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Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 04.11.2020 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

In these strange days, it’s hard to believe how different the world was, only a few weeks ago. Who imagined then, all the ways in which our lives would be impacted in the weeks after Tucson… As events evolve, it’s clear that it will be a while until all of us are once again together at a large international show, which makes it all the more important to enjoy a few memories of our most recent gathering and stay connected online. In that light, let’s travel back to Tucson…

Tracks

One of the best times of the year, the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show is like no other time if the year for mineral people. It is gathering of countless thousands of mineral specimens!  OKOK… not just specimens… it is one of the mineral collecting community’s finest annual gatherings, with friends from all over the world converging on Arizona to catch up and share, and talk a lot about minerals (and even life beyond minerals, heaven forbid).

Cactus hills

Tucson is a great midwinter break for me and all of my northern friends – a chance to leave snow, ice and frigid temperatures behind for a bit. Instead of shades of white and grey, it’s blue skies, beige and every hue of green, not to mention the purple-blue shades of mountains all around the horizons.

I am lucky to be hosted by my friends David Joyce (davidkjoyceminerals.com) and Carol Teal, along with their dog Riley.

Carol, Riley, Dave

Riley and I have come a long way together – in the first year or two we knew each other, he had somehow failed to catch that I’m a dog person. I wasn’t speaking his language – I’m used to speaking Labrador Retriever. We’re sure good now though – he accepts me as a member of the pack.

Riley 1

We have an understanding that tummy rubs, ball throwing and treats are all part of the deal.

Riley 2

As always, Tucson was full of activity of all kinds, at shows spread out all over the city. It’s strange now to think that such a short time ago, COVID-19 was not a thought on many minds, and in Tucson there was virtually no visible indication of any difference – just lots of conscientious alternatives to handshakes and the occasional mask.

This year there was substantial movement of dealers and vendors around town. Of course this happens to some extent every year and the sands always shift over the longer term, as the individual shows and dealers evolve and migrate. Once upon a time, the Desert Inn was the place to be, and now it is no longer standing. Similarly, for many years, the show at the Best Western Executive Inn (also known as the “EI”) was the hub for a large number of dealers with the best selection of fie minerals. Years ago, the show moved to the Inn Suites (renamed the Hotel Tucson City Centre) and now the “EI” is closed and fenced for final demolition. In 2020, the Inn Suites completed its last contract year with the show organizers, and many dealers had already chosen to move to new venues. As for this show itself, the organizer is moving it to the Hilton Conquistador, up in Oro Valley – it remains to be seen what will happen at the Inn Suites next year. I’ve always really liked the setting at the Inn Suites and will miss the times when it was the major hotel show!

Inn Suites

Having said which, the larger development unfolding at the same time has been the development and opening of the “Mineral District” just off North Oracle, with the Mineral City show and other related venues all within a couple of blocks of one another.  The Mineral City venue hosts many excellent dealers and was greatly expanded into new buildings opened this year.

Meanwhile, another key spot in the Mineral District fully opened this year, as the conversion of the old La Fuente restaurant is now complete. It is the new main venue for Jewel Tunnel Imports (both the wholesale business and the selling of more of Rock Currier’s personal collection), as well as mindat HQ and the new location where you could have your favourites photographed by Jeff Scovil. Speaking of the new La Fuente, each restroom is particularly inclusive, inviting anyone:

Bathroom

Which makes a nice segue into a discussion of a few of the minerals in Tucson this year. Starting with JTI headquarters at La Fuente and Rock’s collection. As many of you will have seen in online reports, people lined up early in the morning to be able to see what was available. This was true for the original opening, and even to a lesser extent for each “refresh” opening, when they put out new material to fill spaces. Rock’s collection contained so many great high-quality pieces, including classic specimens, unusual localities and uncommon minerals and mineral associations.

Among the classics was this wonderful millerite from the Sterling Mine near Antwerp, New York – this is a fantastic specimen.

Millerite, Sterling Mine, Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York, USA

Millerite, Sterling Mine, Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York, USA – 6.6 cm

102543(2)(fov 1.6)Close-up of the same specimen

For unusual specimens from unusual localities, Rock had a small number of very cool hematite crystals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Great crystal forms!

