Article I wrote for Jun-July WCGMC News
BENSON MINES, ROSE ROAD
Twenty-three WCGMC members converged on Star Lake, NY on the morning of Saturday May 31st for a visit to Benson Mines. We found lots of sillimanite, some fresh, some altered a pretty light green, lots and lots of magnetite including small crystalline surfaces along with massive ore, and huge muscovite books. Jerry Curcio explored ahead a bit at the north end of the property and found an orange calcite boulder that contained large green crystals that appeared to be sillimanite. We later confirmed that identification with Marian Lupulescu. For more on Benson Mines see his paper in the Rocks and Minerals February, 2014 issue or go back to our Feb. 2014 newsletter where it was highlighted as the Site of the Month.
In mid-afternoon it was on to Fine, NY for a quick stop at the skarn outcrop just off the parking area at the intersection of highways 3 and Highway 58. Steve Chamberlain has proclaimed the coarse grained pyroxene (diopside?) and feldspars from this location to be “aesthetically challenged”, but that did not prevent us from scavenging a few for our gardens or collections. Etched and dull, these large dark green pyroxenes and their long and varied cleavage surfaces may not end up in too many mineral display cases, but they can look nice in a garden or on a patio wall.
The highlight of this trip was undoubtedly the Saturday night dig at Rose Rose in Pitcairn. We all knew what we would find, scapolite that was canary yellow to long wave UV at the first site on the hill and a dull red short wave response from albite at the second. But to see this in the field after dark was absolutely awesome. There was yellow and red absolutely everywhere. I wish I had better photographic equipment. And we found bluish fluorescence in at least two separate minerals, perhaps smallish cancrinites in calcite and maybe a diopside different from either the green or lavender known to the locality. We will need verification of both responses. Small pink corundum (ruby!) crystals embedded in the calcite also fluoresce a brilliant red in long wave. Finally, a greenish coating on some of the scapolite pieces, most likely an alteration product, actually showed phosphorescence, the ability to hold color briefly after the black light had been removed.
After seeing Rose Road in the dark, all were eager to get back to the site Sunday AM to collect in the daylight on Sunday. From the albite, titanite, and green diopside at the main pit, to the purple diopside, fluorescent scapolite, apatite, and phlogopite at the secondary pits buckets were filled and cars were laden with collection and garden specimens alike. Of course, the deep blue and tan calcite boulders along the road to the tower were also reduced in size before the group called it a day and headed for home.