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The 39th Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium

Last Updated: 12th Nov 2018

By Erin Delventhal

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

I’m live this weekend at the 39th Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium!

Today was the secret (though it’s becoming less and less of a secret) field trip to the Blanchard Mine courtesy of the mine owners, who are endlessly generous in allowing groups to come out to collect at the mine.

This is a view from the top of the hill where the Blanchard is located. Fun fact: the plant in the foreground is a yucca, which is the state flower of New Mexico. Since it is November, there are no flowers, but the top of the stalk blooms with beautiful white flowers during the spring and summer.

On the way out to the mine, Ray DeMark gives some overview of the other mines in the district.

At what is called the mine “pad,” Ray gives some more details on the history and geology of the Blanchard.

I gave some of the geology in last year’s report, so I’ll try to fill out some of the history this time.

On our way up the hill.

I didn’t get a very quick start as I got chatting with some friends, but on my way down to the adit entrance, I found a perfectly acceptable specimen in the “parking lot.”

These are particularly fun for those interested in pseudomorphs: the galena has altered to anglesite which then alters to cerussite. There is then some linarite pseudomorphing the altered galena (I’ve taken to calling them epimorphs, and the association of linarite on these altered galenas is certainly chemically related). To make it even more exciting, the linarite here has started to pseudomorph to something green (it seems like brochantite would be the obvious answer but other linarite pseudomorphs have been analyzed to be malachite).

I don’t know who left this behind but I am happily taking it home.

The entrance to the adit!

By the time I made it in, Jonathan Woolley had already found another nice linarite specimen - this one is a coating on fluorite which isn’t unheard of but is a bit unusual.

Ray DeMark is a local hero for many reasons, one of which is his ability to move significant amounts of rock.

Some interesting mineralization!

Color zoned fluorite!

The habits of fluorites are quite varied. Here is an area with some colorless but beautifully modified fluorites.

Something somewhat unusual from the Blanchard: a late stage calcite coating!

I had grand plans of taking many photos of things happening during the day, but at about this point I came across an area with some altered galenas.

I have a bit of a problem with the altered galenas from the Blanchard - the problem being that I cannot ever have enough of them.

I lost a couple hours here.

This one has rather long cerussite crystals!

I did eventually get around to seeing what other folks were up to.

Tony Potucek and Micheal Sanders investigating something (apparently something that might give them gas, but I think I just entered that conversation at the wrong time).

Some other collectors collecting things.

I think Penny Savoie was the most victorious for the day with this excellent linarite ps. galena.

This adit isn’t particularly long, but there are still some nooks and crawl holes to be found.

It’s been a very productive day but it’s time to leave.

Ray is pointing out a couple things before we head out so he can lock the adit back up.

Tony came out with a sample of geologic interest: sphalerite!

Sphalerite was one of the primary minerals in the ore body but very little of it remains. Instead there are all the secondary zinc minerals.

As is a custom at the end of a Blanchard field trip, Ray is doing a giveaway.

One of the specimens given away: a very nice gypsum specimen with a bonus touch of linarite.

I had a slight wardrobe malfunction, which was funny except that was the finger I needed for swiping away debris.

Mining in the area began in the late 1800s in what was called the Chloride District (the reddish hills in this photo). There is much confusion with districts as well as with the ore being mined in this area - there’s a great paper on the subject by Bob Eveleth that I highly recommend.

This area boomed and busted in short span, and the district now lies entirely within the White Sands Missile Range.

The first attempt at major production at the Blanchard was in 1916, when Western Mineral Products Company built a gravity tramway running from the upper right portion of the hillside at what was called the Rimrock Tunnel (which now most closely corresponds with the Portales Adit) down a gravity tramway to a 50-ton dry mill. This is the period where the mine was known as the McCarthy Lead Mine. The lower left of this image shows all that remains of that mill. The mill operated for a couple years but lack of water to operate anything other than a dry mill and the long distance to the nearest smelter in El Paso ultimately left the project abandoned.

In the 1930s, the Blanchard brothers took over the property and operated it themselves as well as leased it out to other entities. The establishment of White Sands Missile Range and WW2 interrupt their activity, as the original boundary of the range included the Blanchard Mine.

There is a story that I have been working to confirm that after the war, the Blanchard brothers had to go through a congressional delegation to have the property returned to them - the notch in the boundary of White Sands to exclude the Blanchard suggests to me that this is likely true.

