The Geological Society of San Antonio Newsletter

           Volume XXI  No 1 January 2006

Volume XXI  No.1  January 2006                                               

           The Geological Society of San Antonio Newsletter

                         Volume XX<> No. 10 October 2005




                                                                                                                    Tuesday January 24

                                                                                                                          6:30-8:30 PM



                                                                                                            "Corundum – A Visual Experience"

                                                                                                                         by Will Heirerman



                                                                                                                          Rosalinda Erickson

                                                                                                                            Shirley Morrison

                                                                                                                          Maggie Esquivel                                  


         GENERAL INFORMATION: The Geological Society of San Antonio meets the 4th Tuesday of every month (except
         December) at St. LukeÕs Lutheran Church, 514 Santa Monica.  Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

              The SocietyÕs primary goals are to provide for the dissemination of knowledge and information concerning all of

               the earth sciences, to provide a format for the exchange and sharing of personal experience in the various fields,

               and to promote interest among its members and the general public in the  earth sciences.


           Membership dues are currently $10.00 per year, payable on January 1 of each year.  Dues must be paid by the

  March meeting in order to remain on the membership list.     




PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:  HereÕs to a very happy an very eventful new year for our club.


We are looking forward to seeing Mr. HeirermanÕs real man-made rubies and sapphires which will be available for purchase at our meeting.  Valentines Day could come early.  I have invited the members of the Gem and Mineral club to be our guests for the presentation.


HereÕs a challenge for you: win a prize rock (see it at the meeting) donated by Doris Santee for the member who enrolls the most new members by our March 28 meeting.  Reminder to renew your dues with Betty Tillick.  Still only $10 for single or $15 per family.


Food for thought, car pooling is a lot of fun and a chance to get to know our friends better.  We have some senior members who are not allowed to drive at night which prevents them from coming to our activities.  Please call me if you need a ride and we can try to coordinate a solution.


Reflection time to comment on the past:  We were very appreciative of Dr. Ed RoyÕs interactive presentation on geologic time that was very educational in November.  We invited him to join us again in our activities.  Our auctioneer, Larry Tillick, did a great job of collecting a lot of money for the club.  The donated items from the members were outstanding specimens and greatly appreciated.  You really deserve recognition and a big thank you.


If you missed  the December party at the Middleton's new house, you missed a very merry get-together. Rosalinda did a great job of coordinating it. There was smoked turkey and ham from Rudy's and a lot of fixings from everyone else.  We had a friendly exchange of gifts with Judy Hood in charge. Our voluntary show and tell program included a partial viewing of Gail's 3 hour video of the Canyon Lake trip, Betty's heavy and rare Canadian chunk, Larry's very large gem, Glen's New Jersey puddingstone, My fluorescent rocks, and Hugh's selected readings. We had Rosalinda's dog



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Huey who was very sociable until he snored during one of the presentations. All the guests left happy!

Reminder that we need your contributions for the raffle and bring something for the show and tell table. See you soon




From Claude Townsend:  The Fredericksburg Gem and Mineral Club will have their Rock Show on January 21, 10-6 and January 22 10-5.  Claude and Eula are participants.


Field Trip:  Mark your calendar for going to the Tessman ranach for petrified wood on Sunday February 5.  Meet at 9 a.m. on the left side of the Wal Mart parking lot in Floresville with your $5. Fee.  Bring water, food, collecting containers, and sun protection.  Layered clothing recommended.                                    



Fossil find sparks new interest in Mauritius dodo

By Nita Bhalla


Hidden in the depths of sugarcane plantations, the marshlands of Mare-aux-Songes have been forgotten for centuries.  But, the recent discovery of a mass grave of dodos, the extinct flightless bird whose name became synonymous with stupidity, has rekindled interest in learning how the bird lived, what it ate and its natural habitat.


The rare find in southeast Mauritius by a Dutch-Mauritian team will enable researchers to discover more about the Indian Ocean island's native bird, which was wiped out in the late 17th century.


The Mon Tresor and Mon Desert (MTMD) sugar estate, where the 2,000 year-old dodo bones were

found, now plans to use the information gleaned from the fossils to recreate the original environment of the dodo.


"There has been so much interest in the discovery that we have realized we need to do something to bring more awareness of the dodo," said Christian Foo Kune, MTMD's general manager.


"Our aim is to recreate the dodo's original habitat so that people can visit the area and rediscover how Mauritius was when the dodo was alive," Foo Kune said.


