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Collected With Your Dirty Hands -- Location and In-Situ Edition

Posted by Scott Rider  
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Scott Rider November 03, 2017 07:04PM
I have contributed to the following forum topics: "Collected by your dirty hands", the "Nature Thread" and "Pseudomorphs." There are quite a lot of contributions, conversations, and just plain fun with those topics. However, I felt like there is one topic that is not in the messageboards, or at least not recently.. That would be images from where the minerals were extracted, including ones that are "in-situ" ("in place" - minerals in the ground/rock/cliff) as well of the actual pockets, vugs, veins, miaroles, alluvial/placer deposits, etc. (with or without minerals)...

I have quite a few and I'll post them on this forum and their corresponding location gallery page. I feel that maybe this will encourage people to upload more to the actual locality galleries (like Dal'Negorsk, Devil's Head, etc.) as well. I have found that those images tell a much better story of the geology and mineralogy of the locations than an image of the outside of a mine or towns nearby...

The first contribution is in Saguache County, Colorado. A location known for its chalcedony geodes, but less known for its killer chalcedony pseudomorphs of Calcite. The first image is the hole where you can see the darker grey geodes in the walls of the hole. The 2nd image is an actual geode in-situ in that same hole. I will upload more, but my lunch time is over... Back to work!!!

Example of a location image:

Example of in-situ specimen;

Chalcedony pseudomorph calcite:




Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2017 10:56PM by Scott Rider.
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Scott Rider November 03, 2017 08:29PM
Crystal Hill, La Garita, Saguache Co., Colorado

This is a brecciated section of the mine that hosts calcite, silver, gold, aragonite, and lots and lots of manganese. The calcite clusters, golden crystals formed in between the rocks in the cracks and voids. Gem quality golden calcite formed within those cracks along with silver. I personally did not find any silver or goldl, but metal wires of silver was found were I was digging by my friends.

Breccia:


Calcite from that spot:

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Don Saathoff November 03, 2017 09:18PM
Scott
I'd take that calcite over a few wires of silver any day!!

Don
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Scott Rider November 03, 2017 09:28PM
Indeed, the calcite from there are quite beautiful! The color almost glows in day light! And some of these specimens have little silvery blobs on them, albeit I hesitate to say those are silver crystals without proper analysis. I'm prepping a few of the specimens so I can get decent images to upload to the locality page.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/2017 12:42AM by Scott Rider.
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Scott Rider May 04, 2018 03:36PM
Maybe if I add another post I can revive this thread. I was hoping to see what other people's dig sites look like in other places of the world so maybe my few images will spark some interest. I'm not asking for people to reveal any secrets, but it would be cool to have images of where amazing specimens come from.

My contribution for today is in Park County, Colorado, April, 2018. I don't really have in situ images today but below showed typical finds from a typcial Pike's Peak batholith type pegmatite.

Looking from the entry of the dig


Behind the rocks in center was a nice medium size pocket, maybe the size watermelon. Almost every Crystal was detached from the host rock and only a couple combos came out. But it contained dozens of crystals of Smoky quartz, curved microcline, and colorless to blue fluorite. It was completely inundated with red clay and it took many hours to extract each piece without damaging them. I use chop sticks or skewers to dig thru the clay. I never use metal tools when I hit a pocket (hint hint).



Some of the crystals found from above

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Scott Rider May 04, 2018 03:37PM
Sorry about the first image, not sure why it's tilted. It's not tilted in my phone...
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Kelly Nash May 04, 2018 05:28PM
Nice photos, Scott. These are some nice gemmy green fluorapatite crystals to about 6 inches (15 cm). floating in a calcite vein-dike at Millar's Mine near Bancroft, Ontario. Unless the calcite is quite weathered, it's virtually impossible to get these out without breaking them, so I appreciated that nobody had tried yet, when I came upon this exposure in 2013.

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Scott Rider May 07, 2018 05:53PM
So my in situ images happened to be in another camera!!! This is a 4 inch smoky with a 2cm fluorite (to the right of the smoky) in the pocket before extraction. Both crystals were floating in the middle of the pocket. You can still see the disassembled pieces of matrix on the top of the image.

