Geologist’s paradise

Nature on display Bharat Ratna APJ Abdul Kalam Geology Museum in Belagavi is a repository of exotic rocks, minerals and fossils from across the globe, writes Divyashri Mudakavi

Highlights: 
Starting with a few specimens, either purchased or collected by the staff and students of the college for academic purpose, the museum presently has around 1,800 samples including corals, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, fossils, ores...

Ever heard of talc, the clay mineral from which talcum powder is made, or gypsum used in making Plaster of Paris, or agate, which was used in making weapons in the stone age? If you have read about this in textbooks or the internet and would like to see them for real, then the Bharat Ratna APJ Abdul Kalam Geology Museum in Belagavi is the best place to visit.

This museum has an impressive repository of rocks, minerals and fossils, including a dinosaur tooth and a fossil of trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod that existed nearly 500 million years ago. It also has samples of an exotic variety of zeolites, rare mineral deposits, and rock formations like stalactites and stalagmites found in caves.

Housed in and managed by the Geology Department of SKE Society’s Govindram Seksaria Science (GSS) College in Belagavi, the museum attracts both students and the general public.  

How it all began? 

Starting with a few specimens, either purchased or collected by the staff and students of the college for academic purpose, the museum presently has around 1,800 samples including corals, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, fossils, ores and many more materials. 

Talking about its expansion, Pramod Hanamgond, head of the Geology Department of GSS College, who was instrumental in setting up the museum, says, “ I used to regularly post information about our collection of minerals on Facebook. Drawn by my posts, M F Makki, a geology admirer from Pune, decided to share with us some interesting samples of rocks and minerals that he had collected during the course of his work. Some students also came forward to donate specimens. On receiving those, the college felt the need to set up a museum so that we could develop an interest in geology among students and general public. And, during that time our former president, APJ Abdul Kalam passed away and so, we decided to name the museum after him. It was formally inaugurated on August 15, 2015.”

In the museum, one can see samples of jasper, agate, and the blue-coloured cavansite, which is found most frequently in Pune. Amethyst geode, ruby, galena, black druzy quartz, lapis lazuli, feldspar, ammonite, kyanite and other stones from India and abroad are also found here. There are also samples of ores of iron, copper, manganese and other minerals, apart from native copper, mica, limestone and arsenic.

Rocks from Antarctica, the bright multi-coloured iconic paua shells from New Zealand and the sample of obsidian, a hard and dark volcanic rock formed by rapid solidification of lava, collected from Mexico, add to the diverse display in the museum. The exhibits of fossils of ammonites which date back to the Jurassic era and became extinct with dinosaurs, and fossilised stromatolites formed by one of the oldest microorganisms known as cyanobacteria (found in Bagalkot district), provide insights into the existing condition and records of life on earth.

Not just the land

Other interesting collectables include corals, sea shells, river pebbles, sponges, a variety of sands and dendrite on sandstone. The rocks with ripple markings displayed at the museum help in understanding the paleocurrent and environment of deposition. 

To help visitors understand geological concepts like the composition of earth beneath the dams and other structures, the museum has various models and teaching aids. It also has on display geological field equipment like the Mohs scale of hardness, hand-held lens, Brunton compass, hammer, GPS and clinometers. In addition to these, rare and interesting photographs of geological features, captured by Hanamgond from various parts of the country, have been exhibited. This has added to the aesthetics of the museum.

On maintaining the collection which includes many precious and semi-precious stones, Hanamgond said that cleaning, naming and arranging the samples is a task. “Every sample is unique and can reveal many curious scientific facts which help in understanding the formation of natural resources.” The museum is open to the public during college hours. For more information, contact Pramod Hanamgond on 9480275757.

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Geologist’s paradise

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