Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 08.06.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

There really is no event in the Mineral World year exactly like the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium. It may sound scientific and formal, but Rochester is perhaps the most welcoming and inclusive mineral gathering I know.

Rochester is not meant to be a strictly scientific symposium – it is meant for anyone who wants to learn more about topics in mineralogy. At Rochester, many of the best-known mineral people of our time, mineralogists, curators, collectors (including beginners) and students, all share and learn together. And we have a good time together too. How often, in any field of study, does one find this kind of collaboration and true camaraderie among people from the top of the profession through to early-stage amateur enthusiasts? It’s a great experience.

So if you’ve never come, why not plan to come next year? Rochester is meant for you as much as anyone! You can reserve the dates right now: April 20-23, 2017. The great 2017 speakers list is below…

2016 RMS Presentations

Our presentations this year spanned a real range of speakers and topics.

Thursday night we began with a talk about mineral adventure, to the southern coastline of Baffin Island, Nunavut, in Canada’s far north. This is the kind of adventure few of us will ever be able to (or would dare to) undertake. Our speaker was Brad Wilson. Brad is perhaps best known as a superb faceter of gemstones, from traditional coloured gemstones to rare and soft collector stones. He describes his trips as “part of my fearless love of nature”.

Have you ever seen anything like this from Baffin? (!)

Fluorapatite, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Fluorapatite, Kimmirut, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada – 12 cm
B. Wilson specimen and photo

Over the years, during many trips, Brad has adventured for minerals in the far north of Canada – each of these trips is amazing. This is truly remote territory, with no settlements beyond Brad’s starting point, and he must fly his Zodiac watercraft from his home in Ontario to Baffin Island, so that he has a way to navigate the water. Once he’s out on his trip, he has no-one to rely on beyond himself, and he has nothing except what he takes with him! And when there are polar bears around, things can become less than ideal…

Baffin Island Minerals - Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson, mineral adventuring solo along the southern coast of Baffin Island
B. Wilson photo

There is only limited literature and information about the geology and mineralogy of this region, so Brad has developed much of his knowledge from his travels. His discoveries have included superbly crystallized black spinel crystals, along with various minerals one might also find in calcite vein-dyke environments, such as titanite (to large-sized crystals).

Spinel with diopside, MacDonald Island, Nunavut, Canada

Superb, complex spinel crystals with diopside, MacDonald Island, Nunavut, Canada – 7.5 cm
B. Wilson specimen and photo

Many of Brad’s finds to date have been indicative of enticing potential… what a colour…

Spinel, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Spinel (intense blue), Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
B. Wilson photo

Brad plans to continue to travel to Baffin in the future, and he hopes to bring back more amazing specimens – without any more polar bear encounters.

Changing gears entirely, Friday morning’s talks were about uranium minerals.

Dr. Peter Burns, is the current president of the IMA (International Mineralogical Association), Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at University of Notre Dame, director of an energy frontier research centre, Materials Science of Actinides and a professor in several disciplines at Notre Dame. Upon reading that in the program, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to understand anything. How wrong I was to wonder! “The Societal Importance of Uranium Minerals and Mineral-Inspired Materials” explained many things about which I knew nothing, including uranium mineral structure. The compounds that combine in uranium minerals are limited by the unusual large size of the UO2 molecule. This molecule only combines with certain others in certain ways and this limits the diversity of uranium mineral compositions. We were treated to photographs of uranium minerals few of us find familiar.

Ewingite – Mg8Ca8(UO2)24(CO3)30O4(OH)12(H2O)138 – is a newly-described mineral from the Czech Republic, and its structure contains the largest cluster known in a mineral, at about 2.4 nm across with 24 U atoms per cluster.


Ewingite, Plavno Mine, Plavno, Krušné Hory Mts (Erzgebirge) Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Field of view 1 mm. Travis Olds photo.


Leoszilardite, Markey Mine, Red Canyon, White Canyon District, San Juan Co., Utah, USA
Field of view 1.5 mm. Travis Olds photo.


Gauthierite, Shinkolobwe Mine, Shinkolobwe, Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Field of view 1.2 mm. Travis Olds photo.

We also learned that the study of uranium mineral structures and uranium compounds is producing results that may lead to significant new applications. One particularly interesting example is the manipulation of actinide (including uranium) cluster structures and creation of compound structures that may be used in uranium reprocessing, to recover uranium from spent fuel at nuclear facilities.

Next, Dr. Robert Lauf spoke on the Mineralogy of Uranium and Thorium. You likely know he is a well-known author of books on specimen mineralogy (the Collector’s Guide series). His presentation included explanations and many mineral photographs, excellent specimens in stunning colours, and some rather uncommon minerals.


Francevillite, Mounana Mine, Franceville, Haut-Ogooué Province, Gabon – 4 cm
R. Lauf specimen and photo

The minerals were discussed with emphasis on different groups and structures. If this area is of interest to you, you might like to know that he has just published a new book, “Introduction to Radioactive Minerals”. (Please see the link below, under Links)


Torbernite, Margabal Mine, Entraygues-sur-Truyère, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrénées, France
R. Lauf specimen and photo











Gummite and uraninite, Ruggles Mine, Grafton,
Grafton Co., New Hampshire, USA.
Visible light (left) and radiograph, exposed 8 hours (right).
R. Lauf specimen and photos

Friday night, John Koivula presented “Crystalline Showcases”. John is a renowned photographer of micro features of gemstones, particularly inclusions – he has been active for fifty years, with over 800 published articles and notes.

Needless to say, the photographic journey over the course of this talk included many amazing images. Wild!

KoivulaCassiterite Cross-section through a Bolivian cassiterite showing fine growth. Field of view 2 cm (!)
J. Koivula specimen and photo

Axinite - (Fe) in Quartz, New Melones Lake, Calaveras County, California, USA

Axinite – (Fe) inside Quartz, New Melones Lake, Calaveras County, California, USA
Field of view 0.9 cm. J. Koivula specimen and photo.

Technical Session

On Friday afternoon of the Symposium each year, Dr. Carl Francis moderates our technical session, “Contributed Papers in Specimen Mineralogy”. This is a packed afternoon, with talks strictly limited to 15 minutes. Abstracts from these talks are included in the Symposium program notes (link below), and they will also be published during the year in Rocks and Minerals magazine, so keep an eye out for them!

Saturday – Annual What’s New

After a second late night of folks having fun with mineral friends, one might expect a thinner crowd for the first talk Saturday morning… but Jeff Scovil leads off Saturday morning with What’s New in Minerals, so it’s a full house.