I'm still packing for a move, so I don't have an image of the fluorite, but its a 3/4ths cube, blue with faint purple phantoms within! Very gemmy and the luster was decent. Not glassy, but very good for a pegmatite derived fluorite.



After a rinse with soap and water. I don't even have to run it through an acids, it cleaned very easily.

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Rolf Luetcke May 30, 2018 09:58PM


This is a collecting spot but a different one. It is between Fairbank and Tombstone Arizona and we are collecting Bisbee minerals. The story here is that the railroad bed was built in 1887 from early Bisbee overburden from the Copper Queen and Denn mines and it was brought out to build the railroad bed which was finally finished in 1902. We discovered the rail bed by accident and I just added a story about it to the mindat page for Fairbank and some photos. Kind of cool to be collecting 1887 Bisbee minerals and not in Bisbee but near Tombstone.
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Andrew Debnam May 30, 2018 10:16PM
good idea Scott et al, I will endeavour to take a few pictures like these on my own. It adds to the story.
Andrew
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Scott Rider May 30, 2018 10:53PM
Great story Rolf!!! I was expecting images from sites, but stories re: those adventures and the sites themselves is an added bonus!! I have many more trips this year so I'll try to keep adding locations to this thread and I'll add stories if they are interesting. Thanks Andrew, I hope to see more people contribute to this thread.

Part of why I started this is to see what the environments look like right where the minerals are found. This helps me when I am out in the field looking around. It also shows people where these minerals form and what they look like today before they get extracted (or right after). I see many locality images of mines and dumps, but rarely do they have in-situ images.

Once I have some extra time, I'll upload the locality images to their corresponding MinDat pages. I have a ton of in-situ images of many locations in Colorado. And a few of those locations barely have mineral images, let alone the site images.
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Matt Ciranni May 31, 2018 07:26PM
From an unspecified location somewhere in southwestern Idaho, this was found at the "Black Crystal Pit" and subsequently taken and cleaned up.

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jeff yadunno June 03, 2018 02:14PM
i posted this picture once before but i think it is a good match for this thread as well.
apatite, titanite and other minerals in an etched out calcite vein
i was scooping out the muck in the lower half of the pics and sorting through it
miller property, sebastopol
http://s253.photobucket.com/user/subsonicdrone/media/DSCF9401_zpsu6g5opex.jpg.html
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Antonio Borrelli June 03, 2018 04:57PM
This is a typical pyroclastic deposit at Poggio Bottinello.
Here after making my way through bramble bushes I'm digging a few holes to make some rough steps and reach that large ejecta above me in the middle of the picture which seemed very interesting.



After nearly a hour of not easy work and with the help of a friend I almost managed to pull it out of the wall.



Finally I can now examine it closely.


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Antonio Borrelli June 03, 2018 05:02PM
And indeed we could immediately see large andradite crystals.



After cleaning and trimming of the ejecta we obtained 5-6 pieces which were really not that bad!
In the first picture below the crystal on the left is the one I'm pointing with my finger above.






Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/2018 05:10PM by Antonio Borrelli.
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Becky Coulson June 03, 2018 07:22PM
Antonio, what a wonderful series of photos!
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David K. Joyce June 04, 2018 12:30AM
In April, I went with a field trip of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society collecting at "Gringo Gulch", a spot just west of Patagonia, Arizona. Beautiful place. Most of the people on the trip were interested in cutting material, quartz crystals geodes, agates, etc. I went to collect some of those things and see the countryside.
Somehow I managed to find a whole whack of what I think are probably quartz pseudomorphs after fluorite. Hard to say for sure. They are octahedral shapes, drusy quartz, that are hollow and generally filled with iron oxide. Could have been pyrite, I guess. Nobody had mentioned anything like that to me so I was surprised to find them.
Collecting is by digging in the soil and recovering chunks of "float", talus-like fragments that have probably moved down over time from further up the hillsides.
Here are a few pics of the collecting locality(not all that far from where Rolf lives) and some specimens.
Nothing earth-shattering but it was fun collecting and an unexpected find.
Best, David K. Joyce

This is the digging environment.

