How to make a geologist happy

It's that time of year! Students are sitting exams, the northern oil patch is mobilizing, my boatshed office gets a bit chilly, and everyone is talking about AGU. And friends of geologists start wondering what the heck to get for them this Yuletide.

For the diehard field geologist

Maps are the field geoscientist's most basic tool. I have a soft spot for beautiful old maps. And beautiful maps are beautiful. Also expensive. But also beautiful.

A balloon flight over somewhere as geologically remarkable as Cappadocia (right), the Grand CanyonMalham Cove, or the Bay of Fundy would give anyone, geologist or not, something to remember forever. Especially if they are terrified of heights. 

I can't even tell you how much I want a portable Geiger–Müller counter. Almost as much as I want one of Little River's stream tables in my garage. (You could always start off with a budget version). Those Little River guys caused quite a stir with their scale bar pencils last year — you'll have to call them for one, but in the meantime, the forensic photography world has lots of nice scales for the field and lab.

Gifts in spaaaace

Small things are awesome. (Did you see our post last week about Robert Hooke? He liked small things.) You can look at small things all day with this nifty digital microscope. Need something cool to look at? Get some little pieces of scrap metal. From space. Especially this beauty from Manitoba. (How good did you say you've been?)

Geologists aren't exactly sartorially renowned — unless there's GoreTex to be had, obviously — and T-shirts are de rigueur in all conceivable social situations. Avoid that tempting Schist Happens slogan and go for awesome design instead. Like these nice cross-sections (below), only slightly spoiled by the lettering and those dodgy sleeves. I think the peace sign is my favourite. The mineral samples are pretty great though.

If you like textiles, but not tees, try some geological embroidery.

Wrap up and read

T-shirts, while practical and (sometimes) cool, aren't seasonal apparel in every part of the world. We Canadian geologists mostly don chunky jumpers and stay indoors in the winter. So what we need is books. Here's a book about geology and whisky — an ethereal combination. (Read it with a glass of this lovely stuff). And here's a beautiful book of Postcards From Mars. Want something more arty? Andy Goldsworthy is your man (left). And finally, in a shameless plug, who doesn't want to know more about geophysics?

Still stuck? Check our reading list. Not good enough? There are lots more ideas in our 2011 giftology and 2010 giftophysics posts. And you'll find even more geeky awesomeness over at Georneys. If, after all that, you spot something even more giftological, please tell us about it in the comments!

The photo of balloons over Cappadocia is licensed CC-BY-NC by Flickr user Stephen Oung. The T-shirt images are copyright of their respective owners and assumed to be fair use. The Goldsworthy image is licensed CC-BY-SA by Wikipedia user mikeanegus