Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 06.13.2017 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)


I’m publishing this one a bit later than I expected this year, but I hope you will enjoy the content all the same. And for those of you who are in hot summer places, perhaps harking back to northern spring will feel refreshing…

Each year, I personally love the arrival of the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium for two reasons.

First, it’s my favourite annual event in Mineral World. And second, the RMS always marks the arrival of spring out here in the Bancroft woods, with nicer temperatures and the occasional chance to drive with the windows down again.

So, in this photo taken the day before the Symposium, I’ll leave it to you as to whether Emery’s happy expression was about hanging out the window and soaking up the early spring sunshine or the arrival of RMS 2017…

Emery Window

…but my own happiness that day was about both!

If you’ve attended the RMS, you’ll know why it’s special. The Rochester Symposium is a unique event. It brings together professionals and amateurs, and a complete range of subjects in specimen mineralogy. It is collegial and friendly, meant for collectors and those who love to learn about minerals. The RMS prominently features What’s New in Minerals each year. It is also a mineral show with excellent dealers set up and open when the talks are not on. And the RMS is a true mineral community with great cameraderie – it’s a time for hanging out and having a good time with mineral friends, new and old. It’s possible a drink or two is shared among us, and a few mineral songs are always sung.

If you haven’t yet come, I hope you’ll join us next year. Rochester is meant for you as much as anyone! You can reserve the dates right now: April 19-22, 2018.

2017 RMS Presentations

Opening – Bill Pinch

We began the 2017 (44th) RMS acknowledging the passing of our friend Bill Pinch, the great mineral collector who began the Symposium 44 years ago. As this had happened only three weeks before the Symposium, this was a hard period for Bill’s family and friends.

At RMS 2017, the Program Notes began with an In Memoriam, written by Chairman Steve Chamberlain – I have reproduced it in full, below. Bill’s website hosts both a great In Memoriam by Mark Feinglos (which he wrote for The Mineralogical Record) and some other great links – I include the link below, under Links and References.

Steve also announced that RMS 2018 will be dedicated to Bill’s memory and, in celebrating him, we will have a Bill Pinch theme. In addition to a presentation about Bill himself, there will be talks on the subjects he loved most during his collecting career, including Tsumeb, rare minerals, and collecting fine minerals.

Bill was a good friend and a kind mentor to me. What we enjoyed most – as I’m sure was true with so many of his mineral friends – was losing all sense of time together talking about minerals. And so that’s what we all did at RMS 2017 – we enjoyed each other’s company and immersed ourselves in minerals.

The King of Tides: Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy

I gave the first talk of the 44th Rochester Symposium, about the minerals of the Bay of Fundy. For those of you who know my website, you will have seen the articles I have posted on the blog (Collecting the Bay of Fundy, and Collecting on the Islands). Although the RMS presentation was about the minerals from the classic Bay of Fundy localities discussed in the blog posts, I had a different goal in putting it together.  My goal was to share not only the story and scenery, but specifically some of the top specimens, to show how great they can be. Those specimens reside primarily in a few Canadian collections, and so there was a collaborative effort to track them down and photograph them. This talk was only possible with the involvement of several people, so the presentation slides have four additional authors – Terry Collett, Ronnie Van Dommelen, Michael Bainbridge and David Joyce. Together, our efforts resulted in a well-received talk and many photographs of specimens that, until now, have not been well-known beyond our local circles. Some stunning pieces have been found on the Bay of Fundy.

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

Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 7 cm
Terry Collett collection, Ronnie van Dommelen photo.


Chabazite on Heulandite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 14 cm
Ronnie Van Dommelen collection and photo.

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

Chabazite, contact twin, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 1.2 cm crystal
(Penetration twins are common at Wasson’s Bluff, but contact twins are not.)
David Joyce collection and photo.

Copper, Cape D'Or, Nova Scotia, Beckett Collection, Michael Bainbridge photo

Copper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 15 cm
Largest spinel-law-twinned crystal 5 cm
Robert Beckett collection, Michael Bainbridge photo.

Copper, Cape D'Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia
Copper, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – crystal 15.7 cm
Rod and Helen Tyson collection, Michael Bainbridge photo.

Thomsonite, Cape D'Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia, George Thompson specimen, M. Bainbridge Photo

Thomsonite, Cape D’Or, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 10.5 cm
Originally in the Doug Wilson collection, now George Thompson collection,
Michael Bainbridge photo.

18cm wide

Natrolite, Diamond Island, Five Islands, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 18 cm
Ronnie Van Dommelen collection, Michael Bainbridge photo.

6.7cm high

Stilbite, Five Islands, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia – 5.7 cm
Rod and Helen Tyson collection, Michael Bainbridge photo.

Michael Bainbridge is taking superb photos for collectors and publications these days – a link to his website is below, under Links and References.

Overview of Silicate Structures 

At the last minute, Dr. Frank Hawthorne was unable to attend and present at the RMS. Thanks to an above-and-beyond effort by Dr. Robert Lauf, this talk was in fact still presented at the RMS – Bob was up into the wee hours of the night working with the original slides to that he could then give both this talk and his own talk on Friday morning.

Bob gave a tough subject and it was a great morning for learning. After a late night of fun with friends, it’s not easy to greet the next morning in a dark presentation room hearing the opening statement “silicates are a complex business…”

However, this talk gave context and focus for what is in fact an important issue in mineral work.

Silicate structures have been generally understood since the 1930s, when William Bragg developed the silicate groups that are still in use today. Those groups are defined on the basis of the nature of the structural organization within the minerals. Silicates are all defined by having a silicon-oxygen tetrahedron- SiO4 – at the heart of their structure, and the key differentiating factor among silicates derives from the way in which each such Si04 tetrahedron is linked to others. This linkage is determined by the way in which the SiO4 tetrahedron shares the other elements within the mineral. This can result in chains, rings and other arrangements, and as a result, the silicates are grouped on this basis – inosilicates, cyclosilicates, orthosilicates, tetrasilicates.

Silicate structures are vitally important, and this talk highlighted why. When we are conducting analyses to identify and define minerals, we can know certain things from chemical analysis, but ultimately we may need to combine chemical and structural analysis to arrive at a proper definition and identification. In fact, structural analysis can be determinative. For example, the mineral wiluite is identified conclusively by understanding the structure – the structure will reveal which site in the mineral’s composition is occupied by boron, and that is determinative in the correct identification.

The silicates require much more structural work. Although definitive work has been completed with other mineral groups, the same cannot be said for the silicates – it is an overwhelmingly large subject, with lots yet to be done.


Fresh off giving the first talk, Bob Lauf was up at the podium to give the talk he had planned to give – an overview of the orthosilicate minerals. The orthosilicates include many awesome minerals, such as the titanite group, the zircon group, the garnet group, the humite group, vesuvianite and topaz, and this talk included many photos.


