Archives

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 06.27.2018 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted some super specimens in this new Tanzania Update (click here). This group of specimens includes a variety of species from several different finds, and includes a world-class alabandite.

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

 Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 7.0 cm

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 4.7 cm

Diopside, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Diopside, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3.7 cm

Grossular Garnet, var. Tsavorite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Grossular Garnet, var. Tsavorite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania
Crystal 0.7 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 5.0 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 5.4 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3,2 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3.1 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 5.0 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 4.2 cm

Spessartine Garnet, Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania

Spessartine Garnet, Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania

Tremolite, Mwajanga, Manyara, Tanzania

Tremolite, Mwajanga, Manyara, Tanzania

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania – 3.0 cm

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania – 3.0 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.23.2018 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

 

It’s hard to believe that another Tucson has come and gone already. In the middle of a cold Bancroft winter, Tucson’s wonderful warm sunshine was sure welcome.

Santa Rita Foothills, Arizona Santa Rita Foothills, southeast of Tucson

I was very fortunate to be able to experience Tucson’s natural surroundings this year. I stayed with my good friend and collecting partner David Joyce (David K. Joyce Minerals), with Carol Teal and their dog Riley at their new place in the beautiful Santa Rita Foothills, southeast of the city.

DaveRiley2

 Dave and Riley on their sitting rock

In the foothills

Photo of me taken by Don Doell – Santa Rita Foothills, with Tucson in the distance

The Sonora Desert is a remarkable place in the world. In places, and at many times of year, it appears harsh and unforgiving. As to flora and fauna, the Sonora Desert gives the superficial impression that it is inhabited only by the hardiest very few species.

Saguaro SceneSaguaro Cacti

Immerse yourself in it a little, and the truth reveals itself – the variety of plants and animals is amazing (600 plant species and 200 animal species).  As with everything in life, the more quiet observation you do, the more you see. The foothills and desert areas around Tucson are full of life.

Deer 1

Deer paying a visit to Dave and Carol’s place

Cactus flower

Cactus bloom

Saguaro armSaguaro arm

On one of our mornings in the desert, the moon put on a show of its own.

Mesquite EclipseUnder the mesquite trees with the lunar eclipse before dawn, Santa Rita Foothills

The Minerals

OK OK. I know, we all really want to read about minerals. Of course, what Tucson means is the fun of midwinter urban field collecting, and there were lots of great specimens this year.

Some beautiful and interesting specimens have continued to come from Pakistan and Afghanistan. From Pakistan, the recent brucite specimens are super – some of the finest brucite I’ve ever seen. The Killah Saifullah brucite were first noted to me by John White after he saw a couple in Munich, 2016, and since then, the quality of the finest has greatly increased over those early days. It seems that most of these are occurring in very tight seams, or with a fragmented or brecciated matrix, and so most have contacts and grey spots around them. The colour of most of them is a cream-to-very-pale-yellow, but the best have a bright yellow hue. Many are very finely crystallized, but on some, like these ones, one can easily see many crystal faces. These Pakistan brucites are amazing for the mineral.

I’ve done my best to colour-balance them accurately (daylight, shade). I always do that anyway, of course, but some mineral specimens are susceptible to really skewing away from daylight appearance when photographed.

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan
Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 6.1 cm

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 7.2 cm

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, PakistanBrucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 3.2 cm

From Afghanistan, a small number of excellent specimens have continued to come from some of the best-known occurrences, and I just want to highlight one in particular. From Sar-e Sang, Dudley Blauwet has recently brought out a couple of particularly excellent diopside specimens, and I am including one here. Given that diopside is not an uncommon mineral, it’s surprising that great matrix specimens are so hard to find. This one is striking.

102113(1)(8.0)
Diopside, Ladujar Medam, Sar-e Sang River, Kokcha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan – 8 cm

Moving on to South America, there have been a couple of particularly interesting new finds. In Potosí, Bolivia, there has been a discovery of very pretty amethyst crystals. There isn’t more specific information about the locality at this time – I’m told that this is because it is in an unnamed area of Potosi, not near to any named settlement or geographic feature. The specimens were discovered by farmers, at the edge of a field area, bordering hills. These have somewhat similar habit and appearance to some of the amethyst crystals from Peidra Parada (Las Vigas), Mexico. They are sharp, with top lustre and excellent transparency. Some are doubly-terminated, and some show a great reverse-sceptre habit. These are really sweet – I only found them available from one person, and I acquired the nicest for the website.