The Blanchard brothers died not long after but Ora Blanchard, F.L. Blanchard’s widow, moved into a house on the property not long after. This photo shows roughly where her house used to be.

Ora was the caretaker of the property for many years, and there is more to her story than can be summarized here.

Leases to other entities continued and in the late 1940s, the Portales Mining Company operated at the Blanchard Mine. The structures in the upper right of this image are from this era, including the remains of another dry mill as well as a crusher.

The Portales Mining Company operated until 1954 when their mill in San Antonio burned down.

In the 1960s, Sunshine Mining Company conducted exploratory work. The Sunshine adits at the Blanchard are the result of this work.

The most recent attempt at production at the Blanchard was an experimental mill constructed by Minopco in the early 1980s. This mill ran for less than a month then clogged with fines.

Ultimately, no operation at the Blanchard has ever recovered profitable ore. A lack of water for milking processes and the distance from the mine to any processing facility has always rendered the ore uneconomical - technically, it wasn’t ever really ore.

In 1987, Ray DeMark and Brian Huntman claimed the Blanchard for the production of mineral specimens and it has operated for that purpose ever since.

The graffiti on the mill foundation is new to this year - while it is fairly well done and I am glad at least some attempt was made to honor the site for it’s background, I prefer my “historical” sites to remain historical and I’m not a huge fan of the new look.

Luckily I think the concrete will outlast the paint.

The tailgating at the hotel has started already and I’ve already found a couple flats to get me in trouble.

Copper ps. azurite!

An unusually translucent Juanita Mine barite.

Chris Cowan is now telling us about buying tequila in Mexico so I think it’s time for us to call it a night.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another field trip, a reception, and more tailgating!

We’ve gathered for today’s field trip to the Chupadera Copper Mine.

The area has secondary copper minerals (mostly stains), some fluorescent calcites, and what Virgil says may be the world’s largest concentration of shark coprolite.

We’re nearly to the mine so it’s time for a geology briefing!

I had spotty cell service, but here’s the rest of the update on the Chupadera Copper Mine trip.

Mike Jaworksi did his master’s thesis on this area, so he gave us some detail into the geology. The area is a north trending fault block of Pennsylvanian and Permian strata. A granite intrusion brought in copper minerals, which then eroded and were redeposited into a shale formation. Groundwater then mobilized the copper which infilitrated the underlaying sandstones preferentially in porous sand channels.

An example of the copper mineralization.

Some folks collecting coppery things.

There’s a lot of variety to the collectible things in the area. Here we’re headed over to a calcite deposit.

Some decent looking calcites! They are also supposed to fluoresce!

Happy collectors!

Calcite extraction.

I came across some large crinoid stems.

An older mine following a copper-rich layer.

Some local vegetation.

A view from the top of a hill. The nearest range is the Socorro Range, and at their foot is the town of Socorro. You can make out the path of the Rio Grande River, as the yellow cottonwood trees tend to only grow near the water.

There was also a group that headed over to the shark coprolite area. This is the poop field.

A shark coprolite “in situ.”

Many poop jokes were made and we had a thoroughly crappy morning.

The views were quite nice.

Some piles of calcite fragments. I snagged a bag of these for kid giveaways.

I’ve snuck over to the museum for a bit to enjoy the displays before tonight’s reception.

In the new acquisitions cabinet: a phenomenal Lincoln County smoky cluster.

A very interesting ugly black mineral that I’ve never heard of.

I’m being told this is a very, very, very, very good example of this species.

Another suite of unusual minerals.

This specimen was photographed in MinRec’s What’s New in Tucson.

Some large new plates from recent production in the Hansonburg District.

My favorite of the new acquisitions: a beautiful “rosette” of pyrrhotite from the Herja Mine, Romania.

Quartz var. chalcedony on pyrolusite from the Cliff Roy Mine, New Mexico.

Copper in calcite, Kelly Mine, New Mexico.

Fluorite from the Black Mountain, New Mexico. Virgil says this place is waaaaay out in the boonies, which means a lot in New Mexico.

The “Jolly Green Giant,” fluorite, Cookes Peak, New Mexico. This specimen was collected by Enchanted Minerals LLC, which has kindly sponsored this live report.

Mercury and cinnabar, Socrates Mine, California.

Japan law quartz, Washington Camp, Arizona.

A wildly delicate stibnite, McLaughlin Mine, California.

