of geology by chance. He met with various college department heads and it wasn't until he spoke with the head of the Sacramento State geology department he found something that clicked for him.
"[Geology] offered 50 percent science and 50 percent adventure - a great amalgam of the two. At Sac State I can do that. I could fall in love with geology."
Day is a semester away from completing his geology degree specializing in geographic information systems (GIS). What Day calls the "wave of the future" in geology, GIS is 2D or 3D computer mapping and real-time streaming of geological features of a site or project.
Day says GIS programming can be utilized, for example,to pinpoint the location of copper deposits in the ore of a quarry for a mineral company. Another use might be toidentify and locate the source of contaminents in a water supply.
Day gathers the information he needs for his GIS programming by field work, which is expensive, but helps us "become better geologists," he says.
The more than 100 geological finds up for bid at Friday's auction are not so much what students have unearthed on their field trips but rare specimens often donated by mineral and geological firms, friends of the university's geology department, and this year, the "treasures" in a box given by a 82-year-old woman who had been picking up unusual rocks and minerals for decades and wanted the geology club to have them, according to Day.
There will beammonites -- a fossil of an extinct, shelledcephalopod that is related to modern squid and octopi. The carbonate originally making up the shell was replaced over time by other minerals. It is estimated to be about 115 million years old.
Another offering is a zeolite (mineral) formed where volcanic rock andash layers interacted with groundwater at the Deccan Plateau in India 66 to 67 million years ago. Some paleontologists speculate theeruption that formed such zeolites may have accelerated the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Mineral impurities formed bands of varying colors in travertine bookends cut from a calcite precipitate that commonly forms in caves.The travertine is calculated at about 2 million years old.
Expect tosee other fossils, gems,petrified wood andgem jewelry for sale as well.
Many ofthe geological specimens are very affordable at $10 to $20, according to Day.
And for budding junior geologists (children): several hands-on activities.
Light refreshments will be served and admission is free.
Sacramento State is located at 6000 J. Street. The auction takes place Friday evening, 6:00 to 9:00 at the Sacramento State Alumni Center which is behind the large parking structure.