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Gold and Silver Deposits in Colorado Symposium 2017

Last Updated: 23rd Nov 2017

By Erin Delventhal

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

Gold and Silver Deposits of Colorado Symposium - hosted in Golden, Colorado by the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Friends of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, the Denver Region Exploration Geologists' Society, and Friends of Mineralogy Colorado Chapter.

A small crowd at registration last night.

Many folks are out on field trips today - a group out at the Empire District, Silver Mountain vein, Minnesota Mine. Photo by Pete Modreski.

I am spending the morning at the Colorado School of Mines Museum - newly featured is a display of the Frederick Mayer Territorial Gold Coin Collection, representing the history of the 1859 gold rush in Central City.

Breckenridge District gold specimens.

While the museum has many Colorado gold specimens on display, there are of course a few from other places: an exceptional gold in quartz from Venezuela.

And the Philippines!

And of course there is also silver!

No Colorado collection is complete without a Sweet Home rhodochrosite - or a few.

More dear to my heart (we all have our biases) are the Sunnyside Mine rhodochrosites - an exceptional new donation from Rudy Kluiber with fluorite and quartz.

A historical silver bar from Leadville, Colorado, currently on loan from the Field Museum.

The Wolcott Silver Pitcher and Tray - made of sterling silver (92.5% silver and 7.5% copper) with silver from the Last Chance Mine, Creede, Colorado.
Significant history which I cannot accurately detail in a just caption, but a great story in that they were almost lost to history: they were recovered in 1983 from an antique shop in Indiana by Robert Nye, who by luck realized their significance and donated the pieces to the museum in 1988 after restoration by the descendant company of the original creators Kirk and Sons.

Regis Chauvenet's (president of the Colorado School of Mines from 1883-1902, professor of chemistry and metallurgy, and key figure in CSM history) microscope - manufactured by J. Swift & Son, 81 Tottenham Court Rd., London, and "made expressly for W. MacDonnell & Co., Opticians, Sydney."

The museum has more than just Colorado minerals: cassiterite pseudomorph after orthoclase (Carlsbad twins).

Azurite, malachite, and gypsum, Morenci Mine, Arizona - good enough for the cover of textbooks.

Smithsonite from Tsumeb Mine, Namibia.

Euclase from Mwani, Zimbabwe.

A very strategically placed case - zeolites (natrolite, analcime, thomsonite, chabazite, mesolite, stilbite, and apophyllite) from North Table Mountain, which happens to be visible through the window.

Six mural panels depicting the history of mining by Irwin D. Hoffman.

The Denver Post article on Irvin D. Hoffman's visit to view his murals on display at the Colorado School of Mines on June 15, 1941 "with the conviction that the extraction of mineral wealth from earth is basis of civilization."

Variety of gems including the Miss Colorado Crown of 613 cut stones including diamond, zircon, sapphire, ruby, amethyst, elbaite, peridot, topaz, citrine, and garnet, crafted by the Molberg's House of Jewelry and loaned by the Rocky Mountain Jeweler's Association.

Meanwhile another field trip group is embarking by train (appropriately) to the Georgetown-Silver Plume District, in Clear Creek County, Colorado. Photo by Pete Modreski.

Miners taking risks - undated photo, Leadville, Colorado.

There are also space rocks! A few octahedrites, including Canyon Diablo, Odessa, and Henbury.

And some not space rocks - magnetite, slag, and ventifact.

A very neat display of minerals and their industrial purposes in clean energy technologies.

A detail of the minerals exhibited - many pegmatitic "uglies."

Tincalconite after borax from Boron, California paired with a vintage 20 Mule Team Borax advertisement - part of a display of borates from the Dawn and Jim Minette Collection.

There is also a section of fossils here, but I suppose that isn't exactly our department.

A large smoky from Brazil - don't worry, it's non-radioactive!

Interesting synthetics.

Idarado Mine specimens.

A museum handling the difficulties of labeling argentite - Mollie Gibson Mine, Smuggler Mountain, Aspen District, Pitkin County, Colorado.

A small fluorite from Shangbao Mine, China.

Pyromorphite, Bunker Hill Mine, Idaho.