Not only is Jeff the world’s most published mineral photographer, but because he spends the year travelling the world to shoot some of the best mineral specimens there are, he is in a unique position to share. Jeff’s annual What’s New in Minerals each year at Rochester is a spectacular presentation not to be missed.

Copper, Bou Nahas, Oumjrane, Alnif, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Copper, Bou Nahas, Alnif, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 2.9 cm wide.
Spirifer Minerals specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Vivianite, Huanuni Mine, Bolivia
Vivianite. Huanuni mine, Potosi Dept., Bolivia – 12 cm.
Unique Minerals specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Kunzite, Mawi pegmatite, Nuristan, Afghanistan

Spodumene var. kunzite. Mawi pegmatite Nuristan Prov., Afghanistan. 9.8 cm high.
Shafiee Muhammad specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Crocoite, Red Lead Mine, Tasmania

Crocoite. Red Lead mine, Dundas, Tasmania, Australia – 9.3 cm.
Keith & Mauna Proctor specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Elbaite Tourmaline, Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Elbaite, Cruzeiro Mine, Sao Jose da Safira, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 15.1 cm.
Wayne Sorensen specimen, J. Scovil photo.

This is only a small taste of Jeff’s What’s New in Minerals presentation – it was an hour of photos like this! Each year, people hyperventilate, pass out on the floor and all that. (Ok, maybe they don’t really, but literally there are gasps, oohs and ahhs…)

All of Saturday morning is dedicated to what has been new in the past year in minerals. After Jeff, we have What’s New II, with other short contributions about finds and developments from Mineral World over the past year.

Since I am now spending a lot of time in a year pursuing minerals and then photographing them in a dark room, I included a few in a brief presentation. If you have been following along with the website over the past year, you’ll already be familiar with many of the specimens I included in my talk so I won’t belabour them here, but I’ll include three stories in case you missed any of them – two are not only cool but clarify the correct labeling for many incorrectly labelled specimens (and I’m including the third simply because it’s gorgeous).

Vibrant specimens from the Luputo Mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were initially labelled as chrysocolla when they first came out in early 2015. Subsequently, a posting on mindat by a mineral dealer, citing a vary authoritative source, labelled them ajoite. Labels all over the place were changed, to accord with the work done by the authoritative source. In fact, that person’s work was improperly represented. In completing the work subsequently, it was confirmed that they are in fact chrysocolla. They are chrysocolla pseudomorphs after malachite, after azurite, and they are covered with tiny pseudomorphs of chrysocolla after malachite.

Chrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Chrysocolla pseudomorph after malachite after azurite, Luputo Mine,
Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 8.1 cm

Another find from 2015 was the subject of more comprehensive identification work – the very cool pseudomorphs after marcasite and pyrite from the White Desert in Egypt. These were first offered on the mineral market in the mid-1990s, and have been brought out sporadically since then. They have repeatedly been labeled “hematite” (I can’t say on what basis, since the high-tech test I conducted with a streak plate does not produce a hematite result). Some have also been labeled goethite and others “limonite”(the latter no longer a valid mineral species name, but is a term still used in reference to unidentified iron hydroxides, so its past use has not been technically incorrect). In any event, recent substantial work by Hannah Allen at Hamilton College has confirmed that the White Desert pseudomorphs are predominantly goethite.

Goethite pseudomorph after marcasite, White Desert, north of Farafra Oasis, New Valley Governorate, Egypt

Goethite pseudomorph after Marcasite, White Desert, North of Farafra Oasis,
New Valley Governorate, Egypt – 3.6 cm

A new find at the El Hammam Mine this past year produced striking beautiful, glassy, yellow fluorite specimens. El Hammam is not known for yellow fluorite, rather it is most known for fluorite in hues of green, with associated dustings of pyrite.

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view – 4.0 cm

An Unfortunate Development

Unfortunately, not all of What’s New is good news.

A piece of highly disappointing (the polite way to say it) news from Mineral World was presented by Frank Melanson. One of Canada’s most famous mineral collecting localities is finished. The Bear Lake diggings, in Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario was a location for superb crystals of titanite, fluorapatite, phlogopite, orthoclase and amphibole minerals, along with many other minerals. Bear Lake was the type locality for the black amphibole now classified as ferri-fluoro-katophorite. An important part of Canada’s mineral heritage, thousands of people collected there, many as children, and many were inspired by Bear Lake to become more interested in mineral collecting. The locality was maintained, with significant help from the local collecting community, as a collecting site by the Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce. We have learned that the Chamber of Commerce sold the property to a new private owner who prohibits any collecting. No-one in the collecting community had any word of this until it was a done deal, so there was no opportunity to save Bear Lake. The technical term of art for this kind of mineral locality development: it bites. Totally.

In case you are not familiar with Bear Lake minerals, here are a couple of of the many specimens I collected there over the years:

Ferri-Fluoro-Katophorite, Bear Lake, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario, Canada
Ferri-Fluoro-Katophorite, Bear Lake, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario, Canada – 6.8 cm
R. McDougall specimen.

Titanite, Bear Lake, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario, Canada

Titanite, Bear Lake, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario, Canada – 5 cm
R. McDougall specimen

More Saturday Presentations

Saturday afternoon began with Dr. Robert Martin, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University, and past editor of the Canadian Mineralogist – a role he undertook for 35 years (!).

As a small aside… once upon a time (a surprising number of years ago, now) there was a young history major starting at McGill. He was told by the university registrar that because his major was in the Faculty of Arts, the mineralogy course taught by Professor Martin was too hard and simply wasn’t for him. He took it anyway. Bob Martin taught me a lot about mineralogy during my time at McGill. I’ve always been grateful to have had that opportunity, and today I remember more of what he taught me than any of the history and other subjects I studied during those years.

Saturday afternoon, Bob presented The Minerals and Mineralogists of France. (Alas, no Bordeaux was served to accompany the talk.) This presentation was based upon Bob’s upcoming book, Canadian Mineralogist Special Publication 13 – Minerals Having a French Connection. It was a great talk that highlighted some lesser known minerals, locality photos and fascinating histories. For example, I was struck by some history about aerinite.

Aerinite, northern Spain
Aerinite, Estopanyà, Catalunya, Spain – 7 cm
R. Martin specimen, Russell Proulx photo.

This is a rare, complex carbonate-bearing silicate of a strong blue colour, from which it derives its name (named after the Greek aerinos, for sky-blue). The colour was so valued that, even though aerinite was not available in great supply, it was used in pigments in Romanesque paintings and frescoes in chapels along the Pyrenees. A truly barbaric thing to do to a rare mineral, but anyway…


Aerinite, used as a pigment by several Romanesque master painters. It is the blue of the Pantocrator from the apse of Sant Climent de Taüll church (early 12th century). This Romanesque fresco is now on display at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.