Looking north-ish from the collecting area.
This is a view of Patagonia, way down in the valley below the collecting spot.




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2018 12:40AM by David K. Joyce.
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David K. Joyce June 04, 2018 12:37AM
Here are some pics of some of the pseudomorphs that I found at Gringo Gulch. The pseudo's are all about 8mm across. The full specimen is about 8.0cm across.




I'll go back in the Fall and see if I can do better!! :)

David K. Joyce



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2018 12:42AM by David K. Joyce.
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Scott Rider June 04, 2018 01:32AM
Beautiful finds Antonio and David!

I think the quartz pseudomorph is probably after fluorite. Are there any other octahedral minerals in that area?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2018 01:33AM by Scott Rider.
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David K. Joyce June 04, 2018 01:44AM
Scott,
Don't know yet, if there are other octahedral minerals. I'm new to the area. I suspect it is fluorite.
David K J
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Rolf Luetcke June 04, 2018 01:50PM
David,
Yes, probably fluorite for the original mineral. Here the pyrites are mostly cubes but octahedral can happen also but much less common.
You left Arizona in time David, just got up to the hundreds recently and dry as a bone.
Nice pieces you found.
Rolf
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David K. Joyce June 04, 2018 02:24PM
Hi Rolf,
Want to go there together in the fall? I'll assure Mary that I'll only let you bring a small amount home!! :)
David K. Joyce
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Chris Rayburn June 06, 2018 01:00PM
Nice finds everyone. Spend a few days collecting in the field, and look at everything you miss!

David, a third vote for quartz after fluorite. It looks like at least some of them are epimorphs. Very similar to material from Ouray and San Juan Counties in southwestern Colorado.
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Joshua Frank June 08, 2018 02:04AM
Here is a crystallized quartz vein we unearthed in the N. Cady's in CA. . I am not a geologist so here is my take on the occurrence.

I believe the surrounding rock is a limestone / silicate contact area? With the quartz entering into the spaces and voids that could produce crystals.

The quartz vein we found ; an approximate 6 foot long and 18 inch wide slot produced crystals that are pineapple shape / burr quartz. under a heavy coating of mud and limestone silt. The points are milky and have a heavy coating on them. A few nice 3/4" points popped up while digging into this vein that are not covered with limestone and secondary quartz growth.

Let me know if my understanding of this occurrence is even close! Like I said, I am no geologist, just a amateur field collector that walks and bush bashes any hill where I see some minerals.....crystallized.

Josh


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Jason Ferguson June 09, 2018 04:48AM
Wide shot, close shot and what it looks like cleaned up.




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Florian Baur June 10, 2018 01:50PM
I really enjoy these in-situ images. I only ever see speciments nicely cleaned and trimmed. So it's hard to imagine how they are found, especially brittle minerals like Crocoite or a Uranophane/Studtite I have. I imagine those are in pockets that are not filled with clay but actually empty space?

If any of you have more photos, please keep posting! :D
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Scott Rider June 10, 2018 03:49PM
It's funny you mention crocoite because I have exactly what you want! This is a very cool link to crocoite. It's about as good as it gets for in-situ images and descriptions. You should see the size of some of the crocoite specimens they yank out of the mine. John Cornish did an excellent job with this article...

http://www.mineral-forum.com/message-board/viewtopic.php?t=2692&sid=d5a26eeade62ee52bc76efa566791e42

It was this very article that got me thinking about an in-situ topic for MinDat!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2018 03:53PM by Scott Rider.
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Florian Baur June 14, 2018 10:16AM
Thanks! Great pictures, that's exactly what I was looking for.
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Scott Rider June 14, 2018 03:50PM
You're welcome. I love how fresh those crocoite specimens look right off the walls of the mine! It must take a super careful person with a TON of patience and a skilled hand to get those out intact. I'm quite impressed with thier operation.
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Frank Karasti June 17, 2018 01:57AM


