Earth Science Week 2017

earth science week logo

This week (October 8-14, 2017) is Earth Science Week and the theme is “Earth and Human Activity.”

According to earthsciweek.org

“This year’s event, the 20th annual Earth Science Week celebration, promotes awareness of what geoscience tells us about human interaction with the planet’s natural systems and processes.

“Earth Science Week 2017 learning resources and activities are engaging young people and others in exploring the relationship between human activity and the geosphere (earth), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (life). This year’s theme promotes public understanding and stewardship the planet, especially in terms of the ways people affect and are affected by these Earth systems.”

Be on the lookout for fun activities in schools and in the community to promote awareness of earth science this week, and National Fossil Day this Wednesday.

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Lesedi La Rona Diamond Sells

hand holding largest uncut diamond from Lucara

Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

In the fall of 2015, a 1,109 carat white diamond was found in the Lucara mine in South Africa. The diamond is called the Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light” in Setswana. They tried to sell it at a Sotheby’s auction last year (July 2016), and we even wrote about it on Show Me Rockhounds, but no bidder met the reserve. Now, it has finally sold.

On September 26, 2017, Graff Diamonds announced that they bought the Lesedi La Rona for $53 million in a private sale. The CEO of Lucara says $53 million is higher than the highest bid they got at the auction last year, but he wishes he could have got a higher price. (Don’t we all!)

What will they do with it? Lawrence Graff, the founder of Graff Diamonds, says, “The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. … I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of the Lesedi La Rona.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/26/large-diamond-the-lesedi-la-rona-sells-for-53-million.html

Scorodite

scorodite micromount

Photo by Yaiba Sakaguchi

This scorodite specimen is only 8mm long, but it is very pretty. It is from the Drakelands Mine, Plympton, Tavistock District, Devon, England, UK. It gets its name from the Greek σκορόδιου = “Scorodion”, which means it smells like garlic when heated. Scorodite can also be called Arsenic Sinter. It comes from the oxidation of arsenopyrite or other arsenic-bearing species.

Chemical Formula: Fe3+AsO4·2H2O

Source: https://www.mindat.org/min-3595.html

Association Picnic Photos 2017

shelter3

Shelter House 3, although many people had already left. Photo by Stephanie Reed

show mes

Jim Ray, Stephanie, Martin, Valerie, and Jeanna. Photo by David Reed

shinies

Looking at something shiny. Photo by Stephanie Reed

Despite the rain, there was a sizeable turnout at the picnic, with members from Show-Me, IGAMS, the Bead Society, and more. Bruce, Martin, and Jim Ray grilled, with plenty of umbrella helpers keeping the rain off. Every picnic table in Shelter #3 was covered with interesting items during swap time, but it was cleared off quickly to make room for food and auction action. There was a lot of good food and if anyone went away hungry they have only themselves to blame. Kara was the auctioneer and sold things like trilobites, ammonites, calcite crystals, Dr. Gentile’s book (he was at the picnic, so the winner got it signed!), a specimen of garnets on chlorite schist, necklaces, beads, and even a set of all-beef hot dogs with matching buns. The proceeds will go towards the Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded next March.

Rainbow Gem Suncatchers

cut gems window clings rainbows shiny

Gem Stickers on a window on an overcast day. Photo from Rainbowsymphonystore.com

Would you like to have rainbows in your home? These window clings look like clear plastic stickers in the shapes of cut gems, but they also contain diffraction gratings so that they will turn light from the Sun into shiny beautiful rainbows.

rainbows all over a kitchen

What your home will look like after installation of the rainbow gem window clings. Results may vary. Photo from Rainbowsymphonystore.com

If you are interested, buy them from the Rainbow Symphony store. I am not affiliated with Rainbow Symphony and I won’t make any money if you buy these. I saw these when I was purchasing ISO compliant eclipse glasses and thought of the club.

Mini Field Trip July 2017

After our meeting on July 15, 2017 we decided to go on another mini field trip and look for fossils. There were crinoid stems, composita, and other fossils, as well as lots of blue shale. There was also something red and nobody knew what it was. I don’t have many pictures because it was very hot outside and my phone said something about battery temperature too high.

Composita fossils found in Kansas City. lots of crinoid stems and little fossils of many shapes

Composita found in Kansas City. Photo by Stephanie Reed

blue shale rocks in a row from kansas city mo

Blue shale. Photo by Stephanie Reed

bird in a tree

David met a friendly bird. Photo by David Reed.

man bending over gathering rocks outdoors

This is a traditional pose for members of rock clubs. Someday we may make a calendar. Photo by Stephanie Reed

Extremely Hard Water

A metal pipe completely filled with white gypsum crystals

Steve Hardinger and Dragon Minerals. Retrieved from Mindat Photo of the Day

Everyone knows Kansas City’s water tastes really good, despite being “hard water.” Kansas City municipal water averages 100 ppm (CaCO3 equivalent), which is classified as “moderately hard” by the Water Quality Association. But these people’s hard water would be off the charts!

A valve was stuck in a pipe somewhere in the Naica mining complex in Chihuahua, Mexico. “The valve was removed with the aid of a saw, and voila! the pipe was completely clogged with fine, colorless and gemmy gypsum crystals to 7 cm.”

No word on what they did with the crystals after they unclogged the pipe.

Sources: https://www.mindat.org/photo-773687.html

https://water.usgs.gov/edu/hardness.html

Mozarkite Trip to Lincoln

MOZARKITE, MISSOURI’S STATE STONE by Roger K. Pabian

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Roger and printed in The Gemrock in 2002. It is written about a field trip taken by Roger and Bill and Betty White.)

