These stones will rock you

A peep into the Marine Geology museum situated on the ground floor of the Mangalore University main building can astonish anyone. The museum which has a collection of more than 1,000 stones, rocks, fossils and minerals is all set to enhance practical knowledge among students.

The museum managed by the Department of Marine Geology started under the PG centre of Mysore University in 1976. It became an independent department in 1980 when the University became independent.

Speaking to City Herald, Department of Marine Geology Chairman Dr C Krishnaiah says that it is impossible to study earth science without having samples. Hence, the collection of the samples began with the initiation of the department. However, after 35 years, the collection grew so immensely that a separate room was dedicated to it.

The collection has been classified in three categories. The first is the igneous rock which is formed with the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. Igneous rock may form with or without crystallization, either below the surface as intrusive (plutonic) rocks or on the surface as extrusive (volcanic) rocks.

The second is the sedimentary rock which is formed by sedimentation of material at the Earth’s surface and within bodies of water and finally metamorphic rocks which are deep beneath the Earth’s surface, subjected to high temperatures and the great pressure of the rock layers above it.

Many of the rock samples have been collected from various parts of the country by the students during their field expeditions and some of the rare ones have been purchased by the department from private agencies, he said. “Except diamond, the museum also has a collection of various precious gems,” he adds.

The practical classes for students are conducted in the museum. Here the student can see the rock and also study its properties. This in future shall help them to identify the types of rocks while working in the field. Earth science is a very important subject as one can study rock properties and identify places where gold, petroleum and natural gas can be found, he adds. Presently, the department offers two courses such as M Sc in Earth Science and Resource Management which has 18 students and M Sc in Geo Informatics which has 22 students. As many as 10 students have taken up admission for Phd studies, adds Krishnaiah.

Mangalore University Vice Chancellor Prof T C Shivashankara Murthy says that Marine Geology is one of the very few departments to have received funds upto Rs 50 lakhs from UGC under the special assistance progarmme for research. The department has also collaborated with the Geographical Information System (GIS). The collection in the museum is rare and will be a great help for students to gain practical knowledge, he adds. The museum is also open to the public, says Dr C Krishnaiah.

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