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Improving Mindat.orgupgrades needed to rock database

4th Jul 2017 03:41 BSTTony Peterson Expert

Jolyon, the addition of rock types to Mindat is a good start but as I have begun to upload images, I've noticed some gaps. I have numerous thin section/rock face photos initially uploaded as minerals. I can add rock names but if they are not the first rock/mineral names listed, I can't search for them in my gallery. I get that "second" minerals maybe shoudn't be added to a search result, but if the rock name is available, it would be a big help to rapidly expand the rock database if tertiary names could be searched by default.

There needs to be a nepheline phonolite added - leucite nepheline phonolite is present, but that's a much rarer rock type. Also anorthoclase phonolite (aka kenyte) and trachyte. I find the carbonatite name list to be inadequate and I'm bound to have other improvements to suggest. Is there any way I can add rock names to these lists?


4th Jul 2017 10:05 BSTPeter Nancarrow Expert

Copyright © Amir Akhavan
This image is copyrighted. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.
I have added a couple of rock photos to Mindat, but they are only rated as "user gallery" so don't appear when those rock types are searched for;

e.g. a search for "igneous breccia" shows only one photo of a pyroclastic breccia,

but no examples of intrusive breccia

I realise that my photo

is a bit over exposed, but it is the only photo of an intrusive breccia I can find on Mindat!

If it would help, I will take another better exposed and at higher resolution. I also have a large collection of rocks (hand specimens and thin sections) which I would be happy to photograph and add to the collection if a list of "gaps needing filling" in the rocks catalogue was available.

Pete N.

4th Jul 2017 10:33 BSTUwe Kolitsch Manager

> .... but they are only rated as "user gallery"

Not according to

Select "Show"/"User gallery only" then click on "Filter search"

(There no unapproved photos at the moment.)

4th Jul 2017 10:44 BSTPeter Nancarrow Expert

That is strange Uwe, because when I open my photo gallery pages, that photo's approval status is shown as "user gallery":

But that also leaves open the question of why it doesn't appear in a search for "igneous breccia"

Pete N.

4th Jul 2017 11:47 BSTBecky Coulson Expert

I also notice that, when viewing a member's photo gallery, there is no selection category for "rocks", just minerals, localities or others.

Could we please add that choice to the categories?

4th Jul 2017 17:49 BSTUwe Kolitsch Manager

> That is strange Uwe, because when I open my photo gallery pages, that photo's approval status is shown as "user gallery":

Apparently that's not reliable. When I open the edit window of that photo, status is shown as "site-wide".

EDIT: Have pointed Jolyon to this bug.

4th Jul 2017 18:07 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

As I edited that photo today I probably also approved it at the same time.

4th Jul 2017 18:15 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

It was previously set as type 'Other' which can only have a status of 'user gallery', I edited it after adding the correct rock type, and now it's a 'rock/mineral' photo with sitewide access.

4th Jul 2017 19:53 BSTTony Peterson Expert

What will happen if I attempt to assign a rock name to a specimen that isn't in the approved list (e.g., "orbicular gabbro")? Maybe I can use that to force additional rock names onto the site :) The default rock name list has a feeling of contrived pedantry to it ("nepheline-bearing gabbroic rock"? really? what happened to essexite?). So I guess it's probably British.

4th Jul 2017 20:53 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

IUGS names :)

You can add 'essexite', it'll convert it to the official name.

Adding names such as 'orbicular gabbro' works exactly as it does on mineral names, eg adding amethyst.


4th Jul 2017 22:54 BSTRalph Bottrill Manager

It's good to be getting more rock photos added.

You can search for "secondary" rock and mineral photos by going to the photo search page and clicking the box for all mineral fields.

The pyroclastic breccia photo above was listed as a site photo so I changed it to a rock photo as that seems more appropriate. Most of the breccia photos from Portugal are clearly conglomerates (well rounded clasts) and should all be changed.

Essexite is listed, as a local name or variety of nepheline monzogabbro or nepheline monzodiorite; it shouldn't be made a formal root name, as per the IUGS list.

Alkali feldspar phonolite, alkali feldspar trachyte and nepheline phonolite are listed. The trouble with rock names is that you can always add a mineral or textural modifier or two, and end up with an almost infinite number of rock names if we add them all. We can always note any unusual mineralogy in the title or description, where they can still be searched, but should try to use the formal names first and not over complicate the list with too many informal names.

4th Jul 2017 23:14 BSTAlfredo Petrov Manager

I would like to see the locality lists generated for more unusual rock types. Recently I was trying to find a list of komatiite localities on line - Not easy!

So obviously we don't want to generate locality lists for shale, limestone and granite, but for rare rock types it could be very useful.

5th Jul 2017 00:27 BSTDoug Daniels

Rock on.........

5th Jul 2017 02:00 BSTPaul Brandes Manager

Agree with Alfredo.

I doubt the database could handle amount of sandstone that is found throughout the world and attempting to list each and every occurrence would be mind-blowing. But, for types such as komatiite, peridotites, kimberlites, TTGs, etc., listing their localities would be extremely useful.

Nat and I are working on adding a substantial amount of rock photos, both common and rare, from our trips throughout North America and northern Europe. Nat has already uploaded quite a number of photos but they are added to their individual locality, not the rock database itself.

5th Jul 2017 13:21 BSTRalph Bottrill Manager

Agreed Alfredo, absolutely, but Jolyon is worried about a flood of granite locations, etc. Personally I cannot see it being a different issue than the number of quartz, calcite, pyrite etc locations, in fact I cannot see it approaching anywhere near those numbers, unless it's somehow automatically generated from geology maps?