A Japan law quartz on epidote, Green Monster Mountain, Alaska.

A few California minerals.

Pyrargyrite, Proano Mine, Mexico.

Lovely little sprays of sklodowskite, Animas Mine, Mexico.

Giant crystals of covellite, Summiteville District, Rio Grande County, Colorado - I hope this is the specimen being requested, as it is impressive to say the least.

Andorite with zinkenite, San Jose Mine, Bolivia.

Cerussite, Leadville, Colorado.

Silver in amethyst, Amethyst Vein, Last Chance Mine, Creede, Colorado.

Mount Antero fluorite.

Celestine, Newport, Michigan.

Turquoise, Lynch Station, Virginia.

Elbaite, Dunton Mine, Maine.

Bournonite, Herodsfoot Mine, England.

While charging my phone, I discovered a T-Rex ride!

I've been informed there is not actually a T-Rex ride, but there is a geology trail!

Stop #1 - Fossils of the Laramie Formation (68 mya).

A large log imprint.

Palm frond imprint!

Ceratopsid (e.g. Triceratops) track.

Multiple tracks.

Stop #3 - Origin of Fire Clay and Coal in Laramie Formation.
"The discovery and production of fire clay and coal in the 1860s gave Golden an industrial base for local use and for exporting material via early railroads to Denver and the gold and silver mining districts to the west.
The Rubey Clay Mine, located here and operated by the Parfet family dates from 1877."

Stop #4: Structure - Clay Pits Fault.

The structure seems to have been "covered during reclamation and construction of the Freshman Parking Lot."

Stop #5: Overview of Clear Creek Valley and Rock Garden.

Diagrammed cross-section of the overview.

Accompanying stratigraphic and geologic columns.

From the Rock Garden: mineralized dolomite (Leadville).

Green River Oil Shale.

Yule marble (Colorado state rock).

Stop #6: Pierre and Fox Hills (69 mya) - Marine Regressive Formations.
Depositions of the Cretaceous seaway, dated by various foraminiferal assemblages.

Stop #7: Laramie Formation (68 mya) Clay Pits Fault, Fire Clay Mining, Reclamation.
I will trust you to zoom in on this - lots of info here.

Memorial to the White Ash Mine Disaster.
"Dedicated to the memory of Joseph Allen, William Bowden, William Collins, John Collins, Henry Huesman, David Lloyd, Joseph Hutter, John Morgan, John Murphy, Rich Rowe
who lost their lives here on Sept. 9, 1889 and are entombed in this plot."

More detail of the White Ash Mine and the disaster that left ten men buried underground and closed the mine.

The dump pile outside the lower level of the museum - plenty of "specimens" to be found here, though the localities are now lost.

So far I have spotted several chunks of slag, a fossil burrow of some sort, miscellaneous chunks of pegmatite, an agate, some travertine, etc.
Will spend a few minutes here to see if there's anything worth taking home for kid giveaways.

Behind the museum is also the Rock Boring Laboratory - in stark contrast to the Boring Rock Laboratory.

Remnants of a thing of tradition in many Colorado towns: drilling competitions.

Now at another point of geologic interest - a road cut along I-70 that has relative fame (as far as road cuts go).

Unfortunately many of the signs along the trail have been damaged by graffiti and the elements (but mostly graffiti). Here we're building up to the discussion of the formations visible through the cut.

The Morrison Formation, Late Jurassic (140-135 mya).

The Dakota Group (Lytle and South Platte Formations), Early Cretaceous (135-95 mya).

The described contact between the Morrison and Lytle Formations.

Exposed surface of iron concretions.

Black rock - very scientific!

Dakota Group, Late Cretaceous (~100 mya). Of particular note to those interested in geological resources of the energy industry.


View of the cross-bedding.

Birth of the Rockies.

In the typical fashion of Colorado summer, it is now raining and probably time for dinner anyway.
Talks begin tomorrow with Richard Goldfarb speaking on "The Origin of Gold Deposits."

Morning of symposium - the Colorado School of Mines mascot is the burro "Blaster."

Looks to be a full house today!

