Favorite Things: Sydney Gable and her rock collection


Sydney Gable is a graduate student from Michigan State University who is studying Earth and environmental science as a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan. Obsessed with Earth science, she has amassed a solid collection of rocks that continues to grow as she travels. 

The first rocks I collected were given to by my grandfather. He had a rock collection for a very long time. When I was a little kid, he eventually gave it to me. So, my collection started off with his rocks, which he passed down. I’ve since added a whole lot to it. 

My grandfather gave me a lot of little stones that you can get from souvenir stores. The kind you find at tourist traps when you’re on vacation – places like that. Since then, I’ve added ones that I’ve found on class field trips, or when I go out into the field for school or work. If I find cool rocks, I add them to it. I’ve also been looking for nicer, more expensive and rare samples that I can include, so it will become a really nice collection. 

I’m an Earth science person, it’s what I study and do for a living. It’s cool to have a hobby that reflects that. Each sample, rock or mineral I have is also connected to a good memory of mine. A lot of the ones my grandfather gave me — he picked them up on vacations that we went on when I was a kid. The others I’ve added come from trips, gifts from other people or nice ones that I’ve bought for myself. They all have a memory attached to them that is special. 

The favorite single one that I have is a big olivine crystal. I was hunting for one like that for a very long time. Usually, the ones I find are very small. I finally found a large one in Evanston, Illinois, while I was on vacation with my mother. I also have a sample of okenite. That one is cool because the individual crystals are so small that it almost has a fuzzy texture when you feel it in your hands. I also have a spinel crystal, which are common in the Earth’s mantle. 

I went on a field trip with my class to the Pictured Rocks in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, which is a great place to look for rocks. Each time we stopped, I picked up a rock from each of the locations. I have a mini collection of Michigan rocks as well. 

Rocks are a record of Earth’s history. So, if you see outcrops of rocks, you can figure out what the environment of the Earth was like in that place hundreds of millions — even a billion — years ago. It’s super neat to be able to touch and collect pieces of history that are so incredibly ancient.

Interview edited and condensed by Skyler Ashley. If you have a suggestion for Favorite Things, please email Skyler@Lansingcitypulse.com.

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