A Botryoidal specimen of goethite or hematite. It is very iridescent. Waiting for better weather to recover it. On a iron mine dump near Hibbing Mn.
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David K. Joyce June 17, 2018 02:06AM
Better weather?
DKJ
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Frank Karasti June 17, 2018 04:09AM

This, one after another ⛈
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Doug Daniels June 17, 2018 04:11AM
I'd have picked that sucker up and taken it with me. No need for better weather.
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Frank Karasti June 17, 2018 04:29AM
Was on my motorcycle on steep extensive mine dump, didn’t want to damage it. Was getting late.....
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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:45AM
Every year I lead a trip with the Colorado Mineral Society to a location about ten miles from Stoneham in Weld County Colorado. In the worn out creek beds and some very hard work you can still find nice blue Barite, sometimes with honey color mixed in and usually associated with Calcite.

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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:47AM
I found this pocket surrounded by tiny Calcites.

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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:49AM
Trying to figure out why it's posting sideways. Pretty big for the location.

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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:50AM
Usually they are smaller.

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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:50AM
Usually they are smaller.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2018 05:29AM by Aaron Cross.
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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 04:54AM
Hard to clean when it dries out because it could just crumple.

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Aaron Cross June 17, 2018 05:36AM
Also some nice little pockets of just Calcites.

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Bob Harman June 19, 2018 06:48PM
Collected from an outcrop of fossiliferous limestone in Monroe County Indiana is this interesting specimen. There is a quartz geode of no significance other than being adjacent to a cavity containing spiky sprays of aragonite. When opened, these cavities usually are quite fresh so little or no cleaning of the specimens is necessary. Self collected as one large intact specimen about 2008.
CHEERS........BOB


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Bob Harman June 19, 2018 07:41PM
Another example.
The locality is a road cut, seen in winter, about 8 miles East of the town of Salem, Washington County Indiana.
The matrix is a very porous dolostone which fractures readily after each freeze thaw episode. Note the obvious fracturing.


The first in-situ example is a large well displayed specimen of calcites on bright brick-red dolomite. It is about 12' up on the high wall and was never collected as it fell apart over a 3 year period of being exposed. If collected intact, it would have made a nice large cabinet display specimen with nice $$$ potential.

This second in-situ example is a large oval specimen with multiple well formed and pristine calcites on orange dolomite. It was very fresh when first exposed, probably needing little cleaning. Altho it also would have made a nice display specimen, it also was never collected. Both examples came apart, falling as pieces over several years.


CHEERS.......BOB
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Scott Rider June 20, 2018 12:09AM
Thanks for sharing Aaron and Bob! Both of you showed some great examples of in-situ minerals.

Aaron, is that area called something like Two Creeks, near Stoneham? My friend in my mineral club is the coordinator for field trips, and we've been talking about going to a place near Stoneham with wonderful calcite/baryte. I would love to know the location, if you are willing to divulge it, PM me some coordinates! I'd appreciate it.

Bob, that is also exactly what I was asking for this topic. Do you have some images of similar, cleaned up examples of the last few images you have in that last posting. I'd love to see those calcite up close. I've been getting more into calcite, because of its huge variety of habits and colors! Its really an intriguing mineral.

Its hard to get people to take images while their digging, once you hit a pocket of crystals, the immediate thought is NOT to take an image (at least for me that is!). I've been bad at getting images myself in the past, but I've been trying to get them this year. I'll probably upload some of the better quality images up to the actual localities..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/20/2018 12:11AM by Scott Rider.
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Uwe Ludwig June 20, 2018 11:55AM
Oh Bob, to see these two geodes without having a real chance to take it out of the wall without destroying is a nightmare for a collector. Or were you so happy to recover these?