I think everyone was wowed by the photos (from the upcoming book) of the rare mineral, tubulite. Tubulite was discovered at Le Rivet quarry, Peyrebrune ore field (Tarn), 6 km east-southeast of Réalmont, France. I’m including them both – is this a cool mineral or what? (Great photos!)


Tubulite, Rivet quarry, Peyrebrune ore field, Tarn, France – 0.4 mm
Robert Pecorini collection, Jean-Marc Johannet photo


Tubulite, Rivet quarry, Peyrebrune ore field, Tarn, France
Field of view 2 mm
Robert Pecorini collection, Jean-Marc Johannet photo

For our second Saturday afternoon talk, Elise Skawold, graduate gemologist (GG) and Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain (F.G.A), presented “From Gemology to Mineral Physics and Back Again”. This talk provided a completely accessible glimpse into the realm of some rather high-level mineral physics applied to solve mineralogical mysteries. (The work featured in this presentation was done with Bill Bassett, Steve Jacobsen and John Koivula.) The central question in this particular mystery was the identification of an inclusion in a diamond crystal. One possibility was that the inclusion might be ringwoodite. Addressing the issue necessitated trips to various labs for different kinds of analyses.

Ringwoodite is not a mineral seen in mineral collections. It is a polymorph of forsterite, which is able to contain hydroxide within its structure. It is stable only at high pressure, such as in the Earth’s upper mantle, at depths from the surface between 400 km and 650 km. It is actually thought to be a highly abundant mineral in this zone of the mantle, but because it is not stable at the prevailing pressure at the Earth’s surface, finds of naturally-occurring ringwoodite is incredibly rare (sometimes found in meteorites). Ringwoodite is known in an inclusion in one Brazilian diamond – it was trapped in the diamond deep in the Earth and then blasted up from the depths during a diatreme explosion. The reason ringwoodite is of such interest is that the presence of ringwoodite in the mantle in such abundance is thought to indicate large amounts of water at depth (in the form of hydroxide) , below the Earth’s surface. Researchers are keen to find more ringwoodite inclusions in diamonds to help us to learn all we can about the water that may be harboured in the mantle.

In the end, this inclusion was determined to be forsterite.

Sunday – A Truly Grand Finale

Sunday morning’s program this year was special.

In some past years, by Sunday morning, the numbers have thinned a little. Survivors of three late nights of fun are few, and so we have sometimes seen smaller numbers Sunday morning. (You may be noticing a theme about late nights…) However, at recent Symposia, this has not been the trend – and this particular Sunday, the room was packed!

First up was a superb talk on the Vermont asbestos quarries at Belvidere Mountain (often erroneously referred to as “Eden Mills”, a town that isn’t the nearest and certainly isn’t at the locality). Ken Carlsen and Dr. Woodrow Thompson presented a history, explanation and mineralogy that was thorough and fascinating – I don’t know where the hour went (!). This presentation expanded upon their excellent article in the November-December 2015 issue of Rocks and Minerals magazine, “Belvidere Mountain Asbestos Quarries, Lowell/Eden, Vermont”. (If you haven’t yet red this article, it’s a great one – I highly recommend it!)

The earliest history was pieced together through some detective work and some great old photographs, including these two:

Lowell, Vermont

Lowell, Vermont, circa 1909. This settlement was originally known as “Chrysotile.”

Vermont Gallagher Mine Pit

The early Gallagher Mine at Belvidere Mountain, Vermont, circa 1909

There were also great photos from a more contemporary period, including some showing the pit areas where fine specimens were found at various times.

Belvidere Mtn

1980 photo of the mines, Belvidere Mountain, Vermont
State of Vermont Archives photo

The full photographic tour of the minerals of Belvidere Mountain is in the Rocks and Minerals article – here are a couple of teasers:

Vermont Grossular

Grossular on diopside, Lowell quarry, Lowell, Vermont, Collected in the 1950s – 3.5 cm wide
Ken Carlsen specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Vermont Vesuvianite

Vesuvianite, Lowell Quarry, Lowell, Vermont – 2.5 cm
Ken Carlsen specimen, J. Scovil photo.

And last, but absolutely not least, the final talk of the 43rd Rochester Mineralogical Symposium was one that will always be remembered.

Our speaker was Canadian mineral photographer Michael Bainbridge. He is wrapping up the end of a major project with the Canadian Museum of Nature, a book on the truly unbelievable mineral collection assembled by Bill Pinch from the beginning of his collecting career and through the late 1980s, acquired by the Museum.

From the beginning of his collecting days, through to the late 1980s, Bill built a mineral collection like no other. It had incredible breadth of species, and top specimens of so many – many best of species. John White, former curator at the Smithsonian, has stated that Bill’s was the best private collection ever assembled. Many feel the same way. The Pinch Collection includes jaw-dropping specimens, one after another, after another… like this one…


Wakabayashilite, White Caps mine, Manhattan, Nye County, Nevada, USA – 13 cm (!)
Bill Pinch Collection, now in the Canadian Museum of Nature.
M. Bainbridge photo.

And, given the material itself, it would have been a relatively straightforward undertaking to present a slideshow of highlights among the great specimens from Bill’s first collection. (Bill has been assembling another collection ever since…) However, although many of those highlights were of course included in the photographs accompanying the talk, Michael took a different, deeper approach, presenting stories of assembling the collection, surrounding the thesis that Bill, and the Pinch Collection, redefined mineral collecting and mineral appreciation at the time, and for all who followed.

Michael placed this story in the context of the era, the dynamics, and the influential players at the time, notably Paul Desautels. During the time period in which Bill built the collection, mineral specimens and collections came to be appreciated differently than they had in the past, and Michael highlighted Bill’s influence and the influence of Paul Desautels. The world of mineral collecting was forever changed during this era, and Bill’s role was fundamental. I don’t want to spoil the stories or the specimens for you – the book will be out soon and it will be an essential addition to mineral libraries worldwide.


Hauerite, Radussa, Italy – largest crystal 5 cm, largest octahedron 3.5 cm
Bill Pinch Collection, now in the Canadian Museum of Nature.
M. Bainbridge photo.

Bill has always been the keenest observer of minerals, and the emphasis in his collections has been on both (1) the best, and (2) specimens with significance in mineralogy.

2cm wide

Rosasite, Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Namibia – 2 cm
Bill Pinch Collection, now in the Canadian Museum of Nature.
M. Bainbridge photo.

