Minerals

Joplin Mining Equipment

In November 2016, we went to see Marv Dahmen’s collection of vintage Joplin/Tri-State mining equipment and minerals. He talked about it for 5 hours but there was never a dull moment. We managed to record some of it, although it was so long Stephanie and David ran out of space on their phones. Here are some photos.

learning

Everyone listening to Marv. Photo by Stephanie Reed

driveway

Ore buckets as far as the eye can see! Photo by David Reed

crank

Ore crusher. Photo by Stephanie Reed

picher-museum

Most of the things outside are from the Picher Museum. Photo by Stephanie Reed

almost-scrap-metal

Ore buckets, a crucible, and one of the only 2 remaining drill bit buckets. They were sold for scrap metal when the Picher Museum was having hard times. Marv got them from the scrap metal place. Photo by Stephanie Reed

dewatering-2

This is not an ore bucket. This is a dewatering bucket. Photo by Stephanie Reed

dewatering-bucket

The inside of a dewatering bucket has a plunger inside. Photo by Stephanie Reed

drill

A drill. Photo by David Reed

round

Photo by David Reed

calcium-carbide

Calcium carbide and some lamps. Photo by David Reed

pushers

These long scoops are used to clean out the holes before putting in the dynamite. If you hit some debris while loading the dynamite it might explode. Photo by David Reed

wooden-openers

Wooden paddles for opening boxes of dynamite. It is too dangerous to use a metal implement. Photo by David Reed

mortar-pestle

Lamps, containers of carbide, and mortars and pestles. Photo by David Reed

blasting-caps

An impressive display of blasting caps. Photo by Stephanie Reed

indoor-display

Guy’s dropper lamps. These were used before carbide lamps were invented. Photo by Stephanie Reed

workshop

Marv in his workshop. On the table are some slabs that will soon be cut into cabs, and there is a curved plate that can be coated with ink and used to label boxes of Hercules dynamite (with removable plates for dates, lot numbers, etc.). Bucyrus Erie is a mining equipment company. Photo by David Reed

pendantsed

Marv also makes jewelry. Photo by David Reed

tumbled

Some of his freshly tumbled rocks. Photo by David Reed

shelves

Part of Marv’s rock collection. Photo by David Reed

jasper

Lots of Owyhee Jasper from Oregon and Idaho. Photo by David Reed

crimper

A device for crimping blasting caps. It is extremely rare. Photo by David Reed

pigtail

This is a pigtail, which is a blacksmith-made hook for ore buckets. It is specially curved so that the bucket won’t fall off while it is being raised up. Photo by David Reed

Thank you Marv for inviting us on your property and into your home to see your amazing collection!

Gem Show Pictures Fall 2016

KCI Expo Center outside building

The Gem and Mineral Show was once again at the KCI Expo Center

selling rocks and books convention customers

The view from behind the Association booth.

yellow keokuk geode

This yellow geode is from Keokuk in St. Francisville. They call it “Lemoness”.

crinoid Scyphocrinites elegans fossil from Morocco

This huge crinoid (Scyphocrinites elegans) fossil is from Morocco.

kansas fossils

There were also fossils from Kansas available.

tiny beads in tubes

Plenty of beads for sale at the show.

fossilized starfish britlestar ophiura morocco

Fossil Brittle Star from Morocco, sold by Schooler’s Minerals. Fun fact: a brittle star is from the class Ophiurida and starfish are from the class Asteroidea, so they are not really related to starfish at all.

official-apron

Bob models an official Association apron and holds a pufferfish.

pufferfish

The preserved pufferfish close up. It is hollow and light as a feather. I don’t think anyone bought it so it will be for sale again in March.

books about minerals and gem cutting for sale

Some of the mineral, fossil, and jewelry-related books we had for sale this year.

carved mineral skulls

Carved skulls made of semi-precious minerals.

dino agate.JPG

Is this a giant dinosaur showing off a giant agate, or a very small dinosaur with a tiny agate?

potter with pots and bowls oklahoma dirt shirt

Martin selling pottery that he made

men packing items for storage

Everything is packed up into our big blue cube until the next show.

Rutile quartz

A glowing orange sphere with long dark spines (rutiles) trapped within. They look like tufts of fur.

Photo by Stephanie Reed

Rutile quartz is quartz that contains rutile inclusions. Rutile is made of titanium dioxide and usually forms long, thin needles. It is most commonly found in quartz, though it can also be found in sapphires. The inclusions are usually gold in color and can be seen in dense parallel fibers or as scattered needles. You can see both in this specimen.

This rutilated quartz sphere is smoky quartz with rutile inclusions from Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is on display at the Rice Museum in Hillsboro, Oregon near Portland, Oregon. If you are in the area, we highly recommend this museum.

Fairburn Agates

Special guest article from Show-Me Rockhounds club members Dan and Connie Snow

Fairburn agate fortification agate

Group picture of Fairburn agates – Dan Snow

Fairburn agates are a form of microcrystalline chalcedony, 100% silicon dioxide with a hardness of 6 ½ to 7 on the Mohs scale.  They are also called fortification agates because of their banding.  They were formed approximately 300 million years ago in an ancient limestone bed of an inland sea.  To hunt Fairburn agates requires looking at every rock and turning many with a rock pick.  It is strictly surface hunting no digging, mining, cracking or breaking rocks.   The photos shown are exactly the way the agates were found, with no cutting, polishing or tumbling having been done.