Hematite, Kamoto Principal Mine, Kamoto, Kolwezi, Lualaba, democratic Republic of the Congo

Hematite, Kamoto Principal Mine, Kamoto, Kolwezi, Lualaba, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 3.2 cm

Moving on to recent finds at Tucson 2020, there were gorgeous new bournonites from the Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia. The locality has produced excellent bournonite specimens over the years, but the finds are have been sporadic, often years apart. The nature of the bournonite has varied from one find to the next, and some of the bournonite has been of modest lustre, sometimes dull, and of varying sharpness/definition. This latest find has produced sharp, lustrous bournonite crystals of the finest quality, exhibiting the classic “cogwheel” twinning.

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 5.2 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 3.5 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.2 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 2.3 cm crystal group

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.1 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 3.8 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.9 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.1 cm

There has been a new find of beautiful prehnite from Morocco (it seems Morocco somehow always comes through!). In fact several localities in Morocco have produced fine prehnite specimens over the years, but I love the prehnite from Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco.

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 8.6 cm

This prehnite occurs with minor quartz crystals, including one small crystal on one piece that looks to me to be a faden. The prehnite crystal aggregates exhibit two principal habits, sometimes together on the same matrix: (1) radiating balls of crystals and (2) radiating fans of varying size and thickness. These specimens are quite different from most prehnite balls and aggregates, in that the individual crystals are easily visible and differentiated/separated from their adjacent neighbours – they are sharp and lustrous with individual terminations. The colour of these specimens is a pretty green – they are so nice!

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 9.1 cm

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 10.0 cm

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 5.8 cm

Also from Morocco, from a find at Mibladen that originally debuted at Munich last fall, are vanadinite specimens in a habit we only see once in a while, in some rather good-sized crystals for the species. These are the somewhat complex, somewhat skeletal-growth crystals, often in small aggregates. The colour and lustre varies, including on the same specimen, depending on the viewing angle. They are super-cool vanadinites.

Vanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco

Vanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco – 3.7 cm
Vanadinite, Mibladen, MoroccoVanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco – 3.7 cm

One last entry from the African continent from me – welcome to my nightmare…

I include this next photo partly to show just how hard it is to secure fine mineral specimens. As many of you know, I’m very fond of the best of the prehnites, epidotes and good yellow stilbite balls from Mali. They are wonderful specimens and they make beautiful display pieces, adding colour and form to any display case. The prehnites and epidotes have been coming out for quite a few years now, and the good stilbites have been trickling out – I seek out excellent specimens, particularly of the stilbite which are so nice for the species. It has become evident that the problem is not that there aren’t any in the ground – rather, it’s what happens to them next. Many are thrown into sacks and buckets, then transferred to other containers with little or no packaging. This is a process no fine mineral specimen – but particularly stilbite – can be expected to survive… As an example, here’s a photo of an actual Mali specimen-packing job, arrived at Tucson for sale.

Bucket o' Mali

Bucket O’ Mali
(The specimens in this bucket are now completely damaged/destroyed and of no value to collectors of fine minerals.)

As an aside, I’ve been building a small collection of excellent Mali specimens for a future update – was only able to add a couple nice small pieces in Tucson (sadly, none from this vendor!), but there will be some really nice specimens coming in that update.

Moving on to Asia, some nice entries from localities that have recently been producing fine specimens. From Balochistan, Pakistan comes another new find of epidote fans and quartz. The epidote fans are sharp and very lustrous, with high-lustre terminations. Some are partially-to-fully included within quartz crystals, but this was uncommon in the material I saw. It’s too bad the percentage of fine specimens was not higher, as they are really beautiful combination-pieces, but most were badly damaged. I acquired a small lot of choice specimens.

Epidote and Quartz, Kharan, Balochistan, Pakistan

Epidote fans on Quartz, Kharan, Balochistan, Pakistan – 5.8 cm

For a few years, we’ve seen the lollingite specimens from the Huanggang mines (Inner Mongolia, China) that redefined the species. The best are the world’s finest by far (for example, John White’s – if you have not admired that one, it’s here). Specimens have never been plentiful and those pieces we do see available are damaged (I know, my common complaint from urban field-collecting expeditions…). I found a very small number of excellent specimens from one of my Chinese friends.

