Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oh, Where is my Specimen?

by Blake Reher and his mother Susan Freeman

Blake ‘s concern

I am done.
I am tired of collecting all day, 
The specimen’s I think are OK.  
That my mom throws out anyway.

She throws them outside, and there they hide.

Mom’s comeback

Rocks originate outside, they have lived since the 
Western’s Interior Seaway’s rolling tides.  

My son’s devotion are insects embedded in time 
I get it – Fossils are identified as specimens.
Throw them out will bring bad omens.

As I was sorting out my son’s room 
Aka a sedimentary site
I missed the imprint of a very small trilobite
In our yard this beetle took flight.

Now – I need to make this right
I don’t want to fight.  

What we need to dispel this gloom
Is a serious plan to add more room.

The poets pause for a photo. Blake Reher is a 
student at Cheyenne Mountain High Scholl in Colorado Springs. 
He has been with the Pebble Pups for 5 years and now helps lead the 
program. His mother, Susan Reher, has helped with the
 program since Blake joined.  Susan Freeman in on the left 
and Blake Reher is on the right.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Mysterious Blue Orbs of K2 Granite

William Wray

K2 granite, with impressive splashes of blue circles or orbs on its surface, is a rock from a rarely visited site in the Himalayas.  The blue circles are azurite inside of white K2 granite rock. The white granite is fine-grained and composed of these minerals: quartz, feldspar, muscovite, and biotite. The azurite stained parts of the granite, making blue dots, which range from a couple of millimeters to about two centimeters.  Azurite has a relative hardness of 3.5-4 on the Mohs hardness scale, but assumes the hardness of the white granite because the azurite is only a stain.  The azurite formed after all the other minerals in the granite had cooled and hardened.  With a hand lens or microscope, azurite spheres reveal that the azurite appears along the edges of mineral grains, in tiny fractures in the granite, and in feldspar grains. 

Since azurite and white granite are rarely found together, people don’t think the blue orbs are azurite, and commonly think of it as simply a blue dye added to make the rock a novelty.  Scientific tests have not been made, so the jury is still out on the blue orbs in this interesting rock.  There is lively debate on mineral forums, including Mindat.org, about the nature of the blue orbs. 

An oval cabochon made from K2 Granite  found on K2, a mountain between Pakistan and China, revealing several bright blue azurite stains. The blue azurite stains formed after the granite cooled and hardened.  Photo © by the author. Specimen from the William Wray collection.

K2 granite is found near the base of K2, the mountain it is named after, in the Himalayas. K2, also called “Mount Goodwin Austen” is the second highest mountain in the world, rising up at 8,611 meters (28,253 feet).  K2 got its name from the British surveyor T.G. Montgomerie.  The “K” comes from the Karakoram mountain range and the “2” means that it is the second tallest peak recorded. 

A view of K2, summer 2006.  At 8,611 meters (28,253 ft) this mountain is ranked second largest in the world. Note the large valley glacier flowing out of the mountain.  Photo by Svy123. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0  license.

K2 granite is an excellent lapidary material. It cuts and tumbles well because of its high feldspar amount, and it can be easily shaped on a diamond wheel.  K2 is durable in jewelry because the feldspar has a hardness of 6.  K2 granite will scratch over time and is not suitable for bracelets or rings.  K2 granite is not very pricey, and excellent specimens can be bought for about $30 to $40 at gem shows and other venues.  K2 granite is a colorful specimen, and its bright blue azurite orbs will make it a nice addition to your collection of curiosities.

Meet the author:   William Wray is a fifth grader at Lake George Community Charter School.  He is a prolific reader with a love of all things nature related—from rocks and fossils to animals and plants. He attends the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups in Lake George, Colorado and participates there as an Earth Science Scholar. 

For Further Reading

K2 Granite: A white granite with azurite - AKA K2 Jasper. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://geology.com/gemstones/k2/

Nicholas Varnay and K2 — The Practical Gemologist. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thepracticalgemologist.com/gemstones-2/2015/5/22/pick-of-the-week-nicholas-varnay-and-k2

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mammoth Site

By Gavin Seltz

Underground water dissolved limestone and shale
About 26,000 years ago.
The rock collapsed
A water-filled sink hole began to grow.

