Sean Grasing

Joined: Apr 23, 2020 Last Active: Nov 28, 2021 iNaturalist

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you” -Neil deGrasse Tyson

I work at the New York State Geological Survey as a geology technician and graduated from SUNY New Paltz. I also studied hydrogeology at Western Michigan University for a time. The plants I like to identify are ferns, conifers, varieties of herbaceous plants, and occasionally mosses and lichens (although many of these are rather difficult without a microscope). I enjoy studying why organisms live in certain environments. Especially in relation to rock and soil types. I am a geologist at heart, but anyone who has explored their own field of science will realize they are all connected. That is why I am here. To relate geology to the biological world, to help me understand what I am looking at. Plants themselves can tell you a lot about the topography, the composition of rocks and soils, water table depth, pH levels, water drainage, temperature, and so on. So remember to think more about the environment at large, whether it’s below your feet or even way up in the sky.

Story: I was hiking around the Lake George wilderness which is located in the Adirondacks of New York. In an area near Inman Pond and around the Adirondacks there are marbles that are largely composed of calcite and occasionally graphite. I enjoy finding these outcrops even though they are rare and usually topped with mosses, lichens, and all sorts of organisms. Hiking along you can find many outcrops like this. There was no detail to see what minerals were in the outcrop due to the plants and lichens but I noticed a plant that did tell me details of the outcrop without the minerals being visible. The moss was called Ontario Rhodobryum (Rhodobryum ontariense) (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67756787). This moss prefers to grow in locations that have a source of calcium. They only grow near carbonate soils and rocks. Now to many geologists they would have walked home with zero knowledge of the outcrop (unless they destroyed it with a rock hammer which is not allowed in a state park) but I left with the knowledge that there was a marble somewhere in that valley because that plant was growing there. Either the moss was growing directly on the marble or somewhere nearby the marble was eroding away. I left happy with this knowledge.

Geology Sources:
This source gives a good idea of the geology of the United States and gives descriptions of each geological unit
https://mrdata.usgs.gov/geology/state/map-us.html#home

This source is good for finding old and new geological maps of regions in the United States. They can describe very specific regions or geological subjects
https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/mapview/index.html?center=-73.658,43.339&zoom=10

Shows you past and present mines in the United States. Good for seeing if the area has any significant mineral deposits:
https://mrdata.usgs.gov/general/map-us.html#home

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