The plump bird which weighed about 20 kg (44 lbs) was discovered by Portuguese sailors in the late 16th century.


Unaccustomed to predators, it lacked fear of the human settlers who not only hunted the bird, but

also destroyed its habitat through deforestation of ebony and tambalacoque trees.


They also introduced alien species such as goats and pigs which forced the dodo to compete for

food and passing ships brought diseased rats to the island paradise -- all of which contributed to its extinction.


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Experts say the well-preserved fossils included femurs of adult birds and chicks as well as a

very rare part of the bird's beak, only a few of which exist in the world.


There were also bones of the giant Mauritius tortoise, which became extinct around the same

time as the dodo, and hundreds of seeds of trees that no longer grow on the island.


Researchers hope analysis of tissues inside the bones will reveal what the bird and tortoise ate.


MTMD is planning nature trails, a museum and an information area to educate people on the tiny

island's national symbol and use it to promote awareness about preserving the environment.


Researchers say the grave, which was only two meters deep and two meters wide, yielded around 19 kg of fossils.


They believe if the entire 10 acre marshland is excavated, they are likely to find hundreds more fossils.  "It is amazing that we didn't have to dig so far to find such results, so you can imagine what would happen if we explore the entire area," says Alan Grihault, who was part of the research team and author of a book on dodos.


Grihault says it remains uncertain how the dodos and tortoises in Mare-aux-Songes died, but initial ideas suggest it may have been the result of a widespread epidemic or a severe cyclone.


MTMD has asked the Dutch-Mauritian research team  back to do a major excavation in June, but have  decided to keep theexact site a secret to keep fortune-seekers away.

 Submitted by Hugh Henry
HOW DOES EVOLUTION HAPPEN? Evolution is probably driven by several processes, the most important
of which is natural selection. Natural selection is a process in which some individuals survive and reproduce better than others because they have inherited characteristics that help them do so.
IS EVOLUTION `JUST A THEORY'? A "theory" in science is a structure of related ideas that explains one or more natural phenomena and is supported by observations from the natural world; it is not something less than a "fact." Theories actually occupy the highest, not the lowest, rank among scientific ideas.
HOW DO YOU KNOW EVOLUTION OCCURRED? By examining fossils and comparing them to organisms alive today.
 Science deals only with the material causes of material phenomena. Nothing we can observe in nature requires a supernatural designer; we therefore defer to material processes to explain what we see in nature.



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 IS EVOLUTION AGAINST RELIGION? No. Science deals only with material reality; religion deals with
the spiritual, the moral and the ethical.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH TEACHING CREATIONISM AND/OR INTELLIGENT DESIGN IN PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSES? Both creationism and intelligent design have been tested as scientific hypotheses in the past, and both completely failed. There is no evidence that they are valid scientific ideas. In the absence of such evidence, they are clearly religious ideas, and as such have no place in the science classroom.
Submitted by Hugh Henry




Augustine Volcano on Alaska Island Erupts

By DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer


A volcano on an uninhabited island erupted early Wednesday, spewing ash about five miles into the sky and prompting air traffic authorities to warn planes to steer clear of the cloud.


The ash from Augustine Volcano was not expected to reach Anchorage, the state's most populous city nearly 200 miles to the northeast, meteorologists said.


Flights was restricted temporarily in a five-mile radius around the volcano and for 50,000 feet

above it, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus. The ash can clog jet engines.


Cargo or passenger traffic from Asia usually fly through the area to Anchorage but could be easily rerouted, Fergus said. "It's not posing any significant traffic problems," he said.


The cloud, moving at about 20 mph, appeared to have low concentrations of ash, said Bob Hopkins of the National Weather Service office in Anchorage.


Residents on the Kenai Peninsula, east of the volcanic island, reported seeing ash, said

geologist Jennifer Adleman of the Alaska Volcano Observatory.


The few residents in the area were warned to reduce outdoor activity, keep windows and doors closed, and avoid outdoor exercise.


The 4,134-foot volcano last erupted in 1986. Ash from a seven-mile-high column drifted over

Anchorage and forced flights to avoid the skies over Cook Inlet.







Bejing – A fossil hailed as an important find for the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs is rally a composite of fossils from different creatures, a Chinese scientist says.


Xu Xing, an eminent paleontologist in Bejing, said he has found fossils that prove the fossilized turkey-sized creature unveiled last year may not be the  evolutionary link some thught it was.