Lollingite, Huanggang Mines, Inner Mongolia, China

Lollingite, Huanggang Mines, Inner Mongolia, China – 4.6 cm

Also from China, over recent years we’ve seen some creedite specimens from Qinglong. In Tucson I acquired three with a light lavender hue – very pretty specimens!

Creedite, Qinglong County, Qianxinan, Guizhou, ChinaCreedite, Qinglong County, Qianxinan, Guizhou, China – 8.5 cm

And I’m going to finish with some specimens that some people might consider a bit less pretty, but given their rarity and where they come from, they are worthy of a grand finale. From one of Canadian dealer Rod Tyson’s expeditions to the Yukon several years ago, some excellent specimens of the Rapid Creek phosphate minerals were available in Tucson. Expeditions to this remote part of Canada have become difficult to arrange and have also become extremely costly of late (they require a lot of helicopter time). Rod feels it’s tough to predict what, if anything, will come out in the foreseeable future. For several of the species found at Rapid Creek, specimens from there are the best from anywhere.

Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Yukon, Canada

Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada
Main ball of crystals 0.9 cm

Gormanite

Gormanite on siderite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada – 3.2 cm

Of course the Tucson experience is about so much more than the minerals. Meals and maybe a couple beverages with mineral friends from all around the world, sometimes accompanied by music…

David Joyce Banjo

 David Joyce leading the songs with his banjo. (Not pictured: a bunch of us singing along..).

As happens every year, I am always already home before the main show and related festivities, so I obviously am not able to report on them. However, there was one important development in Tucson that I do not want to miss mentioning. This year is a special year as it represents the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Mineralogical Record. And of course, the Mineralogical Record was founded by John S. White (if you have not already, you can read about that here). This year in Tucson, a new award was unveiled and presented at a dinner held by Jordi Fabre and Jim and Gail Spann: John was the first recipient of what will be the annually-awarded John S. White Mineral Legacy Award For Excellence in Mineralogical Education. Every year from now the same wording will appear on the awards to future recipients – it will always be, in fact, the John S. White Mineral Legacy Award. John called it “the mother of all humbling experiences”.  Which is of course the kind of thing he’d say. He’s always been humble about those early days of the Mineralogical Record. But it’s pretty incredible to think that at 36 years old, with a young family and full-time job at the Smithsonian, he founded this magazine. So many mineral collectors owe a good part of their knowledge to the publication he created. So many serious collectors have the Mineralogical Record in their home. He has touched the lives of literally thousands and the award could not be more fitting.

John S. White Mineral Legacy Award

And on a final note about this beautiful part of Arizona, I confess that this beauty is an  aspect of the Tucson experience that I really did not take in properly for the longest time. Time on these visits is at such a premium – and it was especially so when I was taking time out of my last career to do it – there are so many minerals to see, so many mineral friends and so many good times together. Until recently, I never took the time to immerse myself in just how amazing this place is. I have Dave and Carol to thank for that, not only because they live in a beautiful little nature paradise, but also because they love to enjoy it. I thought I’d share a few photos from our time the Santa Rita foothills.

I swear I did not pay the deer and doves to pose – it’s naturally as idyllic as it looks..

Deer Dove

This is a great area for hiking (as long as you give the sharp plants lots of clearance!). Dave led the way…

Dave trail

Some of the plants are astounding. The Tucson show does not correspond with most flowerings, but looking at last year’s yucca and agave stalks… they are huge. Here’s a sense, with me for scale:

Yuccas and me

The stalks dominated the landscape in places, making for unusual and beautiful scenes.

Yucca stalks

And of course one can see such expansive vistas from the lookouts…

DaveRileyLookout

Riley catching up with Dave to take in the view…

Goodbye Tucson, til next time.

Sunset

 

As always, I love being away and I love coming home.

Bit of a temperature change from Tucson (20c/68F) to Bancroft that night…

Cold

(-22F…)

We had lots of snow once again this year, beautiful in an entirely different way from Arizona.

SnowTrees

And of course Rudy is in heaven in it…

Snow Rudy

Again this year the snowbank beside our house (known each year as Mt. Rudy) grew to a major height, width and depth – that’s Rudy (full-grown Labrador Retriever) for scale at the top with a normal-sized soccer ball in his mouth.