Clinohumite, Jikhan, Koksha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan 2.5 cm crystal
R. Lauf specimen and photo.

The orthosilicates are defined not by chains or rings, but by isolated groups of SiO4 tetrahedra. Bob likened the results of packing these SiO4 groups, together with the metals, to packing groups of organized ball bearings, with configurations that vary mineral to mineral. In general, the orthosilicates have dense, tightly-packed structures, and this can often mean a high surface hardness and toughness – many of these minerals survive weathering exceptionally well. Meanwhile, properties like cleavage, striations and crystal forms are determined by the metals within the structure, not the SiO4 tetrahedra.

Bob has a new book out, Collectors’ Guide to Orthosilicates. A link is below under Links and References.

 Grossular CaliforniaGrossular, Calixico, California – 8 cm
R. Lauf specimen and photo.

Technical Session

Every Friday afternoon at the RMS, we have what we colloquially call the “Technical Session”, Contributed Papers in Specimen Mineralogy, moderated by Dr. Carl A. Francis. This session is packed with great 15-minute talks on a range of topics, some completely specimen-oriented, some more mineralogical. I don’t write at length in these blog posts about the Technical Session talks, because the abstracts from these talks are published during the year in Rocks and Minerals magazine (don’t forget to watch for them!) and they are published in the RMS Program Notes.

However I really want to highlight the Technical Session for a moment this year. One reason is because the Technical Session is one of the features that makes Rochester unique, with professionals and amateurs all contributing. For collectors, there is a lot of interest in these talks – sometimes about rare or new minerals or finds, sometimes about localities, sometimes about scientific work done to establish fakes in Mineral World. And perhaps even more this year than in recent memory, we had a high percentage of truly excellent talks given by students. The group from the Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio did a particularly outstanding job. Too often, we look around Mineral World and see fewer young people than we’d all like – these students represent a bright future for mineralogy and the science that underpins everything we enjoy in Mineral World.

Friday Night

The Monteponi Mine, Sardinia, Italy

Our Friday night presentation was The Monteponi Mine, Sardinia, Italy, given by Dr. Renato Pagano, one of the world’s pre-eminent mineral collectors. The Renato and Adriana Pagano Collection includes 13,500 specimens, and 4,300 species, making it one of the most remarkable collections ever assembled.

Renato gave a great talk on this classic locality, with great photos. One of my favourite facts from the talk was the origin of the name Monteponi (since we’ve all seen it on musuem labels and in the literature for decades…).  The name has evolved from its original name, Monte Paone. Paone was an old Italian word meaning peacock, so it is Mount Peacock. Monteponi is a slightly (!) older locality than our New World ones – the Carthaginians mined silver-bearing galena there from the 6th century BC, and Monteponi later provided silver and lead to the Roman Empire, particularly for coinage and pipes, respectively.  Renato took us through the history and stories from the past, including the tragic incident in which one of the great phosgenites was presented as a gift to a clumsy Swedish ambassador who dropped and destroyed it.

Among collectors, Monteponi is most famous for having produced the world’s finest phosgenite crystals.

I had to include this one in this post  – I have loved this crystal for about 40 years, as its photograph was featured in one of the first mineral books I ever owned, as a child (Encyclopedia of Minerals and Gemstones).

Phosgenite, Monteponi, Sardinia, Roberto Appiani photo Phosgenite, Monteponi, Sardinia, Italy – 2.5 cm crystal
Milan Natural History Museum specimen, Roberto Appiani photo.

And here are two great phosgenite specimens from the Pagano collection:

Phosgenite Monteponi Pagano Collection Roberto Appiani photo

Phosgenite in a vug in galena, Monteponi, Sardinia, Italy – 6 cm
Renato and Adriana Pagano collection, Roberto Appiani photo.

Phosgenite Monteponi Pagano Collection Roberto Appiani photo

Phosgenite crystals, Monteponi, Sardinia, Italy – 2 cm
Renato and Adriana Pagano collection, Roberto Appiani photo.

Monteponi is also known as a locality for exceptionally fine anglesite crystals.

Anglesite Monteponi Pagano Collection Roberto Appiani photo

Anglesite, Monteponi, Sardinia, Italy – 8 cm
Renato and Adriana Pagano collection, Roberto Appiani photo.

A comprehensive article on Monteponi by Renato, together with Wendell Wilson, is included in The Mineralogical Record, November-December 2014, Vol. 45, No. 6 . If you haven’t yet read it, it’s superb, and if you read it when it came out, maybe time for another read…

Saturday – Annual What’s New

At the heart of the Rochester Symposium for decades, the annual Saturday morning presentations have captured highlights of what has been new in Mineral World over the prior year or so, focusing on fine mineral specimens for collectors.

What’s New in Minerals and Localities – Part I – Jeff Scovil

Jeff Scovil leads our worldwide survey of exceptional new mineral specimens, with an hour of stunning photos. It doesn’t matter who was up for how long having fun the night before, the room is always packed. Jeff’s presentation is always a Symposium highlight!

So here are a few photos to give you a sense – imagine an hour of this… It’s Mineral Heaven!


Euclase, La Marina Mine, Muzo District, Boyaca, Colombia
Crystals to 5 cm
Irv Brown collection, J. Scovil photo.


 Djurleite, Aït Ahmane MineBou Azzer, Ouarzazate, Morocco – 4 cm
Steve Smale collection, J. Scovil photo

Djurleite, Aït Ahmane Mine, Bou Azzer, Ouarzazate, Morocco – 6 cm
Fine Gems and Minerals specimen, J. Scovil photo

Wulfenite China Jeff Scovil

Wulfenite, Jianshan Mine, Xinjiang, China – 4.3 cm
Sam Yung specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Apophyllite Bowtie Jeff Scovil

Fluorapophyllite, Aurangabad, Maharastra, India – 3.2 cm
Spirifer specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Elbaite Morocco

Elbaite tourmaline with albite, Ouarzazate, Morocco – 3.3 cm
Spirifer specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Fluorite Jeff Scovil photo

Fluorite, Huanggang Mines, Inner Mongolia, China – 8.9 cm
Steve Smale collection, J. Scovil photo.

And this last one may not be quite as recent, but the photo is, and the lighting on these crystals is simply as good as mineral photography can get…

Wulfenite Red Cloud Jeff Scovil

Wulfenite, Red Cloud Mine, Trigo Mountains, La Paz Co., Arizona – 3.9 cm
Unique Minerals specimen, J. Scovil photo.

Jeff is the Yoda of mineral photography. If you would like him to photograph your minerals, or you are looking for mineral photos for a publication, his website is under Links and References.

What’s New in Minerals and Localities – Part II

Part II of What’s New in Minerals is open to contributions from attendees. We had a couple of presentations about new books, including one mineral book, an upcoming book by Van King on Franklin, New Jersey, so we’ll keep our eyes open for that.

