Here is  a brochure on the Rock Cycle:

Rock Cycle


“Dr. Terry S. Maley PG has completed a total revision of his 1987 book, Field Geology Illustrated. It’s so extensive he has published it as an e-book. If you are professional geologist, student, or life-long learner, you’ll love it.

This second edition, called Idaho Geology, has about 10 times the material as the first edition and includes a large number of color photographs and illustrations to aid the interpretation of landscapes, land forms and features of Idaho and the Northwest. It is also completely up-to-date with regard to the latest published geological research.

Idaho Geology is only available as an e-book at for the price of $15.00.

In order to show how the text and illustrations cover the subject, he has attached two chapters of the book in PDF file format. The file called “global-overview” is an introductory chapter covering plate tectonics, geology of the Earth and northwest geology. The file named “metamorphic-core-complex” is a representative chapter in the middle of the book.”

Learning the Basics of Geology

  • News and information about geology and earth science can be found at It’s an incredible one-stop-shop for information.
  • Have some specific questions about the basics of geology?  Check out Ask GeoMan.   It is clear that the site’s author puts his energy into developing content that is easily understood, without flashy presentation. With 8 million hits, it looks like he has quite a following!  Most of us could learn at least a couple of new things from GeoMan.

Other great sources of information:

 Here is a great site with a comprehensive list of mining terms, developed by Anglo American, a global mining organization:

Geologic Time & Stratigraphy

  • Need to be reminded of when a given eon, era, or period begins (or ends)? This one page ‘cheat sheet’ has everything!  It is color coded for reading geologic maps—based upon international standards.
  • Another geologic time scale, but is a bit simpler.  This chart makes it quite apparent that complex life has only existed during the last 10% of the earth’s history, and the age of mammals (Cenozoic) is only a tiny sliver of that!

Famous Geological Sites

There are places on Earth that have some significant meaning in geology. Some are special enough to consider as a vacation destination (or at least a side-trip) for those interested in geology.

  • Siccar Point (Scotland) has become famous because of the story that could be told from the rocks laid there. Be sure to read about James Hutton, sometimes called the father of modern geology.
  • In 1909, Charles Doolittle Walcott discovered one of the most important fossil sites in the world: Burgess Shale.  Walcott and his team extracted 100,000 fossils laid down during the Cambrian Explosion (about 500 million years ago). The Royal Ontario Museum has some spectacular photos and digital animations of the animals found in the shale.  Group “geo hikes”, guided by a couple of paleontologists, are available in the summer—the only way to see the site. It’s an awesome all-day hike through some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth.
  • Geological processes are so powerful, it is natural to think that fragile life always adapts to geology, and not the other way around. But early bacterial life was responsible for introducing oxygen to the oceans, and eventually the atmosphere. This profoundly changed the Earth in many ways, including giving us the banded iron formations–a major source of iron ore. Creatures like those that created our atmosphere still thrive today in Shark Bay, western Australia.

Basin and Range & Western North America Geology

Many of the landforms and geologic processes in western North American have been shaped by ‘Basin and Range’ extension of the continent.  This extension refers to the widening and thinning of the continent, creating parallel mountain ranges and valleys that we see today.  Nevada is almost entirely covered by these parallel mountain ranges, separated by flat valleys.

This animation video, attributed to Dr. Tanya Atwater, shows the interplay between the (ancient) subducting Farallon plate, the westward migration of North America, and northwest-migrating Pacific plate. For reference, note the passage of time as changes take place.

Observe the formation of the San Andreas fault system in California and Mexico appear as the Farallon plate finally meets its end. It is the ‘relaxing’ of the continent that widens Nevada to nearly double its former width. Idaho is not unscathed in the process, including the Treasure Valley and the Challis area.

There are many other animation videos on youtube that are also interesting to watch. A good starting point is to search for “Tanya Atwater” on youtube, and meander from there–like an ancient river.


Geology of Idaho’s Snake River Plain

  • Geologic Map of the Boise Valley and Adjoining Area, Western Snake River Plain is interesting to study, especially if you are a resident of the Treasure Valley.  The map can be ordered from the Idaho Geological Survey, or simply download the PDF.  The quality of the image is high enough to make it worthwhile to print locally, though it’s difficult to beat $5 (plus shipping) if you decide to order one.
  • Geology and Geomorphology of the Boise Valley and Adjoining Areas, Western Snake River Plain, Idaho is a downloadable booklet written by a geologist from the Idaho Geological Survey who thoroughly studied the Boise Valley. Most of us who are not geologists may be overwhelmed with some of the scientific information. However, it is the richest source of information available on the Boise Valley that we have seen, and is a worthwhile read. It is helpful to download the geologic map (above) of the Boise Valley for reference.


  • Like to keep tabs on earthquakes throughout the world? USGS is a good source.
  • IMMG has its own seismometer. You can monitor it here; it is updated every 10 minutes.
  • Ted Channel, the designer and builder of IMMG’s seismometer, has developed another design that is based upon a different type of sensor. It uses much less space than the one at the museum, and is simpler to set up. Learn about the TC1 Seismometer. It is suitable for use in schools (there are TC-1 seismometers in use throughout the world, including many Treasure Valley schools).  It can be set up by anyone with an interest in seismology (even those on a budget).  Learn a little bit about its history at the Boise State web site

Earthquake Preparedness

Here is a list of links suggested by one of our visitors!

Favorite Books & Videos on Geology & Mining

  • How the Earth Was Made (90 minute DVD). Very highly recommended as an introduction to the history of the earth as scientists understand it today. It follows the Earth from its formation 4.6 billion years ago to the present day, taking the audience on Earth’s amazing journey. It can be found on Netflix or purchased inexpensively from Amazon. This documentary spawned a two-season TV series of the same name, in which each episode examines one particular location in depth (e.g. formation of the Great Lakes, Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc). These episodes can be seen on the History channel every so often, and is worth programming your DVR to catch them.
  • Exploring Idaho Geology is written by Dr. Terry S. Maley, an Idaho geologist. He examines Idaho geology, along with photos and exceptional illustrations. Though it is out of print, it can be easily found in local libraries.
  • The Minerals of Idaho by Earl Victor Shannon. 1926. U.S. National Museum, Bulletin 131, 483 pages. Earl Shannon was a Charter Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and one of the most productive mineralogists of his time. A new mineral was named to honor him in about 1984, “earlshannononite”.   This digital version (PDF) was generously shared by Russell Hartill of Utah.

Geology and Mining Museums

Have something to share with others? Something you find really helpful or interesting about mining or geology? We are always looking for  those ‘gems’ . Please send your suggestions to  Thanks!