Thursday, December 22, 2011

Geological Hammers - What Is So Special About Them?

The Geology Hammer - a useful piece of Field Equipment
Although a geological hammer is often useful, fossils can be collected and studied without the use of one. When fossil enthusiasts visit places such as Lyme Regis and Charmouth on the Dorset, the Jurassic coast of southern England, they are often amazed at the number of people that they see bashing away at rocks with hammers. Indiscriminate hammering is a form of vandalism and can be dangerous. Parts of the shoreline at Lyme Regis are strewn with sharp rock fragments which can make crossing the area with bare feet a risky business for any unwary holiday maker.
Using the Right Hammer to Split Rocks
Whilst we appreciate the desire to break open nodules to see if an ammonite is present, this sort of work should really be done by those people who know what they are doing and are equipped to carry out such procedures.
Tell-Tale Signs to Show Whether a Rock Nodule Contains a Fossil
There are certain tell-tale signs that can indicate whether a rock may be worth splitting to see if there is a fossil inside it. On many sites hammering is forbidden or even illegal and there is a high risk of damaging a specimen when trying to extract it. Sometimes it can be almost as rewarding to leave a specimen in situ so that others may view it, besides hammering away at rocks can be dangerous. Shards and splinters may break off, so it is always a good idea to wear a pair of safety goggles, if you attempt to split any rocks apart.
DIY Hammers Not Suitable for Work in Geology
An ordinary DIY hammer should not be used for rock breaking, or at least is should only be used on the softest of sediments such as loose shales and mudstones. The metal used in the manufacture of ordinary hammers is too brittle and chips may fly off (another good reason to wear safety glasses). Geological hammers are made of specially hardened steel and come in various shapes and sizes. These hammers have been specifically designed to cope with the rigours of hitting and splitting rocks.
Whether you are an accomplished fossil hunter of just starting out it can be difficult to obtain advice and to find the equipment you need. When it comes to geological and palaeontological supplies it is always best to take the advice of other, more experienced fossil collectors. A cheap hammer is often a false economy, a better quality geological hammer should last you a lifetime of fossil collecting.

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