I then presented a few more examples of what has been new in Mineral World over the last year or so. If you’ve been following this website over the past year, you’ll be familiar with most of these.

Just a note of explanation about photographs here. Below each photo, I am including a link to the applicable blog post on the website where you can see more photos and specimens than are here. (Every new mineral update on this website is represented by a blog post, so even if you didn’t see a specimen before it sold and was removed, there is a nice record of my favourite photos from each update preserved in the blog.)

I’ll begin with the “Synchysite Mystery”… this goes back to a find from 2015, but the analytical work was completed in 2016…

In late 2015, I had posted on the website a small number of “synchysite” crystals from Novo Horizonte, Bahia Brazil. Although they had been sold to me as synchysite, some question arose as to confirmatory identification of these, in part thanks to some work that was ongoing to describe the new mineral parisite-(La) (described in my Tucson 2017 blog post). Analysis by Don Doell, first at the lab at University of Arizona, began to confirm more about their identity. Don then conducted semi-quantitative EDS at SGS Labs and narrowed things down. These are in fact phosphate mineralization: they are likely a combination of rhabdophane-(La), rhabdophane-(Ce) and possibly including monazite-(Ce). They appear to be pseudomorphs after a REE carbonate, probably in the parisite group, given that parisite-(La) has been found at Novo Horizonte in crystals with a similar aspect and appearance, at a similar time (therefore possibly similar part of the deposit). They could also be after bastnasite-(La), which has been described from the locality, although these are most similar in aspect to the parisite-(La) crystals. For now, I’m labelling them rhabdophane, pseudomorph after parisite, with the proviso that the above is the technically closest identification information to date. Thanks very much to Don for this analysis!

Rhabdophane, ps Parisite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilRhabdophane, ps Parisite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 4.3 cm
(More photos/specimens)

 A few other “What’s New” entries:

Aragonite, Mamsa, nr. Sidi Ayed, Boulemane Province, Fes-Meknes Region, Morocco

Aragonite, Mamsa, nr. Sidi Ayed, Boulemane Province, Fes-Meknes Region, Morocco – 6.9 cm
W.W. Pinch collection.
(More photos/specimens)

 Rutile, var. Struverite-Ilmenorutile, Santa Rosa Mine, Itambacuri, Doce Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Rutile, var. Struverite-Ilmenorutile, Santa Rosa Mine, Itambacuri, Doce Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 3.1 cm
(More photos/specimens)

 Wodginite, Linopolis District, Divino das Laranjeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Wodginite, Linopolis District, Divino das Laranjeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 3.2 cm
Jack Smith collection.
(NB: If you are interested in these, I was able to acquire five more in Ste. Marie and they will be on the website soon)
(More photos/specimens)

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Cape Province, South Africa

Quartz with Red Phantoms, Orange River, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 5.2 cm
(More photos/specimens)

More Saturday Presentations – Sixteen Years On: How mindat is Driving New Scientific Discoveries

Jolyon Ralph followed with a talk about mindat as it is today, status, and uses. (Jolyon has presented to the RMS on mindat before, so this was an update). As perhaps all of you know, is a “Wikipedia”-like site for mineral information, contributed by users and monitored by administrators. What fewer of you may know (along with me, I didn’t!) is that mindat now hosts over 5 million pages, including 800,000 photographs and profile information for 280,000 localities. (!) (As an aside, Jolyon calculated that the information on mindat would now print a stack of paper 5 km tall.)

Jolyon explained how mindat is now being used for scientific studies and more analytical use. He highlighted that mindat is now being used to draw links between localities, particularly with a view to predictive occurrence among similar types of deposits and occurrences. He also explained that an important consideration when using mindat relates to the biases of users and contributors. For example, there is far more collector interest in crystals of wulfenite than there is in crystals of nepheline, so the amount and quality of information on mindat for wulfenite is different than it is for nepheline.

Mindat is an incredible resource and it was interesting to hear the new ways in which it is being used.

Upside Down and In the Future – Mining Tasmania’s Adelaide Mine

Saturday afternoon was amazing. John Cornish led off with his great talk about the Adelaide Mine in Tasmania, the world’s preeminent crocoite locality. John is involved with the Adelaide Mine project and shared his experience with enthusiasm! He took us on a tour of the mine region, with great information on local flora, fauna and history. And then he took us underground, to see pockets of crocoite up to 7×4 metres. (!) Just amazing…

Crocoite Pocket at the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, John CornishCrocoite Pocket at the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania
John Cornish photo.

There was one particular story I had not heard and really enjoyed…

All field collectors must adapt to the conditions and nature of the occurrence they are working. What that means in practice is that often the tools that will be of most help will vary wildly from one mineral locality to the next. And I think it’s safe to say that all of us who have done field work for a long time have found resourceful ways of addressing issues, and collecting more efficiently. Often, the need for resourcefulness is driven by our desire to minimize the risk to specimens in the extracting process. Clearly, care is required when collecting crocoite! And in his focus on minimizing damage, John had a resourceful way of minimizing percussion and therefore lowering the risk of popping crocoite crystals off…

Crocoite Underground at the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, John CornishTrimming crocoite matrix with a hand saw, underground at the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania
John Cornish photo.

Some of the specimens recovered from the Adelaide Mine have been huge. Sometimes with large specimens in the field, we might include a prospector’s pick for scale. But in this case, John simply had himself included for scale.

Crocoite from the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, John Cornish Crocoite from the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania
A very happy, if dirty, John Cornish for scale.

Crocoite from the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, John Cornish

Crocoite from the Adelaide Mine, Tasmania
John Cornish photo.

John’s enthusiastic account was a highlight of RMS 2017.

If you are interested in seeing a bit more online about the Adelaide Mine, and more crocoite specimens, I am including a link to the Adelaide Mining Company’s website below, under Links and References.

Red Cloud Mine – The World’s Greatest Wulfenite Locality

John’s talk was a hard act to follow, but was Les Presmyk ever up to the task…

Les presented on the Red Cloud Mine, a locality that has inspired many of us as collectors since we began collecting minerals. Who doesn’t dream at night of perfect, glassy, sharp, lustrous. red-orange bevelled-square wulfenite crystals from this legendary mine? (Be honest.)

The Red Cloud is located in the Trigo Mountains, near the western border of southern Arizona. It was named after the prehistoric Red Cloud Trail, which leads to the west, on the California side of the Colorado River nearby.

Les took us through the early history of the mine, with some fascinating insights. One I liked was the explanation that because it is so relatively barren with no trees, lumber had to be brought in for quite a distance and was therefore expensive. Of course they did this to timber the mine tunnels, but it was too expensive for miners’ homes. So, the miners made their homes by digging tunnels into the side of the hill, to protect themselves and their belongings from the elements.