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosi, BoliviaQuartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia – 5.3 cm

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia

Quartz, var. amethyst (reverse sceptre), Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 1.5 cm

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 2.5 cm

In Peru, there has been a new discovery of clinozoizite. I understand that the workings from which these were produced are only operational on a sporadic basis. The specific zone from which these specimens were recovered is apparently now done, and they have encountered a bit of epidote as the work has advanced. Excellent display specimens of clinozoisite are generally uncommon – one thinks of the famous finds at Alchuri in the Shigar Valley in Pakistan, and few other localities come to mind. These clinozoisite specimens are all clustered groups of crystals. I have seen no single isolated crystals. The crystals themselves are very sharp and well-defined, lustrous, with some twinned and some not.

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 4.3 cm

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete, Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite twin, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 3.5 cm

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete, Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite twin, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 8.6 cm

I want to highlight one other great find that is relatively recent – the spectacular iron-cross twins of pyrite from Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia, discovered about a year ago (I believe the ones available in Tucson were from the original find, as opposed to new production). The term “iron-cross twin” refers to twinned pentagonal dodecahedra, the edges of which cross at right angles. Well-defined iron-cross pyrite twins have always been uncommon and sought-after. Most are small, and often incomplete. These are quite large for iron-cross twins – they are pretty spectacular. One note about these: they have been mislabeled as goethite or limonite after pyrite. They are not pseudomorphs. In fact, they are pyrite, with a very thin surface layer of goethite.

Pyrite Iron Cross Twin, Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

Pyrite Iron-Cross Twin, Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia – 5.0 cm

Over to Africa, some great specimens. In Tanzania, the Merelani occurrences continue to produce very fine specimens of a number of minerals, while a few specimens from finds in recent years have surfaced as well.

Merelani Diopside

 Diopside with graphite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3.7 cm

MerelaniPrehnitePrehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 5.3 cm

From the finds in 2012-13, I managed to acquire a world-class alabandite crystal.

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 6.8 cm

From Malawi, there have been more first class specimens available from the the occurrences at Mt. Malosa and Mulanje, including arfvedsonite, eudidymite and zircon.

Zircon, Mount Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi Zircon, Mount Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi – crystal 3.2 cm

Over the years, the very well-known almandine occurrence at Vrondolo, Madagascar, has produced some unusually fine crystals. This occurrence is a fair distance up a small mountain – it takes hours to reach it on foot. Most often, the crystals from here are slightly to heavily chipped when extracted, because they are found frozen in solid rock. However, I found a small recent group of specimens including crystals that grew into open spaces, as well as other crystals extracted in super condition. These are really nice garnets!

Almandine, Vorondolo, Antananarivo, Madagascar

 Almandine, Vorondolo, Antananarivo, Madagascar – 4.5 cm

Last from Africa, Morocco continues to produce excellent specimens of many minerals – the golden age of Moroccan minerals continues. Because these finds have been known generally or written up by others, I won’t dwell too much on them in this report – there will be many fine Moroccan specimens coming on the website over the next few months. However, I want to highlight some Imilchil material that I think is noteworthy. For some time, we have seen small dark garnet crystals from Imilchil. Some of these crystals have been found to be the titanium-rich garnet group member, schorlomite, while I’m told most analyzed specimens are actually titanium-rich andradite, not enough titanium to be schorlomite. A new find at Anemzi (the same Imilchil-area locality that produces the fine green fluorapatite crystals, and has produced nice magnetites) has produced some of the nicest of these dark andradite crystals I have seen from Imilchil. At their finest, the crystals are sharp with beautiful morphology, and a good number of the specimens are comprised of a stack of these crystals. Some specimens have small, sharp, octahedral magnetite crystals in association – they are sparse, but a neat pairing. Independent from the andradites, Anemzi has produced some sharp magnetites lately as well, making for very nice specimens.

