Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 04.30.2020 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)


Rochester 2020! Whoo hoo! The arrival of spring and our annual fun times in Rochester!

Wait a minute. What?! But it was cancelled.

True, we had no choice and had to cancel the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium in Rochester April 23-26, 2020… It turns out that the spirit of Rochester is not so easily defeated. We made a late-breaking decision to host a shortened version of the 47th RMS online, on April 23: the eRMS 2020.

As always with these reports, I like to lead with a happy glimpse of spring in these northern parts at the time of the symposium.

Last melting ice on our lake, the morning of the symposium,
from my broadcasting location near Bancroft, Ontario

I know that for Rochester I normally write a full write-up about interesting topics with lots of great photos from the speakers and all, but we don’t need to do that this year, because the presentations are going to be online and you can watch them! (see the link at the end of this post).

Before I go on about the recent eRMS, if you have not yet been a part of the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium and would like to read anything more about this super annual event, I’m including links to my past RMS reports at the end of this post.

It’s a bit of a story as to how we progressed from the then-looming pandemic to the eRMS, and you’ll be able to read a little more about it in an upcoming issue of Rocks and Minerals magazine.

This is the short and sweet version! In need of a technological solution, John Rakovan, Professor of Mineralogy/Geochemistry and Graduate Director at Miami University in Ohio, and member of our Symposium Committee, arranged to host the eRMS using the online meeting platform he’s been using to deliver pandemic-era university lectures since late March.

We decided we would put together a short program – one afternoon. As many of you know, the full RMS includes hours of amazing presentations from featured speakers from the Thursday night through the end of the Sunday morning – too long a program for the eRMS. (I’m happy to be able to say that almost all of our planned 2020 featured speakers are already confirmed to present at our next RMS, so our great 2020 lineup will present in future.) Instead, we wanted to focus on two time-sensitive aspects of the symposium – two components at the core of each RMS: (1) What’s New in Minerals; and (2) new mineral research (normally presented in our Friday afternoon sessions). Of course we also wanted the connection, laughter and friendship we all usually share when we get together each year in Rochester.

Our talks were:

What’s New In Minerals – Jeff Scovil

Mystery Subject! – John Jaszczak (the announcement of the new mineral richardsite, after Dr. R. Peter Richards, who did not know we would announce)

What’s New in Minerals II – John Betts, with Raymond McDougall and Mark Jacobson

Fibrous zinc sulfide from the Francon Quarry, Montreal, Canada. J. Fink, C. Emproto, and J. Chappell

Halogen and trace-element chemistry of crustal carbonatite-hosted apatite in the Grenville Province. C. Emproto, S. Mounce, J. Fink, and J. Rakovan

Melt and micromineral inclusions in fluorapatite, calcite, fluorite, albite, and augite from the Schickler occurrence, ON, Canada. S. Mounce, C. Emproto, M. Murchland, M. Rutherford, and J. Rakovan

Optically anomalous crystals. M. Rutherford, M. Murchland, J. Fink, and J. Rakovan

Optical anomalies in flattened inclusions from muscovite. M. Murchland, M. Rutherford, J. Fink, and J. Rakovan

Neutron diffraction and resonance absorption spectroscopy study of the Harvard wire gold, Groundhog Mine, Colorado. J. Rakovan, R. Alonso-Perez, F. Keutsch, S. Vogel, A.S. Losko and A. Long.

Silver content of wire gold; implications for growth mechanism. C. J. Anderson and J. Rakovan

For the technology skeptics among you (I know you’re reading), you may be amused that we had some bumpy moments at the start. We can all laugh about this one now, but in the moment it didn’t seem funny. As we began our first presentation, we had no sound. An attempt to address the problem led us into a computer monitor abyss…


I swear: we had nothing like this come up during the practice run on the Thursday night!

John Rakovan calmly found a work-around, from which point we were in business.

The presentations were excellent and I sure hope you’ll check them out!

You might wonder how we were able to achieve the rest – the fun together with mineral friends that Rochester is all about. It actually began with the abyss… people started to chime in on the chat. (If you’ve not used one of these online platforms before, a participant sees more than just the slides being presented, including the chat window at one side of the screen that allows any participant to make a comment all will see.) As soon as we descended into the screen-abyss, the chat began to light up. “Ooooh that’s trippy!”