This presentation focused on significant mineral collecting at the Red Cloud over the years, beginning with Ed Over’s famous finds in the 1930s, and detailing the 1990s project by Wayne Thompson, James Horner and Les. During this time, the Red Cloud Mine was developed as an open pit operation, specifically for wulfenite specimens.

The most striking fact for me about this project was that from 1995 through 1999, only one significant pocket was found during the entire project – the 1997 pocket, that measured approximately 6 ft x 4 ft. That was it. For all the money spent on each year’s mining, very little was found. After major overburden removal beginning in 1995, and mining for months in advance of the Tucson show in early 1997, the team had assembled one flat of “decent” specimens from vugs and small pockets (under 10cm). Later in 1997 they hit the significant pocket, and from then until they stopped, very little was found – scare pockets and a few good specimens.  Suffice it to say, for the period following the 1997 pocket, the expenses far exceeded the value of specimens recovered. This puts into real perspective just how remarkable it is to have excellent Red Cloud wulfenite specimens from any era – they are rare and have come out of the ground at major cost.

Wulfenite Red Cloud Scovil

Wulfenite, Red Cloud Mine, Trigo Mountains, La Paz Co., Arizona – 10.7 cm
Les and Paula Presmyk specimen, J. Scovil photo.


Wulfenite, Red Cloud Mine, Trigo Mountains, La Paz Co., Arizona – 4.3 cm
Les and Paula Presmyk specimen, J. Scovil photo.

This was a super talk!

Just as an aside, Red Cloud has been written about a lot, given its legendary status among mineral localities.  Of the many published articles and chapters in books, I particularly like the accounts in “Collecting Arizona, State of Mines, Legacy of Minerals” (recounted by Tony L. Potucek, Les Presmyk, Richard Graeme and others, edited by Terry Wallace with Gloria Staebler, Ray Grant, Suzanne Liebetrau and Tom Wilson, published by Lithographie, 2012), and I personally was originally inspired by the Red Cloud Mine section in Peter Bancroft’s classic “Gem and Crystal Treasures” (published by Western Enterprises-Mineralogical Record, 1984). These are good reads – I highly recommend them.

Sunday Finale

By Sunday morning, it was time to recover from all the orange and red crystals from Saturday afternoon.

In past years, we have sometimes had lower attendance on Sunday mornings, but again this year Sunday morning was most-hands-on-deck. (Granted a few stragglers had had too much fun Saturday night.)

Meet an Important Unknown Mineralogist

Belgian collector Herwig Pelckmans led off with a talk that was fascinating, and not only for its subject matter. In his research and work on certain minerals, Herwig had come across the name Vaes, in connection with several uncommon species, and he was curious to know who “Vaes” was. However, when he looked him up, there was almost no information readily available. And so Herwig began an extensive research investigation that led him eventually back to the family and descedants, as he learned about the mineralogist Johannes Vaes (1902-1978). Vaes was a Dutch mining engineeer who became a mineralogist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He worked with the company Union Miniere du Haut Katanga, and he identified and defined several new minerals.

Johannes Vaes, CongoJ. F. Vaes in Jadotville (now called Likasi), when he was most likely in his early thirties.
Unknown photographer. Copyright H. Pelckmans

Vaes was at the famous Shinkolobwe Mine, and it was here that he made his discoveries.

Old Belgian postcard showing the open pit of the Shinkolobwe uranium mine, printed by Nels.
Notice the original French spelling of the locality. Photo and copyright H. Pelckmans.

One striking fact about Vaes’ discoveries is that the only scientific instrument he had at his disposal was a polarizing microscope.

Saleeite, Shinkolobwe, Paul DeBondt

Saleeite, Shinkolobwe Mine, Shinkolobwe, Katanga Copper Crescent,
Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 3.6 cm
Paul De Bondt specimen and photo.

The mineral vaesite (NiS2) is named in his honour.

Vaesite, nepouite, uraninite, Shinkolobwe

Vaesite with Nepouite coating, associated with black uraninite crystals
Shinkolobwe Mine, Shinkolobwe, Katanga Copper Crescent,
Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 3.5 cm, vaesite crystal 1.1 cm.
Paul De Bondt specimen and photo.

At the end of this talk, we had an example of one of the great things about the RMS – the amazing pool of mineral knowledge and mineral history knowledge that is collected together in that ballroom. Van King was able to add an extra footnote to the talk, giving further context for the mineral collecting community: he was able to share that Vaes had in fact been the boss of famous mineral dealer Gilbert Gauthier (who was ultimately responsible for handling many of the fine DRC specimens that now grace collections around the world).

The Pioneer District, Pinal County, Arizona – The Silver King and Magma Mines

Les Presmyk gave the final talk at RMS 2017, about the Silver King Mine and the Magma Mine in the Pioneer District. This was another excellent presentation, with detailed historical accounts and wonderful historical photos. This one really struck me – today, it is hard to imagine horse/mule-drawn ore trains.

Silver King, Ore Wagon, 1880s.AHS

Mule-drawn ore wagons at the Silver King Mine, 1880s. AHS Photo.

This part of the talk is very well represented by Les’s recent excellent article in The Mineralogical Record, “The Arizona Silver Belt: Silver King to McMilllenville”, The Mineralogical Record July-August 2015, Vol. 46:4.

Les then spoke about the famous Magma Mine, where he had worked as a mining engineer. This mine is probably best known among collectors for the glassy barites it produced, but it also produced some wonderful calcite specimens.


 Calcite, 3700 Level, 4D Stope, Magma Mine, Superior, Pinal Co., Arizona -11.1 cm
Les and Paula Presmyk specimen, J. Scovil photo.


  Barite, 3600 Level, 4D Stope, Magma Mine, Superior, Pinal Co., Arizona – 7.1 cm
Les and Paula Presmyk specimen, J. Scovil photo.

The Rest of the Fun

As I write every year in my RMS posts, a lot of the best of Rochester occurs beyond the talks – in the halls, over meals, and on the 4th floor (the dealer floor, open when talks are not on).  Socializing continues well into the morning hours each night, and includes a few traditions – among others, the not-to-be-missed Saturday night mineral songs with David Joyce. (I assume most have heard Dave’s mineral collecting and mining tunes, but if not, I’m including a link below).
The collegiality at the RMS is unique among mineral events!


The Exhibit Room had great displays this year, as every year. Some are contributed by museums and many are contributed by collectors attending the RMS.

Terry Huizing Calcite Display, Rochester 2017

Calcite, Terry Huizing collection.
Amazing variety in this case.

As a reader, I often find it hard to take in many full-case displays in photos,  so here are just a few of the specimens that really struck me.

This brilliant bournonite in John Betts’ case has truly gorgeous twinning.

Bournonite, Yaoganzian Mine, John Betts collection

Bournonite, Yaoganxian Mine, Hunan, China – 3.6 cm
John Betts collection.