XuÕs claim has forced paleontology circles, which greeted the find with some fanfare, to take a second look.  And the controversy has highlighted the pitfalls of international research projects involving fossils that are often smuggled out of China and sold overseas.


Scientists have other evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and XuÕs finding doesnÕt overturn the theory.


The National Geographic Society convened a press conference in October to announce the discovery of the dinosaur, dubbed Archacoraptor liaoningensis, which lived 120 million to 140 million years ago.


Unlike feathered dinosaurs discovered earlier, the Archaeoraptor showed evidence it could fly, they said.   The Archaeoraptor fossil, however, included specimens that had been smuggled out of China and thus are of uncertain provenance.


Xu contends the Archaeoraptor is a combination of two fossils: one of the body and head of a birdlike creature and the other of the tail of a different dinosaur.  He said he has found another fossil, in a private collection in China, that conatins the mirror image of the supposed tail of the Archaeoraptor.  It is totally one of a kind, 1st time anyone has seen anything like this before, said Czerkas who runs the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah.




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Corundum, Çkuh RUHN duhmÈ, is the second hardest pure mineral. Only diamond is harder. Corundum occurs as transparent nuggets in gravel, and as nontransparent grains and rare transparent crystals in rocks.


Varieties of transparent corundum are polished and used as gemstones. Gemstones from corundum include the ruby, sapphire, Oriental amethyst, Oriental emerald, and Oriental topaz.

The colors of the gemstones are caused by impurities in the corundum. For example, the red

of the ruby is caused by the presence of traces of chromium, and the blue of the sapphire by

iron and titanium. Gemstone corundum comes mainly from Australia, southeast Africa,

Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India.


Nontransparent corundum is used as an abrasive (grinding, smoothing, and polishing material). Emery, a common abrasive, is a natural mixture of corundum and other minerals. Abrasive

quality corundum and emery are mined in Turkey and Greece.  From the internet



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TEXAS LAPIDARIES                   ALAMO ROCK SHOP                      STEPHENSÕ ROCK SHOP  

 Denzil & Marta Harroun                           Lamar & Helen Pfeiffer                                   & MUSEUM  Bob Stephens                   

     1910 E. Pyron                                        27542-3 IH 10 West                                           18524 Bandera Road

    San Antonio, Tx                                        Boerne Tx 78006                                                 Helotes, Tx 78023                   

     ( 210)-533-7778                                          (210)-698-2666                                                     (210)-695-4567.  ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ




  The Earthworks Editor

  Norma Tindall

2006 Show Calendar
Feb 25-26, Pasadena, TX -- 31st Annual Clear Lake Jewelry, Gem, & Mineral Show.
Pasadena Convention Ctr, 7902 Fairmont Pkwy. Sat 10-6; Sun 10-5.
Mar 4-5, Corpus Christi, TX -- Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society Show. Al Amin
Shrine Ctr, 2001 Suntide Rd. Sat 10-6; Sun 10-5.
Mar 4-5, Dallas, TX -- North Texas Earth Science Show. Brookhaven College,
3939 Valley View Lane. Sat 10-6; Sun 11-5.
Mar 4-5, Big Spring, TX -- Big Spring Prospector's Club. 37th Annual Gem & Mineral
Show. Howard County Fair Barn. Sat 9-5; Sun 10-5.
Mar 11, Cedar Park, TX (Austin) -- Show--Sue Ellen's Gemstones LLC. Holiday Inn
Express, 1605 E. Whitestone Blvd (Hwy 1431). Sat 10-8.
Mar 24-25-26, San Antonio, TX -- Southwest Gem & Mineral Society. 46th Annual
Fiesta of Gems. Freeman Coliseum, Morris Activity Ctr, SBC (AT&T) Ctr Pkwy,
Enter Gate E. Fri 10-6, Sat 10-6, Sun 10-4.
Apr 8-9, Abilene, TX -- Central Texas Gem & Mineral Society. Abilene Civic Ctr,
6th & Pine Sts. Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5.
Apr 14-16, Marfa, TX -- Moonlight Gemstones. 17th Annual Big Bend Gem & Mineral Show.
American Vets Bldg, Highland Ave., Fri 9-6, Sat 9-6, Sun 10-5.
Apr 29-30, Lubbock, TX -- Annual Show -- Lubbock Civic Ctr., Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5.
May 27-28, Ft Worth, TX -- Ft Worth Gem & Mineral Club Show. Amon Carter Exhibit
Hall, Will Rogers Memorial Ctr, 3401 W. Lancaster. Sat 9-6, Sun 10-5.