Rgds.
Uwe Ludwig
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Andrew Debnam June 21, 2018 01:31AM
Perhaps an odd version of location in-situ. These photos where taken in Cobalt Ontario where my son and I were metal detecting. Sometimes you need to go to less obvious spots as the easy spots have already been heavily detected. The first picture on old mine RD near the Silver sidewalk. We found some decent specimens metal detecting the road. The other photo is an old drill core shack and pump station which had some over grown tailings near it we could metal detect.


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Scott Rider June 22, 2018 12:02AM
Here is a shot of the hole o' geodes at Houselog Creek. It's basically a community hole, started by someone years ago, and dug in by me and many others. However, the original digger did not dig deep enough to get to the pseudos.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2018 12:04AM by Scott Rider.
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Aaron Cross June 30, 2018 11:07PM
Hey Scott, Sorry it took me so long to reply. Yes that place is called Two Creeks and has been getting quite popular in the last couple years, but there are plenty of other places in the Pawnee National Grasslands that have good digging areas, you just have to figure out the places that are the grasslands and which ones are private land and stay off of those. I'll PM you the details of the location.
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Scott Rider August 07, 2018 06:35PM
Aaron, I am going to wait until later in the year to go out there and explore. It'll simply be too hot, and if it isn't, that probably means some storms are a comin'!!

Here is my latest dig at Crystal Hill. Chris Rayburn found an amazing vug (well breccia material with quartz filling in a void) of hundreds of well formed quartz, up to about 8 cms. Numerous large plates with isolated crystals and limonite pseudos of pyrite found there. I was in another part of the mine when he hit this. I got my turn toward the end of the vug, still pulling out a couple decent plates and tons of cool singles.

Albeit, none have been cleaned as of this posting, here is some images.

This is the vug from the outside. You can see a parka jammed in the hole. I placed that there in hopes to pull off a couple of plates that were on the side of the vug would fall off from hours of smashing:


Here is an image of inside the hole:


My really blurry hand for size reference, sorry don't have a better image with my hand for scale:


Next posting I'll post one of the crystals. Most of what I pulled from here is still wrapped up, as I am awaiting Chris's suggestions to clean. He's doing the experiments re: cleaning them... The specimens have a very thick, viscous black clay (manganese oxides?) that coats everything, but was also the reason that these crystals are still intact!!!
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Scott Rider August 07, 2018 06:39PM
I apologize for not having any images of the better specimens. Just a side note, those crystals were not extracted. The rock proved to be very uncooperative and I spend an entire day trying to dig around the vug, and honestly, it'll take days to extract those crystals in a single or couple plates.

Here is a neat 5 cm crystal, where one sprouting crystal formed into another! The terminations are intact, my phone camera is just terrible and my SLR was stolen so its all I have at the moment.

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Chris Rayburn August 08, 2018 12:45PM
Just adding to the fun...and this was a really fun pocket...here's one of the nicer plates that Scott and I recovered. 7 x 14 cm with individual crystals to 4 cm. Oxalic acid does a great job of cleaning these, so this one will go in the bath soon.

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Chris Rayburn August 08, 2018 01:44PM
But all was not sweetness and light at Crystal Hill. Attempted to field trim rock; field trimmed thumb instead.

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Scott Rider August 08, 2018 02:26PM
Some of the best pockets I've hit usually come with one injury or cut or two... Chris got his thumb in this trip. I hit my head on a sharp edge of the rock above the vug... Got a nice big bump and a headache the next day! Glad that was all that happened...

Two weeks ago I was at Houselog Creek and part of the wall collapsed on my head and back. That one was particularly painful, as the wall was full of cobble stones that just pounded me.... Needless to say wear a hard hat if you have material above you!

But that's part of the job!
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Matt Courville August 08, 2018 08:06PM
On the dirty quartz:

Does anyone ever consider that one day there will be next to no good accessible collecting spots and the value/interest of completely uncleaned and pure minerals will sky-rocket?? We are in the era of expensive, pretty, and well cleaned stuff, but it could one day change when all there is, is these museum types left... I quite often leave at lest one rough but decent piece in it's original form for collecting context and some others for potential analysis one day.