A really beautiful fluorite, Deer Trail Mine, Utah.

A fairly sizeable prehnite, Prospect Park Quarry, New Jersey.

Calcite in shell (shelled things are by no means my specialty), Florida.

I also don’t know anything about space rocks, but there are a couple here!

There is a new guest exhibit from Fred Hurd, who is a person I enjoy very much and who may have one of the best Organ District, New Mexico collections in the state and the world.

A portion of the Organ District shelf.

This apatite is one of my favorites. I had the pleasure of seeing this on a visit to Fred’s house once and it is still the best apatite I have ever seen from the district.

This may be the coolest Chino copper I have ever seen.

An absolutely stunning Alhambra Mine specimen.

The only amethyst specimens I ever get very excited about: Mule Creek, New Mexico.

Jim and Imelda Klein also have a guest exhibit of Minerals of Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico.

Rhodochrosite with quartz.

Amethyst with rhodochrosite.

A really interesting calcite.

Cases by district.

Of course there is a worldwide collection here too.

Freibergite and pyrite, Animas Mine, Bolivia.

Pyroxmangite, San Martin Mine, Peru.

Ilmenite, Kragero, Norway.

Smithsonite and calcite, La Mallueue District, Belgium.

Bismuth, Pribam District, Czech Republic.

Zeunerite, Riiterzeche, Germany.

A great microlite from Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

Orpiment on calcite, Shimen Mine, China.

Kermesite, Dafeng, China.

Millerite and calcite, Saranovskii Mine, Russia.

(Some of you might remember from last year’s Live Report, but this collection includes one of the most comprehensive collections of millerite in the world.)

Arsenic on calcite, Kusa Mine, Malaysia.

The reception is underway! I’ve been chatting with lots of people and finally snuck away to the third floor to have a look down - many people are also in the food line in the hall or in the museum.

There is also some beautiful artwork in the hallway here: Kelsey tells me this series of photographs of geologic-related patterns is called “Rock Skins,” but she’s walked away now and I don’t see a tag for the artist.

There is also this triptych which I especially enjoy: this is the southern dyke and diatreme (in the distance) of Shiprock. This is about 40 miles from my home.

The crowd in the museum.

Perusing the cases.

Virgil is making odd faces at me.

This is an exploded chalcanthite. Virgil will tell us more about this on Sunday.

We’re back at the tailgating event.

Ray DeMark is showing me some really unusual barite concretions from Sandoval County, New Mexico.

Ray also has some fluorite from the Highland Mary Mine. These are a bit more teal-green in person.

Stephenson-Bennett Mine wulfenites!

Something kind of fun: a whole set of wulfenite thumbnails from miscellaneous localities!

V-twin cerussites from a New Mexico locality I am not familiar with.

I’ve found a thing I need to have.

Pat Haynes and Peter Megaw are discussing some recent analysis of a mineral thought to be aldridgite from the Kelly Mine.

Also, Pat has a new specimen.

The talks will begin this morning. There’s quite a crowd here already.

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology is here with many books!

Rocks & Minerals is here as always!

Virgil is making opening remarks. This year had a record number of preregistrations at over 250.

Peter Megaw is opening the day with a talk on “Electric Opal”: Green daylight-luminescing hyalite opal from Zacatecas, Mexico.

Some discussion of opal classification.

The uranium minerals associated with electric opal.

Terry Huizing is now presenting “Collecting geode minerals in the American Midwest.”

Discussion of geodes and their formation.

Geode minerals by composition.

Terry is describing some of the sulfide minerals associated with Midwest geodes. Here is a beautiful marcasite.

The type locality for smythite.


Lithographie is also here!

Ray DeMark has put in a display case of the Tijeras Canyon District.

My favorite is this exfoliating galena from the Galena King Mine. I didn’t know of anywhere that produced these besides the Blanchard Mine, but here’s another one!

Some items that will be auctioned off to benefit the museum at the dinner tonight.

Including a ludjibaite from New Mexico that is the first locality for the US and for New Mexico, complete with a printout if the mindat page about the mineral.

Mark Jacobson is now presenting “Mineral and gem collecting in Indonesia: The beginnings in 1989-1995.”

In a typical Mark fashion, he is dressed to match his subject and has also started his talk by photographing the audience because there are never enough photos of people.

Geology overview.

Alluvial diamond mining.

