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.
How to Become a Museum Curator
In this economy, we all could use some career advice. Here is an interview with a former curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explaining how he got the job and what it entails. (more…)
Baker’s Quarry Cake
This is what happens when you ask a geologist to bake a cake. http://blogs.agu.org/mountainbeltway/2011/01/24/east-wall-of-bakers-quarry/ has a very funny description of the quarry and how it was formed. Make sure you read the whole thing!
Historical records indicate that quarrying operations began in earnest around 9:30pm, although there is anecdotal evidence of small scale nibbling, particularly in the Strawberry Granite, prior to that time. Though only crumbs were removed, a few locals reported their findings to others. Resulting hype and rumor-mongering built up public anticipation to a frenzied hum. When the echoes of dinner had faded, industrial-scale excavations began at Baker’s Quarry.
The real Baker’s Quarry is a mine in Monroe, North Carolina, also known as Martin Marietta Materials. This is what it looks like.
Q: What makes rockhounds different from non-rockhounds?
A: They are happy to receive coal for Christmas.
Rockhounds love coal, and they love anthracite even more. Anthracite is a type of coal. It is very hard and burns slowly and cleanly due to its high carbon content and few impurities. It is rarer than bituminous coal (the soft, most common form of coal); in fact, less than 2% of the coal in the United States is anthracite. Also unlike bituminous coal, anthracite won’t leave soot on your fingers when you touch it.
There are four types of coal in all. The last two we haven’t covered yet are lignite coal and subbituminous coal, which have the lowest carbon content and are even softer then bituminous coal. Anthracite is the hardest and has the highest carbon content. Most of the coal in the United States is found in Colorado and Illinois, and is used primarily for making electricity and coke (coke is used by foundries to make iron and steel).
A Lapidarist’s Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a Rockhound was stirring,
I felt like a louse.
For the lapidary gifts I was making this year
Lay down on my bench, UNFINISHED, I fear!
The pendant my dear wife wanted so much
As I polished the cab, it fractured with a touch;
And the lovely jade brooch for Grandma so sweet,
Just wouldn’t polish – it looked terribly beat.
As for Sister’s new bracelet with baroques dangling lightly,
I ran out of bell caps after the stores were closed tightly.
Then the tie clasp for Uncle that would make such a hit,
After I cut the cab, no mounting would fit!
And even Junior’s new crystal growing set
Though I’d sent for it months ago, had not arrived yet!
So I tossed and I turned as though caught in a trap.
I could not settle down for a “long winter’s nap.”
When all of a sudden I heard such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
I raced for the door then saw with a flick,
A red-suited man I was sure was Saint Nick.
As I reached for my robe and was turning around,
Down the basement stairs, Santa went with a bound.
He went straight to my workbench to see what I lacked,
Then with a nod of his head, he opened his pack.
Out tumbled such mountings and bell caps without stop,
I was sure Santa must own a lapidary shop!
He said not a word but went straight to work,
And finished each piece, then grabbed his pack with a jerk.
And shaking his white-bearded face with much glee,
Took out some new slabs I knew were for me!
Then laying his finger aside his nose,
With a nod of satisfaction, up the stairway he rose.
Went straight to the door, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas, Dear Rockhounds, and to you a good night.”
Source: Hy Grader, Coastal Waves 2005, Scribe 2010, Lake Rocker Newsletter 12/2012, The Gemrock 12/2014.
Apatite is a general name for a group of very soft phosphate minerals that form big crystals that are fun to collect. This red and green double-terminated apatite crystal is 21 inches long! It was found on the Miller Property in Eganville, Ontario, Canada during a CCFMS (Central Canadian Federation of Mineralogical Societies) field trip in July 2002. For more photos and information, and a cute poem about collecting apatite, check out the website linked in the photo, http://www.rocksforkids.com/R&M/apatite.htm
UPDATE 2017/06/02: Rocksforkids.com reorganized their website and the apatite page is no longer there. So, here is the apatite poem.
A Poem about Rock Collecting – Digging for Apatites in Eganville, Ontario
The peaceful silence of the northern woods, interrupted by a wail,
A soaring screaming roar, louder than a stomped on tigers tail.
A cloud of dust obscures a man, how can he see to use that tool,
With nothing to cover his nose and ears, I think the man’s a fool.
Suddenly the screaming noise stops, I think I have gone deaf.
The dust cloud drifts on by, but I keep on holding my breath.
Out of this swirling maelstrom, staggered a large ghostly form,
Coughing and hacking, he lugged a saw that had caused this dusty storm.
I guess he had some trouble; his saw had broken down.
Behind the mask of dust, his face displayed a worried pasty frown.
I guess Nick was finished for the day; the Apatite can wait.
However, Elfi kept finding more crystals; and they were looking great
The best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry.
Nick had brought that saw along and he just had to give it a try.
While he cut one out for his wife, the others were finding more.
Soon Nick had a full time job, I began to hate that rock saws roar.
Crystals of Apatite, some of exceptional size, like something from a dream.
They cleared off a Calcite vein they looked like salmon going up a stream.
Now there is a quandary, do we go or do we stay,
The planned trip was interrupted, they stayed another day.
Part of us stayed to the plans, we took the scheduled trip.
More than half went back to the trenches, old Frank near had a fit.
Two more days of pounding, another broken saw,
More large crystals were being located, there ought to be a law.
Well this trip is finally over and we missed a place or two,
I cannot say it wasn’t interesting and I’m really not too blue.
Nick’s planning went out the window, next year will be better I am told,
I hope your appetite for Apatite is sated Elfi, next time pick on gold.
by Dick Stata Aug. 24th. Thinking back on the 2002 CCFMS summer trip.
Thanksgiving Rock Dinner
Happy Thanksgiving! To whet your appetite for dinner, here are some pictures of rocks and minerals that look like food. This is a traveling exhibit, so maybe it will be at a rock show near you.
Start off with a tasty fruit salad.
The main course: ham, a yam, and lima beans.
Cherry cheesecake for dessert.
The whole spread.