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 7 cm

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 3.5 cm

Magnetite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Magnetite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 4.4 cm

My final mineral entry is from China. I feel that the find of fluorite from Fujian deserves a mention, even though China has produced so much fluorite over the years. These new ones are the fluorites that have been dubbed “tanzanite fluorite” by several dealers. These have been available since early 2017, and they were not widespread this year at Tucson. The ones available were quite expensive. This locality has produced a range of fluorite – the most tanzanite blue-purple is from the one 2017 find, while other blues and purple hues have been recovered as well. I’ve been told there is “no more” – of course!!! – and we’ve all heard that so many times before, so skepticism is certainly warranted! I personally will believe it when I see it. However, I didn’t see as much as I expected and hoped, so we’ll see. Moreover, most of the specimens I did see were significantly contacted and/or damaged. I believe this is not only reflecting the way they were collected (perhaps in some cases with less care than we’d like), but also due to the nature of the occurrence. Many of these seem to have formed in very tight and narrow spaces, and would have been exceptionally difficult to extract without any contacting issues. I think the overall story of this locality will be clearer over time. Given that there are several colour hues and crystal habits from this locality, so it seems likely there was more than one pocket. These are beautiful fluorite specimens!

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

 Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 5.3 cm

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 3.4 cm

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 5.2 cm

A Remarkable Emerald

My friend John White came upon a remarkable emerald specimen from Pakistan and I want to share a photo. I’ve never seen anything like it, and much more important, John (you likely know, the former curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s mineral collection) has never seen anything like it! It is available.

Beryl var. Emerald - Pakistan 28-1-25

 

 Beryl, var. emerald, Guijar Kalay Valley, Swat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
The larger crystal is 3.5 cm tall.

Friends

Tucson 2018 was a great time, with lots of great friends and the beauty of the Sonora Desert. Thank you all!

3 shadows

Evening shadows  (I believe the order is Don Doell, me, John Betts)

Mineral Song Campfire

Mineral songs around the campfire, led by Dave (of course!)
From left: Malcolm Southwood, John Veevaert, John Betts, Don Doell, David Joyce and Angela Southwood

Thank you again Carol, Dave and Riley, for a wonderful time!

Carol Dave Riley

Until next year, so long, Tucson…

Palo Verde Sunset

Home! And… Rudy!

As great as it was, it’s wonderful to be home. The warm sun of the Tucson desert having recharged me, I’m happy to be back out in the winter woods.

Snowy Road, Bancroft, OntarioOur snowy woods, near Bancroft, Ontario

SnowWoods 2

Sunny winter morning, Bancroft, Ontario

And as many of you know, this means I’m back to once again sharing fun with young Rudy, our Labrador Retriever puppy.

Rudy McDougallDad, can I join you on the couch?

Rudy McDougall

First shipping run to Bancroft.
Dad, I’ll drive.

In only a couple of months he has transformed from tiny puppy to young dog. He’s gleeful about pretty much everything.

Rudy McDougallSnow? Love it!

Rudy is of course new to all this mineral business. Our founding Labrador Retriever, Emery, supervised all operations – he was the Chairman of the Afternoon Snooze Committee and comprised our IT Department, although he slept through most of our business operations. It will be a while until Rudy is ready to step into Emery’s higher roles, but he is a great little supervisor. For now, he is happy to be a particularly active part of all packing, shipping and particularly unpacking operations. He has delighted in founding our Playful Mayhem Department.

Rudy McDougall

What do you mean, my office chair is for “sleeping” while you work?

With lots of Tucson minerals to come, Rudy and I will do our best to get them online over the next few weeks!

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 06.03.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted some great new specimens in this Tanzania Update (click here), including excellent alabandite crystals (very large for the species), a beautiful sharp corundum (ruby) crystal, dravite tourmalines, a super twinned orange kyanite, scapolite, spinel and prehnite.