MtRudy2020

I’m happy to say that because I’m writing this so late this year, Mt Rudy is now much reduced in size, only about 5 ft high (it will be all melted in May). And as happens every spring, the lake is beginning to thaw. In the sun, there’s a bit of water on the ice on a warmer day, but I can see that as of now the ice at the margin of the dock is at least a foot thick…

Snow Lake

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 01.04.2020 | Filed under: Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve added beautiful specimens of golden stilbite and glassy analcime from a recent collecting project in this new Five Islands Update (click here). These specimens are from a pocket that was in an area of the cliff face often regarded as precarious (fortunately it was safe enough to save these pieces!).

Occasionally over the years, good finds have been made at Five Islands. These have included natrolite, analcime and stilbite, as well as the famous gmelinite-after-chabazite from Pinnacle Island. The specimens from this stilbite-analcime find are gorgeous and distinctive, combining the two minerals.

The stilbite crystal groups can vary in hue from one specimen to the next, and it should be noted that the stilbite hues also vary under different sources of lighting – they are richest under halogen lights, less so under cool LED. As with all specimens on the website, the photographs are colour-balanced to daylight.

Stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite with analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 7.3 cm

Stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite with Analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 6.3 cm

Stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite with analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 5.6 cm

Stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

 Stilbite with analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3.0 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 6.5 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 5.1 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3.6 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada 4.6 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 6.9 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, CanadaStilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 5.1 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 7.2 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 4.3 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime and stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 5.6 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada Stilbite and analcime with gmelinite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 4.1 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada
Field of view 2.7 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3.1 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3 cm wide

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada
Field of view 2.5 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada
Field of view 2.5 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 4.4 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada
Field of view 4 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3.7 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 2.8 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 2.5 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Analcime on stilbite, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 3.4 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 2.8 cm

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stilbite and analcime, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada – 2.6 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.28.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve posted some vibrant specimens of chrysocolla pseudomorphs in the new Chrysocolla Update (click here).

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 8.1 cm

Definitive identification of these specimens has been confirmed. The specimens from this find have been identified as chrysocolla by way of chemical analysis conducted by Dr. Hexiong Yang of the University of Arizona. A preliminary Raman spectroscopic analysis had led to the suggestion of an ajoite identification (which was posted on mindat), but the Raman for each of these minerals is very similar and was therefore inconclusive.

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 8.7 cm

A couple of observations about these specimens lead me to believe there is some complexity to the formation history. In spots where the underlying pseudomorphs are incomplete, one can examine the cross-sections. Some of those cross-sections reveal that the malachite core is entirely gone (and seems to be chrysocolla), while others retain some malachite. In addition, upon close examination with magnification, one can see there are small malachites sprinkled about, meanwhile the chrysocolla “crystals” have a rather rounded appearance. I believe that the small chrysocolla aggregates themselves are related to the malachite, as pseudomorphs after the malachite. These specimens might in fact be “chrysocolla pseudomorphs after malachite, on chrysocolla pseudomorphs (partial and complete) after malachite pseudomorphs after azurite.” Doesn’t fit on a label so easily, but these are highly unusual and remarkable specimens.

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 1.0 cm

These are delicate specimens, with some growths that are thin. As a result, there are incomplete pseudomorphs on almost all I have seen – in fact some are either prominently or mostly without complete ones. These incomplete pseudomorphs actually help to guide our understanding of the specimen’s formation.

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 1.0 cm

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 5.8 cm

Ajoite, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoChrysocolla, Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 1.3 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.28.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted a small number of super new specimens in this Milpillas Brochantite Update (click here). These good-sized brochantite crystals are sharp, lustrous and unusually robust for the species, which is often seen in very thin needle-like or hair-like crystals.

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 3.9 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 5.8 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – crystals to 1.1 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – crystals to 1.4 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 3.7 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico
Field of view 2.7 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico
Field of view 2.0 cm

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 3.6 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.23.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

I love arriving back in Tucson. Urban field collecting at its finest!

TucsonSunset

There’s an excitement about the Tucson shows – we all feel it.

A bit similar to the way a the Christmas tree each year is evocative of the fun of past Christmases, in Tucson we have our ornamental orange trees in the courtyard at the Hotel Formerly Known as The Inn Suites…

Oranges

The mornings at the start of Tucson 2016 were not quite tropical.

frost

 Palm trees through the frost on the car windshield.