A huge spinel from the classic New York locality featured in the display from the New York State Museum.

Spinel, Monroe, Orange Co., New York, New York State Museum, Steve Chamberlain Collection

Spinel, Monroe, Orange Co., New York – approx 15 cm
Steve Chamberlain collection at the New York State Museum.

Super quartz from Palermo No.1 – for all the world looks like a fine contemporary Brazilian quartz, with bright, glassy lustre not conveyed in the photo.


Quartz, Palermo No. 1 Mine, North Groton, New Hampshire – approx 7 cm
Mined by Bob Whitmore. Maine Mineral and Gem Museum

A great nest of silver wires from Beaverdell, in George Thompson’s case.

Silver, Highland Bell Mine, Beaverdell, British Columbia, George Thompson collection

Silver, Highland Bell Mine, Beaverdell, British Columbia – approx 5 cm
George Thompson collection.

Two super specimens from John Medici’s case.

Celestine from Holloway Quarry, Fluorite from Auglaize Quarry
Celestine, Holloway Quarry, Newport, Michigan – approx 7 cm
Fluorite with Calcite, Auglaize Quarry, Junction, Ohio – approx 5 cm
John Medici collection.

This hematite took my breath away. It is spectacular! It was part of an excellent display case of hematite and goethite from the Diane Francis collection.

Hematite, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Diane Francis collection
Hematite, Casa de Pedra Mine, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil – approx 7 cm
Diane Francis collection.

David Joyce had a great case of Grenville minerals. I thought rather than include something you might be expecting, like one of Dave’s great titanites, fluorapatites or zircons, I’d opt for something we don’t usually see from the Grenville. This is a striking, bright yellow sphalerite crystal.

Sphalerite, Balmat, St. Lawrence Co., New York, David Joyce collection, formerly Bill Pinch collection

Sphalerite, Balmat, St.Lawrence Co., New York – approx 5 cm
David K. Joyce collection

This beautiful sphalerite was formerly in Bill Pinch’s collection, and he gave it to Dave as a gift, so it seemed particularly fitting to include as my last photo entry from the cases this year.

Bill Pinch

As mentioned above, the following is the full In Memoriam written by Steve Chamberlain and included at the beginning of the RMS Program Notes this year.

In Memoriam – Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

Bill Pinch passed away on April 1, 2017 from complications of earlier surgery. A reception will be held this year in Rochester, New York, to celebrate his life. Next February, there will be a memorial service in Tucson, Arizona. We will celebrate his many achievements next April at the 45th Rochester Mineralogical Symposium.

Bill was an elemental force in specimen mineralogy. One of his most significant achievements was the initiation of the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium. The First Annual Mineral Workshop was held 20-21 April 1974 at the Sheraton Inn in Canandaigua. Under the auspices of Mineral Section President, Kay Jensen, Bill and Dave Jensen served as co-chairmen this first year. The second workshop, now the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium, was held 17-20 April 1975 in the downtown Holiday Inn and was again co-chaired by Bill and Dave Jensen.

For the next ten years, Pinch served as convening co-chairman and helped build the Symposium into an internationally-recognized annual event, setting the highest standards for speakers, exhibits and congeniality. He initiated the annual What’s New in Minerals – still a popular Saturday morning part of the event. He also began the annual production of Program Notes. With the 13th RMS, formal leadership of the Symposium passed to others, but Bill continued to serve as an advisor. With his support, the Technical Session was added to the Friday afternoon program and important mineralogical works were reprinted, including Goldschmidt’s Atlas der Krystalformen and Beck’s Mineralogy of New York State, to name just a few.

At the 25th Symposium, Bill gave a keynote address, “50 Years of Mineral Collecting; 25 Years of the Symposium”.  The preceding year, the Symposium had donated the annual proceeds of its annual auction to the successful funding effort for the Canadian Museum of Nature to purchase the W.W.Pinch mineral collection, establishing another legacy.

Slowly, over the next decades, Bill drifted away from direct participation in the Symposium We were delighted by his attendance at the 43rd RMS on the occasion of Michael Bainbridge’s talk, “The William W. Pinch Collection at the Canadian Museum of Nature”. The coming book of the same title will be a fitting memorial to Bill’s success in assembling a world-class mineral collection.  Here we acknowledge our debt to Bill for his successful efforts in beginning and growing the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium. Godspeed.

2018 RMS

As I mentioned up top, RMS 2018 will be a little different – it will be dedicated to Bill’s memory, and it will include talks on several topics that were close to Bill’s heart – among them, Tsumeb, Rare Minerals and Fine Minerals. Stay tuned for updates, as arrangements are finalized.  The dates are April 19-22 ,2018.

Until Next Year…

The Rochester Symposium is a great event, that 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.

Links and References

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

On Bill Pinch’s website, there are tabs for the In Memoriam and also Links (this latter includes three links, with a video produced after the Canadian Museum of Nature acquired his original collection).

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

The new book by Robert J. Lauf: Collectors’ Guide to Orthosilicates

The Adelaide Mining Company has lots more crocoite photos (mining and specimens available) on its website. The underground photos are in the History section – they really give a sense of how tight most of these pockets have been, and provides good context for how remarkably well the specimens have been collected and preserved.

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.

When they are available, the 44th RMS Program Notes will be posted online here.

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 05.13.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)


This year, in this part of the world, “Rochester” (the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium) and spring sure couldn’t come soon enough – truly a happy breath of fresh air and promise of a new mineral collecting season after a tough winter.


Although arrivals in Rochester were initially greeted by cold and lingering recent snow, a few signs of spring were beginning to show. And yet once the mineral fun starts, who cares what the weather is doing?

[Note to Mother Nature: that is not a dare for next year’s Symposium. I mean unless you want to rain fine mineral specimens.]

About the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

Just a word about Rochester.  If you’ve never been, plan to come next year! Dates: April 14-17, 2016.

Rochester is a symposium meant for people who love minerals. It is not purely academic or technical, but involves these elements. Presentations range in content, with new discoveries and research in specimen mineralogy, yet accessible to people at all levels of expertise. The overall content is a great mix of mineralogy, photography, historical content, research, collecting information and glimpses of amazing places and people around the world. For fun, sense of community, contribution and cameraderie – and for the excellence of the presentations and displays – this is by far one of the best mineral events of the year, anywhere. And speaking of contribution, please note that the speakers were all generous in sharing their photographs and related permissions for this post – thank you all! Organized by Steve and Helen Chamberlain, along with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium is not to be missed.

The Symposium also includes good opportunities to acquire specimens – the fourth floor of the hotel is the dealers’ floor, and dealer rooms are open most hours of day or night that are not occupied by the speaking schedule.

The 2015 Rochester Mineralogical Symposium (April 23-26) was a super event, featuring excellent presentations by speakers from a few different countries.

