Pokémon Go at the USGS National Center

Release Date:

USGS has evolved into a legendary Science-Type!

So by now, everyone’s at least heard of Pokémon Go, right? Well, we here at the USGS National Center are flattered that our center has no less than 8 PokéStops associated with it and not one, but two gyms! The really neat thing is that the 2 gyms and 8 PokéStops are part of our Rock Garden Walking Tour, where we highlight some of the unique rock types in the Washington, DC, region. So, without further ado, here are the 2 gyms and the 8 PokéStops:

Image shows a green and black sign next to several vertical stone columns
Perfect welcome to our campus!Public domain

Gym 1: USGS Volcanic Crystals

First up, the gyms. This gym is located at the Volcanic Crystals that welcome you to our campus. You may have seen other hexagonal volcanic columns like these at the Devils Postpile National Monument in California, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, or the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. These form from cooling lava that fractures into these unique formations. You can learn more about our volcano research here: http://on.doi.gov/2a6b9fR

Image shows a large black stone with a silver sign in front
Joining the fossil rock-type Omanyte is our own rock-type fossil fuel: coal!Public domain

Gym 2: Cannel Coal

The second gym is located at the Cannel Coal Stop. Cannel coal is a type of bituminous coal, which is the second-highest rank of coal (just behind anthracite). This particular sample has a high carbon content with high pollen and spore content as well. Unlike most bituminous coal, Cannel coal can be carved into ornaments. This sample came from the Eastern Interior Coalfield in Kentucky. You can learn more about our coal research here: http://bit.ly/29T9MO5

Image shows a long gray stone lying flat in a gravel pit with a silver sign nearby
You'd think there'd be more rock-type Pokémon around, but that doesn't seem to be the case...Public domain

PokéStop 1: Leesburg Conglomerate

Now on to the PokéStops! The first one is called the Leesburg Conglomerate. Conglomerates are sedimentary rocks that are made up of various fragments of rock interspersed with finer grained material. This particular conglomerate was deposited as a fan on the northwest side of the Culpeper Basin.

Image shows a tall gray stone standing in a gravel field surrounded by grass
Lots of Flying-Type and Grass-Type Pokémon are around, though...Public domain

PokéStop 2: Cordierite Hornfels

The name looks like a dragon from Harry Potter, but hornfels rocks are metamorphic rocks. They usually start out as sedimentary rocks like sandstone or shale, but then volcanic material pushes up from below and bakes the sedimentary rock into a metamorphic one. Hornfels are known for being exceptionally tough and durable. This one is from Chantilly, VA.

Image shows a detail of the texture of marble
Here's hoping the next Pokémon game will be called Pokémon Marble & Obsidian...Public domain

PokéStop 3: Cockeysville Marble

Marble is a famous metamorphic rock known for its use in sculpture and architecture. This particular marble came from the Campbell Quarry in Texas, Maryland. We track the production and markets of marble and more than 80 other minerals here: http://on.doi.gov/29SoK6a

Image shows detail of dark crystals in marble
You can see the crystals in the difference in texture from this picture and the one above it.Public domain

PokéStop 4: Diopside Crystals

Diopside crystals are made up of Magnesium, Calcium, Silicon and Oxygen, and are usually found in metamorphic rocks. These crystals have developed in some of that Cockeysville Marble from Texas, Maryland. Read all of our other mineral research here: http://on.doi.gov/2arxp1h

Image shows a silver plaque in a grassy field
There's even an award named for Dr. Pecora, awarded by DOI and NASA: http://remotesensing.usgs.gov/pecora.php Image credit: Alex Demas, USGS

PokéStop 5: Dr. William T. Pecora Memorial Dawn Redwoods

This is a memorial to our 8th director, who served from 1965 to 1971. He is known for championing energy and mineral resource research, as well as studying the potential environmental impacts from their development. In addition, 3 days after his death, the first Earth Resources Technology satellite was launched, a program he strongly supported. These days, that project is known as Landsat. You can read about Dr. Pecora and our other directors here: http://bit.ly/2a6LVgd

Image shows a silver benchmark set in concrete
Looks like a Flying-Type has visited this Benchmark recently...Public domain

PokéStop 6: USGS Elevation Marker NC 3

And most appropriately, here’s an elevation benchmark. If you’re an avid hiker, you may have come across one of these in a National Park or National Forest. They were originally used in our topographic mapping efforts to establish elevation markers at various key locations.

Image shows a large gray stone in shade, surrounded by gravel and grass
This rock is igneous. If you’re keeping track at home, that means we now have one of each type of rock!Public domain

PokéStop 7: Coarse Diabase

Diabase is a mafic (meaning high in magnesium and iron), igneous rock that usually forms below the Earth’s surface. This particular one has large amounts of augite and labradorite minerals, and comes from the Lucke Quarry, which is southeast of Leesburg, VA.

Image shows a tall, triangular gray stone surrounded by grass and trees
I checked to see if there was a Geodude or Onyx hiding in one of those holes, but nope. Still no rock-types around...Public domain

PokéStop 8: Barre Granite

And, last stop! Granite is an igneous rock that we’ve used for building materials for thousands of years. It’s name comes from the Latin word “granum,” meaning “grain,” which refers to the grains of quartz and feldspar that define granite. This one is from the Barre formation in Vermont.

Image shows a multi-storied office building with trees and cloudy sky
The star of our National Center has 2 less points than Starmie because it’s meant to evoke a Compass Rose!Public domain

Happy Hunting!

So with all of this geologic information at your fingertips, have fun out there hunting Pokémon and remember to be safe! And if you come to the USGS hunting rock-type Pokémon, please remember that this is Federal property, so don’t be surprised if security personnel ask what you’re doing. And also, only visit between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM.

Hopefully as you explore the world around you, you’ll keep your head up and learn to appreciate the natural world and evolve into a legendary science-type!