Chris/ Scott:

I had my worst injury 'situation' just this year (no lasting injury ;) ). After driving for a couple of hours, not eating(forgetting really), loads of sun, and loads more of hammering on hard, flat rock, I tried to trim one last piece.....

Well my flat chisel went through the rock and hit my finger underneath. Nothing major I thought, until it started to bleed a lot - likely from my blood pressure up, etc. Well, the rich red blood began to drip all over the white rock I was standing on and with the physical shape I was in, I began to feel dizzy, then nauseous, then I was 'oh S$%&' here we go my hearing is going.... I managed to get my composure and not pass-out, but it was both worrying and embarrasing for sure! Once I felt better, my hearing turned-up like a stereo set on 2 and turned back up to 10 on the dial. Good times! ;)
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Reiner Mielke August 08, 2018 08:33PM
Hello Scott,

"part of the wall collapsed on my head and back". Professional miners have invented a tool for preventing that, it is called a scaling bar. I highly recommend using one.
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Chris Rayburn August 08, 2018 11:03PM
Interesting thought on the uncleaned minerals Matt. I clean and trim most of my keepers, as needed, but leaving a reference piece or two as-is isn't a bad idea.

Amen to scaling bars.
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Tony L. Potucek August 12, 2018 12:31AM
Glad to see La Garita is still putting out some quartz specimens. I did well there in1978-early 1980's. The breccia was intense, and the pockets occur in the interstices between the large breccia fragments. This was prior to the mining of the location. I collected beautiful quartz clusters, some with amethyst tips. Many crystals contain visible and movable two-phase bubbles. Thanks for posting!
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Chris Rayburn August 12, 2018 02:38PM
Thanks Tony. Specimen cleaning interrupted for a brief family holiday, but I'll keep a sharp eye out for amethyst and enhydros when I resume. This was, somehow, my first visit to La Garita after 30 years of Colorado collecting.
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Joel Herr October 22, 2018 07:16PM
Keokuk Geodes - the locality is in Hancock County IL, northeast of Hamilton this past weekend. Heavy late summer rains presented some easier then usual collecting opportunities as shown. Some as large as soccer balls, although a majority are solid. Still, hard to pass them up. A decent area for plant and shell fossils as well.

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Joel Herr October 23, 2018 07:51PM
Keokuk Geodes after being cleaned up using a pressure washer. Couldn't find a soccer ball for size reference, so used a softball instead.

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Bob Harman October 23, 2018 08:01PM
JOEL, You have found field and stream quartz geodes which have long ago weathered out of the surrounding limestone matrix. They often are solid or have small cavities of little significance. Going on the "Midwest USA sedimentary geodes" thread on this website, you will find many hi quality finds including some from the Keokuk geode area. Also you will see a number of in situ location photos.

If you open them up and any are of nice quality, I suggest adding pix of them to that thread. CHEERS.......BOB



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2018 08:08PM by Bob Harman.
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Don Windeler October 24, 2018 06:28AM
Joel:

Nice find -- as a slow-pitch softball player, anything that would fill up my entire team's collective gear bags absolutely qualifies as a good bit of fun!

I would actually suggest you first post them to MinDat under the appropriate mineral for Hancock County (or more refined locality within Illinois.) That way they are permanently recorded as representative of what's found in the area. Once in the MinDat database, you can easily link them in various message threads as you want, but that way they'll actually add to the value of MinDat as a research and reference tool, rather than something that will only be seen if someone happens to stumble onto a particular thread and sifts through all the pages.

Cheers,
D.
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Joel Herr October 27, 2018 11:06PM
Thanks Don. I would post them to a site specific location, but as Bob says, these aren't really that special - the best ones have what I call quartz 'florets' in them (see the geode on the left in the attached picture) - I think stunning to look at, but not that significant. Even though this location has abundant and rather large geodes for the area from what I have seen, I can't really tell what formation they came from. If you look at the first picture I posted to this thread down to the bottom left there is a sandstone layer that presents itself in a couple different locations on site. Geodes are embedded in that layer (as shown in the picture here), and under that layer tend to be some rather large geodes. But I can't tell what formation that sandstone layer is from as there is little additional evidence to go by. That's why I chose this venue instead. If I can figure out more technical details, I will definitely try to add something more permanent.