In case you were not there – and of course even if you were – I hope you will enjoy reading about it and looking at a few of the photos. (For further reading, there is also a Links and References section at the end of this post.)


On opening night, we were treated to a return visit by Dr. Peter Lyckberg, speaking on the subject of “Gem Pegmatites of Afghanistan and Pakistan”. This subject immediately conjures up images of the well-known gem crystals, and although spectacular specimens were of course part of the evening, Peter’s presentation was about so much more than specimen photos, with lots of food for thought. Photos of the development of some of the major pegmatites over the years allowed us to appreciate the massive scope of some of these deposits (almost hard to believe) – and the massive efforts to mine them. Peter’s journeys into these mountain regions gave a glimpse into how hard this part of the world is, at incredible altitudes that would stop most people in their tracks. The local people and Peter’s approach with them created bonds of friendship and lasting relationships. Peter travelled into these areas as as stranger from far away, was befriended by local people who took him to their mines, and who showed kindness and support for his trip as he worked to document the pegmatites. He has bought from them and has supported their work to an extent that has had a meaningful positive impact on their lives.

Dr. Peter Lyckberg, Dusso, Haramosh Pegmatites, PakistanPeter Lyckberg with his brother, Asim, who is a miner at the Dusso-Haramosh pegmatites in Pakistan.
These pegmatites have yielded aquamarine, topaz, fluorapatite, fluorite, schorl, herderite,
spessartine garnet and other fine mineral specimens. Peter Lyckberg photo, 2005.

Peter Lyckberg, Pakistani gem crystals Aug 2005- Feb 2006Gem crystals (stunning!) from Pakistani pegmatites, August 2005 – Feb 2006, including aquamarine, topaz and elbaite tourmaline.
The large deep-golden topaz in the centre is 10cm tall – both the topaz and the aqua at the upper left are from Haramosh, Dusso (preceding photo).
On the left, the aqua group with muscovite in the middle from Chumar Bakhoor meausres 15 cm.
Peter Lyckberg collection and photo.

One observation of Peter’s rings so true with my own experience (as you may have read in other posts on the website) – fine mineral specimens are so rare, even from the most famous localities. Hundreds and even thousands of people can search a locality or region every day, all year, with very little found by anyone over the course of a whole year, let alone during a more targeted visit to a region or locality. Fine mineral specimens are truly to be appreciated and treasured, as mining them and producing them is long, hard work, almost always with very little or nothing to show for it.

On Friday morning, Dr. Carl Francis (former curator of the mineral collection at Harvard University) spoke about a remarkable project in Maine. Many of us know of the pegmatites of Maine, famous finds of tourmaline, beryl, purple fluorapatite and many other superb mineral specimens. Lots of these specimens grace collections all over the world.  Which is great, in a way. But Larry Stifler and Mary McFadden, a dedicated, conservation-minded couple in Maine, determined that it was time to have a top collection of these finds in a museum in the heart of the pegmatite district in Maine. They assembled a team and they have supported the construction and development of The Maine Gem and Mineral Museum in Bethel, and the effort has included the building of a collection, to acquire and indeed repatriate many fine Maine specimens. This is an amazing endeavour, and the museum is a project that has grown by leaps and bounds  since it was conceived (with a recent addition of lab equipment and a team of researchers led by none other than famous pegmatite expert Skip Simmons, with Karen Webber and Al Falster).  It will surely make for a great visit – currently anticipated to open in summer 2016.

Dunton Quarry Elbaite Tourmaline, Maine


Elbaite Tourmaline, Dunton Quarry, Newry, Oxford Co., Maine.
From the famous 1972 find, from the Raymond G. Woodman collection.
Jeff Scovil photo.

Gemstones from Mt. Marie, Maine

Cut stones from the Mount Marie Quarries, Paris, Oxford Co., Maine.
Mined by Dennis Durgin in 2011.
Jeff Scovil photo.

Our next speaker, Herwig Pelckmans, took us overseas, to the minerals of Belgium. This was a great topic – most of us know so little about Belgian minerals, when in fact the type localities for no fewer than 18 minerals are in Belgium (willemite and hopeite might be the most often recognized of these, and the list also includes cool phosphates and arsenates, among others). Herwig’s presentation included many fine photographs contributed by several collectors/photographers and was rather mind-expanding – we all end up becoming used to the minerals we see most often at mineral shows, and so a glimpse into this was great! Here are a couple of examples of just one mineral, ardennite-(As):

Ardennite (As) (fov15mm) Salmchâteau, Vielsalm, Luxembourg Province, Belgium;  coll and photo Paul MestromArdennite-(As), Salmchâteau, Vielsalm, Luxembourg Province, Belgium (type locality) – field of view 15mm
Paul Mestrom collection and photo.

Ardennite (As) (fov1.55mm)  Salmchâteau, Vielsalm, Luxembourg Province, Belgium;  coll and photo Ko JansenArdennite-(As), a rare free-standing euhedral crystal, Salmchâteau, Vielsalm, Luxembourg Province, Belgium (type locality) – field of view 1.55 mm
Ko Jansen collection and photo.

Herwig’s presentation also featured Belgian mineralogists and their contributions to mineralogy – notably with respect to minerals first described from the deposits at Shinkolobwe, Lubumbashi and others in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of the many, cornetite is perhaps the best known. (More on some others below – Herwig’s second presentation of the Symposium gave further insight!)

After Friday afternoon’s Technical Session (see below), Jeff Scovil presented on his return trip to Madagascar – of course, with many great photos. Including many cool non-mineral photos. Heaven forbid!

Would love to know what this lemur is saying…

LemursScovilRing tailed lemurs in Isalo Park, Madagascar.  Jeff Scovil photo.

ScovilBridgeBridge in Tsingy Bemaraha Park, Madagascar. Leslie Watson in centre. Jeff Scovil photo.

We were incredibly fortunate to have a new presenter speaking on Friday night, Dr. Alex Schauss, one of the world’s pre-eminent collectors of thumbnail-sized specimens. He shared photographs of some of his brilliant specimens, and with eye-candy like those, who needed dessert?!  Along with Alex’s great stories, they made for a memorable talk.

Alex’s love for minerals began with collecting minerals from Manhattan construction sites, and was fostered by none other than Dr. Frederick Pough, with whom he visited often at the American Museum of Natural History. (What a tutor to have, as a young collector!) Alex’s field-collecting career has involved some rather famous localities, including the Kelly Mine in New Mexico, Broken Hill, Australia and the Rowley Mine in Arizona, and for a taste of the specimens he shared, we’ll start with a specimen he collected in 1980 on a trip to Broken Hill. In Alex’s own words:

It was Albert Chapman who suggested I take the 490 km trip to Broken Hill and see what I could find on the dumps. This specimen was caked by a layer of clay, but because it showed some evidence of morphology, I put it in my pocket just as I was leaving the mine after finding little of interest and later dropped it into a glass filled with water at a “1/2 star hotel” in Broken Hill. The photo shows you what it looked like the next morning before heading back to Sydney, eager to show Albert the find. This specimen was included in both my winning McDole Trophy (1989)and Desautels Trophy (2010) exhibits of thumbnail specimens in 2010.