Richard J. Goldfarb of Colorado School of Mines presenting "The Origin of Gold Deposits."

Discussion of the history of continental margins and the relationship to gold deposits.

Discussion of the changing definitions of gold deposits - lower-grade deposits now able to produce similar quantities as more concentrated deposits.

W. W. Atkinson, Jr. presenting "How Gold-Silver Deposits Form: The Chemistry of Transport and Deposition," beginning his discussion with illustrations of deposit distribution and zoning around porphyries.

Chemistry of sulfur deficient deposits.

And of sulfur rich solutions.

Peter Bojitos, P.Eng., begins his presentation "Gold - Its Past, the Present, and its Future," with deep history.

Discussion of the correlation of gold prices with world events and various generations' investing trends.

Beth Simmons, Ph.D., presenting "Colorado Gold & Silver before 1859."

Ed Raines, of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, begins his presentation "The Frederick Mayer Collection of Colorado Territorial Gold Coins: A History of the Coins and Coiners," beginning with the history of Colorado gold after 1959.

Clark, Gruber & Co. bank and mint, established because the nearest mint at Philadelphia was 1,700 miles away.

A $20 Clark, Gruber, & Co. coin (1860), stamped as "Pikes Peak Gold," but with an image that is certainly not Pikes Peak.

Stanley Dempsey, of many accolades, presenting "The Mining Districts of the Northern Half of the Colorado Mineral Belt," here detailing the development of mining law in a land that was under no established regulation.

The role of the Gregory party (of Gregory lode fame in Central city) in developing regulations concerning claim size.

Lisa G. Dunn, of the Arthur Lakes Library at Colorado School of Mines presenting "Clear Creek County's mining districts: Discovering missing history from primary source materials."

An open house of the special collections library (usually closed to the public: edit, they have just opened public hours and have seen a 200% increase in usage of the archives) will be held during lunch and also before the banquet dinner tonight.

Explanation of primary source materials - the basis of the best historical research (in my opinion).

As a little break from dark rooms, I've been receiving some more photos from yesterday's field trips.

Here is the Patch mine, Central City, Colorado, photo by Phil Persson.

Ghost town of Nevadaville Colorado; Central City field trip, photo by Phil Persson.

Mine owner explaining mine dumps on his property near Nevadaville, Central City field trip, photo by Phil Persson.

Monument to fallen miners in Central City, Colorado, photo by Phil Persson.

Visiting the Russell L. & Lyn Wood Mining History Archive, established by former School of Mines Board of Trustee members Russell L. and Lyn Wood.

Many, many mine reports.

A letter from Richard Stockton to Thomas H. Gibson concerning the Gem Consolidated Mine in Clear Creek County, Colorado.

Hand drawn map (original!) of the Idaho Tunnel, dated 1925.

A portion of the Elkton (Teller County - Cripple Creek and Victor area) Stoping Map by Luckcraft and Countryman Mining Engineers, 1899.
Shows the areas mined with corresponding dates.

Just a portion of the collection in the Russell L. And Lyn Wood Mining History Archives - estimated at tens of thousands of historical mining documents related to Colorado, other states, and also internationally.

The staff here is dedicated to protecting mining documents and encouraging those who are involved in the mining and mineral world to make plans to preserve their documents to prevent history from being lost.

They are actively digitizing the documents in the collection and have made the system an open access system available for all to use. To check the digital database, visit

If you need to request information regarding mining documents that may not yet be digitized, you can contact Nick Iwanicki at

I was caught up too long in the archives and unfortunately missed part of this presentation, but Tommy B. Thompson is presenting "The Precious-base Metal Manto Deposits of the Colorado Mineral Belt at Leadville, Gilman, Kokomo, & Aspen."

Geological sequences of the development of the ore body at Leadville.

Ralph J. Stegan is giving a very good presentation on "The silver-Rich Manto Deposits of Aspen, Colorado: Characteristics, Discovery, and Mining History," but I have been asked not to take photos during the presentation due to proprietary reasons, so here is a geologic map of Aspen instead and a general encouragement from me to attend symposiums yourself whenever you can, as there are many, many more pieces of knowledge than a live report can possibly include.