Thanks for commenting Bob and Don on my finds....

Joel

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Kevin Conroy October 28, 2018 12:06AM
Joel, your geodes are very nice, and are special to many collectors. While the one on the left has lustrous quartz crystals, the one on the right looks like it has a thin layer of chalcedony present. I've found several "creek geodes" that have very thick chalcedony that I think are quite aesthetic.

If you want to read a bit more about geodes in this area please see: https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/44730/guidetogeology98fran.pdf?sequence=2
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Bob Harman October 28, 2018 10:11PM
JOEL, Your pictured quartz geodes are quite nice! The one on the left with the "floret", as you call it, is often called a "snowball" and is occasionally found in larger Hamilton Illinois specimens. Google "snowball quartz geodes from Illinois" to see a number of similar examples. CHEERS.....BOB
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Joel Herr October 31, 2018 05:41PM
Tepee Canyon old agate claims - Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota. This past summer visited the old Tepee agate main claim in sight of Hwy 16, West of Custer. First picture shows what you come up on - lots of broken rock from people trying to get at the agates. In the center of the second picture you can see some loose nodules way in back - you can still find some around. Most of the nodules will be completely brown inside, but some will have the classic Tepee agate pattern - third picture shows an example of both. Agates with pattern from this particular pictured location at the old claim site were nearly all fractured as shown, due to uplift or shifting, and some are loose from the limestone matrix. It is nice that they are loose and don't require as much hard-rock mining, but bad since most are fractured. The cracks will fill up with calcite which 'heals' the agate and keeps it intact sometimes. You can chip away at the calcite or use an acid to reveal the pattern if there is any. If you are cracking the nodules open on-site you will end up destroying some beautiful agates - if one looks promising I will take it home and open it more carefully or have it cut.



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John Montgomery October 31, 2018 08:31PM
Now we are at the end of the collecting season here, I'm thinking of my first finds of the season...SCEPTRE QUARTZ




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2018 09:37PM by John Montgomery.
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Joel Herr November 02, 2018 06:12PM
Follow up from the Tepee Canyon agate trip. Picture showing a better representative of a classic Tepee agate from this past summer that I broke apart at home. You can see the calcite (as a white layer in areas) that I was referring to. In this particular case I was able to remove most of the calcite by chipping at it. The larger piece of the nodule to the right has several more fractures in it that would make it hard to cut successfully, but I never get tired of looking at these.

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Scott Rider December 02, 2018 06:58PM
A mild start to the end of the year prompted another trip to Saguache Co. This is a new dig away from the classic dig site near Houselog Creek.

This site contains chalcedony and drusy quartz geodes just like the other dig does here, but the difference is they are much harder to extract with out damaging them. However, the geodes here seem to have the potential of being the best I've found in this area. Plus the sizes seemed to be much bigger than any of the other digging spots.

The geode in this example contains a 2 inch hollow chalcedony epimorph of calcite. The broken part was a contact to the other side of the geode. It is common that the calcite crystals formed from one side to the other in these geodes. So many are incomplete like this sample.

Found this yesterday! It was cold but a very calm and nice day!






Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 07:43PM by Scott Rider.
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Scott Rider December 02, 2018 07:01PM
Some more images of the geodes in-situ and the dig site.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 07:02PM by Scott Rider.
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Scott Rider December 02, 2018 07:17PM
It's hard to tell where the geodes are in those images, except the one with my hand. Here is a good shot of one in-situ and how I chiseled it out.

See how there is rock all around the geode.


After some chiseling, the geode is starting to take shape. They are not as spherical as you would think. It's like they are slightly compressed, making them almost square shaped:



It's now ready for extraction. All I needed to do is pop it out at this point. The bottom of these always have sandy like rock under them, almost like they are in sandwiched layers. But the geodes come side by side and right next to each other. So it was difficult to eatract one without damaging the others. This one didn't have ones next to it so it popped out. Most were not like that.


