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Mount Marie Quarries, Paris, Oxford Co., Maine, USA
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Smoky Quartz
Mount Marie Quarries, Paris, Oxford Co., Maine, USA

Photo: Rob Lavinsky
Latitude: 44°13'18"N
Longitude: 70°25'27"W
The mine on this mountain had been a source of feldspar for decades in the early 20th century, however, only once, in the 1920s, have colored tourmaline been detected. One miner, suspected, and discovered, the true potential of the mountain. After years of searching, the sought after treasure began to appear. The geographic district is called a pegmatite, a large intrusion of molten magma into 350 million year old Devonian rocks.

Many miners have worked Mt Marie for feldspar, the main ingredient for glazing china, but failed to extract sufficient quantities of high quality rock. The material that was removed and used in small quantities was contaminated with quartz, another hard mineral. Most of the mining occurred in the first 2 decades of the 20th century with several companies going bankrupt in the process. There was one intriguing comment made by a geologist, E.S. Bastin in 1906, who noted the presence of some colored tourmaline in one of the feldspar mines. Nothing more appeared for the rest of the century.

In 1993, Dennis Durgin acquired the prospect and in only 2003, after 10 years of work, the first small signs of success appeared; a few nicely colored tourmaline and more important, the hallmark minerals associated with the gems. However it was not until later that year that “pockets” containing fine gems were discovered. In the ensuing years more fine gems were found, but in 2009 fine blue tourmaline was discovered in a large pocket. Since then there have been several additional finds of intensely colored tourmaline of the finest quality.
Tourmaline is one type of silicate gem that abounds in Maine’s hills. Beautiful stones of similar makeup are found in many districts of the world, from Brazil to Madagascar, Nigeria to Russia, etc. Maine’s gems are unique in their color and brilliance. Furthermore they come from a small and limited district where the chemistry of the rocks favors the development of fine gems, in particular tourmaline. The history of Maine tourmalines dates back to the mid 1800s when chance discoveries in the area surrounding the small town of Newry excited the world of minerals and gems. Some of these early finds can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution galleries in Washington, D.C., the American Museum of Natural History in New York City as well as the Harvard Mineral Museum in Boston. Smaller collections can be found in many major museums, world wide.
While the chemistry of Maine tourmalines is not remarkably different from other tourmaline crystals mined elsewhere, the optical properties are different, yielding gems cut from them to be of exceptional brilliance and of intense, vibrant color. Maine tourmaline comes in a rainbow of colors. The tourmalines from the Mt. Marie mines possess the special characteristics just mentioned, in a remarkable manner. Several academic works have been published with reference to these features*.
Gems of this type are generally found in what is called a “Pocket”, a cavity, from small to huge, in the parent stone that fosters the formation of crystals. Crystals that form can remain attached to the pocket surface or be shed into a mud filling the bottom of the cavity. Occasionally individual gem crystals are found isolated in the parent rock.

Mineral List

var: Cleavelandite
var: Aquamarine
'Manganese Oxides'
Microlite Group
var: Indicolite' ?

'var: Rubellite'
'var: Verdelite'

46 entries listed. 39 valid minerals.

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Maine Federation Club (1973), Guidebook 1 to Mineral Collecting in the Maine Pegmatite Belt, prepared by members of the club: 8.

King, V. and Foord, E. (2000), Mineralogy of Maine, volume 2.

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