From that point, the chat ran along happily all afternoon, helping us to forget we weren’t all in the same room together. Jeff Scovil’s talk is always accompanied by murmurs and exclamations throughout the room in Rochester. These were replaced in the chat by “wow”, “omg” and other comments.

The usual friendly humour at one another’s expense also came out after a while. In my talk I presented one item for which I had was unable to provide a photo because, I explained, the [unnamed] photographer’s car broke down, true story. On the chat, Michael Bainbridge popped up “don’t worry, my car is fixed now“. Followed by someone’s “That’s what you get when you drive a Yugo!”, followed by another commenter “…bought used.”

Eventually, we descended to “Sit down in front!” and “Quiet in the back!”, certain friends inexplicably failing to appreciate black minerals, others debating which minerals should be bowled down the hall at the next RMS…

The last item on the official agenda was David K. Joyce – Raise a Glass and Sing! The same as in Rochester, Dave led us in song, all joining in (and indeed raising a glass):


Even though we’ve usually had a couple more beverages before we start singing in Rochester, but it was as fun as always, and sure felt like we were together despite being geographically so apart. The eRMS was a great time with excellent talks, great mineralogy, super specimens, good laughs and an unmistakeable RMS atmosphere. We had participants from all over North America and also from Europe. Everyone who took part online helped to show that the spirit of Rochester is alive and well. Thank you all!

We certainly learned from the experience and we would do some things differently, for any future online endeavours. One of the trickiest parts about it was that we had limited spaces for people on the platform we were using. We planned enough room for a group the size of our average annual event – we then wanted to make sure that within our compressed timeline people on our RMS mailing list could respond and join. We therefore decided not invite too many more people or post on Facebook, concerned that we’d have too many people for what our specific platform would hold on Saturday. Hindsight being 20/20, we made the wrong call on that. Sorry to any of you who missed and would have liked to be on! Anything we do online in the future will be aimed at including as many people as would like to participate. We hope you’ll be a part of it!

Speaking of which, if you would like to hear about future events, we would be happy to add you to our email list – just drop a note to and Carl Miller, our registrar, will add you. We hope not to have to miss any future annual RMS events, but even so, we are thinking of ways in which we may include online access in the future.


The talks from the eRMS are presented on the [X] youtube channel at [NB: Coming Soon!]

If you haven’t read past RMS reports and would like to have a better glimpse into what Rochester is all about: Rochester 2019 ; Rochester 2017; Rochester 2016.

In the near future, the program notes for the eRMS 2020 will be posted on the RMS webpage. , and the notes will include abstracts from the technical submissions we received this year.

There will be a RMS 2021, one way or another! Our dates are April 15-18, 2021.

Until next year!

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 08.06.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

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

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

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

2016 RMS Presentations

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

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

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

Fluorapatite, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

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

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

Baffin Island Minerals - Brad Wilson

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

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

Spinel with diopside, MacDonald Island, Nunavut, Canada

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

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

Spinel, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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











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

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

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

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

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

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

Technical Session

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

Saturday – Annual What’s New

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

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

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

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

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

Kunzite, Mawi pegmatite, Nuristan, Afghanistan

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

Crocoite, Red Lead Mine, Tasmania

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

Elbaite Tourmaline, Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unfortunate Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Saturday Presentations

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Sunday – A Truly Grand Finale

Sunday morning’s program this year was special.

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

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

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

Lowell, Vermont

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

Vermont Gallagher Mine Pit

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

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

Belvidere Mtn

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

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

Vermont Grossular

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

Vermont Vesuvianite

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

2cm wide

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

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


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

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


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

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

Fluorite, Penfield Quarry, New York

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

Gypsum, var. selenite, Penfield Quarry, New York

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

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum Case, Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

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

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum Case, Rochester Mineralogical Symposium

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

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

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


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

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

John Betts Mineral Collection Display Case, Rochester Symposium 2016


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



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



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


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

The Rest of the Fun

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


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

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

Until Next Year…

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

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

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

2017 RMS Speakers:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 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…