Old Rock Day – January 7, 2022

We celebrate Old Rock Day on January 7 every year to remember the Earth’s incredible history and to pay tribute to the amazing geologists who help us understand it. We’ve been dependent on rocks since we first walked the Earth, and today it’s no different, with rocks forming the foundation of our daily lives. So if you want to revel in remarkable old rocks, or sit back and spend time with a stone, we’ve got some polished ideas for making your Old Rock Day a hard one to forget. 

History of Old Rock Day

The study of rocks was first introduced by the Ancient Greek Theophrastus in his work, “Peri Lithon” (“On Stones”), and became the cornerstone of geology for other interested scientists. The study was advanced by Pliny the Elder, who recorded numerous minerals and metals in great detail, with a particular focus on their practical use. Although working without the tools we use today, Pliny was able to correctly identify the origin of amber as fossilized tree resin. 

It wasn’t until 1603 when the word ‘geology’ was used for the first time by Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi. It took a further 150 years for the first geological maps to be drawn by British geologist William Smith, whose work began the process of ordering rock layers by examining the fossils contained in them. 

Then, in 1785, James Hutton wrote and presented a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh called ‘Theory of the Earth’, which outlined his belief that the world was far older than previously thought. His breakthroughs make him widely considered the first modern geologist.

In 1809 William Maclure produced the first geological map of the USA, a task he completed thanks to two painstaking years spent personally traversing the country. With the invention of radiometric dating in the early 20th century, scientists could finally provide an accurate figure for the age of the earth by tracing the radioactive impurities found in rocks. It helped scientists to see that the Earth is one very old rock indeed! 

Rocks have been essential for human development, which is why we celebrate Old Rock Day and the wonder of the geological world. 

Old Rock Day timeline

287 B.C.
The First Geologist

The earliest known study of geology is written by an Ancient Greek, Theophrastus.

A.D. 79
Pliny studies origins

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder records the origins and uses of rocks and minerals.

1603
‘Geology’ is Coined

The name for the study of the earth is first used by Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi.

1785
The First Modern Geologist

James Hutton presents his paper entitled ‘Theory of the Earth’ to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

1785
The First Modern Geologist

James Hutton presents his paper entitled ‘Theory of the Earth’ to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Old Rock Day FAQs

Which rocks should I celebrate?

Celebrate the rocks that mean the most to you, whether that’s the rock that gave you a favorite piece of jewelry or the rocks that built the home you live in. They’re everywhere!

 

Are all rocks natural?

Today, we often help nature along by speeding up the rock-making process, so some rocks you encounter could be a mixture of natural and artificial materials. 

 

When can I celebrate rock music?

On June 21, we celebrate all kinds of music with World Day of Music. But there’s nothing stopping you from rocking out on Old Rock Day, too!

Old Rock Day Activities

  1. Hunt for fossils

    Head out to a park, beach, or stream and look closely at the rocks in your path. Are there any ancient specimens embedded in the stones?

  2. Make your own fossils

    By mixing together a salt dough and pressing items in, you can form your own fossil replicas. It’s the perfect way to introduce kids to geology!

  3. Read about famous rocks

    From Uluru in Australia to Rat Rock in Central Park, there are plenty of famous rocks part of our society today, with some pretty amazing histories.

5 Facts About Rocks To Rock Your World

  1. Your roof may once have been lava

    If you’ve got a slate roof, then your house is sitting beneath what was once molten lava. Slate is an igneous rock that is created when magma cools and turns solid.

  2. Space rocks fall to Earth

    Meteorites — rocks from outer space — frequently fall to us here on Earth. If you see a shooting star, that’s a meteorite entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

  3. You brush your teeth with rocks

    Strange as it may sound, rocks give us the minerals necessary for everyday household items like toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, and batteries. Rocks are more useful than you think!

  4. They’re always changing

    Although imperceptible to the human eye, rocks are changing constantly. Heat and pressure will change rocks over thousands of years depending on their environment.

  5. Presidents live in them

    The four presidents residing on the face of Mount Rushmore are carved into the granite rock beneath the mountain’s surface.

Why We Love Old Rock Day

  1. Geology is cool

    Studying the natural world helps us protect, preserve, and predict it so that we can live in harmony with nature.

  2. Rocks are useful

    From the sturdy bricks of our homes to the sidewalk beneath our feet, rocks are essential for the existence of the human race.

  3. Rocks are precious

    Some of the most coveted things in the world today — gold, diamonds, and other gemstones — are minerals formed from old rocks. You can still find them in the natural world if you know where to look!

Old Rock Day dates

YearDateDay
2021January 7Thursday
2022January 7Friday
2023January 7Saturday
2024January 7Sunday
2025January 7Tuesday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.