Each later had unique characteristics, like one later had dog tooth shaped crystals, another would have Pagoda shapes. In one of my previous post you can see the individual layers if you really look hard.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 07:39PM by Scott Rider.
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Scott Rider December 02, 2018 07:22PM
Here is the geode. Note that the image in the last post is a little odd. The geode below is actually part of a two chamber geode. So if you flip the specimen over, it looks just like the last post's last image.

The epimorph is rather unusual. The "base" is almost garnet shaped and then it has the weird, not quite scalenohedral shape protrusion that sets this one apart. And there is one little section that is broken revealing the pseudos INSIDE the larger one... Very cool!


A close up shot, notice the broken part at the base. You can see rhombs inside if you look hard enough.




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 07:38PM by Scott Rider.
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Larry Maltby December 03, 2018 02:25AM
This is an unusual find in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. When I retired in 1995 we put out house up for sale. Just prior to closing, I got phone call from the building inspector. She said that she had already signed the inspection permit but she forgot to mention a miss-aligned block in the side walk to the front door. She requested that I prop up the block to prevent tripping. This required that I cut out about one square foot of sod on each side to raise the block. When I lifted out one of the chunks of sod this argillite spear point (10.5 cm long) fell out of the grass roots. I had mowed the lawn over this find for almost 40 years.

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Matt Courville December 03, 2018 03:50PM
Amazing story Larry!! I'm a very big fan of archaeology and history and this would be a dream of mine to find such an item on my own property. My wife would likely end-up flipping-out at me because the entire property would be a dig site within a few hours! hahaha
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Scott Rider December 03, 2018 06:49PM
Larry, that story makes me wonder if the "new" owners ever found any more in that yard. What a cool find though, that is one sharp spear head you have there!
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Larry Maltby December 03, 2018 07:39PM
Hi Matt and Scott,

Here is my theory on how the point got there. When we moved to Dearborn Michigan in 1943 the family house was on an elevated yellow sand beach formed by an old shoreline of Lake Erie during the high water caused by glacier melt. The home that Virginia and I bought was about one mile south of that on the hard blue clay of Lake Erie sediment. When I put in the lawn I had a difficult time leveling the clay. If the point was there then I clearly would have raked it up. I spread about four inches of top soil and then laid the sod. I think that the point was delivered in the sod. It was in the grass roots above the clay. The sod farms were about twenty miles west of the house. No need to dig!
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Scott Rider December 03, 2018 07:48PM
How cool, a traveling artifact!!! That was not moved by natural disasters or events (like a flood, glacial movement, etc.), but by humans, and accidentally too boot!! I wonder if they have found any other artifacts at the sod farms...
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Matt Courville December 04, 2018 01:17AM
Maybe the sod growers are moonlighting in the ancient artifact trade market and lost it during the night?? I had come across an article describing how those which are helplessly addicted to 'Crystal meth' are ironically some of the most diligent, methodical, and tireless diggers of these old American materials. They then in turn exchange these to black market dealers for their drugs and the cycle goes round.

If this situation were to apply, your relic could be from quite a distance. slightly related - I know a friend who has collected very interesting historical items at old mines; some of which are valued in the range of $300 on ebay. I would rather keep them or donate them to a local museum and hope that they would counter with some nice donations of extra minerals/crystals they have in the collections.
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Wes Haley February 02, 2019 09:12PM
Here are some pics of items from the 70S road cut in Woodbury, TN. The second and third pics are the same geode, you can see some of the matrix still intact, it did have much more but I chiseled it off. These have some awesome fluoresce too!






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Chad Nordahl February 09, 2019 08:22PM
This "Epidote Wall" from the Calumet Iron Mine in Chaffee County, CO presented a beautiful photo, I was wishing at the time that I had a brush of some sort as I more or less blew through a straw to get it cleaned off. This was a great day in the field, as I happened to meet another rock enthusiast there who has become a good friend. The field of view is perhaps two feet in length. June '18

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