In the meantime, here are some more photos from Friday's field trips:

Looks like success was had during gold panning in the Clear Creek area of the Central City/Blackhawk/Idaho Springs field trip. Photo by Philip Koch.

The Argo Mill in Idaho Springs. Photo by Philip Koch.

The group at the Cœur d'Alène Mine, Central City, Colorado. Photo by Philip Koch.

Underground tour in the Clear Creek area. Photo by Philip Koch.

Vincent Matthews is currently presenting what will likely be fairly scandalous in this crowd: "Does the 'Colorado Mineral Belt' Best Describe the Distribution of Tertiary Epithermal Ore Deposits in Colorado?"

Some very detailed data mapping done regarding the geologic nature of Colorado ore deposits.

Now time for social hour(s) and poster presentations.

Mario Guzman discussing his PhD thesis "Mineralogy, Petrogeaphy, and Mineral Chemistry of the North Amethyst epithermal (Au-Ag) Deposit, Creede, Colorado: Insights into precious and base metal mineralization."

Matt Dye (left) and Lee Alford (right) discussing Lee Alford's master thesis under advisement of Alex Gysi, "Hydrothermal evolution of Au-bearing quartz-pyrite veins and their association to base metal mineralization in Central City, Colorado."

An image from the poster/presentation given by Irene Kadel-Harder "Remote sensing of alteration signature associated with epithermal mineral deposits using WorldView-3, ASTER, Landsat, and Hyperion data."
Photo by Pete Modreski, but I hope to also get access to a video, as there were some very neat things happening here.

Socialization before dinner.

Bruce Geller, curator of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, makes thank you announcements before dinner.

Ed Raines is presenting "Silver as a Precious Metal from the Greeks to Today."
Here is an image of the very first coin, made in ancient Lydia.

Paul Bartos is opening the morning with "The Breckenridge Mining District, Summit County, Colorado."

Some discussion of the leaf gold specimens from Farncomb Hill, Breckenridge, Colorado - gold here was being mined as specimens.

Jim A. Paschis (who's opening accomplishment in his biography is that he "won his Brunton compass in a single jack contest," which I believe is exactly how you tell that someone is a true Colorado miner) is presenting "Cash Mine: 3rd Level Mining, Milling, and Ore Microscopy."

Some very attractive microscopy results - here is a filigree of gold on hessite alongside pyrite and quartz.

Laurence P. (Larry) James is now presenting on "Central City District: $100 Billion in Au+Ag, 3 shaky models, 4 unsolved mysteries, and consequences." (Central City District has carried the title of the "Richest Square Mile on Earth," though I'm unsure if that's been established by concrete comparisons.)

Discussion of "The Patch," of which we saw a site photo earlier in this report from Phil Persson on Friday's field trip to this area.

A few of the significant historical developments related to the Central City District.

Dr. Karen J. Wenrich is presenting "The Sweet Home Mine - Silver to Rhodochrosite."
As an important side note, one of Friday's field trips included the Sweet Home Mine, though apparently all attendees brought real cameras for that stop so I haven't yet been able to get any photos in time for this report.

Dr. Wenrich explaining some diligent work she has done under encouragement from Brian Lees regarding the "gemminess" of Sweet Home rhodochrosites.

A model of Sweet Home mineral paragenesis developed from data obtained from fluid inclusions - important to remember that there are plenty of very lovely things other than rhodochrosite.

Before dispersing for lunch, we gathered in the mentality of historical preservation for a group photo of the attendees.

I had planned on spending some more time at the museum during lunch, but it's Sunday and hasn't opened yet.

Here are a few more Friday field trip photos that have come in instead.
The exterior of the Argo Mill, Idaho Springs, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

Heating stove in the Cœur d'Alène Mine, Central City, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

Underground at the Chaffee Mine, Gilpin County, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

Steven Wade Veatch, research associate at the Cripple Creek District Museum is now presenting "The World's Greatest Gold Camp: A Concise History of the Cripple Creek Mining District." Here is the first known photo of Cripple Creek - Mr. Veatch has told me that these historical photos are all courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum and that many of them have not been seen since the time they were taken.

