For some reason, I have a feeling you’re the right guy to ask about this. Geologists are the place to go for earth lore.
What’s your opinion about dowsing? My instinct is to dismiss it as nonsense, but I used to work construction when I was a student, and I had a job boss called Herb Klahr who used to use dowsing all the time to find lost tools, buried material and other items accidentally buried on the site. Most of Florida is sugar sand under the vegetation, and stuff is getting lost in it all the time.
I saw him do it several times. He would ask somebody to accompany him with a shovel, and he would bend a stiff wire a couple of feet long into an “L”, and balance it on a piece of rebar he held out in front of him with both hands. He’d then walk around, systematically covering a square piece of ground where the missing item was suspected to be. When he approached the spot, the balanced wire would tip forward, and he’d say “Dig here.” Sure enough, there would always be a mass, a metal or masonry object there. It wasn’t always the object he was actually looking for, sometime it was just a slug of concrete or a cinder block, but sooner or later it would turn up what he was looking for. Any massive object could be located this way, a metal pipe wrench, a bag of cement or a bundle of rebar, asbestos pipe, you name it. He didn’t know how it worked, but he didn’t think it was supernatural or psychic, he felt it was a purely natural phenomenon, something to do with gravity or static electricity.
Herb was neat. He was a thin, wiry, ramrod-straight German who spoke good English but with a thick accent. He always wore sharply creased and pressed work pants, a spotless button-down shirt, and wore his full head of white hair in a neatly trimmed crew cut underneath his hard hat. He claimed to have been a Luftwaffe pilot during the war. We believed him.