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Fake Trinitite

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Mineralogical Research Company August 21, 2009 03:19PM
Most of us are familiar with Trinitite, formed by the first nuclear blast at the Trinity site in Alamogordo, NM. Trinitite has been confirmed to be nearly pure melted silica with traces of Olivine, Feldspar, and other minerals which comprise the desert sand. This material has always been a curiosity for collectors and even more so in recent years. While Trinitite was once common, it is now quite rare and has become relatively expensive and is sold by the gram. Go figure.... Because of unethical activities by some money grubbers, I wrote an editorial about Fake Trinitite some time ago. I will attach it below, but I first must make a preemptive statement regarding this. That is, there are several ethical, bonafide dealers that offer authentic material for sale and this editorial in no way implicates them.

Editorial by Eugene Cisneros

It's a sad commentary, but true. Some unethical people have been selling fake Trinitite on the web and online auctions. We were recently offered some of this material as well. If it's too green, too translucent or too inexpensive to be true, it probably isn't real Trinitite! So how does the collector know if a specimen is authentic? Well, usually the only means for the collector to eliminate the fake stuff is to use a sensitive dosimeter and take a reading to verify that residual induced radiation exists. This will be very small, but it can be detected. This will not rule out the possibility that clever fakers will not add some small amount of weakly radioactive material to their formula. The only way to be 100% certain of authenticity is by means of nuclear energy spectroscopy. I have worked under contract of the Department of Energy, at a national laboratory, for the past 37 years and have the resources to perform these tests. Thus, we at Mineralogical Research Company can assure you of the authenticity of all of the Trinitie specimens that we make available to you - - - we guarantee our specimens 100%.

The energy spectra, below, shows the radioactive isotope Cesium 137 photopeak at ~666 keV. This radionuclide has a half life of 30.2 years and is one of several unique byproducts of nuclear fission or atomic detonations. It is present in all authentic Trinitite specimens.
open | download - trinititespectra1.gif (59.1 KB)
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Justin Zzyzx August 21, 2009 04:18PM
Hi,

Do you have a picture of any fake pieces? I took a whole bunch of REAL trinitite and put it into some muratic acid and the end result was some very pretty brighter green material. I would love to see some pictures of what people are trying to pass off as fake...
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Lachrisha Smith August 21, 2009 07:37PM
I lived near the site,..but have never seen any. (actually,.. I saw pieces as a child,but have no memory of the trinitite)So, im now wondering if there is much,.. still in new mexico?..and like Justin, would like to see the fakes.That way I can be shure.I am wondering just how far the glass occured,I have a guess, also, I am curious of what other minerals were effected by the blast, if any?
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Justin Zzyzx August 22, 2009 01:55AM
Lachrisha, doesn't the store in Bingham have it for sale? The fluorite mine tours are well worth the trip up there...
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Justin Zzyzx August 22, 2009 05:24PM
Pics or it didn't happen.

=)
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Don Saathoff August 22, 2009 05:43PM
Yes, Allison still has a pretty good supply (or did a couple of years ago) at the "Blanchard Rock Shop" in Bingham....it was kinda pricey, but who am I to judge? I know it's authentic because it is from the remains of the stock that existed in the shop when Allison bought the shop & property. Some that stock can date to the mid forties!! Sam Jones was the original operator (under the watchful eye of Mrs. Blanchard!!)

Don S.
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Paul Brandes August 22, 2009 09:11PM
Funny little story about fake trinitite; my wife and I were vacationing in Ruidoso when while walking in town we decided to stop into a little rockshop (I know the name, but won't mention it here). While we were looking around there was sign for "naturally occurring trinitite" from New Mexico. We looked at it for while and laughed and at that moment the young lady from behind the counter came over and asked if we needed any help. We asked her about the trinitite and she replied something to the effect of "I know nothing of minerals, I only sell them" (typical response I have discovered among most mineral dealers). We told her there was no such thing which prompted the owner to come out ask if we needed help at which time we told him, thinking that we were being nice, that trinitite is not naturally occurring. He then promptly told us that he was an oilfield geologist in the Permian Basin for 30 years and us "kids" didn't know what we were talking about; wrong answer to two geologists!! I believe we replied by asking when the next atomic bomb was going off so he could collect more. The owner then asked us to leave and quit harassing the customers or he'd call the police and have us removed; such a nice welcome into the mineral world, but we have since laughed it off.... B)