A photo Mr. Veatch came across just a few weeks ago: the swimming pool at the Cripple Creek high school - quite a sign of extravagance for the time, I think. The photo provided by courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum.

Mr. Veatch is showing some specimens from Cripple Creek that were higraded specimens stowed away by a miner who died before being able to retrieve his stolen material.

Carl R. (Bob) Carnein is presenting "An Updated Introduction to Cripple Creek Geology & Minerals."
Here is a production chart of gold production over time from the Cripple Creek and Victor Districts.

A list of Cripple Creek tellurium minerals (as listed by mindat) as of July 2017.

Melonite after calaverite, Cresson Mine, Cripple Creek, Colorado. Bob Carnein photo.

Discussion of the geology of Cripple Creek.

Douglas White, Area Geology Manager of the Cripple Creek operations for Newmont Mining Corporation (which acquired the CC&V operation in 2015), is presenting "Newmont North America: Cripple Creek." Here is a recent site overview - the open pit at Cripple Creek began in 1994.

Some discussion of the strategies of safely working in a district containing over a hundred years of underground workings - Mr. White has mentioned that he often checks the original mine reports from historical mining, which he says are all very accurately documented.

A "thrown in" slide showing a collection of geologic mapping from the Vindicator Mine - Lisa Dunn's presentation yesterday on historical archives seems to have sparked a movement among today's speakers (and hopefully the audience also).

Bruce Geller, director of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, is beginning his presentation "A Cursory Description of Telluride Occurences in Boulder County, Colorado and Exploration Guides: Classic Examples of Epithermal Telluride Deposits in Boulder, Colorado's Backyard."

Gold in hessite, Cash Mine, Gold Hill, Colorado. FOV = 0.32mm

Peter J. Modreski, USGS, presenting "A mineralogical look at Colorado's gold and silver production."

The largest known gold nugget from Colorado at 12 Troy ounces; Pennsylvania Mountain, Alma District, Colorado.

Some analysis of the chemistry of silver content in galena.

Discussing the technicalities of acanthite and argentite - a subject that seems to be a trending topic these days.

Closing remarks by Mike Smith of the Friends of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.

That's it for the talks - there are more field trips planned for tomorrow and I've asked folks to send along photos if they can, as I will be out in the Tarryall Mountains with some friends hunting topaz.

Video (part 1) from the poster/presentation from Irene Kadel-Harder and Peter Price's "Remote sensing of alteration signature associated with epithermal mineral deposits using WorldView-3, ASTER, Landsat, and Hyperion data."

Video (part 2) from the poster/presentation from Irene Kadel-Harder and Peter Price's "Remote sensing of alteration signature associated with epithermal mineral deposits using WorldView-3, ASTER, Landsat, and Hyperion data."

Poster describing the work from Irene Kadel-Harder and Peter Price's "Remote sensing of alteration signature associated with epithermal mineral deposits using WorldView-3, ASTER, Landsat, and Hyperion data."

A group at the Smuggler Mine, Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Pete Modreski.

Underground at the Smuggler Mine, Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Pete Modreski.

More underground at the Smuggler Mine, Aspen, Colorado. Photo by Pete Modreski.

Meanwhile I am in pegmatite country.

The group now on the opposite side of the valley, at the Compromise mine on Aspen Mountain. Looking east, across the town of Aspen to Smuggler Mountain and the Smuggler mine. Photo by Pete Modreski.

The Compromise Mine. Photo by Pete Modreski.

A group at the Caribou Mine, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

Ore cart at the Cross Mine, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

Underground at the Cross Mine, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo by Steve Pott.

A group photo of the participants who headed out to the Smuggler Mine today. Photo by Jim Paschis.

Another group of field trip attendees at the Cross Mine. Photo by Sandra Gonzales.

Lunch on the hillside by the Caribou Mine - not a bad view. Photo by Sandra Gonzales.

Gearing up at the Rip Van Dam Mine, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo by Sandra Gonzales.

Jim Paschis talking to group at north Table Mountain. Photo by Sandra Gonzales.