As life would have it, Bill had not been present at the Symposium for many years. It is no exaggeration to say that it was a moving morning, as Bill, his wife Jackie and their son Michael attended the talk. They were greeted with the warmth that has come to be part of the Symposium – the Symposium that Bill himself has had such a major hand in creating and contributing to, over the years.


Bill Pinch, doing what he loves – carefully examining a mineral specimen and seeing something unusual
(often something no-one else sees at first!)

The book, The William W. Pinch Collection, will be published by Lithographie LLC and is expected to be 2017 – can’t wait!


As happens every year at Rochester, the Exhibit Room was full of great cases and beautiful minerals, some from individual collectors and some from museums.

The New York State Museum always has a great display. This year, the case was dedicated to the late Charles F. Hiler – the Museum recently acquired his collection. Chuck was a regular member of our Rochester Symposium family and will be missed. He specialized in the minerals of the Lockport dolostones of the region, and the case featured some superb specimens from the Penfield Quarry, just east of Rochester. Here are a couple:

Fluorite, Penfield Quarry, New York

Fluorite, Penfield Quarry, Penfield, Monroe Co., New York – crystal approx. 4 cm

Gypsum, var. selenite, Penfield Quarry, New York

Gypsum, var. selenite, Penfield Quarry, Penfield, Monroe Co., New York – approx. 6 cm

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum Case, Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum case, Minerals Mined by Frank Perham

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum Case, Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

The schorl specimen in this case, collected in 1958, was particularly sharp – a great piece –

PerhamSchorl Schorl, Nubble Quarry, Greenwood, Maine
Crystal approximately 4 cm

The Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science had a great case of geodes from the midwest, with some particularly fine Indiana specimens from the collections of Terry Huizing and Gene Tribbey. This is a gorgeous golden barite in a geode:


Barite, Monroe Co., Indiana, crystal approximately 4 cm

John Betts put together a case of beautiful specimens from his collection:

John Betts Mineral Collection Display Case, Rochester Symposium 2016


George Thompson’s case this year was dedicated to amethyst and associated minerals from the Thunder Bay District in northern Ontario:



George included pieces from small find a few years ago that produced sharp, glassy, pale green fluorite crystals on hematite-included amethyst – these are excellent, colourful specimens (more so, in better light!):



David Joyce had a great case of Canadian minerals, including a spectacular one from a new find in British Columbia – quartz crystals with amethyst sceptres. The sceptres have glassy, lustrous faces, even though that doesn’t come through in this photo. An amazing specimen!


Quartz, var. Amethyst, Sanca Creek, Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada – approximately 10 cm

The Rest of the Fun

As much as anything on the official program, lots of the fun occurs throughout the weekend as we all have a chance to socialize in the halls, over meals, and especially on the 4th Floor. This is the floor on which all of the dealers are set up – it is only open when the program is not on, but of course activities on the 4th Floor continue into past midnight and into the morning hours. It’s been a while since the 4th floor has seen Topaz Bowling (which apparently was not popular with all guests), but other fun continues…


An annual highlight is the Saturday night mineral song session with David Joyce.
John Betts photo.

By now I assume you all know Dave has a CD of mineral collecting and mining tunes… if you are not yet familiar with these them, they are popular collecting trip and mineral show fare. And if you aren’t sure what I mean by mineral collecting and mining tunes, you can check them out on his website at the link below. (Have an online listen to song # 9, The Mineral Dealer). By now, many of us know all the words, so Saturday night at Rochester is like a large campfire singalong. Except that it’s on the 4th Floor of the Radisson Rochester Airport Hotel, where fires aren’t welcome.

Until Next Year…

The Rochester Symposium is a great event. It has a rich history over its first 43 years, and it has seen many of Mineral World’s most prominent names as contributors. At the same time, the Symposium continues to embrace contributions from all levels in mineral collecting – it simply would not be what it is without everyone who contributes.

Of course, the Symposium could literally not happen without the dedicated efforts of the team who put it together – countless thanks to Steve Chamberlain (chair), Helen Chamberlain (registrar), and many others on the committee and those helping at the event and in the background, including Dan Imel, Carl Francis, Bruce Gaber, Brian McGrath, Bob Morgan, Betty Fetter, George and Susan Robinson, Quintin Wight, Elizabeth Von Bacho and Tom White. I hope I haven’t missed anyone!

And thank you to all of the speakers and photographers from this year, for all of your help with photos to share through this report

2017 RMS Speakers:

We have a super group of speakers to look forward to at the next RMS (except that very last guy might be a bit of a dud):

John Cornish, Frank Hawthorne, Bob Lauf, Renato Pagano, Herwig Pelckmans, Les Presmyk, Jolyon Ralph, Jeff Scovil, and me.


If you are seeking links for anything mentioned above, some of these may be of interest:

The 43rd Rochester Mineralogical Symposium – Program Notes – April 14-17, 2016

Brad Wilson’s gemstones, including cut stones from Baffin Island, are here.

The new book by Robert J. Lauf: Mineralogy of Uranium and Thorium

The new Canadian Mineralogist Special Publication 13, Minerals Having a French Connection, is expected to be published in early 2017. It will be available from the Mineralogical Association of Canada’s bookstore.

Our amazing professional mineral photographers (who – of course – take photos of private collection specimens for individual collectors): Jeff Scovil and Michael Bainbridge

David K. Joyce has written – and plays and sings, of course – the soundtrack for so many great times in minerals. The tunes are available on itunes and the CD is available from Dave – if you’d like to hear them, here is the page where you can listen.

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 11.29.2015 | Filed under: Adventurers, Latest | Comments (0)


Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy has been famous among mineral collectors for a long time. In fact, these coastal cliffs were internationally-known for their zeolites before Canada existed as a country.

(Just a note: this post is really The Bay of Fundy Part I. The next post, Part II, is about collecting the Islands, in the Bay of Fundy, so I hope you’ll find that one fun too – the link is below, under the Links heading near the end of this post.)

Wasson's Bluff Sunrise, Nova ScotiaEarly summer morning at Wasson’s Bluff

Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy shoreline occurrences are early classic Canadian mineral localities, and have been producing superb specimens of many mineral species since the mid-19th century. For perspective, this is well ahead of the recovery of mineral specimens from other well-known Canadian localities like the Jeffrey Quarry at Asbestos or Mont St. Hilaire (Quebec), the Bancroft Area or Thunder Bay District (Ontario) or Rapid Creek (Yukon) – in some cases, over 100 years before the minerals of these localities were even discovered.

