All posts by Fred Haynes

Spring Collecting

I know it is not yet April as I write this and that I need to be patient.  There will be plenty of collecting opportunities in the coming months.  Spring is here and with it the snow is just about gone and the collecting season is about to begin in earnest.  WCGMC will visit Ace of Diamonds on March 30th  and I’ve been out hunting fossils once already.

But I was impatient earlier this week and decided to venture to western Connecticut to follow up on a couple of leads I had uncovered over the winter by searching geologic literature and old maps.  I hoped I could find places the club could return to later in the year.  I was after kyanite and staurolite or whatever other neat metamorphic minerals I might happen upon, maybe a four-pound garnet?   Anyway, one day last week I packed up the chisels, the hammers and the gloves, loaded the backseat with snacks and chocolate and pointed my aging Honda Accord towards the east.

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Kentucky Fossils

Yes, we are going all the way to Kentucky for a fossil location, specifically to a long, but fairly non-descript roadcut on State Route 11 in Flemingsburg.  The site is on my radar  because at least four members of WCGMC plan to collect at the site in late April.  We will be doing so on a 4-day, 7-site trip led by Jerry Bastedo and the Buffalo Geological Society.   But it is also a site WCGMC visited last Labor Day on its week long trip to Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. Continue reading

Fluorescent sodalite in Great Lake States

Perhaps you have heard of the latest collecting craze in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?  Beach collectors who have generally restricted their collecting to agates, amygdaloidal basalt, and perhaps an occasional greenstone are now returning to the beach after dark with a long wave UV light source.  They are finding beach rocks that are bright yellow when subjected to a 365 nanometer long wave light source.  Apparently there are some beaches where these stones are relatively common.

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Morrisonite

All who attended the January workshop of the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club acquired a nice unpolished slab of morrisonite jasper from the club collection.  Most present at the event struggled to identify the “best” piece remaining when their raffle number was drawn.  It was all so colorful and each piece was unique.  I went home with my piece and decided to learn a bit more about my newest acquisition.

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How do you spell ZnS?

Our favorite minerals come in many forms and colors and it is fun to collect the variety that is available.  But did you ever stop to think how many different spellings there are for your favorite mineral in all the world’s languages?  One way to get started on such an investigation is through worldwide postage stamps.  Here is an example using the important sulfide mineral from which most of the world’s zinc is resourced.  There are certainly more languages than represented by these stamps from 12 countries and ten languages, but they do cover the world!

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Porphyroblasts

Porphyroblast:  I’ve always thought that was such a neat word, maybe even interesting enough for a story.   Say it out loud three times (“pore-fur-o-blast, pore-fur-o-blast, pore-fur-o-blast”).  Now don’t you want to learn more, perhaps even own a few?

Porphyroblasts are those large recrystallized minerals that grow in the groundmass of a metamorphic rock, most typically in schists and gneisses.    In New York State, we immediately think of the bright red almandine-pyrope garnets in the gneissic rocks in the Gore Mountain area, but the truth is the metamorphic schists and gneisses throughout New York and New England often contain garnet porphyroblasts.    Unfortunately a lot of New York’s garnets are hosted in high-grade metamorphic gneiss and they don’t display crystal faces when the rocks are broken.  Nevertheless they are large, colorful and fun to collect.

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Collecting In-Between: Sand

Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club member Jim Rienhardt collects sand.  In the November WCGMC Newsletter he tells us how and why.  I thank him for letting me republish the article here.

by Jim Rienhardt:

Rock to sand to rock:  Rock collectors collect on both ends.  So do I, but I also collect from the middle – the sand.  And, I am not alone.  There are many, many people who collect sand and have tens of thousands of samples.  But why, isn’t sand uninteresting?  The same may be said by someone who doesn’t understand collecting rocks.

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Cutler Mail Chutes: A Rochester Invention

In the late 19th century, building technology and urban development led to taller multistory buildings.  Office and apartment buildings grew vertically.  Naturally this led to new opportunities for creativity and invention and the Post Office Department was looking for improved methods to collect and move the mail from these buildings.