On May 3, I took a trip to Kansas City and then on to Lincoln, Missouri, to examine the in place occurrence of Mozarkite, the Official State Gemstone of Missouri. As part of my ongoing study of cryptocrystalline and amorphous quartz family gemstones, I thought that the Mozarkite mine would be a worthwhile trip.

In Kansas City, I joined up with Bill and Betty White on Friday afternoon. Bill and I spent much of the afternoon at one of the major tool houses there and I purchased quite a few diamond tools and other tools that would be of use for stone and metal work. We also hit one of the retail salvage outlets, a store that carries distressed merchandise, as they often have many tools of considerable value for very low prices.

On Saturday morning about 7:00 A.M. we left Independence for the small town of Lincoln, Missouri. The town is famous for its annual rock swap in September. There we teamed up with Linville Harms, owner of the Mozarkite mine, and then went on to the mine. The attached photos of the Mozarkite and the Mozarkite mines help you get a better idea of what the site is like.

mozarkite

Photos by Roger K. Pabian

Mozarkite is not an accepted mineral name but is simply a trade name that was developed to promote the acceptance of the stone as Missouri’s official State Gem and to generate sales to both lapidary and tourists. The name has found acceptance in some circles but is not an acceptable mineral name in others.

Mozarkite has formed in place in marine sedimentary rocks of Ordovician age — it probably is most common in the Jefferson City Formation. The Jefferson City Formation is comprised mostly of dolomite with silty and cherty stringers running through it. There are very few fossils in dolomized rocks as the addition of magnesium to the calcium carbonate of the limestone usually results in complete re-crystallization of the rock and destruction of any fossils or sedimentary structures therein. We did observe a fragment of a brachiopod shell that escaped destruction. It appeared to be a flat-shelled, long-hinge lined form, probably a strophomenoid, but no other determination could be made of it. Much of the local lore about Mozarkite attributes it to igneous activity but there is no evidence for any in that area of Ordovician or younger rocks.

The Mozarkite appears to be of strictly marine sedimentary origin. Some of the nodules show evidence of an accumulation of siliceous gel or ooze on their outer surfaces.

There appears to be three different facies of Mozarkite. The gemmy kind is a dense, brittle form that shows no crystallinity at 10X magnification. A second kind is what the locals call “sugary” Mozarkite. Some of this is quite colorful and has interesting patterns and enjoys some gem use. The “sugary” kind, However, this does not polish nearly as well as the dense, brittle kind. Then, there are some nodules that appear to be very fine sandy textured.

The three facies or textures of Mozarkite suggest that sorting of particles may have been one of the key factors in the origin of the material. Sorting of particles simply means that as some energy form such as wind or flowing water moved a mixture of unconsolidated particles, the heaviest or largest particles are the first ones to drop out of suspension. You can observe this phenomenon on the gravel bars of a stream or in the bars along beaches, estuaries, or lagoons. The coarsest particles will be on the upstream end of the bar or nearer the bottom of the bar. It may well be that the gem Mozarkite is a quartz argillite, a sedimentary rock made up of quartz particles of clay size, that is, smaller than 1/256th of a millimeter. The gemmy facies could also be derived from silica of organic or volcanic origin. The “sugary” facies is made up of the particles larger than 1/16th but smaller than 1/4 mm.

The source for the silica that makes up Mozarkite is currently not known. It may have been from Precambrian granite rocks that are found to the south and east. Sponge spicules may have been the source of silica; I will not totally disregard them. However, I usually favored volcanic ash as the source of siliva for large bodies of chert or flint in marine sedimentary sequences. If there was any volcanic activity involved with Mozarkite, it was from volcanoes that were far away from the Mozarkite-bearing strata.

Mozarkite is a very interesting gem material that could shed a lot of light on the geologic events and processes that led to its formation. My comments above are only a few ideas about its occurrence. Like many other ideas on his stone, my hypotheses need more documentation before they can either be accepted or rejected. My hypotheses should probably read as follows: “Mozarkite is a quartz argillite of marine sedimentary origin that formed in situ in shallow seas of Ordovician age. The source of the quartz is shield rocks of Precambrian ages that lie to the southeast of the area from which it is not found.”

To prove that, several things need to be done. First, properly oriented (top and north) nodules need to be collected from in place in the mine pits. The nodules should not be examined in the field to avoid “high grading” the material. An outcrops map or diagram would need to be made that shows the places from which each nodule was taken. Similar sampling should be carried out from several different layers in several different parts of the mine. The facies of each nodule would need to be located on the map. Does one zone produce only sandy material whereas another produces only gemmy material? Or do these facies occur at random? Thin sections (30 microns) would have to be made. The nature of the particles (angular or rounded) and any cement between them would need to be noted. Is there a silica cement between the particles or does their angularity hold them together? Then other occurrences, both geographic and stratigraphic, of Mozarkite would have to be noted. The sedimentary structures in the Mozarkite and the host rock would also have to be observed and recorded.

By the time all of this is done, one has done enough work to earn a Master of Science Degree. As you see, there is no easy answer for Mozarkite. Perhaps, as a club, or group of clubs, we might think of funding a student to carry out the above kind of research.

mozarkite open pit mine Lincoln Sedalia

Linville Harms (left) of Sedalia, Missouri, and Bill & Betty White examine the open pit mine. Linville is the mine owner. Photo by Roger K. Pabian