Field trip participants hiking to examine the Hoosier Reef (fault breccia), Hoosier Hill, Gold Hill District, Boulder County, Colorado. Gold deposits are situated on both sides of this major structure. Photo by Will Moats.

Photo showing close up view of Hoosier Reef (fault breccia), Gold Hill District, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo by Will Moats.

Ibex complex (Ibex Mine, Little Jonny Mine, etc.) in the Leadville District, Lake County, Colorado. Photo by Lewis C. Kleinhans.

Arm waving at the London Mine (Alma District, Colorado). Pennsylvania Mountain visible in the background on the left. Photo by Geoff Sterling.

Gold nugget from the Combination Placer on Pennsylvania Mountain, crystalline nature indicates short transport distance from the source. Photo by Geoff Sterling.

Gold flakes in sluice box at placer operation in Fairplay. Photo by Geoff Sterling.

Photomicrograph of visible gold in quartz vein from the London Mine. Photo by Geoff Sterling.

Newmont geologists giving field presentation at the Cresson open pit at Cripple Creek. Photo by Paul Prijatel.

Operational open pit near Cresson pit in Victor. Photo by Paul Prijatel.

Cresson pit drill rigs preparing holes for blasting operations. Photo by Paul Prijatel.

It's been an excellent symposium - thanks to all who helped make it happen:
The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Denver Region Exploration Geologists' Society, Friends of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, and Friends of Mineralogy - Colorado Chapter: without the hard work of volunteers from these organizations, none of these events would be possible.
Everyone who sent along their photos of the field trips - being able to see a sneak peak of everyone's experience was a great addition to this report.
All of the symposium attendees - without your interest, these events would not exist.

I am now on my way home, but wanted to end with a parting shot of the beauty found in Colorado (somewhere in the midst of the Pikes Peak batholith) - there are plenty of good rocks (and minerals!) to be found here.

I will add links here to the symposium abstracts and field guides when they become available!

This article is linked to the following museum: Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum (Colorado)

Article has been viewed at least 7262 times.


Great reporting! Thank you, Erin!

Jolyon & Katya Ralph
21st Jul 2017 7:27pm
Super report! Really appreciate the effort.

Chester S. Lemanski, Jr.
21st Jul 2017 9:20pm
Please take a photo of the giant Covellite from Summitville, Colorado. Those might be the largest crystals of Covellite extant.

Brian Kosnar
21st Jul 2017 9:21pm
Thanks for sharing the Covellite! Much appreciated! Thanks for sharing my old Andorite as well.

Brian Kosnar
21st Jul 2017 9:37pm
Pretty cool specimens. I love that sowbelly cut amethyst specimen. Also, that large smoky from Brazil could easily be mistaken for Colorado Smoky (Lake George, Crystal Peak, Sentinel Rock, etc), especially with what looks like little amazonite chips on the base.

Scott Rider
21st Jul 2017 9:41pm
Wonderful thanks so much!!! I like the case of Breckenridge golds. Will you post it to the galleries?

Rob Woodside
21st Jul 2017 10:10pm
Great Report wish I could be there! Very small Shangbao Fluorite indeed...

Alexander Ferri
22nd Jul 2017 12:09am
Hi Erin

Great report, lovely photos.

I loved the the link of the zeolites with their locality in the distance.

Great Covellite specimen, and that Rhodo is not too shabby either !!
You also photographed one of my pet loves - a Wheal Coates pseudomorph - thank you.
Are you able to get the seminar notes for Mindat??
Thank you so much, well done.

Keith Compton
22nd Jul 2017 12:28am
Rob, I will add the Breckenridge gold, yes!

Keith, I'll have some coverage of the symposium talks and also have my own copy of the abstracts - are there further notes requested?

Erin Delventhal
22nd Jul 2017 1:02am
Great reporting, Erin!
It almost makes us feel like we're actually there in attendance....

Paul Brandes
22nd Jul 2017 9:40pm
Helluva great report, Erin. Thank you very much for the considerable effort!


Tony L. Potucek
26th Jul 2017 4:00pm
Excellent report Erin!


William Moats
27th Jul 2017 4:59am
Very nice and interresting documentary.


Jean-François Lanoë
16th Aug 2017 2:31pm

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