Specimens from the Bay of Fundy were noted in late 19th century texts and reports in Canada and internationally, and crystals of of gmelinite from Pinnacle Island (albeit as “Pinnack Island”) are included in Victor Goldschmidt’s early 20th century Atlas der Krystallformen.

Today, fine mineral specimens are still periodically recovered along the coasts of the Bay of Fundy, making this area one of the most productive contemporary regions for Canadian fine mineral specimens.

This post focuses on three classic localities: Wasson’s Bulff, Amethyst Cove and Cape D’Or. Part 2, a second post, is about two more classic localities, Two Islands and Five Islands – a link is at the end of this post.


First, just a bit of orientation. As shown to the left of centre on the map below, the Bay of Fundy is a large, elongated bay on the Atlantic Ocean. The area of interest for mineral collectors is at the northeastern area of the Bay of Fundy, including the Minas Basin, in the centre of the map. From Cape D’Or on the north shoreline, to the Morden area on the south shore, the linear length of shoreline to travel to the various mineral occurrences is over 400 km (approximately 250 miles).

Note in particular the tiny hook-shaped feature (the Blomidon Peninsula) poking up in the middle of this map, separating the triangle-shaped Minas Basin from the wider Bay of Fundy.

Bay of Fundy Map 1(Google Earth 2015, Image credits: Landsat, NOAA.)

Zooming in closer, with the “hook” of the Blomidon Peninsula in the centre of the map below, I’ve plotted just a few of the most important Bay of Fundy mineral localities. These are to give a general idea, but in many cases the names of localities on the Bay of Fundy are used to refer to a stretch of shoreline, not one specific plotted point. The town of Parrsboro, right of centre, hosts the Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show every August (a long-established show, it has passed its 50th anniversary), and is home to the Fundy Geological Museum.

Bay of Fundy Map 2(Google Earth 2015, Image credits: Landsat, NOAA.)

In this post, I use the term “Bay of Fundy” to include the area that is known as the Minas Basin, east of the Blomidon Peninsula.

Background – World Class Mineral Specimens

From the 1830s on, the Bay of Fundy began to attract attention for its mineral occurrences, particularly the zeolites and associated minerals.

Several minerals occur in world-class specimens from the Bay of Fundy localities: analcime, chabazite and gmelinite are the classics.

Excellent specimens of natrolite and thomsonite are also found. Even certain more common minerals, known in spectacular specimens from other world localities, occur in rather unique specimens from the Bay of Fundy – for example, stilbite colours range into distinctive and beautiful golden yellow and cinnamon brown, while heulandite can be various colours, including brilliant orange. The type locality for mordenite is Morden, on the south shore of the Bay of Fundy.

It should be noted that the Bay of Fundy is also known for agates and pretty amethyst specimens.

About the Bay of Fundy

The coastlines along the Bay of Fundy include many exposures of rock, including cliffs up to about 100m (300 ft) high. The Bay of Fundy mineral localities are typically exposed rock the base of the cliffs themselves, and also some large rock falls where cliff sections have collapsed onto the beaches.

BlomidonSunriseSunrise from camp at the top of the Cape Blomidon cliffs

Unlike many other mineral localities, the Bay of Fundy occurrences are constantly refreshed by strong forces of nature. The Bay of Fundy itself does a lot of the work. The ocean here is particularly powerful, with incredible tides, periodic major Atlantic storms and occasional hurricanes.

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world: the difference between high and low tide can be about 16 metres (over 50 feet) (!).

FundyTideLong way down to the boats at low tide on the Bay of Fundy

The waves and the pounding action of the tides, compounded by storms, scour the shorelines. Of course they also have the power to pile lots of unwanted rock on top of a good vein and bury it – so one never really knows what to expect at a locality on any given visit! The cliffs themselves are highly susceptible to erosion from heavy rain storms, and particularly from the freeze-thaw cycle in winter. Huge sections of the cliff walls crash down onto the beaches, and sometimes those rockfalls contain excellent mineralized zones.

All this action from the ocean is helpful, but it is also a power to be respected, both on the water and on the shore. From low tide to high tide, 14 cubic kilometres (14 billion tonnes) of water race through the relatively narrow gap between Cape Split and Cape D’Or. It is said that during a rising tide, at mid-tide, the channel by Cape Spilt is filled at a rate of 4 cubic kilometres of water per hour, equal to the combined flow of all of the world’s rivers and streams. This causes turbulent tidal currents and can create treacherous boating conditions.

FundyLighthouseLighthouses have dotted the Bay of Fundy clifftops since historical times.
The ocean looks pretty peaceful from this high up on the cliffs…

It goes without saying that one needs to be very careful when collecting along the Bay of Fundy. (Please read the Please Use Caution section at the end of this post.) Collecting trips are timed exactly with the tides – at some locations, getting caught on the shore against the cliffs in a rising tide would be fatal. In addition, one must be careful about being anywhere near the cliffs, and obviously hard hats are worn in these areas. True, with the rare rockfalls that exceed the size of a car, the hard hat would be about as useful as Wyle E. Coyote’s umbrella, but most of the time what falls is small enough that a hard hat can save you a nasty headache, or save your head from becoming cratered.

Overview – Geology

The geology of the cliffs and surrounding Bay of Fundy formations reveals a complex history, far beyond the scope of this post. The rock formations exposed in this region include Carboniferous, Triassic and Jurassic deposits. Various rock types outcrop in the cliffs, including basalts, sandstones and siltstones. Many of the sedimentary rocks in the Bay of Fundy host important fossil occurrences, notably the early reptile fossils in the outcrops at Joggins, and dinosaur fossils in the sandstones near Parrsboro and Wasson’s Bluff.

WassonGeoCliff section exposing basalt and sandstone at Wasson’s Bluff

Of greatest interest to mineral collectors are the basalt exposures. These relate to many separate lava flows during the late Triassic period (a little over 200 million years ago) and they host cavities and vein structures in which well-crystallized minerals are found. The cavities, known as amygdules, were originally formed as gas bubbles trapped in the lava as it cooled and hardened. Later, water flooded the amygdules and minerals formed. (Among the most commonly seen examples of amygdules from basaltic-host environments are the large amethyst cavities from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and Artigas, Uruguay).

AmygdulesSmall amygdules containing zeolite minerals in fractured basalt at Amethyst Cove.

Within the Bay of Fundy deposits, in addition to the amygdaloidal basalt occurrences there are significant breccia zones, where fluids filled cracks and mineralized veins resulted. Most often, as in the photo below, these are narrow seams with minimal potential for mineral specimens, but some of these veins are of sufficient size and complexity that they include excellent hollow zones and cavities in which crystals formed. Crystal-hosting zones are often very narrow and must be collected with extreme care, while it is very common to see crystals that just didn’t have adequate open space to fully develop. Certain seams have allowed for the development of crystallized copper.


