Quartz – @!*Quartz!$%

Quartz is a silicon dioxide. It is hard, often formed into lovely crystals, with various tints and hues; although most often found as transparent to milky white, and is one of earth’s most common minerals. The word quartz is known by virtually all geologists. But very few of them, including most professors of geology, know the origin of this most basic of geology words. ( I have asked the question of academics dozens of times.) Actually: most of us do not stop to think about the meaning and limitations of many of the words, concepts and laws that we use everyday. Yet, occasional curiosity is rewarding when we question that which we take for granted…

I think of quartz as a Saxon swear word.

There are disputes about where the word quartz came from, but an insistent notion is that the word is Saxon and means “cross-cutting ore” or “cross-vein ore”. So, being romantic, I find it easy to visualize grimy miners on some rainy Monday morning in the Bronze Age, digging surface pits for copper and tin and iron, encountering veins and slabs of mineralization so hard that they interrupted their progress just as they were getting at the good stuff. Imagine seeing the blue screen of death when you are working so productively on your computer… The miners’ reactions would be much like yours: @!*Quartz!$%.

About Ed Medley

Ed Medley has been on a random walk for over 50 years. Many scribbles and snapshots at this site are from his vagabond transits; others are from his decades of international experience in geological and geotechnical engineering, academia, and mineral exploration prospecting.
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