Dirk Schmid, M.Sc.
Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto
Finding a well-designed internet website with interesting and useful information on the earth sciences can be a frustrating exercise. Many existing websites offer content of little use to children, parents and teachers, or they are poorly organized, or they don't work properly. Websites focusing on Canadian content are few and difficult to find.
There is a free online earth science magazine on the internet that is attracting the attention of mineral collectors, children and schools across Canada. The magazine is the Canadian Rockhound and it provides quality educational content for children, schools, professional and avocational collectors, and those with an interest in learning more about geology, minerals, gemstones, and fossils. Subscription is not required to view any part of the magazine online. The magazine is listed on Canada's SchoolNet website and is archived by the National Library of Canada. The internet URL address for the Canadian Rockhound is: http://www.canadianrockhound.com.
The Canadian Rockhound was started in 1997 by Dirk Schmid, who at that time was a graduate student doing research at the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Geological Sciences. Since then the magazine grew rapidly into a major website that is now visited by thousands of people per month. In the May/June 1999 issue of Sympatico's NetLife magazine, the Canadian Rockhound was cited as one of Canada's most outstanding electronic magazines. Today, the Canadian Rockhound has become an invaluable source of earth science information for collectors, children and teachers.
The Canadian Rockhound provides informative articles on minerals, fossils, gemstones, lapidary techniques, and the earth sciences in general, with an emphasis on Canadian content. This information is provided mainly in the form of semi-annual issues that are published online and articles published in the children's Junior Rockhound section. Each online issue contains articles written by professional or avocational collectors and geologists. Recent issues reported on gemstones, jade and various minerals from British Columbia, unusual quartz from Alberta, gypsum from Winnipeg's floodway, amethyst from Thunder Bay, the discovery of a new gem-quality tourmaline deposit in the Northwest Territories, and the discovery of emeralds from the Yukon.
The Canadian Rockhound includes a News and Events page with announcements of upcoming events and important discoveries. There is also a listing of Canadian-based dealers and suppliers of minerals, fossils, gemstones and lapidary materials. A resource section provides a list of books and magazines.
The Junior Rockhound is a recent addition targeted toward teachers and children in grades 4 to 6. Articles in this section explain the three basic rock types found on earth, how rocks are formed, how rocks and minerals are classified, and how to start a mineral collection. There's even an article on geologic time and field trip safety. The Canadian Rockhound will soon be adding articles on fossils and paleontology.
There are about 120 earth science clubs across Canada. All of these clubs are listed in the Canadian Directory of Rock and Mineral Associations, which is maintained by the Canadian Rockhound. People can use the directory to find and access clubs and other major organizations online.
The web links section makes it easy to find websites related to mineral collecting, paleontology, mining, etc. Links to educational websites are also listed. Canadian websites are identified by a Canadian flag. Recommended websites are indicated by a red maple leaf. All links are organized into logical categories.
The Canadian Rockhound magazine is suitable for persons of all ages, and those with either advanced or limited knowledge of rocks, minerals, fossils and gemstones. Collectors, schools and those with a general interest in the earth sciences will find this website an invaluable resource.