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 7.0 cm

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3.7 cm

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 2.4 cm

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 2.4 cm

Corundum, var. Ruby, Winza, Mpapwa, Dodoma, Tanzania

Corundum, var. Ruby, Winza, Mpapwa, Dodoma, Tanzania
Field of view 2.0 cm

Dravite Tourmaline, Mwajanga, Tanzania

Dravite Tourmaline, Mwajanga, Tanzania – 5.4 cm

Dravite Tourmaline, Tanga Region, Tanzania

Dravite Tourmaline, Tanga Region, Tanzania – 7.3 cm

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania

Kyanite (Twinned), Nani, Loliondo, Arusha, Tanzania – 2.4 cm

Scapolite, Uluguru Mountains, Morogoro, Tanzania

Scapolite, Uluguru Mountains, Morogoro, Tanzania – 2.1 cm

Spinel, Mahenge, Morogoro, Tanzania

Spinel, Mahenge, Morogoro, Tanzania – 5.5 cm

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Prehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Field of view 2.5 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 05.09.2014 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

RedwingedBlackbird
After a long, harsh northern winter, most people in this part of the world look to the arrival of the red-winged blackbirds and robins, buds and flowers to mark the arrival of spring. But let’s be honest, spring only truly arrives with “Rochester” (the annual Rochester Mineralogical Symposium). 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 for this post – thank you all!)  Organized by Steve and Helen Chamberlain, along with a team of dedicated volunteers, it is not to be missed.

Just a word about it, if you’ve never been: Come!

Rochester is a symposium meant for people who love minerals. It is not purely academic or technical – it is rich in substantive content, with cutting edge discoveries and research in specimen mineralogy, yet accessible to people at all levels of expertise.  The overall content is a super mix of mineralogy, photography, historical content, research, collecting information and glimpses of amazing places and people around the world.

The symposium (April 24-27) was incredibly high calibre, with excellent presentations by speakers from many different countries.  In case you were not there – or even if you were – I hope you will enjoy reading about it and looking at a few of the photos. All of the speakers have kindly contributed photographs from their talks.

Presentations

Michael Bainbridge’s “Grenville Grunge? Dispelling the Myth!” launched the symposium but lived on through the weekend. “Grenville Grunge” refers to the fact that some minerals found in the Grenville Geological Province, including parts of Ontario, Quebec and New York, can be dull, dark, and lacking sharpness, lustre or colour. It is a disparaging name coined by someone hopelessly misguided and misinformed. But I digress.

You may know Michael is an excellent mineral photographer, and so his presentation photos helped put an aesthetic face on Grenville Province minerals. However, the catchy alliteration “Grenville Grunge” seems to know no bounds. In a baffling development, it was repeated derisively by people around the symposium all weekend, and so the phrase lives on. It might even inadvertently have been granted a bit of new life… but don’t go propagating it. You can easily find shapeless lumps of mineralogical ugliness at awesome localities the world over. (It’s truly a ridiculous moniker – I will make it a mission of this website over time to help you see whether you agree. Because in fact, the sophistication, complexity and cool subtleties of Grenville minerals can be downright addictive.)

Tremolite

Tremolite, near Minden, Ontario – 12 cm.  Michael Bainbridge specimen and photo.
Michael collected this specimen in 2010.

John Jaszczak gave a fantastic presentation “Mineralogical Miracles at Merelani”, about some of the interesting mineral finds at Merelani, Tanzania beyond tanzanite and tsavorite. John spoke about the amazing crystals of graphite and diopside, and also about the recent finds of killer alabandite and wurtzite crystals. A Mineralogical Record article about the latter is in the works – can’t wait for it.

MerelaniDiopside

Diopside with graphite from Merelani, Tanzania.  Larger crystal 1.8 cm.  A.E. Seaman Museum specimen, John Jaszczak photo.

A super talk about one of the world’s most classic localities, the famous Herodsfoot Mine, was presented by Roy Starkey (“Herodsfoot Mine, Richard Talling and Bournonite”). Meticulously researched, with excellent mix of historical background and great minerals, and supported with lots of great photographs.

 HerodsfootCard

Herodsfoot, postcard from ca 1900.  Mining buildings and tailings at centre and left. Roy Starkey photo.

Bournonite

 Bournonite on Quartz from the Herodsfoot Mine, 9 x 7 x 3 cm (crystals to 4 x 1 cm).
Photo by Roy Starkey – Image copyright British Geological Survey.

One of my favourite subjects of the symposium was the Sulfur Mines of Sicily, featured in the Friday night presentation by Dr. Renato Pagano.