Young bull mammoths
Looking for an easy lunch
Drank the warm water
And the grass they did munch.

But the pond was too deep,
The bank was too slippery and steep.
The ice age mammals could not
Escape their fate: eternal sleep.

For thousands of years
Coarse sand and clay
Covered their bones,
Preserving them until the day

A bulldozer hit a tusk!
Scientists came and found the remains
Of 61 mammoths
In the South Dakota plains.

A young mammoth is attracted to a sink hole. Artwork by Gavin Seltz.

View of the Mammoth bones being excavated.

A large number of mammoths perished at the Mammoth Hot Springs, NE

A  mammoth skeleton.

About the author:
Gavin Seltz, a member of the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups, is 7  years old. He has been a member of this group for one year.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


By Steven Wade Veatch

John Rakowski and Steven Veatch took the Lake George Gem and Mineral Club’s Pebble Pups out in the field near Taryall, Colorado on March 18. This kicked off the 2017 fieldtrip season for the club’s Pebble Pup group. The parents enjoyed lively discussions while the Pebble Pups scoured the countryside looking for specimens.

John Rakowski, a Pebble Pup leader, is demonstrating the use 
of a pick to the eager group of Pebble Pups.  Photo by S. W. Veatch.
Everyone found something, especially magnetite specimens. Other finds included milky quartz and feldspar crystal groups. For some of the pups this was their first experience hunting for specimens in the outdoors.

This group of excited Pebble Pups are ready for anything. 
At their last Pebble Pup class they were taught field 
collection techniques. Photo by S. W. Veatch

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


By Steven Wade Veatch

Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society Pebble Pup Jamie Weise and Earth Science Scholar Blake Reher, also a member of the Lake George Gem and Mineral Club, were exhibitors at the 10th Western Interior Paleontological Society’s Founders Symposium, March 4-5, 2017 at the Green Center on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines.  Jamie entered a case that featured a fossil fish he excavated in Wyoming.

Jamie Wise stands in front of his case. This is the first exhibit he has done. Photo by S. W. Veatch.
Blake designed a case that had a variety of fossils he collected or are a part of his collection.  Blake’s case included a specimen of the carbonized wood found in an igneous rock from Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Blake Reher, is a senior Earth Science Scholar. 
He is a member of the Lake George Gem and Mineral Club 
and the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society. Photo by S. W. Veatch.

View of Blake Reher’s case. Each specimen is carefully staged inside of the case along with 
several props that add interest. Blake included the logos of the two clubs he is a member 
of promote their Pebble Pup programs. Photo by S. W. Veatch

The symposium’s theme was the Morrison Formation and its multi-colored sandstones, mudstones and conglomerates that entombed some of the classic dinosaurs of the Jurassic along with the plants and invertebrates that shared their North American home.  The next Founders Symposium will be in 2019. 


By Steven Wade Veatch

Jenna Salvat, Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society’s Earth Science scholar and former Pebble Pup, took home the top prize in Senior High Physical Science category at the 2017 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair when she won first place on February 28, 2017. Jenna was presented her award by Dr. Rob Kolstad during the awards ceremony at Library 21C in Colorado Springs amid the cheers of her family, fellow students, and Steven Veatch, Pebble Pup Director.  Jenna also received several other awards:

  • Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association
  • Arizona State University Walton Sustainability
  • Association for Women Geoscientists
  • Georgia and Charlie Matteson Award
  • I-SWEEP Outstanding Scientist
  • NASA Earth System Science Award
  • Northrop Grumman Excellence Award
  • US Air Force Award
  • US Navy Science Award

Jenna Salvat is seen holding her science fair awards 
with Steven Veatch, Pebble Pup and Earth Science Scholar
 Director. Photo © by S.K. Veatch.
Jenna was one of 40 students invited to the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, April 6-8, 2017 at Colorado State University, and she was one of only three students invited to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). The Intel ISEF will be May 14-19 in Los Angeles.
Jenna’s work has caught the eye of Fishbowl Films of Los Angeles, California. The movie company is planning a film about selected teens growing up in the 21st century who create scientific solutions to the most pressing issues on the planet through their participation in the largest and most prestigious high school science competition in the world, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The film, by Laura Nix, plans to document the start of Jenna’s science fair to the end of her journey as a competitor at the Intel ISEF.

