Over the weekend, my friend was apparently going through his old room at his parent’s house and he found his old 9th grade Earth Science reference table and decided to snapchat me a picture of it. He was in amazement that either he or his parents would keep such a thing as everyone knows that 9th grade is one to never be spoken of again, once it has passed. I lamented to him that I really could have actually used some of the reference table for this class I’m taking this semester. He then questioned how an English class would “ever need to know sciencey things, especially geological science things.” And I told him about our class. He then offered to send me more pictures of select pages from the reference table, but at that point, I had already gotten my own copy from The Internet (see link below for your own copy too!)
Now, you’re also probably wondering why I was so interested, excited, imagination-sparked at a snap of our Earth Science reference table. Well, I’ll tell ya why. Remember a couple of months ago when we were sitting in the ISC’s geology lab and had our class with Dr. Dori Farthing? Well at one point she had said to try and pay attention to the names of characters with rock and mineral names. And, so, I did. I made a list in my notebook of all the rock and mineral named characters. My only issue was that I didn’t have a lot of information, or time, at hand to look up the properties of the rocks and minerals mentioned in the novels. And then came that snapchat.
Not only did the reference table have properties of rocks and minerals, it had information on plate tectonics, properties of water, layers of the Earth, P and S waves, amongst other sciencey things. For this blog post, I’d like to just focus on a couple of names that we come across in the novels.
The first name is that of a mineral. Feldspar. Feldspar in The Fifth Season was one of Syenite’s instructors at the Fulcrum, who orders her to go clear a coral blockage in the Allia harbor with Alabaster. According to the reference table, feldspar is a major component of several types of foliated (rough textured) metamorphic rocks, with fine to medium mineral alignments (size of grains/crystals) and medium to coarse banding (stripes of minerals). Feldspar is created under, comparatively, light to medium heat and pressure and is usually incorporated into phyllite, schist, and gneiss rocks. Feldspar is a relatively hard mineral, scoring at a 6. It also cleaves quite well in two directions and is commonly used in ceramics and glass. Now, what do all these properties have to do with the character Feldspar? Feldspar was clearly making her way into the upper rankings of orogenes at the Fulcrum. This implies that she is able to be part of “the machine” like the Fulcrum, the mineral, is able to be in multiple rocks. Feldspar, as we see her in the novel, has the potential to be broken, like glass, but could also be a long lasting member of the Fulcrum, like a decorative ceramic bowl in your mother’s (or my) living room. Feldspar the mineral and the character have the potential to make things stronger but will fold under enough heat and pressure.
The second mineral that I want to discuss briefly (for now) is garnet. Garnet is the hardest mineral listed on the reference table. It fractures, instead of cleves, and is used in jewelry and abrasives. We know that the obelisk in Allia’s harbor was the garnet obelisk. This was also the obelisk that held Hoa prisoner. There are more comparisons and notes that I want to make, but I will address them in a later blog post because of spoilers.