Typical breccia zone seam containing small chabazite crystals on the beach at Wasson’s Bluff

Collecting Minerals Along the Bay of Fundy

At some localities along the Bay of Fundy, collecting is not for the faint of heart (figuratively or literally).

As one might expect, access is over the cliffs, down to the shores. In places, ropes are needed.

AmCoveRopesGrab on and down we go! A small section of the ropes on the trail to Amethyst Cove.

CapD'OrCliffLadderOver the last clifftops and down, at Cape D’Or

Wasson’s Bluff

Of course it’s hard to isolate a single Bay of Fundy locality, but if one had to choose, perhaps the most prolific one through mineral collecting history has been Wasson’s Bluff, which has been collected since the mid-nineteenth century.

WassonSceneryThe view at Wasson’s Bluff (which is along the shore).
This scene is looking toward Two Islands and Five Islands, at nearly high tide.

Wasson’s Bluff is known for superb chabazite crystals, balls of natrolite crystals, analcime crystals and golden-yellow stilbite fans.

It should be noted that Wasson’s Bluff has a protected designation under provincial law. Collecting is only permitted on the beach, and not in the cliffs. (All specimens depicted herein were obtained legally.) It is also important to observe that some of the access requires the crossing of private land and permission must be obtained.

One can access Wasson’s Bluff via different routes. One of them follows a narrow gully carved in the sandstone by runoff waters.

WassonsCowCreekGeorge Thompson and David K. Joyce making their way down to Wasson’s Bluff

WassonsCowCreekDescentDavid Joyce took this photo of me descending the rope through the gap in the cliffs.
(Note the background expanse of the tidal flats at low tide. At high tide, the water is up at the driftwood by the cliffs.)

The name Wasson’s Bluff is used to refer to a fairly long stretch of shoreline cliffs, rather than a single cliff or outcrop.

WassonsBeachA late spring scene at Wasson’s Bluff, tide receding

Some good collecting can be done when cliff sections have come down onto the beach as rock falls. A current one is the “Analcime Fall”, where lustrous glassy analcime crystals can be found.

WassonsAnalcimeFallThe collapsed cliff section at Wasson’s Bluff known as the “Analcime Fall”.  (Two Islands on the horizon).

I use the term “current” for the Analcime Fall because even though it is large, just as with everything else on the Bay of Fundy, the ocean will devour this rock pile.

Other mineralized zones outcrop when the tidal waters have scoured the beach clear, making beach collecting possible. For example, in the zones known to host chabazite crystals, some veins and vugs are exposed in the rocks down on the beach. These openings are often very tight, interconnected cavities with little open space for the crystals to have developed. The intergrown crystals are fragile and the basalt is friable, making these very difficult to collect as fine mineral specimens.

WassonsChabaziteinSituChabazite in this vug had particularly fine deep orange colour and good lustre.
This is in situ on the beach at Wasson’s Bluff and the largest crystal is about 2 cm.

Sadly, the largest crystal in the above photo was cracked, as you can see if you look closely. However, the next photo shows a fine specimen that was successfully collected from the vug above:

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite with Heulandite and Calcite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 7.2 cm

After a good day on the beach, there are specimens to haul back.


Returning along the beach at Wasson’s Bluff. David Joyce photo.

Here are some specimens from this classic locality:

Natrolite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia - crystal ball 2 cmNatrolite on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 2 cm crystal ball

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson''s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – crystal ball 2 cm

Natrolite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 5.7 cm

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – balls to 1.1 cm

Natrolite with Analcime, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite with Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 5 cm

Chabazite, Heulandite, Wasson''s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite with Heulandite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 3.0 cm

Chabazite Wasson's Bluff Nova Scotia

Twinned Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia - crystal 1.1 cm

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite (beautifully twinned), Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 3.0 cm

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 7.7 cm

An interesting note about Wasson’s Bluff chabazite, as we’re strolling through some of the various chabazite colours from the locality… At one time, the dark brick-red crystals (such as in the photo below) were given the mineral name “acadialite”, after Acadia, the name (L’Acadie) of the French colony that was comprised of modern-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of eastern Quebec and Maine. However, when it was ultimately determined that there was no composition distinction between acadialite and chabazite, acadialite was dropped and is now an obsolete name for chabazite. One still sees the name acadialite on old labels once in a while.

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – crystals to 2.0 cm

Stilbite and Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Stilbite with Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 4.5 cm

100653(2)Stilbite on Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 2.5 cm

Even though the arrival of fall in Canada is a sad signal that we’re almost done collecting until spring, we nonetheless appreciate that the woods above Wasson’s Bluff are beautiful in the fall!

WassonsFallBirch, maple and fir in the woods above Wasson’s Bluff.

Amethyst Cove

Amethyst Cove is one of the well-known localities on the Blomidon Peninsula, between Cape Blomidon and Cape Split. The mineral locality name “Amethyst Cove” is usually used to refer to a significant stretch of the coastline between Cape Blomidon and Cape Split, and not only the cove itself.

Collecting at Amethyst Cove presents a more significant expedition than most other localities on the Bay of Fundy. The hike is a bit involved, with forest sections, rocky beach sections, and of course the ropes. Lots of ropes.

A nice gentle start greets you at the top of the rope section.

TerryAmCove1Terry Collett leading the way

But the fact that the Minas Basin is so far below, visible looking down through the trees…

… means that this is what I think of when I think of Amethyst Cove.

TerryAmCove2Terry Collett down on the next ledge, undoubtedly wondering what’s taking me so long. He flies over terrain like this.

Down at the base of the cliffs, the scenery is stunning.

AmethystCove3The shoreline hike to Amethyst Cove (which is out near the point)

DKJAmethystCoveDavid Joyce exploring the seams at Amethyst Cove

AmethystCove1The cliffs near Amethyst Cove

As the name would suggest, Amethyst Cove has long been known for vugs of amethyst crystals.  Often a mid-purple colour, most frequently the vugs and crystals are relatively small (comparatively speaking, in relation to world localities). They are quite distinctive and attractive, often with pale agate in association. Amethyst Cove and the Blomidon Peninsula host seams of agate of various kinds, and people hike the beach searching for them.  The colours and aspects of these agates vary considerably (and it’s beyond my field of experience in general) – here is a typical one from Big Eddy.


