Friday, July 27, 2012

The 1st Geolympiad

There have been lots of post in the science blogosphere about all of the interesting scientific aspects of the London games. Thus, on the eve of the Opening Ceremonies I have decided to hop on the Olympic bandwagon as well and write my own Olympic themed post.

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Imagine a world that was inhabited only by geologists. Not what I would call a pretty sight necessarily, however that is the only conceivable place that such an event as the following Geolympiad could occur. The overall ideals of the Olympics remain the same as the ones we all know and love. Although, I imagine there would be more beer around than there is in the athletes village...and maybe equal amounts of debauchery from what I've heard about the athletes village.

Here is what I think the games of the 1st Geolympiad would look like if they incorporated a geology theme into all of the events.


Mineral Identification: Pretty self explanatory. Fastest identification of 50 minerals. Points deducted for incorrect answers. Points added for chemical formulas.

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Fossil Identification: Same deal as the mineral ID. Fastest wins. Must be identified to genus and species level. 

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Rock Identification: Again, fastest wins. 

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Mapping: Each competitor is given an area to map. There are medals for the fastest map to have all the basic criteria as well as for the most detailed and accurate map when compared to an already drawn map of the area by the judges. 

Rock hammer throw:  You all know that you have tried this event out in the seclusion of the woods, or competed with friends on one of the those down moments in the field. This event just adds a competitive edge to what is already a sport. I envision three main events: hammer throw for distance, accuracy and at skeet. Just imagine lining up with your hammer in its holster, yelling pull, and then whipping it out and taking out a clay pigeon in a cloud of shrapnel as it whizzes past. Sounds like fun to me!

Track events: The track events would be basically the same as the track events of the real Olympics but with one major caveat: all the competitors must be wearing full field kit and carrying a backpack full of samples. This means boots, vest, hammer, hand lens...the whole deal. I'd like to see Usain Bolt do the 100m with 30kg of rock on his back! He would still destroy everyone, but it would be fun to watch.

Navigation/orienteering: This is kind of already a sport, but it has yet to be included in the Olympics and it  would definitely appeal to geologists. Drop the the competitors off with nothing but a compass, map and their rock hammer and see how long it takes for them to get home. However, if this was done in a geologically interesting area they may never make it having banded together to take samples and characterize the geology.

River crossing: Take the competitors to a large river and make them get across without losing their samples. Sounds many would try and swim weighted down by all those rocks? This is a test of field smarts since this can be necessary in the pursuit of field work. 

Hammer fighting: Not too sure about how this would go down. I could see it getting a bit ugly. However, the regular Olympics have a lot of combat sports so the Geolympics need some fighting too!

(Photo: Matt Herod)
Rock breaking: I realise that this does not sound like much of an event, however it takes real skill to trim a rock in the field. For example, if you are out collecting and find something in a boulder it has to be removed and trimmed to make it possible to carry out. The way I see this event unfolding is that each competitor is given a boulder containing a sample they need to extract. Points for fastest and best job, points deducted for damaging the sample. 

Lava bomb deadlift: This is a pretty obvious one. It is pretty much weightlifting with large rocks. Maybe some throwing too?
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Pebble skipping: This one is for fans and Olympians alike!! Medals awarded for distance and most skips. 

The DODECATHALON: All of the above!!!!!!!!!!!! Dodeca is 12 in Greek. 

So there you have the events of the 1st Geolympiad. Might be fun to put it on sometime?? I think I can see the IOC getting in on the fun provided we ensure that there are no doping violations or occurrences of hammer weighting.

Please feel free to suggest any events that you would like to see added to the Geolympics! Also, I have intentionally left the three pictures above un-identified so if you would like to qualify for the inaugural Geolympiad post the answers below.

Enjoy the games!!!


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