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Why Knowing Some Geology Is Helpful

Sometimes children ask teachers and/or parents, "when am I ever going to use this information in everyday life?" For some subjects (like basic Math) it is easy to demonstrate the benefits of the information. Yet for other subjects it is not so easy to see. In this article we will explore some practical ways that it helps to know a little bit of geology.

"I'm No Scientist"

That might be your answer to to the thought of learning some geology. But the good news is that you do not have to delve into geology to that level in order to benefit. We are merely talking about knowing some basic geological truths that really can help you in practical ways. Some of these practical ways that being geologically educated include:

  • Distinguishing one stone from another when buying a countertop.
  • Comparing the performance of one stone to another in everyday life.
  • Caring for and maintaining natural stone surfaces including coutnertops.

Let's look at each of these practical benefits one at a time.

Knowledge Helps When Distinguishing Natural Stones

Telling what kind of stone you are looking at can be a challenge, especially for someone that is not a geologist. Choosing a stone countertop based solely on its looks is not the most effective way to get good results. Even if you do your research and decide on a certain kind of natural stone, how will you know it when you see it? Some might say that they would just look at the label or ask a salesperson. These are ideas, but did you know that sometimes slabs get labeled as one kind of stone when they are actually another kind? It happens.

Some Natural Stone Looks Similar But Is Different

Knowing a little about natural stone can really help you tell the difference between similar looking stones. For example, marble can look very much like quartzite. But there are very big differences between these stones. Both of them are natural stones. However, each is suitable for use in different environments. Basic geological information can help you determine if a slab that you are looking at is actually marble or if it is quartzite.

Because the minerals that make up these two similar looking stones are different, they have differing properties. Things like hardness and chemical composition affect the performance of a stone. Which is what we will consider next.

Stone Performance Is Based On Geology

When we talk about the "performance" of a stone, we are talking about how well the material holds up in a given environment when it is installed. For example, if the stone is in a kitchen, does it resist staining? How scratch resistant is it? Or could I set a hot pan on the countertop without hurting it? These are all considerations that are tied to the stone's type.

Since geology reveals information about rock, knowing a bit about it can help you to discover not only what a stone is, but also its resilience to the aforementioned potential hazards. Lets go back to the example that we mentioned earlier, marble and quartzite. Although these materials look very similar, marble is susceptible to etching and quartzite is not. The reason is: marble is composed of calcite and quartzite is not. A little bit of lemon juice or vinegar on a polished marble kitchen countertop well leave a dull spot on the surface. Quartzite though will not etch; and if it does, then it is not quartzite.

Can you see how being able to tell the difference between marble and quartzite can help when deciding on a stone for a kitchen countertop?

Geology Plays A Role In Care & Maintenance

As you may have concluded, how you care for a kitchen countertop will be affected by geological facts. Since different minerals and materials respond differently to various substances, your care routine will be impacted. Once again, let's use our marble and quartzite example to show this.

There are a number of similarities between caring for quartzite and marble. Each of them is a natural stone surface. Natural stone is porous. In order to slow the rate at which oil and water based liquids penetrate the pores. Slabs of both types must be sealed using a natural stone sealant. Sealing the stone helps the stone to resist staining from oil based and water based liquids.

There are also differences between marble and quartzite. Marble etches and quartzite doesn't so the marble slab may require an etch to be removed. Now, you might be thinking, "but if I just put sealer on the marble then I will be safe." But that is not the case. Acidic liquids destroy sealers. In fact, acids begin breaking down sealer immediately. So, sealing a marble slab with not prevent it from etching. The acid will break down the sealer and begin eroding the calcite in the stone.

Since marble etches, it is good to have an etch remover on hand so you can work on the etch to make it much less noticeable; in effect, removing the dull spot on the surface. Of course, it is better to not have an etch in the first place, and that is why it helps to know a little bit of geology.

By either using quartzite in the kitchen or using marble in an environment that will not expose it acids so frequently, you benefit from basic geological knowledge.

So there you have it, some practical reasons why it is good to have at least some familiarity with geological information and how it can help you in practical ways when it comes to your countertop surface selection. May your choices always be effective.