Agate and Quartz, Big Eddy, Blomidon Peninsula, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 8.8 cm

However, among mineral collectors, the true classics for which Cape Blomidon and Amethyst Cove are best known are the analcime crystals. The finest analcime crystals from here rank among some of the finest from anywhere.

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 3.3 cm crystal

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 1.3 cm crystal

Cape Blomidon has also produced excellent specimens of thomsonite (thomsonite-Ca) in mounds and balls of small bladed crystals.

Thomsonite, Cape Blomidon, Kings Co., Nova Scotia

Thomsonite, Cape Blomidon, Kings Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view 1.5 cm

A pocket opened up by David Joyce at Amethyst Cove in 2015 produced a few crystals of apophyllite that are quite large for this species along the Bay of Fundy.


Apophyllite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 4.4 cm crystal

One absolutely great thing about ropes and cliffs… is that they make you think long and hard about how much rock you really want to haul out from the site. (You already have your equipment weighing down your pack…)


David Joyce and Terry Collett on the ropes as we start back up


As soon as you get to the top of one section, you have a nice clear view of… the next section. Up, up, up!

Cape D’Or

Back on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy, Cape D’Or is spectacular, both for its cliffs and its minerals. The hike to Cape D’Or is moderate, with ropes to assist, but the route is not as steep or as long as Amethyst Cove. The last stretch down the rock face at the shore can be done by rope down the small waterfall, or by ladder. Down at the shore, the rugged cliffs stretch on in either direction.

CapeD'OrShoreThe cliffs at Cape D’Or

CapD'OrSeaweedLow tide at Cape D’Or

The Cape D’Or cliffs are huge. In the following photo, Terry Collett gives a sense of scale, at the small bottom section of one of the large cliff walls.

CapD'OrTerryScaleTerry Collett examines a zone that has produced mesolite, stilbite and other minerals in the past

Everything at Cape D’Or seems large – the boulders and rocks on the shoreline require a bit of careful navigation if you want to make any progress (and remain upright!)

MeCapeD'OrDavid Joyce took this photo of me for scale

Some of the pocket zones along this shoreline are impressive.

CapD'OrDaveCavityDavid Joyce in a mesolite pocket zone

Earlier in 2015, a large wall section came down from high on the cliff face, and crashed onto the beach – it is full of mineralized cavities and seams. Shown in the photo below, this is an example of a rock fall where neither your hard hat nor Wyle E. Coyote’s umbrella would save you.


George Thompson and David Joyce examining vugs and seams

This fall was informally named the “Apophyllite Fall”, as it yielded large numbers of specimens hosting sharp colourless apophyllite crystals. The rocks in this fall zone also contained significant amounts of mesolite and some associated stilbite. (The mesolite we found exposed at surface was cool to see, but not fine mineral specimen-calibre).

CapD'OrMesoliteMesolite covering a cavity wall – field of view approx 10 cm.

In recent years, Cape D’Or has perhaps best been known for the native copper specimens that have been collected from tight seams in one zone of basalt at the base of the cliffs. Some great crystallized copper specimens have been found.

As a locality note, there is more than one Cape D’Or copper occurrence, and the one that has produced many of the specimens (including the ones that follow) is on the shore near the historic workings of the Colonial Copper Mine. As a result, most labels use “Colonial Copper Mine” to identify that it is from these seams, where the mine workings are.

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova ScotiaCopper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – 8.3 cm

The fact that a number of these have been on the market might suggest two thoughts: (1) that they are easy to obtain, or (2) that they will become plentiful. I can personally confirm that the first thought is categorically false (!) and the second one is unlikely to become true. At present, a zone of exposed and fractured material yielding excellent copper specimens has been removed, and although copper can still be found, most of the remaining exposed rock is tight bedrock, with few signs of continuing copper at this time. (Hopefully the ocean will help a bit over time, but this is back from the usual reach of the waves, and even the metal detector isn’t encouraging, for now.)

In any event, I thought you might like me to illustrate my rejection of the “easy to obtain” idea.  The copper occurs in narrow seams of celadonite cutting through the basalt. The basalt is solid stuff – when you are wailing away on it, it’s not something weathered or loose on the surface. You’ve hit solid Canada – hard rock. Meanwhile the copper is delicate, thin, and as if it is filigree. The copper is still very attached to Canada. A challenge, particularly if your goal is to remove the copper with a little bit of nice matrix!

To immerse yourself in the full Canadian-weather Cape D’Or experience in the next couple of photos, add a chilly wind, and note that the water in these photos is due to a cold November rain. (Yes, feel free to cue the Guns N’ Roses if you like, but there was no holding of candles.)

This photo shows nice crystallized copper, edge-on, in solid rock.


Copper in situ at Cape D’Or

Eventually, after a major effort, Terry Collett successfully extracted this section of copper, and here is a specimen:

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova ScotiaCopper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – copper 4.8 cm across

One can work around a group of copper crystals, chiselling the hard rock as I did with this one…

CapD'OrCopperSitu2Copper (about 3 cm) still attached to Canada, at Cape D’Or

… but ultimately after about an hour of hard work, the crystal aggregate sadly popped off with no matrix, and it was not as interesting as it looked like it might have been. C’est la vie!

Some nice specimens collected in recent years:

Copper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova ScotiaCopper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia - 9.1 cm

Copper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova ScotiaCopper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia - 7.2 cm

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova ScotiaCopper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – 7.3 cm

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia
Field of view 3.5 cm

Cape D’Or is known for fine specimens of many minerals, including the zeolites and associated species. Finds of particular interest have included thomsonite and some super stilbite epimorphs after mesolite.


Thomsonite-Ca, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 6.9 cm

Stilbite epimorph after mesolite, Cape D'Or, Nova ScotiaStilbite epimorph after mesolite, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – 7.0 cm

As winter settles in, we all hope that over the coming months with the freeze-thaw cycles and storms, the cliffs at Cape D’Or will drop more nice, big mineralized blocks full of amazing crystal pockets down onto the beach, just in time for the next collecting season. (Who dreams of “sugarplums” for Christmas? I mean really. There are so many better things to dream about. Mmmmm… pockets of gleaming crystals…)

The End of Collecting Season

In most parts of Canada, November heralds the end of collecting season. There’s no need to bother telling this to the hardest-of-hard-core Bay of Fundy collectors because they will  sometimes be out year-round, with equipment to facilitate climbing on the ice and snow (!). However, for Canadian collectors with local mineral localities inland from the coasts, the ground freezes solid, localities fill with solid ice and are buried in snow… we know the signs of late fall mean that it’s time to allow Canadian winter to run its course again.