I remember the last time I was out at the Trinity Site, there wasn't a lot left laying on the ground, but I did manage to find a few little pieces here and there. If you get the chance to go out there (first Saturday in April and October), there is about a 6 ft by 12 ft covered area with glass that is an untampered patch of trinitite that allows people to see what the ground looked like after the blast. The last time I stopped at the Blanchard Rock Shop, Allison still had a fair amount of "real" trinitite for sale. I thought the prices were fair considering no more is being made. If your in the Socorro area, you may want to drive out west to Magdalena and stop at Bill's Rock Shop. It too had trinitite the last time I stopped in and talked with Helen Dobson. I believe the mineral museum on the New Mexico Tech campus also has trinitite from time to time as well.
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Mineralogical Research Company August 23, 2009 03:02AM
Justin,

No pics, so I guess it didn't happen. It didn't happen that I was ignorant enough to buy it, that is. ;)

Attached are some pic of real Trinitite for anyone who is interested.

Gene
open | download - 4j.jpg (82.5 KB)
open | download - 4t.jpg (77.1 KB)
open | download - 4d.jpg (101.4 KB)
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Steve Hardinger August 23, 2009 03:05AM
I would never buy 'trinitite' unless I checked it with a radiation survey meter of some sort first (at the very least). It's easy to make sandy, green glass, and not too difficult to also make it radioactive. It's getting the particle energy to be right that's the hard thing.
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Richard Dale August 23, 2009 05:10PM
Sadly, the untampered patch of Trinitite is no longer of much interest to the general public It is still protected by a low structure, but no entrance allowed and no windows for viewing! I also saw a piece or two of Trinitite still left at the site, but they are VERY serious about the fact that it is the theft of US government property to pocket any.
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Gail Spann August 24, 2009 02:41AM
I was in the little shop that Allison ran, with the material on display. I had no interest in owning any, and still don't...but it was worth seeing. I had heard, on the rumour mill, that Allison isn't there anymore? Does anyone know?
We went up to the Blanchard Mine and spent a great day finding fluorite, galena, linarite and drusy quartz.

To the originator of this post, thank you for your warnings!

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
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Dr. Paul Bordovsky September 02, 2009 02:33AM
Allison is still around, running the shop. She had just been spending a little time in CA. Maybe she was getting
tired of the green chile cheeseburgers in San Antonio, NM.
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Don Saathoff September 02, 2009 07:10PM
RE: green chile cheeseburgers......Outpost in Carrizozo beats both the Owl & the other place in San Antonio (don't remember the name). Only disadvantage is that San Antonio is considerably closer to Socorro!! Allison used to say that she was just a "couple of miles from the middle of nowhere"......almost half way between San Antonio and Carrizozo.
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Gail Spann September 07, 2009 12:29AM
I am glad Allison is still there, she is truly a fun part of the whole experience.

I am sorry to hear that Ray DeMark's wife, Judy, just passed away. Ray is one of the owners of the Bingham mine.
Judy was a very outspoken, delightful character and I will miss her greatly.

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
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JMckethen February 15, 2011 02:12AM
Hello I have a 5 lb lump that was given to me by an ex Nasa director. He said he picked it up from the site it is a heavy red and black piece. what would be the best way to check it for legitimacy.
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Jim Bean February 15, 2011 03:02AM
If you posted a clear picture here I'm sure one or more of the posters above could probably give you a fairly confident yes or no.
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Darren Court February 15, 2011 04:20AM
In the museum here at White Sands, we actually have a few pieces of reddish-colored trinitite. Story goes that these were from closer to the tower so had more iron in them - cannot really vouch for that, but we have several boxes of the stuff (mainly green) that we use for exhibit material when needed.