Jenna’s award-winning project was on crystalline silicon dioxide and the potential of the generation of voltage through its pyroelectric (charge generated when heated or cooled) and piezoelectric (charge generated in response to applied mechanical stress) properties.
According to Jenna, “The highest point in the project was watching the electrical signal feedbacks on the oscilloscope as it recorded the electrical fields being induced by mechanical stress and temperature increase.”  Jenna conducted some of her investigations at one of the laboratories at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Katharina Pfaff, a research assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines, was instrumental in making arrangements for Jenna to use the QEMSCAN lab.

Jenna Salvat proudly displays her first place ribbon 
she won for first place in the senior high physical sciences 
category. Photo © by Steven Veatch. 

The most difficult part of Jenna’s science fair project was locating a facility to conduct her experiments. Jenna plans to continue her research and will need to find a research institution with an interferometer, a lock-in amplifier, and a He-Ne laser for next year. She is also in need of a large-scale autoclave or autoclave reactor with a buffer that allows for two distinct temperature gradients. Jenna said, “My plans for the future are to utilize more precise methods in relation to my experimentation and characterization for next year's portion of this project. I will begin to test a wide variety of materials that are classified as thermovoltaics. I will test these using the proper instrumentation and represent my data mathematically. I will be able to further characterize thermovoltaic materials by calculating their coefficients. I also will pursue the hydrothermal synthesis of alpha-phase silicon dioxide and will learn how to prepare silicon wafers. I plan to develop a small scale thermovoltaic transducer or electromechanical energy system that can be implemented in surface geothermal vents and features, as well as a variety of other applications. 

Jenna is in 10th grade at Coronado High School. She is also a volunteer interpretive ranger at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in the summer. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pike Peak Pebble Pup Wins Big at State Science Fair

By Steven Wade Veatch

Jenna Salvat, a ninth grade student at Coronado High School, brought home several awards from the recent Colorado Science and Engineering Fair held at the College of Natural Sciences Education and Outreach Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on April 9, 2016.
Her entry, “Sandstone Injectites in Fault Zone Areas: Sedimentological Characteristics Using Analog Models,” won second place in the Senior Division Earth and Space Sciences at the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair. Jenna’s work was honored by other organizations, including the Colorado Mineral Society, the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and the Colorado Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Jenna also received the Naval Science Award and the NASA Earth Science System Award. Her hard work has paid off in spades.

Jenna Salvat, a 9th grader at Coronado High School, 
won second place in the senior division of
 the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair 
with her earth science project.
 Jenna will be advancing with several 
area students to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 
in Phoenix. Photo by Steven Wade Veatch.

Before moving to the state finals, her project won first place in the regional Science Fair held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on February 27, 2016.  Jenna will now travel with her project to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to be held in Phoenix, May 8-13, 2016. The ISEF is the leading pre-college scientific and engineering research event that is held each May.  In Phoenix more than 1500 students from 70 countries will compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, and other prizes.

Jenna began her work last summer with two sponsors: Christine Siddoway, a professor of geology at Colorado College and geoscience researcher Steven Wade Veatch. Jenna’s project centered on analyzing sandstone injected into Pikes Peak Granite. Jenna looked at the simulated rate of injection of liquefied sediment into igneous rock under variable densities and how that would impact the formation of sedimentary structures.

“My project helps to understand the numerous and complex sedimentary structures at exposure sites in the Pikes Peak region that were created in response to the agitation caused by fault zone earthquakes,” Jenna said.

The science fair teaches students how to explore a topic of their own interest, using real scientific inquiry, and then learn how to present their findings. Jenna’s science fair project began on a field trip to the sandstone she is investigating through the Pebble Pups, a special program for youth in the Pikes Peak region to learn about the geosciences. Since then Jenna has put in countless of hours into the project.   She would like to be a geoscientist. “I enjoy the process of science and working at the frontier of discovery,” she said.

Jenna is a member of the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups and is an Earth Science Scholar in that program. The Pebble Pup program operates under the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society. Jenna is also a member of the Colorado Scientific Society.

Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.