5th Jul 2017 21:59 BSTTony Peterson Expert

Leaving aside the problems of igneous nomenclature, mixed process/textural terms like "intrusive breccia" with no mineralogical or lithochemical meaning are probably inappropriate as species on Mindat (and there could be no end to them!). It's unlikely Mindat would welcome a proliferation of "lava" photos, for example. Names like nepheline phonolite, pantellerite, etc. have a very restricted mineralogical/compositional meaning. A mixed textural/petrological term, such as orbicular gabbro, is a little dicey in that regard but arguably is on a level with "rhyolite" vs. "granite": same rock type, just a different texture.

I have no problem with preferring, e.g., "orthopyroxene gabbro" to "norite". But again, "nepheline-bearing gabbroic rock"? Surely that's not IUGS. It's silly. It doesn't actually mean anything. How gabbroic do you have to be to get that name - a little, or a lot?

5th Jul 2017 22:15 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

>Jolyon is worried about a flood of granite locations, etc. ... in fact I cannot see it approaching anywhere near those numbers,

No, entirely the opposite!

Our list of granite localities will be a ridiculously small subset of the reality which is that it's covering a significant % of the earth's surface.

So I see no point in having a list saying "here's a few random localities that we've put granite into the list for, but otherwise have no real context or meaning."

More unusual rock types, yes, we can do that. But not common rocks.

And as for nepheline-bearing gabbroic rock this, and similar terms, are group and/or field terms rather than things you'd assign a specific rock to.

5th Jul 2017 23:18 BSTRalph Bottrill Manager


Sometimes we need to accept that rock names are sometimes just field terms, like pegmatite, lava or basalt, but are nonetheless very useful without detailed analyses.

Rock nomenclature is a real nightmare even for most geologists, and varies a lot between igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Soils and meteorites are totally esoteric too. But it's not usually about just chemistry, except for fine grained igneous rocks ( volcanics), but even there it's firstly based on texture/grain size and sometimes more on mineralogy. With many rocks you can have several classifications for the one rock, eg. A single igneous rock can be formally classified variously as an ignimbrite, basaltic andesite or benmoreite, depending whether you have more data or interest in the texture, mineralogy or chemistry. Similarly with metamorphic rocks, a single rock can simultaneously be a metabasalt, amphibolite or mafic granofels depending whether you are more interested in the protolith, mineralogy or texture. None of these terms are wrong.

A gabbroic rock is actually well defined by the IUGS, check it out. Terms like orbicular granite, porphyry, pegmatite etc also have their place, despite being highly diverse chemically and mineralogically, just as we use amethyst, flos ferri etc, but understanding that they should really have a formal name also, though we may not know what it is without chemistry and petrological studies. Another problem comes when someone decides to call an unusual rock a new name, do we really need it? Igneous petrology is a mess, where a rock can be variably defined as a new rock type based on the presence of a mineral being more than a few% in some, or >95% in others, or anything between. In metamorphic petrology you can have a garnet biotite muscovite sillimanite schist etc, similarly with sedimentary and igneous rocks. Mineral and textural modifiers are extremely important but we just cannot add every variant as a rock name, and it's very hard to handle in a database, though it's been done a bit arbitrarily here for some of the more common types.

Jolyon, you know that your argument re granites is specious and exactly the same as for quartz, actually much less in reality, unless we only add sites with crystals? The reality is, especially for ore deposits, we need to note the gangue minerals, even if common, ditto for the rocks. This doesn't mean we add a Mindat location for every quartz or granite pebble we find, but if we want to search for all gold deposits containing granite, it would be extremely useful for geologists to do that here. We should make all rock locations searchable and if, as with quartz, it gets overloaded ( highly unlikely) we look at ways of handling it then. Weirdly we seem to have conceded defeat on the problem before we actually got much rock data added. As I said before, why should we add rock names if we cannot search them?

5th Jul 2017 23:43 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

Who said you can't search for them?

And you'll note we've changed how Quartz localities are displayed.

6th Jul 2017 00:44 BSTTony Peterson Expert

Ralph - thank you for the lecture. My 35-year career in carbonatites, ultrapotassic rocks, and granites has left me completely unable to understand igneous nomenclature.

6th Jul 2017 13:18 BSTRalph Bottrill Manager

Sorry Tony, good to get another geologist contributing here, I'm sure you are not the only one not interested in all my thoughts on rocks, but I do think the issue needs more discussion. I was just a bit confused by your confusion on orbicular gabbros etc and your suggestion that textural and process terms were not important compared to chemistry. I don't doubt you know more about carbonatites etc than me, but thought a general discussion of some issues with rock nomenclature may be useful for all, certainly not just for you. I do welcome your comments on my thoughts about how far we go with adding modified rock names here ( after 40 years in petrology I still find rocks a real mess of nomenclatures, mineralogy is much more sensible). I will agree "nepheline-bearing gabbroic rock" is an ugly looking term but at least any geologist would immediately understand the term, unlike things like mugearite, which is a bit incomprehensible to most of us and indeterminable without plotting several geochemical charts. On the other hand it's a lot neater to add mugearite as a rock name than something like "sodium rich basaltic-trachyandesite". Metamorphic and sedimentary petrologists at least keep their root names very limited, instead of new names for any minor chemical variants, but then we get the problem of innumerable modifiers. So sorry Tony if this resembles another lecture but I do welcome your thoughts on how we best handle all this?

Jolyon, I give up, how do you do a search like that? Though anyway you will notice that most of those locations, except for Australia, don't actually have granite added as a rock, it's just been found in a free text search of the description field.
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