Darren

p.s. - have never seen black, and you have to be careful, as there is stuff floating around out there from the Nevada test site, as well as various missile tests, that is claimed to be trinitite. Post your photo, would love to see it!
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JessS May 23, 2012 03:57PM
Hello all, I got some trinitite at a little rockshop outside ruidoso this spring, it was well documented and checked out with my scintillation RA detector.
I had it in a little plastic bag on a high shelf in my apartment. Secured well or so I thought. I have a cat that likes to steal small plastic bags. This morning my trinitite is missing. I searched for an hour but fear that kitty hid it from me. That cat likes to chew plastic bags. I am very concerned - apart from hunting the apartment with the Ludlum detector does anyone have any suggestions? Especially for how to treat my cat.
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Dan Fountain May 23, 2012 04:06PM
JessS Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...does anyone
> have any suggestions? Especially for how to treat
> my cat....

Please don't feed the trolls! winking smiley
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 23, 2012 04:18PM
I'm afraid it may already be too late for your cat, it may already have developed superpowers.
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JessS May 23, 2012 04:55PM
Seriously- should I consider giving her iodine? Can cats have that? Would it help?
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 23, 2012 05:01PM
Seriously- should I consider giving her iodine? Can cats have that? Would it help?


No. Yes. No.
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Don Saathoff May 23, 2012 06:09PM
Jess, all kidding aside, unless your cat has extraordinary dentition I don't think he/she would even try to chew on a trinitite specimen. It is, after fused silica sand and, although somewhat brittle, would not be fun to chew on. I would think an intestinal obstruction from the plastic bag would be the greater danger.....

Don
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Rob Woodside May 23, 2012 06:25PM
Does your scintillation counter respond to your cat? Can you monitor the progress of the trinitrite? Don is right.
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JessS May 23, 2012 06:28PM
Ok. I'm no troll. I'm a RA badged worker in the petroleum industry, I work with RA all day, I really have got a piece of lost trinitite in my apartment somewhere. It measures out around 3 milirem an hour on my detector. I have some certainty the pet cats responsible for the mislocation. She sets off my detector but only barely. Not as much as after I've taken RA medical contrast. So she def didnt ingest the Whole rock of titianite but almost certainly some dust from the bag or something. I'm no medic but is there anything a vet could even do?
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Ali May 23, 2012 06:28PM
Any animal suspected of swallowing a toxic substance should be taken to a veterinary surgeon without delay, not treated with home remedies.
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JessS May 23, 2012 07:34PM
Will do. Very embarrassing, got pet poison control . Set me back 65 dollars and I need to feed her minced pumpkin for a week plus get her a bath.
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Mineralogical Research Company May 23, 2012 09:08PM
Jess,

I wouldn't be too concerned about the cat.

1. The cat most likely would not eat a piece of Trinitite.

2. Even if the cat did eat it, it would pass through in a day and there would not be any induced radiation. If it didn't pass, you would have a constipated cat by now.

3. If the cat ingested some of the dust into its lungs, there isn't much to be done. The cat will most likely be long gone from natural causes before it gets lung cancer.

4. I have handled thousands, yes thousands, of pieces of Trinitite and none have had rad levels greater than 0.5mr/hr and most are far less than that. Since you say that you measured 3mr/hr, I would be suspicious of the origin of the material.

Good luck to the cat and I hope that you find your specimen of what ever it is.

Cheers,
Gene
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Jeff A May 25, 2012 09:12PM
Sorry to resurrect an ancient thread, but others may be interested.

I am definitely not a rock hound, I am more interested in the Manhattan Project and thought some trinitite would be nice to have. I just bought a small piece from Allison at Blanchard Rock Shop in May 2012.
Very happy.
open | download - js_trinitite.jpg (6.4 KB)
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Mineralogical Research Company May 26, 2012 02:32AM
Jeff,

If you are interested in the Manhattan Project you might like these books.

