Common Rocks, Minerals and Ores

Areas of Study: Exploration and Geology

Qualifies for Certification

Common Rocks, Minerals and Ores is a short (non-certification) course and reference for beginners in geology and mineral exploration and for others who require the basic principles of rock and mineral identification.


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  • Audience Level:
  • New to Mining
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 1 hours

Course Summary


Common Rocks, Minerals and Ores is a short (non-certification) course and reference for beginners in geology and mineral exploration and for others who require the basics of rock and mineral identification. It provides participants with a means of practicing identification and classification of common rocks and minerals in the field. The course is enhanced by integration with the Dictionary of Mining, Mineral and Related Terms.


The course consists of 12 sessions and two short reviews (quizzes) covering Rock-Forming Minerals, Ores of Metals, Useful Minerals, Igneous Rocks, Sedimentary Rocks, Metamorphic Rocks and a large section on Strategic and Industrial Ore Minerals, extensively illustrated with images of samples. Each mineral or rock is represented by an image, distinguishing features and a dictionary description.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify common rocks and minerals in the field.
  • Identify the ores of strategic and industrial minerals.

Recommended Background

  • An appreciation of basic geologic principles.

Dr. Glenn B. Stracher

Glenn B. Stracher is Professor Emeritus of Geology and Physics at East Georgia State College, University System of Georgia, Swainsboro, Georgia, USA. After receiving his M.S. in Geology and a Ph.D. in Geology and Engineering Mechanics from the University of Nebraska, he served as a Lady Davis Scholar at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He was also nominated by the United Nations as a Fulbright Scholar while in graduate school before completing his postdoctoral work in Israel. Dr. Stracher is the former chair of the Geological Society of America's Coal Geology Division and served on the society's External Awards Committee. He is the co-author of three chemical thermodynamics books, published in English and Japanese, and taught graduate level courses in this subject at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. In 2010, he was named a University System of Georgia "Shining Star," by the state's Board of Regents, for excellence in research and teaching.

Trained as a structural geologist, mineralogist, and metamorphic petrologist, the main focus of his research since 1995; and for which he is internationally known, is coal fires burning around the world. In addition to numerous peer-reviewed publications about coal fires, he has convened coal fires symposia with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America (GSA), and led four GSA National coal fires field trips. Dr. Stracher is the editor of the Geological Society of America book, Geology of Coal Fires: Case Studies from Around the World. He also edited the International Journal of Coal Geology special publication, Coal Fires Burning Around the World: A Global Catastrophe.

The latest project Dr. Stracher completed is a four-volume book published by Elsevier and entitled: Coal and Peat Fires: A Global Perspective. He is now working with Elsevier on a fifth volume.

In 2015, Dr. Stracher became a Geological Society of America Fellow. He was nominated by three people including James C. Hower who wrote, "Glenn Stracher has excelled in building public awareness of the problem of coal fires. His efforts in outreach, editing and publishing, and training of geologists have supported this effort. He has inspired many of his colleagues to study coal fires and to present their findings to the general public."

In addition; in 2015, Dr. Stracher appeared on BYU Radio's show Top of Mind with Julie Rose, discussing the Centralia Coal-Mine Fire, which has burned for over 50 years.

In April of 2016, Dr. Stracher gave a presentation about coal fires to the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He was hosted by Drs. Robert F. Dymek and Jill D. Pasteris, former editor and associate editor, respectively, of the American Mineralogist.

In September of 2016, Dr. Stracher was a guest lecturer at The China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing; Tianjin University in Tianjin, China; and The Xi'an University of Science and Technology in Xi'an, China.

Dr. Stracher appears in two National Geographic Channel (NGC) movies about coal fires: Wild Fires, part of a seven part NGC series entitled Built for Destruction, and the more recent movie Underground Inferno, that has won several international film festival awards. He has worked with historian Timo Hauge at the German Mining Museum in Bochum, Germany, on a permanent display about mine fires. The display in the 37,000 square foot museum will open in 2018 and feature much of Dr. Stracher's work, photos taken by Glenn and Janet Stracher during their numerous field expeditions, and samples collected by Melissa and Joseph T. Nolter of Mahoney City, Pennsylvania. The German Mining Museum is the most famous mining museum in the world.

Details about Dr. Stracher's research projects, teaching, publications, and education are available here.