A rollercoaster day of geology

This is a light hearted extract from the newsletter of ’The Black Country Geological Society‘, No. 208 August 2011. This was part of the regular section entitled ‘The Dudley Bug’ written by members Alison Roberts and Chris Broughton.

Dr Nick was a geologist by trade; wherever he went he studied the rocks surrounding him. One day his daughter suggested they go to the local theme park to make the most of the glorious summer day. Although resistant at first, Dr Nick was finally persuaded by the possibility of ‘pretty rocks’ within the park.

After the long car journey, and several stops to inspect the road cuttings which they passed, Dr Nick and his daughter Annie finally arrived at the theme park. They paid for their tickets and entered the vast park. Screams echoed around the pair as they made their way to the first ride.

Dr Nick

Dr Nick in a geologists natural habitat

The queue was really long for the first ride so Dr Nick soon got bored and began to study the rocks in the distance. They looked very interesting so he made a mental note to go and look at them later on. Finally Annie and Dr Nick got to enjoy their first high speed ride, the roller-coaster. Dr Nick, who is never really one for fast rides, came off it feeling a little ill. He decided to sit the next ride out and found himself a bench by some rocks. After he felt a little better he got his hand lens out of his pocket and began to inspect the rocks. But he was in for a surprise. The rocks were like no other he had seen before. They were plastic looking and sounded very hollow when he tapped them. Shocked at his discovery Dr Nick began to inspect all of the other rocks he could see. They were all fake!

Annie eventually returned from her rides and suggested a walk through the gardens. ‘Yes’ thought Dr Nick ‘there will be real rocks in there.’ But Dr Nick was to be very disappointed; there were more fake rocks. At one point he got really scared as a dinosaur was spotted through the undergrowth, a quick mental reference to the greatest of palaeontological films… Jurassic Park. Dr Nick began shouting at the top of his voice at the other park-goers to get the hell outa there! ‘Never fear, a geologist is here!’ he claimed triumphantly. After causing mass panic in the gardens, he took out a rock hammer from its holster and edged towards the last sighting of the dinosaur. Trembling hands would not stop this brave geologist saving the day. Suddenly a sighting in the distance of a purple theropod caused Dr Nick to charge like a bull towards a bull fighter. As metal clashed with flesh, shouts of fear and pain rang out throughout the gardens. Dr Nick nervously backed off from what he had identified as a Baryonyx. The dinosaur extended its small arms towards its head and to Dr Nick’s eternal embarrassment a bald human head was liberated from the fancy dress suit. After explaining to the police that if it had been a real dinosaur he would have been a hero, and geologists around the world are constantly vigilant for the threat of reviving extinct creatures, he was later released without charge.

Trying to forget the unfortunate incident Dr Nick tried to carry on as normal; after all it could have happened to anyone. Annie insisted “Dad you have to come on that big ride there” pointing to what must be the biggest roller-coaster in the park. “Do I have to?” Dr Nick asked, feeling ill at the prospect of all those twists and turns. But he soon found himself being strapped in and heading for the first drop into the darkness. To Dr Nick’s surprise, he saw real rocks whilst on this ride, so naturally the geologist inside him got very excited at the prospect of real rocks. Annie was horrified when he suggested they go on the ride again and again, just to see some rocks for a flash of a few seconds as the coaster hurtled past. Fortunately this was the point where the photos were taken from the roller coaster. The hardest part was throwing a hat down to get something for scale on the photos which were sold at the kiosk after the ride.

But Dr Nick’s fun was soon to be spoilt by feeling ill again. So Annie suggested a slower roller-coaster which makes you feel like you are flying. As any geologist out in the field knows, you should never go out without your geological map. So Dr Nick lay it down in a secluded spot. Once on the ride, Dr Nick and Annie glided over his map. So they returned to the ride several times.

Finally lunch arrived but Dr Nick had gone and left their chilli con carne at home. So rooting around in his pockets, Dr Nick pulled out several fossils, a £2 coin and a piece of halite. Annie went to find food with the £2 whilst Dr Nick settled for licking his piece of halite.

Soon enough the pair were heading for their final ride of the day. The queue was moving quickly so Dr Nick got excited at what he may see on this one. This particular ride had several loop the loops. As they went into the first loop, Dr Nick’s rocks all fell out of his pockets, but luckily enough as they exited the loop, they all landed back in his pockets! Realising he may lose the precious finds forever, he quickly buttoned them up. In the second loop, his hand lens slipped and fell across the front of his eye and to his amazement he could see a real rock in the distance perfectly.

After all the rides and searching, Dr Nick ran across to the rocks he had seen whilst on the loop the loop and jumped up and down in joy. In front of him was the biggest, best specimen of sandstone that he had ever seen.

“A job well done” Dr Nick grinned at Annie as they headed for their car. The journey home consisted of stopping on the opposite sides of the road to check that the rocks were the same as the ones they had looked at on their way to the theme park. A typical geologist’s day out!

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