We are studying microbes in desert rocks to inform us about climate change and our chances for finding life elsewhere in the Universe. There are diverse types of these rocks all over the world and you can help us find them.

Rockiology is a citizen science project. We want you to be a part of our research by collecting rocks that have been colonized by microorganisms. View the gallery to see what others have found for us.

Who we Are

Jocelyne DiRuggiero is a professor in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University in the US. Her lab's research focuses on the stress responses of extreme microbes and on the ecology of extreme environments.

Why we Need You

We're currently analyzing rocks that we've obtained on expeditions to the world's deserts. These expeditions have produced lots of excellent samples, but we need more data in order to answer our big questions. We want to supplement our collection with your finds.

Rock Reference Library

In order to find the kinds of samples we're looking for, you'll have to get acquainted with the basic types of rocks. Don't worry, it's not hard - we've put together a reference guide for you.

How to Participate

We appreciate your efforts in helping us, and we want to make sure your time is spent well in finding useful samples. Take a look at this brief guide to get an idea of how to collect rock samples and send them to us. You can find out where you need to go, what to look for, and how to harvest any samples you find. You can also go to the gallery to see other submitted rocks.


Thank you to everybody who has sent us samples! A picture of every sample we've requested is shown on this map. Please keep exploring and submitting - we're looking forward to seeing what you discover.


Take a look at the forum to see what Rockiology users are discussing. If you register, you can post to the forum too.

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