The idea of creating mail chutes to optimize the collection of outgoing mail from the taller buildings sounds like a simple innovative solution that should have occurred as soon as tall buildings were built.  But it took until 1883 for the mail chute to be invented and the first installation was right here in Rochester, New York.

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The Art of Falling

Linda Schmidtgall is the new President of the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club.  A little bit ago she wrote a story about her experiences with falling which was published in the September WCGMC newsletter.   With permission I republish here.

Rockhounds have to learn how to fall.  It is actually very important to do it with grace.  BUT you do want to make sure someone is watching or you will waste a good fall.  It seems I take at least one great trip down a hill or something every year.  A few I recall are:

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New York Chert

Knapping is the shaping of flint, chert, obsidian or other suitable material through the process of chipping off small pieces, thus shaping the piece into a desirable tool, weapon, or work of art.  The process takes advantage of the fracture style of cryptocrystalline quartz and glass.  Lacking cleavage or any natural weaknesses quartz fractures along smooth curved surfaces which often come to very sharp edges.  This property is called conchoidal fracture.

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Isometric Minerals

Perhaps you are familiar with mineral dealer David Joyce’s song about “Crystal Systems” and the refrains about the isometric system.  They go something like this:

You can hear the remaining verses and lyrics here. . And read a review of his full CD in our July 2017 newsletter.  You will find that David is not as complimentary about the other crystal systems.

BUT, did you know that despite the myriad of modified isometric forms that minerals like pyrite, galena or fluorite can display, there are only six basic isometric crystal forms.   It is the interesting and often complex interplay and superpositioning of these forms that create the aesthetic beauty.

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The Long Long Chimney

This article is republished here with permission of its author, Kathleen Cappon.  She wrote the piece for the September, 2018 Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club newsletter.

This is a story about how I dreamed of having a large stone chimney on my future home.  The idea was inspired by seeing the stone pillars at the entrance of Fair Haven State Park each time my family went there in the 1950’s.

Some of you may remember the movie “The Long Long Trailer” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  They purchase a travel trailer to go cross country and at each new place Lucy picks up a sentimental or pretty rock to bring home.

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Massachusetts Micromounts

One of the sites I visited with the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club during the June Massachusetts trip was the large dump beside the Quabbin Aqueduct shaft #10 in Hardwick, Massachusetts.  The 25 mile aqueduct connecting the Quabbin Reservoir to Boston was completed in 1939 and has been a primary source of water for the Boston region ever since.  Rocks excavated from the #10 shaft include the Hardwick granite,  the Monson gneiss, and a number of other metamorphic rocks.  The dump is expansive and although it is becoming overgrown it remains a popular site for mineral collectors.

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Clay Concretions in Sharon, Vermont

About 15,000 years ago the final of four glacial advances stopped in central Connecticut and a large end moraine was established.  As the glacier retreated a large lake formed in what would become the Connecticut River Valley.  Varved (seasonal) clay/silt layers were deposited. Debris (fossils, sticks, leaves, etc.) carried in with the clay/silt became nucleation points for calcite cementation and concretions grew in the clays.  These unique concretions are now being exposed by erosion.  The locals call them “Ferry Stones” or “Mud Babies”.

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Stone Tool Craftsman Show

Have you ever heard of flint knapping?  Do you know there is an active group of flint knappers in western New York and they hold their annual Stone Tool Craftsman Show every August?  In 2018, the event is August 24-26 in Letchworth State Park, itself a geological wonder worth visiting.  For three days members of the Genesee Valley Flint Knappers Association display their wares and share advice on knapping at the Highbanks Recreation Area in the park.

Visitors to the Stone Tool Craftsman Show can see flint knapping demonstrations and learn about a variety of other skills that helped prehistoric cultures survive.  In addition to learning about the making of arrowheads, spears, and stone knives, the group holds several athletic competitions involving stone throwing weapons.

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