Fairburn agate fortification agate

Frog Rock – Dan Snow

Fairburn Agates found by Dan and Connie Snow. Collected from the Fairburn Agate beds of South Dakota and the Oglala National Grasslands in Nebraska.

Labradorite

Labradorite has become a popular gemstone because of the unique iridescent play of color that many specimens exhibit.  Labradorite is a feldspar mineral of the plagioclase series that is most often found in mafic igneous rocks such as basalt, gabbro and norite.  Some specimens of labradorite exhibit a Schiller effect, which is a strong play of iridescent blue, green, red, orange, and yellow colors as shown in the photographs above. The Schiller effect is also seen in fire agate and mother of pearl. Labradorite is so well known for these spectacular displays of color that the phenomenon is known as “labradorescence.” Specimens with the highest quality labradorescence are often selected for use as gemstones. Labradorescence is not a display of colors reflected from the surface of a specimen. Instead, light enters the stone, strikes a twinning surface within the stone, and reflects from it. The color seen by the observer is the color of light reflected from that twinning surface. Different twinning surfaces within the stone reflect different colors of light. Light reflecting from different twinning surfaces in various parts of the stone can give the stone a multi-colored appearance.

Source: http://geology.com/gemstones/labradorite/

Minerals in Fireworks

The 4th of July fireworks that we saw last night would not be possible without minerals. Fireworks mainly contain gunpowder, which is a combination of charcoal, sulfur, and the mineral potassium nitrate. In order to create the pretty colors we are used to seeing in fireworks, mineral salts are added. This infographic from Compound Interest explains which mineral salts create which colors. If you go to the website, you can read a lot more about the chemistry of fireworks and a brief explanation of why different minerals make different colored flames.

I learned that blue fireworks are very difficult to produce because copper chloride breaks down at high temperatures, so they have to somehow keep the temperature hot enough to ignite but not so hot that the blue color vanishes. Thus, you almost never see purple fireworks because it is a combination of red and blue.

Selenite Stories

Gray selenite crystal and orange selenite crystal, both about the size of a ballpoint pen.

Photo by Stephanie Reed

Selenite is a type of gypsum that has a flat reflective surface, usually gray, clear, white, or amber. Red is an unusual color for selenite, but they do exist. It is very soft and can be scratched by a fingernail (2 on the Mohs scale). At our February meeting, two of the door prizes were these selenite crystals found by President David Reed. The amber one is from Lake Kanopolis in Kansas. The gray one is from Lake Wilson, which is also in Kansas. David went to Lake Wilson and put a small crystal in the mud. He returned 3 years later and found the large gray crystal.

One time David and Stephanie went to Kansas and found several selenite crystals somewhere near the dam at Lake Wilson. They were gray like this one pictured, but much smaller. On the April field trip to Marquette, some club members also found selenite crystals.

Dyed Agates

Have you ever seen dyed agates and wondered how they get such brilliant colors? The process is more simple than you might think. A company buys banded agates in bulk and soaks the slabs in certain chemicals for a certain amount of time (in a fume hood of course). Heat treating may also be required.

But how do they preserve the white stripes that make the agates look like agates? This is simply because some bands are porous and will absorb the dye, but the denser layers and the quartz crystals will remain white because they are too dense to absorb the dye.

(Note: To discourage you from trying this at home, I’m not going to specify the concentrations.)

Red: Iron (II) nitrate for several weeks folllowed by heating to 300° C
Green: Potassium chromate followed by ammonium carbonate plus heating to 440° C
Blue: Potassium ferrocyanide followed by ferrous sulfate
Black: soak in sugar for 3 weeks followed by sulfuric acid for 3 weeks

Pyrope Garnet

This is a special type of garnet called pyrope garnet. The name comes from the Greek pyro, meaning fire. Pyrope and other members of the aluminum part of the garnet group have a higher specific gravity and hardness, and are usually red. Calcium garnets like the previously mentioned andradite and uvarovite are the ones that are usually green and have a lower hardness and specific gravity.

Pyrope garnet is difficult to distinguish from almandine, but pyrope usually has fewer flaws and inclusions. However, garnet jewelry is usually almandine garnet because almandine is much more common and inexpensive.

If you would like some pyrope garnet it can be found nearby in Kansas, all around the Nemaha Uplift (or Nemaha Ridge), which is in the area between Salina and Manhattan, and extending south into Oklahoma. Basically, garnets are found anywhere near previous volcanic activity. The one pictured is from Apache County, Arizona. They are also found in Africa and other places. For lots and lots of information about this particular specimen, see its page on the RRUFF here.

Andradite Garnet

andradite garnet

Credit: Aaron Palke/Gemological Institute of America

Since it’s January, it’s a good time to read about this garnet originally posted by Chemistry in Pictures.

“This gemstone isn’t pure andradite garnet [Ca₃Fe₂(SiO₄)₃], but its flaws produce its mesmerizing colors. Some gemologists think that this rainbow explosion arises because the garnet’s different elements aren’t regularly spaced from the core of the gemstone to the outside. For example, in some regions, aluminum atoms might have worked their way into the structure and replaced the iron atoms. These irregularities create mismatched sheets of atoms that then bend and stretch. This makes the stone birefringent, meaning that light travels through it at two different speeds. Under cross-polarized lighting conditions, rays of light that enter get misaligned by the time they exit, so they then interfere with each other and highlight some colors in certain spots, producing the spectrum seen here. The black flecks are tiny pieces of magnetite that were enveloped by the crystal as it grew.”