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Articles written by U.s. Geological Survey

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  • Closeup of the face of green goblin with a miner’s light strapped to its head.

    Curse of the Kobold: A Halloween tale

    U.S. Geological Survey|Updated Nov 10, 2023

    Deep in the dark mines and forests of Germany, in the days long before electricity when flickering torchlight made shadows come to life, whispers told of mysterious and ominous creatures waiting to prey on the hapless and unaware. One of these, the Kobold, was a particular bane of German silver miners, poisoning their silver ore so that the metal that emerged was mere powder, not the lustrous ingots they sought. The Kobold even poisoned their bodies, making them retch and sapp...

  • Fireworks light up the sky behind the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

    Coloring our skies, powering our lives

    U.S. Geological Survey|Updated Jul 24, 2023

    What's the secret behind the bright colors lighting up the US night skies on the 4th of July? The answer is minerals! Each color is the result of specific chemicals derived from different minerals. Read further to find out what these minerals are, and get ready to be surprised at the other ways these minerals are used when they're not competing with the stars to illuminate the night sky. The Color: Green The Chemical: Barium Chloride Mineralogy 101: Barium chloride is what's...