I should have known. It was only a matter of time before I would return to my roots and become a sand collector again. It goes back to December of 1976. I was a senior at Lehigh University with one semester left before earning a B.S. in Geology. I wanted to do a Senior Research project during my final semester. Having just completed a course in Sedimentology, Professor Bobb Carson suggested I study the heavy minerals present in beach sand. Perhaps I could compare the composition of heavy minerals present in the tidal zone with those high in the dunes. Perhaps aeolian sands would have a different heavy mineral content than those in the tidal zone. Why not, I thought. It could be fun.
On April 1st, Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club was planning to open its 2020 field season with a visit to Ace of Diamonds in Middleville, NY. The coronavirus has intervened with our plans and this annual rite of passage is not possible this year, but we can spend time enjoying the Herkimers we have collected on past trips.
For most folks these are small- or modest-sized crystals collected from the piles of rock the owners have hauled from their active, off-limits, mining area behind the hill. And I certainly spend time digging and breaking large rocks in search of centimeter or inch-sized diamonds. But, when the club visited last October, just before the site went into its annual hibernation, I did something a bit different.
Sand comes in virtually all colors, however, as my collection grew this past year, I was not adding much blue to my collection. In fact, I really did not have a blue sand until a very unique and interesting sand appeared in the trade box that Bill Beiriger sent me in January. It was inauspiciously labeled as fine, blue-gray sand from a location 12 miles east of Livermore, California. The GPS coordinates Bill provided placed the site closer to Tracy, California and in the Diablo Mountain foothills.
Given the travel restrictions surrounding the coronavirus , it is not possible to do much field planning yet this year, but that does not mean we cannot take some virtual trips. For starters, I found an interesting beach with some neat geology. Bowling Ball Beach is in northern California and there are huge concretions scattered along the Pacific Ocean shoreline. They call them bowling balls, but they look more like small moons to me. I decided to learn more about them.