The Day the Sun Rose Twice - The story of the Trinitiy Site Nuclear Explosion
Prof. Ferenc Szasz

The Los Alamos Primer - First lectures on How to Build an Atomic Bomb
Robert Serber

Gene
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WM Kolb September 11, 2012 10:35PM
The very largest piece of real Trinitite I've seen is less than a pound. Anything larger is likely to be desert slag from a rocket motor. Trinitite always has a frothy interior created by gas bubbles. The larger the specimen, the larger the voids are likely to be. A Geiger counter is the quickest way to see if the material is most likely Trinitite. A 2-in. diameter GM tube will read between 200 and 1500 CPM above background for most specimens. Some pieces having what looks like a greyish coat of sand can read upwards of 3000 CPM due to fallout that fused on the top surface. Anything weighing a pound or more should be highly suspect. I'd like to see a picture of the 5 lb lump to see if it passes visual identification.
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Jason Evans September 12, 2012 11:31AM
I like my specimen of Trinitite


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Darren Court September 12, 2012 01:27PM
We recently received at the museum here at White Sands a very tiny piece of light blue Trinitite, maybe 1 cm across, the first of that color found. It was sent to Los Alamos for analysis. It seems like the coloring agent in the piece is calcium. It was found by a child during the October 2011 open house and turned over to a Public Affairs person by his father. I'll try to get a photo of it, pretty unique.

Darren
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Mineralogical Research Company September 12, 2012 03:44PM
Darren,

Thanks for the clarification of the blue color. We have, on occasion, found glassy "robin’s egg blue" streaks in a few of our Trinitite specimens. More commonly, we find red (copper), black (?) and white (probably fused feldspar) as we sort specimens. A solid piece of blue is something that we have not seen in the handling of thousands of specimens. If you could post a picture of the specimen, it would certianly be appreciated.

Gene
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sam L March 20, 2014 09:57PM
Hi, I'm new here and I wanted to ask if there are anyways to buy real trinitite or perhaps "accidentally" acquire some from the site.

-thanks
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Paul Brandes March 20, 2014 10:34PM
I believe if you read the previous posts in this thread Sam, you'll have a fairly good idea of where to go......
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Michael Hatskel March 21, 2014 01:17AM
I am not really interested in adding trinitite to my collection, but September 12, 2012 post by Darren caught my attention: he states that the light blue trinitite was caused by calcium as "the coloring agent." And Gene apparently didn't have any problem with that. So I wonder, can calcium really act as a blue chromophore, or cause any other color for that matter?
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Me April 16, 2014 04:46AM


These were given to me from a family members fairly extensive rock & mineral collection after they were deceased. These people lived within 100 miles of Trinity Site, White Sands Missile Range. I do not have spectra or measurements with a dosimeter for these. I will never sell them, but I am almost completely certain that these are from Trinity Site, 7/16/45. For your reference.

JG



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2014 07:07AM by Debbie Woolf.
open | download - trinitite_05.jpg (718.4 KB)
open | download - trinitite_08.jpg (778.3 KB)
open | download - trinitite_09.jpg (563.7 KB)
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TheKnight February 28, 2015 06:54PM
Gamma spectroscopy would be the only way to garente its authenticity. If any one lives near or are going through Houston TX and wants to check the authenticity of their Trinitite give me an email and I would be more than happy to test it for you. I do gamma spectroscopy as a hobby and can determine the specific energies and activity of a sample with certainty. If anyone wants their Trinitite tested email me at matthewtheknight@hotmail.com

-Matt

25ucicesiumspecturmpdf.pdf
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Don Saathoff February 28, 2015 10:11PM
Hello JG,

Your trinitite looks identical to the trinitite in our collection which I know is real - self collected by repeatedly tying my shoe!! Radioactivity is slight...

Don S.
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