I have a confession here (mineral connoisseurs might say a huge confession). And I guess it’s a bit embarrassing, since I swear I really thought I had read Dr. Pagano’s (and other authors’) writings on this. But somehow it was only now that I finally have come to understand that Sicilian sulfur deposits are not volcanic deposits – it’s just so natural to assume that the famous active volcanoes on Sicily gave rise to and host the famous sulfur deposits, but this is not the case. Sulfur in Sicily occurs in a sequence of Miocene evaporitic formations including limestone and gypsum.

Anyway, now that my admission is out of the way…

Dr. Pagano included wonderful photographs and shared some amazing specimens with us – he provided a couple of my favourites for this post. The following are two specimens from the Pagano collection, photographed by Roberto Appiani.

Slide5

Slide4And I love the photos from some time ago now, when Dr. Pagano was making early trips to the region to obtain sulfur specimens – and then stacking them on the back of his bike.

Slide6

One of the best things about Rochester is that every year we end up in so many different mineral places, near and far. Over the years, Dr. Peter Lyckberg has made many visits to the Chamber Pegmatites of Volodarsk, Ukraine, and gave just an amazing talk on this – really, this presentation was so good you felt like you were right there, underground, collecting beryl and topaz. The mining of the chamber pegmatites has an interesting history, including massive state-sponsored investment during the Soviet era, without which, none of this could have been possible. However, it is a story that may be at an end, as the last mining has stopped as of January, 2013.  Peter clearly sensed that the chances to visit Volodarsk could be time-limited, and we’re so lucky he did!

HeliodorpocketCollecting in beryl pocket at Volodarsk, Ukraine, October 2007.  Photo by Peter Lyckberg.

PeterTopaz2

 “Peter’s Dream Pocket” with giant topaz and  zinnwaldite. Pegmatite 569, Shaft 3, Volodarsk, Ukraine. Photo by Peter Lyckberg January 2013.

PeterTopaz1

Peter Lyckberg with 29 kg topaz and smoky quartz from pegmatite tube near pegmatite 569 at 96 m level,
Shaft 3, Volodarsk, Ukraine. Photo by Alexander Chournousenko.

PeterwithCrystals

Peter at the symposium with a topaz and a heliodor.

Topaz2

Peter brought this beautiful topaz to show us at the Symposium – I’m guessing almost 15 cm across.
(The “matrix” in this photo is the dry-cleaning plastic we all use for packing specimens.)

Mark Jacobson took us to Mount Antero, Colorado, the classic Western American aquamarine locality. To me, the approach taken in presenting this really made it – the talk highlighted many of the collectors themselves, and their finds over the years. This was a great approach and a very engaging talk. The presentation included lots of photos of specimens of the “big three” from Mt. Antero – beryl (variety aquamarine), phenakite and bertrandite.

 Anteroaqua

Beryl, var. aquamarine from Mt. Antero – 16.8cm. Collected by Steve Brancato,
this specimen is in the Bruce Oreck collection. Mark Jacobson photograph.

 Anterobertr

Bertrandite from Mt. Antero – 1 cm. Mark Jacobson photograph.
Collected by Jeff Self, this specimen is in his collection.

Anterophen

Phenakite from Mt. Antero. The largest crystal is 3.1 cm. Originally collected by Curtis Abbott and
Cliff Robertson, this specimen is in the Dave Bunk collection. Mark Jacobson photograph.

Ted Johnson spoke on the pegmatite occurrence at Branchville, Connecticut. This is a locality for some very unusual minerals and interesting mineralogy/genesis. Unfortunately the locality is closed to collecting – a house is very nearby, and a road runs very close to the water-filled pit. However, analytical work by dedicated amateurs continues, and this is a great example of such contributions being made to specimen mineralogy.

Branchville
The old quarry at Branchville, Connecticut. Ted Johnson photograph.

Eucryptite1

Eucryptite, photographed in UV light, 7.5 x 5 cm. Ted Johnson specimen and photograph.

Eucryptite2

Eucryptite, with remnant spodumene core, photographed in UV light, 15.2  x 12.7 cm. Ted Johnson specimen and photograph.

Often, we are lucky enough to have key speakers give us a reprise on a separate subject to close out the symposium on Sunday morning.