SpessartineSchaussMauthner(2.0 cm)Spessartine garnet, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Personally collected by Alex Schauss and in his collection – 2.0 cm.
Mark Mauthner photo.

A couple other specimens from Alex’s collection:

PyriteSchaussMauthner(2.7 cm)Pyrite, Ground Hog Mine, Gilman, Eagle County, Colorado, Alex Schauss collection – 2.7 cm.
Mark Mauthner photo.

SugiliteSchaussScovil(1.7cm)Sugilite (fibrous), N’Chwaning II Mine, from discovery pocket (Nov 2013), Alex Schauss collection – 1.7 cm.
Jeff Scovil photo.

On Saturday morning, Dr. Christopher Stefano presented The Life and Collection of Eberhardt W. Heinrich. Chris is the associate curator of the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Tech University, the official mineral museum of the state of Michigan and widely regarded as one of North America’s finest mineral museums. Eberhardt “Abe” Heinrich was a professor of geology at the University of Michigan from 1947 to 1983, who, among other achievements, produced 135 publications and eight books, while running a significant research program.

Eberhard W. Heinrich, University of MichiganEberhardt W. Heinrich, photo date and photographer unknown.

Heinrich assembled a large personal mineral collection (approximately 15,000 specimens) which he donated to the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum – specimens from his collection are on display there. Although he does have a mineral named in his honour, heinrichite is perhaps not the most visually compelling of minerals, and Chris and I thought you might prefer three specimens from his collection that are interesting and aesthetic (this collection includes some amazing specimens!).

This first one is an unusual tapered and stepped quartz crystal, which Heinrich likely acquired during his World War II exploration efforts with the U.S. Geological Survey, working in the Appalachian Mountains.

Quartz, F. W. Hamrick property, Shelby, North Carolina(11cm)Quartz, F. W. Hamrick property, Shelby, North Carolina – 11cm.
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum collection. Chris Stefano photo.

This next one from Franklin is superb, among the rarest and finest specimens in the Heinrich collection:

Graphite, Franklin, Sussex Co., New Jersey

Graphite spheres, Franklin, Sussex Co., New Jersey – 9 cm.
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum collection. Chris Stefano photo.

And from the superb to the outright astounding, this is one of the largest and finest crystals (possibly _the_ largest and finest crystal) of kainosite-(Y) known. This is from a Bancroft Area mine which was not known for fine mineral specimens.

Kainosite-(Y), Bicroft Mine, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., OntarioKainosite-(Y), Bicroft Mine, Highlands East, Haliburton Co., Ontario – 3.5 cm
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum collection. Chris Stefano photo.

Saturday’s afternoon presentations began with me, and “Into the Andes – Quiruvilca, Peru”. This talk was inspired by a joint trip and project with my good friend and collecting partner David Joyce (David K. Joyce Minerals).

Headframe at the Elvira Shaft, Quiruvilca, PeruHeadframe at the Elvira Shaft, Quiruvilca, Peru. R. McDougall photo.

QuiruvilcaPyriteMcDougallPyrite (pyritohedral crystals over an octahedron), Quiruvilca, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 8cm.
R. McDougall specimen and photo.

The link to the original adventure (on this website) is under Links and References at the end of this post. For Rochester, the original presentation was expanded, thanks to  the generous contributions of others, with stories and photographs of Quiruvilca specimens – my sincere thanks to Jaroslav Hyrsl for encyclopedic knowledge and photos of excellent specimens, John Betts for great photos, Rock Currier for fun stories and photos, and Tony Peterson, a Canadian collector who is taking some amazing mineral photographs these days. (Important note: All full-length presentations at Rochester dating back to 1987 have been recorded and are available on DVD – details are below under Links and References.)

Saturday’s last talk was by Kim Tait, the Teck Chair of Mineralogy at the Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM) in Toronto. Kim spoke about some of the most recent projects in minerals at the ROM, including renovation of the mineral collection areas underground, and the story of the recent acquisition of the  22,000-specimen Kirwin Collection. The Kirwin Collection was housed in Bangkok, Thailand. Some logisitcal challenge to be sure, but it might not sound like the toughest challenge for minerals, distance and volume of specimens aside… except… do you remember massive Bangkok floods in the news in recent years? Although not in anyone’s plans, this project involved a surprise mission when Kim got a phone call not long after the arrangements were settled: the floods were bad and this effort would include saving the collection from rising floodwaters.

The Kirwin Collection includes a significant number of ore assemblages from remote and unusual localities, and strong suites of minerals from southeast Asia.
















Microcline with Quartz, Mogok, Myanmar – cm-bar for scale. Kirwin Collection, ROM specimen and photo.

And this one is simply mind-boggling:


Clinohumite, Vietnam – crystal 7 cm. Kirwin Collection, ROM specimen and photo.

OK, let’s face it. It’s not easy getting up on Rochester Sunday morning. By now we’ve been up late with mineral friends on the fourth floor, into the morning hours, for three nights running. But this year – as with last year – we had great Sunday morning attendance.

Our Sunday morning talks justified the effort required to emerge from that pending coma… as we had a reprise from each of Herwig Pelckmans and Peter Lyckberg.

Herwig led off with “SCHOEP: From Fred Flintstone to Bob the Builder”. One of Belgium’s most important mineralogists, Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Ghent, Belgium for many years, Alfred Shoep (1881-1966) described 19 minerals new to science, of which 15 are still valid today.  Schoepite, Paraschoepite and Metaschoepite are named after him. When access to the uranium deposits of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Belgian Congo) became possible, Schoep became involved in describing new species, primarily radioactive species from Shinkolobwe, Kasolo and Kalongwe.

SchoepBelgian Mineralogist Alfred Schoep (1881-1966).  Date of photo and photographer unknown.

In 1921, a specimen of gummite was shown to Schoep by his friend and colleague Jules Cornet (after whom cornetite is named), and it was that gummite specimen that sparked Schoep’s interest in radioactive minerals.  The inspiring gummite was similar to this one – I know you can’t see radioactivity, but this thing really looks the part:

Gummite(fov 6.4 cm)Gummite, Luiswishi Mine, Lubumbashi, Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Field of view 6.4 cm.
Paul De Bondt collection and photo (2008).

