Learn about minerals with these brief primers: what is (and is not) a mineral, how their inherent properties allow identification and classification, and different mineral classes with representative examples.
Lesson 1: What defines a mineral?
Lesson 2: Mineralogy and Elemental Abundance
Lesson 3: Physical Properties of Minerals: Color and Streak
Lesson 4: Physical Properties of Minerals: Hardness and Specific Gravity
IMMG is pleased to unveil a new exhibit that explores the history and heritage of Chinese miners in Idaho. Click here to learn more!
The museum has created a YouTube channel in order to share information about geology and mining in Idaho. Topics range from informative tutorials, topics on Idaho geology, mining, and more. This is a work-in-progress, so subscribe to our channel to follow us as we expand the museum virtually !
The YouTube channel can be found here.
OUR COLLECTIONS ARE NOW ONLY A “CLICK” AWAY.
The IMMG has begun a multi-year project to inventory and photograph our entire collection. If there is an item that catches your eye, tell us the catalog number and museum staff can direct you to its location or even pull it out of storage for you. Over 1,000 cataloged!
Click here to explore our museum specimens.
This beautiful rock and mineral collection was donated by the family of Henry and Fumiko Fujii in 1994. Henry is a past president of the Owyhee Gem and Mineral Society and was renowned for collecting, cutting and polishing rocks, gems, and minerals. The Fujii family has gifted the majority of Henry’s collection to IMMG. The remainder was donated to the State of Idaho and resides at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. Our museum’s collection has a wide variety of samples from angel wing agate to zeolite.
Idaho is rich in minerals, and many of these have great economic value. Hard-working men and women have been mining Idaho’s minerals for over 100 years. View mineral and ore samples from Idaho’s historic mining regions.
The museum has many interesting artifacts, photographs, and tools of the trade. Learn the different types of mining, understand how minerals are extracted, and get a sense of how some of the earliest Idaho miners lived while trying to work their claim.
Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology has a seismic station to track earthquakes around the world! The station consists of a long-period, horizontal pendulum sensor capable of sensing and recording seismic events depending on their magnitude and other environmental conditions. The sensor has recorded earthquakes as close as 70 miles (Magnitude 6.5 near Stanley, Idaho in 2020) and as far away as 9,000 miles (Magnitude 7.8 in Nepal in 2015). The real-time data of IMMG’s sensor displays the last 24 hours at the museum. Another large monitor displays seismic activity across the entire world in real time, highlighting where activity has been concentrated over the last 5 years.
Click here to see IMMG’s seismometer data; it is updated every 10 minutes.
Imagine being able to look at what lived before dinosaurs ever existed, or to see the actual bones from fishes that swam in a huge lake covering southern Idaho (including Boise) for millions of years. At the museum, you can see what life was like across our continent, going back more than 250 million years. As you are browsing the museum, look for a fossilized stromatolite. Stromatolites are rocks made by microorganisms. By dating stromatolites, scientists have learned there was life on this planet 3.5 billion years ago!
When it comes to rocks falling from outer space, there is a lot to see at the museum. We have, of course, pieces of meteors that have survived the journey from outer space to the surface of the earth—including one found on Bogus Basin Road! Take a look at tektites—earth rocks that were ‘fried’ when those fast and hot meteors hit the earth and melted rocks around the impact zone. Most meteors are small, but a few have permanently changed our planet. It is a large meteor that is blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. That meteor was about 6 – 9 miles across.
Have you ever seen a rock that glows bright colors? At this exhibit you can learn about fluorescence. First take a step behind a curtain where rocks and minerals look quite ordinary. Switch on the ‘black’ light and observe the strange and beautiful colors that now come from these ‘ordinary’ rocks. The atoms in fluorescent minerals absorb the energy from the black light, and then re-radiate it back with its unique signature frequency (color). You’ll never be able to look at fluorescent light bulbs again without being reminded of this exhibit—because those bulbs use the principle of fluorescence to generate the light they create.