Roy Starkey presented on the Cairngorm mountain range in Scotland. If you have read any older field guide, monograph or text, you have likely seen that the Cairngorms are a classic locality for smoky quartz crystals – so much so that they were sometimes themselves called cairngorms.  There was lots of great information in this talk – I had no idea that excellent topaz has also been found in the Cairngorms.  I also had no clue that Queen Victoria had done any field collecting for minerals…

CairngormMountains

Cairn Toul, Angel’s Peak and Braeriach from flanks of Ben Macdui, Scotland. Roy Starkey photograph.

CairngormDisplay

Smoky quartz and citrine from the Cairngorms, Scotland. Royal Scottish Museum. Roy Starkey photograph.

Dr. Peter Lyckberg gave us our grande finale, with “Highlights of 50 Years of Mineral Collecting”. The personal nature of this talk really resonated with me. He began his fascination and collecting of minerals when he was very young, and he has pursued it passionately ever since – many of us could truly relate. With a whirlwind tour, we visited localities worldwide, and had a chance to see some truly spectacular mineral specimens that have become part of his great personal collection – often after some rather dedicated pursuit!

PeterAlabashka2

 Peter Lyckberg was the first western visitor since 1917 in the Alabashka Pegmatite Field, Mursinka,Urals, Russia.
In this photograph, he is with Pocket 4 at 30 m depth, Kazionnitsa Pegmatite January 1993.

PeterAlabashka

Mining a gem pocket next to pocket 201 at 30 m depth in the Kazionnitsa Mine, Alabashka Pegmatite Field,
Mursinka, Urals, Russia, January 1993. Photo by A Kasyanov.

PeterBeryl

 Beryl, var heliodor and aquamarine – the largest heliodor is 12 cm tall. Peter Lyckberg collection and photograph.

Technical Session

Every year, Friday afternoon of the symposium is reserved for the technical session. This session is  always packed with tons of information – each presenter is limited to 15 minutes. Abstracts from these talks are included in the symposium program, and are also published during the year in Rocks and Minerals magazine.

Annual Features

The symposium includes some consistent high-level features every year.

Saturday morning always features Jeff Scovil presenting What’s New in Minerals and Localities. Jeff’s world-leading mineral photography dazzles us all for an hour, as he covers finds from around the globe that were uncovered in the prior year or so. Some of these are photographs that we see in the Mineralogical Record, Rocks and Minerals, and other publications during the year and other photographs may make their debut at Rochester – and when they are all together in one show, it’s a bit mind boggling.  I’ve never once seen Jeff do What’s New without having the audience draw breath collectively over some of the specimens.  (People might even pass out over the experience – I mean it’s always dark during the slideshow, so how would we know – although miraculously no-one is on the floor at the end.)

Following Jeff, “What’s New in Minerals and Localities II” is the chance for short contributions from other symposium registrants – we never have any idea what will come out during this hour, but always new, and one of the neatest sessions of the Symposium, where we can share with each other.

Frank Melanson spoke about the new Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club Museum – I will post a separate piece on the blog about this one, coming soon, so stay tuned.

I presented briefly on some recent new mineral finds, including the amazing magnesiofoititite tourmaline crystals from Tsitondroina, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar.

CoverMagnesiofoitite, Tsitondroina, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar – 5.8 cm.

 I also presented on a remarkable Canadian find. One of Canada’s top field collectors, Mike Irwin, has discovered and collected some very fine specimens of the rare mineral serendibite from near Portage du Fort, Pontiac Co., Quebec.  Many of the specimens include some level of overgrowth and/or replacement growth by a combination of dravite-uvite and spinel. In some of the material, the serendibite is a nice blue, mottled in a lighter host rock which includes very pale diopside. The blue is an understated, blue-jean blue (suits us Canadians) rather than an outspoken copper oxide zone blue. So far, extremely few euhedral crystals have been recovered – vugs are rare at the locality.

Serendibite

Sharp serendibite crystals, up to 0.5 cm, with pale diopside – near Portage-du-Fort, Pontiac Co., Quebec.