Interpenetrating beta quartz!


Mark has just released the full locality of the Indonesian grape agates, so if you’d like to correct your labels now, here it is.

Ray DeMark is now presenting a collaboration project with Tom Katonak, Jesse Kline, and Virgil Lueth: “New discoveries at Copper Hill, Taos County, New Mexico.”

The site of a few new discoveries.

Vesigneite is new to the district. All specimen photos here are by Michael Michayluk.

An odd sample of vesigneite (it was checked) - some kind of alteration?

I especially like this because it is strange and rather ugly.



We’re back from lunch and Robert Walstrom is presenting “Updated Mineral Lists; Atwood Hill area, Hidalgo county, New Mexico.”

This is a pretty fabulous wulfenite.

Michael Michayluk is presenting “Minerals of the Torpedo-Bennett Fault Zone, Organ Mountains, Doña Ana County, New Mexico.” We saw this presentation at this summer’s Metallic Minerals of the American Southwest symposium but Michael has made some updates and added some new photos.

Pseudohexagonal cerrusite.

David Stoudt is now presenting “Capillitas Nine, Catamarca Province, Argentina: ‘the other rhodochrosite locality.’”

Geological things.

A timeline of Capillitas history - this is the oldest rhodochrosite mine in the world, dating back to Incan usage.

Geologic mapping of the 19 rhodochrosite veins.

In situ photographs of mineralization - each photo is a section approximately 6 foot across.

The only rhodochrosite cavern discovered at Capallitas - it was destroyed by the Argentinian military with approval from the federal government.

Peter Megaw is now ending the day of talks with the featured presentation: “Mineralogy of the Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico.”

Some of Peter’s time work in Santa Eulalia.

There is a New Mexican connection: Lew Wallace, a territorial governor of New Mexico.

Orebodies of the West and East Camps.

These pseudomorphs were key indicators to good ore.

I think this specimen is absolutely fabulous!

Multiple stages of growth.

Santa Eulalia’s version of a gypsum cave. Bob Jones is the figure in the foreground.

Having not been to see the entirety of Peter’s collection, this still might be my very favorite.

One of these was one of my very first specimens (though it was not nearly as nice as this one).

It’s time for the banquet - the silent auction is under siege.

A very cute calcite on galena from Bulgaria.

A print of a Michael Michayluk photo of uranophane with barite from Poison Canyon, New Mexico.

A Canadian fluorite with some pedigree.

A copy of the image of the rhodochrosite cavern.

We’re enjoying dinner and Mark Jacobson is running around documenting people. Here’s a photo he took of Chris Cowan and I.

I’ve countered by requesting a photo of Mark and his wife Ruth in their marching Indonesian garb.

Brian Huntsman has arrived in some kind of rodeo fashion.

The live auction is beginning!

The banquet was sold out completely this year, so it is a full house.

A very nice Californian halite - Virgil has announced that this halite is all the rage and the cyanobacteria will make you taller and more attractive.

The premium item of the auction is now up: a trip for four to the Blanchard Mine, adit of your choice, complete with a champagne brunch.

We’re back at the tailgating. I’ve found another thing I might have to have, as I’ve wanted one of these for a while and this is absolutely affordable.

Bill Nash is showing off a variety of agates!

G. Hales Minerals has some recent Iron Hills District hematites that have gotten some attention for rivaling the Cumbrian specimens.

Most people are worn out and have gone to sleep, but a few of us are lingering.

I have a tendency to be the very last person to leave any event, and Saturday of weekend events get a bit difficult for me because it’s almost over and I don’t want it to be.

Most people are worn out and have gone to sleep, but a few of us are lingering.

I have a tendency to be the very last person to leave any event, and Saturday of weekend events get a bit difficult for me because it’s almost over and I don’t want it to be.

We’re back for the last half-day of talks.

Barbara Muntyan is presenting on Arizona Pseudomorphs.

Les Presmyk is presenting “Arizona’s Love Affair with Minerals, from Prehistory to Statehood.”

Ron Gibbs is now presenting “‘Micromineraleering’ in the 79.”

Virgil Lueth is presenting “Color Stability in Minerals.”

F-centers and discussion about the scientific cooking of minerals.

Nakaye Mine fluorites are notoriously sensitive.

Color change in turquoise.

Effects of lighting sources.

Exploding chalcanthite!