 However,  the Tucson sun is great and by the afternoon there’s a warm sunlight casting shadows.

Tucson 2016

So, into the car and off to the shows all over town in search of fine minerals… but can I just make a small random observation first?

Our rental car flashed this at us regularly,  throughout the trip:

CarWarning

I’m sorry, but if your brain is not already subconsciously running this question in the background for you every day, you’re gonna have issues. Waiting until a car prompts the thought is inadvisable.

OK. I’m done. On to the minerals. (It’s safe to move.)

poolsideThe courtyard mineral localities beckon…

Minerals!

There were great mineral specimens in Tucson this year and this post is just a small glimpse of a few fun things I managed to acquire. Each of the following will be the subject of an update on the website over the coming weeks.

Let’s begin with a new find of gorgeous yellow fluorites from Morocco. These are from the classic fluorite locality, the El Hammam Mine, they are unusually sharp, yellow cubes.

The hue of these fluorites varies, depending on the light source (common for fluorite), from a warmer honey-yellow under halogen, to a slightly brighter yellow in daylight and even a bit bolder under cool-temperature LED lighting. (This effect is different with each specimen, some show it more and some less).

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

Upon close inspection, many of the crystals contain delicate, fine-lined purple phantoms.

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 2.5 cm

This was not a large find, and I chose the best quality ones available – if you’d like to see more photos, they are in the Morocco Fluorite update (click here).

Next up is the amazing Milpillas Mine in Mexico. It’s no surprise that we are continuing to see more azurites, and a few other things are trickling out too, but this time I was particularly interested in the brochantites. There are not so many (certainly nothing like the azurites) but these are super for the species, and I found a few excellent ones available this year.

Brochantite

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 3.9 cm

Brochantite2

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico
Width of this group is 3.2 cm

A bit further away from home, there was a relatively small new find of axinite at Dalnegorsk, Russia. Of course, over the years, some beautiful axinite specimens have been found at Dalnegorsk, some have been identified as axinite-(Mn), some as axinite-(Fe), and I’m told that these ones are axinite-(Fe). As is always the case with axinite, it is incredibly difficult to obtain damage-free specimens, and most from this find did have chipping. However, a few were in superb condition!

Axinite-(Fe)Axinite-(Fe), Bor Mine, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia
Field of view approximately 4 cm

Also from the Dalnegorsk mining complex, a newer mine has produced some wonderful new calcite specimens. The Yushnoe Mine is a newer mine and to date has produced virtually no fine mineral specimens. In 2015, a pocket of calcite crystals contained some beautiful twins. This was not a large or prolific find at all, and I found almost no specimens were undamaged, but I did find them! They show excellent twinning, with the same form as the now-classic twinned yellow calcites from the Sokolovskoe Mine, Rudniy, Kazakhstan. Beautiful!

YushnoeCalciteCalcite, Yushnoe Mine, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia
Field of view approximately 3.5 cm

From Canada, a recent expedition to Rapid Creek, Yukon, produced some fine lazulite specimens. This is a very remote locality and collecting there is so expensive that it is rarely undertaken these days. Many specimens from the find debuted in Tucson, and we (David K. Joyce and I) acquired the finest.

Lazulite2

Lazulite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada
Largest crystal 1.5 cm

Lazulite1Lazulite with Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada – 5.7 cm

One of the great things about Tucson is of course the chance to reconnect with mineral friends and colleagues from all over the world, and sometimes they have brought some pretty amazing things along with them. Not all of these are new finds by any means, but sometimes some remarkable specimens surface in Tucson.

One such find was strontianite from an Austrian collection. Strontianite is a relatively common mineral, but great specimens are not common. Typically when we think of the mineral strontianite – let’s face it, IF we even think of it at all – we think of fuzzy-looking aggregates of tiny crystals or relatively unattractive specimens. Perhaps that’s not fair (sorry strontianite!) and there are of course exceptions, including a small number of specimens from Scotland, Illinois and the Alps. And some of the finest strontianite crystals in the world come from Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria. The crystals occur in a variety of habits, with quartz-like prisms, blocky hexagonal prisms and elongated dogtooth-style crystals. I was very happy to have found a small suite of exceptionally well-crystallized strontianites from Oberdorf an der Laming in Tucson.

StrontianiteStrontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Crystal 1.2 cm

Strontianite2Strontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Field of view approximately 3.5 cm

Strontianite3

Strontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Field of view approximately 2 cm

Another great thing about reconnecting with everyone in Tucson is the chance to learn from mineral friends. You know, we all end up with these specimens from all over the world, and then we take them back to our little lairs, and inevitably we have more work done on them. So there are always new finds, identifications, and re-identifications of minerals.

In Tucson this year, I learned that last year’s find of super tetrahedrite crystals at the Mundo Nuevo Mine was in fact a find of crystals of tennantite. Of a large number of specimens tested at Harvard, only one turned out to be tetrahedrite. Almost all turned out to be tennantite (a small number were intermediate, tennantite-dominant). Which is fun – they were already great tetrahedrite, but they are super for tennantite. I have a few left and although they are presumably tennantite, I have taken them off the site pending confirmatory analysis, and then they will be back on. For those of you who might not have seen them when I posted them originally, they are sharp and lustrous – here are a couple.

100740(2)(fov4.0)

Tennantite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru
Field of view 4.0 cm

100742(1)(8.2)Tennantite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 8.2 cm

Related to this finding, it was also discovered that there are some tennantite specimens with the rare mineral lautite on them. These are microscopic crystals and rosettes – a mineral that is rarely found at all, let alone in crystals. Here’s a photo. (By the way, Dave still has a few of these lautites available on his website – I’m including a link to them at the end of this post, if you are interested.

lautite

Lautite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru
Field of view 2mm.
David K. Joyce photo.

Speaking of identifications, one find that first came to light last year has turned out to be something special. Last year you may have seen (and may even have acquired) specimens of “chrysocolla over malachite pseudomorphs after azurite” from the Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thanks to analysis conducted by Dr. Hexiong Yang at the University of Arizona, we now know they are in fact not chrysocolla, but ajoite. This is a remarkable development – ajoite has not been known in display specimens, so this is a first! (Ajoite is best known from the ajoite-included quartz crystals from Musina, South Africa).  I was very happy to be able to acquire a few of these specimens in Tucson!

Ajoite2Ajoite over Malachite pseudomorph after Azurite
Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 3.5 cm

Ajoite3

Ajoite over Malachite pseudomorph after Azurite
Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 2.5 cm

Tucson Beyond the Minerals

I’ll spare you the stories of all of the great get-togethers with mineral friends, but I’d like to share a couple.

Canadian collector and dealer Ray Hill hosts fun dinners at his rented place in Tucson each year. Not only is he a great cook, but he also assembles such good groups together that it is always both interesting and a good time. The group included Ray Hill, David Joyce, John Montgomery, Marie and Terry Huizing, David Wilber and Larry Venezia. I wish I had a photo from this evening’s highlight, but it was too dark out to capture the mood without a proper camera setup. Ray had brought a portable propane campfire from Canada. (Never seen one before…) After dinner we moved outdoors… and what is a campfire without a song or two?  Many of you know that David Joyce has written, and plays and sings, great mineral songs (link at the end of this post) – so Dave brought out his guitar and we had good fun singing mineral songs around our Tucson campfire under the stars.

The other one I’d like to share is a photo from a dinner we look forward to every year, with Si and Ann Frazier, and Frank and Wendy Melanson. Always a fun evening, with good food, stories, laughs, and some mineral show-and tell, so it’s hardly a time that prompts serious reflection (!). However when I was looking at this photo afterward, I was struck by the knowledge and experience in this room. You are looking not only at five of the most knowledgeable mineral people out there, but the five people in this photograph have been responsible, directly and indirectly, for the preservation and placement of uncounted tens of thousands of the world’s fine mineral specimens into museums and private collections.

Dinner

From left to right, Si and Ann Frazier, Wendy Melanson, David K. Joyce and Frank Melanson

Although we all wish Tucson would never end, somehow it ends too soon every year…

Last Light

Last sunlight, as Tucson shadows fall

Happy to be back home, to the forest shadows…

Snowshadows

… and where the snow crunches underfoot with each step in the winter woods.

Final Snowshadow

Links

(1) For the lautite specimens at davidkjoyceminerals.com, click here.

(2) For the mineral songs click here (“The Mineral Dealer” is an awesome song for Tucson season.)

