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Babingtonite Why MA and CT

Posted by Bart Cannon  
Bart Cannon July 15, 2012 10:24AM
I've been following the babingtonite thread centering around Woburn, Mass.

I don't think there is anything special about the composition of babningtonite, nor anything special about the rocks in Connecticut or eastern Massacheusets.(too lazy to spell check)

Why is that area the center of distribution for babingtonite in North America ? Is it because mineral people are never recognizing the crummy little crystals of babingtonite in their own local collecting areas ?

Ten years ago a major environmental firm hired me to work on the mineralogy of the tailings at a mine. They wouldn't tell me where the mine was.

The principal investigator thought that if he told me where the sample came from, that it would bias my analysis. This happens often and it is completely stupid. It is a team effort and the more I know, the better my results.

In the first polished that I analyzed, I found manganbabingtonite, and I was pleased to report to him that the location was the Iron Cap mine in Arizona.

His strategy was foiled. But so was mine. I have not had a job from them since.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/15/2012 10:28AM by Bart Cannon.
Chester S. Lemanski, Jr. July 15, 2012 01:24PM
We have babingtonite in the New Jersey traps as well; however, it is not as common, nor as large, as the New England material.
David Von Bargen July 15, 2012 01:35PM
I think that it is probably a sampling bias. Wherever you start moving lots of rock, you will find things. Their stone quarries happen to be in rock types that are conducive to the formation of babingtonite.
Bart Cannon July 15, 2012 02:53PM
I apologize for wasting people's time around a question that probably can't be answered, but since I was a little boy, babingtonite has been one the "magical minerals" for me. That's why I badgered and whined to my father after we left the New York World's Fair in 1964 until he took me to Woburn for babingtonite on the way home to Detroit.

The host rocks at Blueberry Mountain in Woburn are medium grained and loaded with K-Spar, but the other New England localities are fine grained dark stuff, I think referred to as "trap rock".

I wonder how "trap rock" wormed its way into the vernacular.

Washington State has almost every rock type ever described. Plenty of prehnite bearing basalts. I've been systematically collecting in the State since 1965, and not a trace of my magic mineral.

Harold Moritz (2) July 15, 2012 04:31PM
The mindat glossary does not give an etymology of "trap", though the definition is correct. In wikipedia, the origin of the word is described, and is consistent with my memory:

"The erosion of trap rock created by the stacking of successive lava flows often created a distinct stair-step landscape from which the term "trap" was derived from the Scandinavian word "trappa", which means "stair step"."

Here in Connecticut the basalt lava flows and diabase intrusions (both referred to as trap rock here) do not have that stepped characteristic, but do possess plenty of babingtonite in fractures and gas vesicles. It also occurs in fractures in metamorphic rocks, mostly in SE New England, such as at Woburn. In both modes of occurrence, the babingtonite formed late in the sequence of crystallization and probably has more to do with the depth of burial at the time than the host rock composition. Perhaps your Washington rocks were not as deeply buried?
Ronnie Van Dommelen July 15, 2012 06:05PM

Since your original post stated North America, I'll chime in for Canada.

Here in Nova Scotia we have one roadcut that has produced tiny black blocky crystals on prehnite. I found these several years back. They are undoubtedly babingtonite, but have not been tested yet. It (and the next specimen) are on my to-ID list. The other specimen I have is from Cape D'Or and is VERY tiny black crystals associated with gyrolite(?, also needs ID - VERY rare in NS), apophyllite and heulandite.

Babingtonite has not been reported from Nova Scotia, so it would be very interesting when these pieces are processed.

Last summer some friends of mine found some small crystals on prehnite from New Brunswick (it is now in MinDat) that I believe were IDed with Raman.

Last winter I was looking at Lazlo Horvath's list of all minerals reported from Canada (PDF List) and found babingtonite missing. In a country as big as ours Lazlo and I were both surprised that it had not been reported before.

We don't have much in the way of the zeolite associates here (in NS), except apophyllite. We don't have any datolite, only very rare gyrolite, and rare prehnite. I guess babingtonite just fits in that category too.

Wayne Corwin July 16, 2012 01:28AM
Babingtonite is the Massachusetts State Mineral ;-)
Bart Cannon July 16, 2012 01:58AM

I think you might be kidding, but I would agree with babingtonite as your state mineral. It's "magic" afterall.

I have a sick feeling that Washington State's official mineral is petrified wood.

My conclusion about the seemingly limited distribution of babingtonite just relates to lack of recognition and identification of little black druses..

Wayne Corwin July 16, 2012 03:39AM
Just as example Mass Babingtonite
And the first mineral listed from the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club , in the display case's
given to schools CVMC Display Case
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