One of the minerals Schoep described was parsonsite, and the naming is interesting. In his mineralogy career, Schoep had good connections with Canada. In 1923 Thomas Walker, of the University of Toronto, had described a new radioactive mineral from Kasolo (Katanga) and named it schoepite. Later that same year, Schoep described another new radioactive mineral from Kasolo and named it parsonsite, in honor of Arthur Leonard Parsons (1873-1957), Professor and Head of Mineralogy and Petrography at the University of Toronto (1936-1943).


 Parsonsite, Kasolo Mine, Shinkolobwe, Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, DRC – field of view 2.4 cm.
Paul De Bondt collection and photo (2008).

As for Herwig’s mysterious reference to Bob the Builder, Schoep’s legacy extended well beyond the world of minerals.

[Wait – IS there anything beyond the world of minerals?]

After Schoep became a senior figure within the administration at the university, he led a huge program that saw the construction of many buildings that remain iconic for the town of Ghent.

For our grande finale, we were treated to one more series of Peter’s adventures, this time at the Malmberget Mine, Lappland, Sweden. (I describe it as a “series” because Peter’s collecting and documentation of the deposit and specimen mineralogy at Malmberget was a patient and sustained effort over an extended period of time.) The Malmberget iron mining complex is huge, with interesting and varied mineralogy – it is one of the world’s largest underground mines. The infrastructure includes underground highways, underground workshops, an underground restaurant, phone and internet.

Malmberget1Underground highway system in the Malmberget Mine, Lappland, Sweden. LKAB Mining Company photo.

The deposit is such that pockets are not uncommon, but of course, as always, fine mineral specimens are incredibly rare. Peter estimated that in his 20 years of study of, and visits to,  the Malmberget Mine, thousands of pockets have been found. And yet, most do not contain fine crystals of anything, and some that did contain specimen material collapsed, or were otherwise damaged. Nonetheless, these efforts are all about those very rarest of occasions where incredible specimens can be found. In December 1988 and January 1989, Peter’s persistence and work paid off in what is now a well-known discovery of incredible golden calcite crystals. These calcite crystals reached up to 10-20 cm, and included single crystals and even a few butterfly twins.

Malmberget2Calcite, Malmberget Mine, Lappland, Sweden – central specimen 25 cm.
Peter Lyckberg collection and photo.

Although this part of the Malmberget Mine has now collapsed and the mining has gone deeper where specimens and pockets are much rarer, it is fortunate that this incredible pocket was collected and that such excellent specimens were preserved. The stories in Sunday morning’s presentation were super. (Peter has written about the calcite pocket story on mindat – the link is below, under Links and References).

Technical Session

Every year, Friday afternoon of the symposium is reserved for the technical session. This session is a packed afternoon, with talks strictly limited to 15 minutes. Abstracts from these talks are included in the symposium program, and they are also published during the year in Rocks and Minerals magazine, so keep an eye out for them!

Annual “What’s New”

Saturday morning always features Jeff Scovil presenting What’s New in Minerals and Localities. Jeff’s superb photography takes us around the world for an hour, as he covers finds from the past year. Some of these are photographs that we see in the mineral periodicals during the year, and other photographs may make their debut at Rochester – Jeff never fails to draw gasps, oohs and ahs, as he shows beautiful photographs of exquisite specimens. Here are just a couple:

ScovilHaveyElbalite Tourmaline, Havey Mine, Poland, Maine – up to 5.6 cm
Maine Mineral & Gem Museum specimens, Jeff Scovil photo.


Paracoquimbite, Xitieshan, Qinghai, China – 5.9 cm
Steve Smale collection, Jeff Scovil photo.

Jeff is the master! If you would like him to photograph your minerals, or you are looking for mineral photos for a publication, his website under Links and References.  More and more of his catalogue is becoming searchable online.  Now we can ooh and aah any time…

Following Jeff, What’s New in Minerals and Localities II is the chance for short contributions from other symposium registrants. This is an hour that just comes together as it does, in the moment – sometimes full and other times only a couple of contributions. We never know!

This was a quieter year, with only two presenters.

Ruth Debicki, from Sudbury, Ontario, introduced the new online resource “GeoTours Northern Ontario”. Geoscientists from Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada, Ontario Geological Survey, Dynamic Earth science centre and Laurentian University have created a site full of the stories of Northern Ontario’s geology, to inspire visitors. Tours are posted online with facts and photos, so you can do some virtual touring until you can no longer withstand the urge to see it all in person! See Links and References.

I also presented briefly on some of the year’s mineral finds – if you’ve been following the website, they will seem less new to you, as there are lots of photos on the website. I highlighted some of what struck me as the most striking new finds I’ve come across over the past year, including the German anhydrite and probertite crystals, the Mali yellow stilbite balls, the Volodarsk goethites, the, the N’Chwaning inesites, and the Mundo Nuevo tetrahedrites .


Each year the Symposium features displays of some superb minerals, some by individual collectors and some by institutions. This year, a few individuals had some particularly remarkable specimens on display – here are just a few.

Canadian collector George Thompson always puts on a great display – this year’s was no exception, with Yukon phosphates including a killer bobdownsite (top, centre)  – and that’s a vivianite from Big Fish River in the centre (approx 5cm).

 GeorgeThompsonYukonMinerals of the Rapid Creek Area, Yukon, Canada – great case from George Thompson. Many exceptional rarities!

Well-known Montreal-area collector, Jonathan Levinger, brought a case entirely featuring serandite from Mont St. Hilaire from various finds over the years.


A deep orange serandite with manganoneptunite and analcime – approx 4cm. Jonathan Levinger collection.

Jeff Morrison’s display of minerals from mining at the Havey Mine near Poland Maine was super.


Minerals from the Havey Mine, near Poland, Maine, featuring beautiful elbaite tourmaline crystals.
Jeff Morrison collection.

John Betts puts in great displays and this year’s, from New England and New York included excellent specimens classics localities like Rossie, NY, to more recent unusual localities like this one:


Sharp, lustrous amethyst crystals from a Massachusetts housing development excavation area about 15 years ago – 8 cm.
John Betts collection.

Terry Huizing’s case always includes stunning specimens…

TerryCalciteClassic heart-twinned English calcite – approx 7 cm. Terry Huizing collection.

And I thought this was a remarkable specimen of the sharp, lustrous magnetite from Bolivia:

BoliviaMagnetiteMagnetite, Cerro Huanaquino, Potosi, Bolivia – approx 25 cm. Diane Francis collection.

The Fourth Floor

Much of the Rochester experience simply can’t be written, nor does it easily lend itself to photographs. Not because it’s bad (ok fourth floor late night Topaz Bowling could be viewed by some as bad), but because it’s about hanging out and sharing stories and laughs in rooms and hallways, not to mention sharing nice wines and cheeses. (I guess I could have photographed those…)  You’ll just have to come for this part!

See you all – on the fourth floor and otherwise too – next year!

By the way, if you would like to see more about the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium, last years’s post is here (there’s a bit more about the fourth floor…)

Links and References

In no particular order…