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.22.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted a new Morocco Fluorite Update (click here) with super yellow fluorite crystals from a small recent find at the El Hammam Mine. These are great yellow fluorite specimens!

The hue of these fluorites varies, depending on the light source (common phenomenon for fluorite). They appear a warmer honey-yellow under halogen, a slightly brighter yellow in daylight and even a bit bolder under cool-temperature LED lighting. This effect is different with each specimen, some show it more and some less. The depth of the yellow colour also varies from one specimen to the next thanks to the fine, faint purple phantoms in many of the crystals.

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

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 2.5 cm

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Fluorite with Pyrite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 14.8 cm

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

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 11.3 cm

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 2.5 cm

 Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 7.2 cm

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 4.1 cm

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 7.6 cm

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco – 5.4 cm

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

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

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 2.5 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 01.17.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted a new Xenotime-(Y) Update (click here) with crystals rom Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil. These xenotime-(Y) crystals are dark brown, sharp and lustrous – they are are superb for this species.

Novo Horizonte produces the beautiful, world-famous, golden rutile specimens, often with lustrous black hematite crystals. The deposit is also known for its exceptional rutilated quartz specimens. However, in addition to these more common minerals, Novo Horizonte has produced some of the finest xenotime-(Y) crystals ever found anywhere. Xenotime-(Y) crystals of this size have not been produced consistently from the locality. There have been a couple of finds of this magnitude – this 2015 find was the first such find in many years.

Xenotime-(Y), Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilXenotime-(Y), Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.6 cm

Xenotime-(Y), Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilXenotime-(Y), Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.5 cm

Xenotime, Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Xenotime, Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.7 cm

Xenotime, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Xenotime, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.0 cm

Xenotime, Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilXenotime, Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.7 cm

Xenotime, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Xenotime, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.2 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 01.13.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve added a group of diverse minerals in this Peru Update (click here). I have selected these out over various trips – each is a beautiful specimen for the mineral! This update includes a gorgeous rhodonite from Chiurucu, a brilliant alabandite, a super specimen of bournonite cogwheel twins on matrix, a specimen of scheelite coated with bright green stolzite, fluorescent fluorapatite crystals and more.

Rhodonite, San Martin Mine, Chirucu, Huallanca, Bolognesi, Ancash Dept., Peru
Rhodonite, San Martin Mine, Chirucu, Huallanca, Bolognesi, Ancash Dept., Peru – 6.0 cm

Stolzite on Scheelite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., PeruStolzite on Scheelite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 5.7 cm

Alabandite, Uchucchacua Mine, Oyon Province, Lima Dept., PeruAlabandite, Uchucchacua Mine, Oyon Province, Lima Dept., Peru
Field of View 3.3 cm

Bournonite, Julcani District, Angaraes Prov., Huancavelica Dept., PeruBournonite, Julcani District, Angaraes Prov., Huancavelica Dept., Peru
Field of View 3.5 cm

Fluorapatite on Pyrite, Huanzala Mine, Huallanca Dist., Dos De Mayo Prov., Huanuco Dept., PeruFluorapatite on Pyrite, Huanzala Mine, Huallanca Dist., Dos De Mayo Prov., Huanuco Dept., Peru – 7.9 cm

Fluorapatite on Pyrite, Huanzala Mine, Huallanca Dist., Dos De Mayo Prov., Huanuco Dept., PeruSame specimen as above, under fluorescent lighting

Gypsum var. Selenite on Halite, Salinas de Otuma, Paracas, Pisco, Pisco Province, Ica Dept., Peru Gypsum var. Selenite on Halite, Salinas de Otuma, Paracas, Pisco, Pisco Province, Ica Dept., Peru – 6.7 cm

Enargite, Quiruvilca Mine, Santiago de Chuco Province, La Libertad Department, Peru

Enargite, Quiruvilca Mine, Santiago de Chuco Province, La Libertad Department, Peru – crystal 2.4 cm

Chalcopyrite on Sphalerite, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru Chalcopyrite on Sphalerite, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru – 3.5 cm

Chalcopyrite on Sphalerite, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru

Chalcopyrite on Sphalerite, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru – 4.8 cm

Galena and Seligmannite, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru

Galena and Seligmannite on Quartz, Palomo Mine, Castrovirreyna Province,
Huancavelica Department, Peru – 4.6 cm