White pine with early-November blueberry bushes above the Bay of Fundy,
in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia

About the Mineral Specimens in this Post

Many of the mineral specimens in this post are, or have recently been, available for sale on this website. I do my best to source Bay of Fundy minerals regularly, and to ensure that there are excellent specimens available (click here for Bay of Fundy Specimens).

I should note that the specimens photographed in this post (and the ones on the website at the above link) were collected by several people, including those mentioned in the next section, over years of visits to Bay of Fundy localities. While it is certainly possible to personally collect a good specimen during a visit, most of the specimens that come to light are the result of regular year-round visits to the most productive localities by a number of hard-working Nova Scotia mineral collectors. As with all mineral collecting, sometimes these visits produce fine specimens.


Just a quick note to express my thanks to some friends in the Nova Scotia mineral collecting community. To Terry Collett, with his encyclopedic Nova Scotia mineral knowledge and amazing memory – he may know almost every mineralized seam and outcrop along the Bay of Fundy. (It’s a bit scary.) An extraordinary field-collector and our generous friend in the field – thank you!

TerryDescentCapD'OrTerry Collett descending the ropes at Cape D’Or.
(Photographing wildlife – always challenging – is easier than catching Terry in a sharp still photo,
thanks to his enthusiasm and energetic speed when out field collecting.)

Thanks to Ronnie Van Dommelen for hosting us to learn from your amazing collection, and for making so much superb Nova Scotia mineral information available to all of us on your definitive Nova Scotia mineralogy website (please see References below). Thanks to another well-known superb field collector, Doug Wilson, for great time at Wasson’s Bluff (Doug and Jackie run the Amethyst Boutique in Parrsboro) and of course for all of your hospitality.

DougWilsonWassonDoug Wilson at Wasson’s Bluff

Thanks to Dino Nardini (who runs Nova Scotia Agate) for hosting our collection visit.

And thank you very much to Rod and Helen Tyson (Tyson’s Fine Minerals, in Parrsboro) for your warm hospitality.

As always, thanks to Dave Joyce, for all that goes into our adventures. (For the contributed photos too!)



Part 2: Mineral Collecting on the Islands, Bay of Fundy (click here)

Mineral Specimens from Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy currently available for sale (click here)


Please Use Caution!

There are serious accidents every year along the Bay of Fundy. Provincial emergency rescue teams are required to respond to evacuate hikers and others, and unfortunately these stories do not always have happy endings. People have lost their lives here. It may look gentle and mild in some of the photographs here (taken on the calmest of days), but absolutely don’t underestimate it – please be careful if you ever visit.

Any arrangements in this area must be made with careful consideration of the tide times and the weather conditions – mistakes in this regard can literally be fatal. Weather conditions on the Bay of Fundy can change incredibly rapidly. One must always have an eye on the time, the tide and the weather: always have a plan for managing a safe exit.

No visit to any Bay of Fundy locality should ever be made alone. Even some of the most careful, experienced Bay of Fundy mineral collectors have required the assistance of one or more additional persons to safely exit a Bay of Fundy mineral locality, either due to injuries or storms.

Many of the trails and access areas are steep and dangerous. The beach cobbles and shore bedrock can be super-slippery, particularly when wet. As between the trails and the shorelines, I think we’ve all fallen somewhere at some point along the way on these excursions.

Use of many of the access trails should not be undertaken without an accompanying guide.

The rocks comprising the cliffs along the Bay of Fundy can be loose and very unstable – some of the rock units are particularly weak. Always wear a hard hat and do not climb the cliffs.

Most of the collecting localities along the Bay of Fundy are unsafe and are certainly not appropriate for children. Beach collecting in a few of the very easy-access beach areas on the Bay of Fundy, away from cliffs, may be fine for children of an appropriate age, provided that it is conducted with continuous adult supervision to ensure, among other things, careful observation of the tides and avoidance of the strong undercurrents that can occur all around the Bay of Fundy.

This post does not constitute advice or recommendation to travel to the localities mentioned, and any decision to do so is each person’s own risk and responsibility. Adherence to applicable law and respect of private property are fundamental, and each of us is individually responsible – for ourselves, families and friends, and to the mineral collecting community as a whole – to be compliant and respectful at all times. If you are crossing or conducting any activity on private property, appropriate permissions must be obtained.


If you would like to read more about Nova Scotia minerals or research Nova Scotia mineral localities (including beyond the Bay of Fundy), I highly recommend Ronnie Van Dommelen’s great website,  The Mineralogy of Nova Scotia

For additional reading, see also Van Dommelen, R. and Collett, T., “An Introduction to Minerals in Nova Scotia and a Report on Recent Collecting” in Rocks and Minerals 81:1 (Jan/Feb 2006), pp. 54-61

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 11.29.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve added a new Nova Scotia Update (click here), with minerals from the Bay of Fundy. This update accompanies the new post about Nova Scotia Mineral Collecting – The Bay of Fundy, with specimens from the classic Bay of Fundy localities highlighted in that article: Wasson’s Bluff, Amethyst Cove and Cape D’Or.

This is the first of two Bay of Fundy updates. Next week’s update will feature specimens from different localities – the islands (particularly the gmelinite localities) and Cape Split. An article about these localities is also now on the site, Mineral Collecting on the Islands – Bay of Fundy (click here) to give a little sense of what is behind the specimens from the islands.

To see mineral specimens from the Bay of Fundy currently available for sale, click here.


This update features superb analcime crystals and chabazite crystals, beautiful balls and sprays of natrolite crystals, delicate crystallized copper and more.

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 3.3 cm crystal

Analcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova ScotiaAnalcime with Stilbite, Amethyst Cove, Kings Co., Nova Scotia – 1.3 cm crystal

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 3.0 cm

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Nova Scotia

Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 2.8 cm

Chabazite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 4.1 cm

Analcime, Mackay Head, Cumberland Co. Nova Scotia

Analcime, Mackay Head, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 4.1 cm

Natrolite with Analcime, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova ScotiaNatrolite with Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 4.5 cm

Natrolite, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 5.7 cm

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Natrolite crystal balls to approximately 1.1 cm

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson's Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia

Natrolite on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately cm

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – cm

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 3.5 cm

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia

Copper, Colonial Copper Mine, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – 8.3 cm

Thomsonite, Cape Blomidon, Kings Co., Nova Scotia

Thomsonite, Cape Blomidon, Kings Co., Nova Scotia
Field of view approximately 1.5 cm

Stilbite epimorph after mesolite, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia

Stilbite epimorph after Mesolite, Cape D’Or, Nova Scotia – 7.0 cm