R. Peter Richards has presented many fascinating topics to us at Rochester over the years. This one was to follow up on a remarkable find.  There is a locality along the Huron River, near Milan, Ohio, discovered thanks to smoke rising up out of a crevice. The smoke, from a natural shale fire underground, deposited micro-crystals, which at the time of the original presentation had not yet been identified. Subsequent work has now confirmed that these are sabieite-2H and -3R, intimately mixed in single crystals.  They are new polytypes of sabieite 1-T.  Unfortunately the material was incredibly limited and no specimens are available.

Sabieite

Sabieite -2H and -3R crystal, 0.5 mm, Huron River, near Milan, Ohio. R. Peter Richards specimen and photograph.

Finally, Gloria Staebler (of Lithographie LLC) spoke about what I think is a great development for the hobby: Lithographie is going to be publishing a new edition of the classic, Mineralogy for Amateurs by John Sinkankas, originally published in 1964.  (If you’ve read my Favourite Mineral Reads post, you’ll know this is one of my favourite mineral books of all time.) The new edition is undergoing significant work, in order to update the information, although it is fundamental to the project that the voice, tone and approach remain true to the Sinkankas original.  The new edition will be published as a two-volume set, with major revisions to update the mineral descriptions.  Gloria has many people involved, and is keen to involve more.  For example, she is planning to have given minerals updated by a single experienced individual (one person will do hematite, another will do pyrite and so on).  There is lots to be done, and if you would like to contribute to the revision of this classic, please contact Gloria and let her know of your interest at Gloria@lithographie.org .

Displays

As always, there were some great displays this year, both from museums and private collections.

 George

Super display of Nova Scotia Minerals by Canadian collector George Thompson.

SmokyQtz

 John Betts had a great display of U.S. minerals, including this great smoky quartz (ca 12 cm) he collected in 1992.

Perimorphs

Excellent display of pseudomorphs (specifically, these are perimorphs, which are formed when one mineral is encrusted by a second mineral, and the second mineral (crust) still remains while the original mineral has dissolved, leaving a hollow interior). Cincinnati Museum Centre display of specimens on loan from the Terry Huizing Collection.

Brucite

Remarkable brucite specimen, ca. 15 cm across, from Texas, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania.  Formerly in the  famous William Jeffris Collection, then acquired by Andrew Carnegie in 1904.  Now in the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum collection.

Copper

Wonderful copper specimen in the collection of David K. Joyce – about 7 cm tall – it stands up straight like this and has been referred to as the “Copper Man”.

Dealers’ Rooms

As great as the presentations, program and displays are, a lot of what Rochester is about happens up on the famous fourth floor, where the dealers’ rooms are full of life well into the morning hours.

DaveGuitar

David K. Joyce plays and sings his mineral and mining songs every year at Rochester – it’s always a highlight, hanging out with friends and singing along.
(In this photo Dave is between songs, while Canadian dealer and collector Jonathan Zvonko looks on.)

If you have not yet heard Dave’s tunes, they are available on CD and downloadable from iTunes – and you can check them out here.

In another fun fourth floor moment, to the amusement and laughter of all in the room, John Betts made a presentation to me, welcoming me as a new internet mineral dealer. He presented me with an Internet Mineral Dealer’s Kit, to help me on my way.  Some of the contents of that kit simply can’t be discussed here. Suffice it to say that it included screws, mineral oil, Preparation H, a candle, a guide to ordering beer in 26 different languages… and other helpful items. The egg timer in the kit is meant to speed up my photography (a particularly good laugh).  And John feels strongly that I am not writing enough in bold all-caps (particularly the word RARE), and I’m using far too few exclamation marks.

JohnBetts

John Betts presenting me with a printed sheet full of exclamation marks and multiple examples of the word “RARE!!!” to give me an idea
of what a mineral dealing website should really look like. David K. Joyce photo.

John has been one of the leading online mineral dealers since the beginning of the internet age – if you have not been to his website, it is truly one of the best. I mean BEST EVER!!! and MOST COMPREHENSIVELY AWESOME!!!!  SUPER RARE!!!

Rochester is all about good times with good friends in mineral world.

Until Next Year…

It is true for most Rochester fans – once you have been, you really do your best to never miss another one.  So if you haven’t been, come and experience one of the best events of the mineral year with those of us who wouldn’t miss it (April 23-April 26, 2015). And of course to all the Rochester friends who are there each year, thanks for the great time together and see you there next year.