Specimens from the same find stored in drawers in the same climate have not had this effect, so it is suspected that it is a light-induced reaction.

Virgil is issuing a call to study light sensitivity - he suggests all collectors take a photo of their collection every year to measure changes.

Nathalie Brandes is now presenting a collaboration with her husband Paul Brandes, “Australopithecus to mindat - Mineralogy through the Ages.”

Early usage of minerals - in pigments!

Early metaphysical believers.

Need some mineral-related information? There’s a website for that!

Talks are over but now there is a few hours for the silent auction.

The event is over and many people have departed. There’s a few of us lingering, but it’s about time to head home.

Here’s another yucca, because I started with one and I guess I’ll end with the same.

This article is linked to the following museum: New Mexico Bureau of Geology Museum (New Mexico)

Article has been viewed at least 3841 times.


No ore at Blanchard, but fortunately for collectors lots of fine mineral specimens! Thanks Erin!

Kevin Conroy
9th Nov 2018 2:25am
Thanks for the "live" report Erin
Always a treat
You should always carry spare gloves else train more fingers!


Keith Compton
9th Nov 2018 2:34am
Nat and I did the "secret" Blanchard tour many years ago and found some spectacular specimens. Ray has always been quite generous in allowing collecting at the site over the years. We're in Las Vegas tonight after a day of getting pics for our project, and dodging snow/ice in northern New Mexico. We'll be in Socorro tomorrow for the reception and tailgater. Oh yeah, and a presentation on Sunday! ;-)

Paul Brandes
9th Nov 2018 2:48am
Kevin, that’s always been our take on the situation, especially with th exploratory Sunshine adits.

Keith, lesson learned!

Paul, look forward to seeing you both as well as your presentation! Safe travels!

Erin Delventhal
9th Nov 2018 3:06pm
The Mindat locality index has only torbernite-metatorbernite from the Ritterzeche rather than zeunerite. The zeunerite occurs elsewhere in the Schneeberg District according to the Mineralogical Record Special Issue. Has the sample been analyzed?

The cavity with the altering galena looks like fun to extract.

Richard Gunter
10th Nov 2018 12:05am
Richard, I would have to check with Virgil about that but I’ll put a bug in his ear.

The cavity with the altering galena was very fun - a little shattered so nothing came out as an intact pocket, but plenty of nice little pieces. Pat Haynes and I had a look last night and the little green botryoids on the galena turned out to be malachite.

Erin Delventhal
10th Nov 2018 2:02am
Always look forward to these reports. Some day maybe the powers that rule over us will allow me to make the trek to the symposium, but I'm not real hopeful. And them field trips.... just don't have those minerals here in Georgia (WAH!).

Doug Daniels
10th Nov 2018 4:23am
Doug, I hope you can join us some day and sooner rather than later!

Erin Delventhal
11th Nov 2018 4:00am
Fabulous report! Makes me itchy to get out and collect. Not much chance of that on the wind swept steppes of east central IL. :(

Keith A. Peregrine
11th Nov 2018 10:01am
Keith, come out to New Mexico! We have plenty of spots for collecting!

Erin Delventhal
11th Nov 2018 4:54pm
Sadly, another great NM Mineral Symposium has come to a close. We should all commend Erin for her wonderful reporting of the event as I can attest to the tremendous effort she put into this Live Report. Only 363 days until the 40th Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium!!!

Keith: You really need to get out here for a Symposium......

Paul Brandes
12th Nov 2018 12:23am
Erin, thanks for another great report! Cookie & I enjoyed the Symposium and now we can enjoy it many times again! Sit down at the computer with the abstracts of the presentations and your images and enjoy!!

Don & Cookie Saathoff

Don Saathoff
12th Nov 2018 7:27pm
Thank you so much Erin. I fondly remember the 15 years I spent in New Mexico, the collecting trips to the Blanchard Mine and other localities, and of course the symposium in Socorro. A big "Hello" to Ray de Mark, Virgil Lueth, Don Saathoff, Pat Haynes, and the many other friends I have made when living there. John Sobolewski.

John Sobolewski
12th Nov 2018 8:02pm
Paul, thanks for the compliments! And again, FABULOUS presentation from you and Nathalie. I wish I'd had the foresight to record the entirety of it.

Don, great to see you both again!

John, my pleasure - I'm sure we'd all be happy if you had the chance to make it back out here again!

Erin Delventhal
12th Nov 2018 11:58pm

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