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November-December 2009

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Chips from the Quarry: November/December 2009

IN THIS ISSUE: From New Mexico to New York to Nevada to Barcelona to Namibia, this issue covers a lot of territory.

New Mexico's Chino mine is the subject of the lead article. It should be of special interest to those attending the upcoming New Mexico Mineral Symposium, 14–15 November, held at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. Except for a select few, all papers presented will be on mineral occurrences, both historical and recent, in New Mexico. Ray DeMark of Albuquerque is the keynote speaker, choosing as his topic “Thirty Years of Symposium Presentations—A Review.” For further information on the symposium, see website

“The Graphites of New York” is another in our continuing series of articles on New York State, which began with the first New York issue (November/December 2007) and spilled over into the second and third New York issues (May/June 2008 and May/June 2009).

In the Collector's Note column, Paul Geffner tells the story behind recovery of “Mongo,” the 16-inch sceptered quartz found at Hallelujah Junction, Washoe County, Nevada.

Shattuckite is the mineral Rob Bowell and Bob Cook chose to feature in the Connoisseur's Choice column, which focuses on shattuckite specimens from Namibia.

And the noteworthy Sr. Joaquin Folch Girona collection in Barcelona, Spain, is described and pictured in an article by Carles Curto Milà and Jordi Fabre i Fornaguera (better known to collectors as respected international mineral dealer Jordi Fabre).

KID FRIENDLY: Periodically, we use this column to call attention to ways of involving young people in minerals. Enrolling a child in the Mineral of the Month Club with a junior (silver-level) membership is one such way. Website and also the Mineral of the Month Club ad in this issue have details, but basically you purchase either a six- or twelve-month membership, and the child that you designate receives by mail a quality specimen and a detailed write-up about that mineral species. For years, Richard and Cheryl Sittinger, who administer the program, have donated a junior membership to the benefit auctions for Rocks & Minerals at the Denver and Tucson shows. I always make sure to be the highest bidder so another of our grandchildren has the fun of getting a mineral surprise package on a regular basis.

The New Crystal Hunters DVD by BlueCap Productions

The New Crystal Hunters DVD by BlueCap Productions

There's nothing quite as exciting as the thrill of the hunt when it comes to collecting in the field. Realizing this, BlueCap Productions has produced a two-hour DVD tracing the adventures of three young collectors and the mineral treasures they find on a three-day whirlwind trip to the gem mines of Pala, California. This DVD, The New Crystal Hunters, is guaranteed to jumpstart a youngster's fascination with minerals. See website for ordering details. And the good news? This is the pilot episode in a new series about the next generation of mineral collectors, so we can look forward to even more collecting adventures geared for the beginner.

Also sure to please is an interactive CD called Introduction to Minerals & Gems, put out by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It is an instructional CD-ROM set up in a question-and-answer format related to seven general topics that include such things as How Minerals Form, Color in Minerals, Physical Properties, and What is a Mineral? The technical information is factual and the presentation at a level understandable by a good high-school student. Illustrations include mineral photographs and good computer graphics. An e-mail to Tammy Barnett ( at the museum shop and $9.95 plus shipping will get you one.

Sometimes a small investment can trigger a lifelong interest for a youngster or older student. It's easy and inexpensive for an individual or an organization to make a difference in a child's future.

DECEASED: It is with sadness that we report the death, in July, of Australia's Dr. Ernest “Ernie” Nickel, a giant in the science of mineralogy. One only need read the Who's Who in Mineral Names column featuring Ernie in our January/February 2009 issue to realize that his many contributions to this field were considerable. He was eighty-three years old (young!).

Ernie Nickel and Marie Huizing, field collecting in Tasmania, 2000

Ernie Nickel and Marie Huizing, field collecting in Tasmania, 2000

Whenever I think of Ernie, I am reminded of his incredible energy, fitness, and enthusiasm. He participated in a weeklong field trip through Tasmania that was part of the Mineralogy & Museums Conference (M&M4) held in Melbourne in 2000. Some of the localities we visited were remote and required long, often strenuous hikes and climbs. But this never slowed Ernie down. He and Joel Grice (who was using a cane at the time, recovering from surgery) always set the pace and were off like a shot once the two vans transporting everyone stopped. Meanwhile, the rest of us were huffing and puffing and asking how much further. When we would finally reach the designated spot, there a beaming Ernie would be, the oldest person on the trip, atop a mountain of rock, motioning for us to come see what he had found.

Also recalling our Tasmanian adventure was trip leader Ralph Bottrill, who, upon learning of Ernie's death, wrote on Mindat (20 July 2009): “I fondly remember taking him around Tasmania just a few years ago, beating our way through the bush looking for nickel minerals, crocoite, etc. He was quite fit, although he did end up calling me the ‘foreman’ (he said the tracks we went up were four times as long as I said and the crystals four times smaller!). Great company and a real gentleman.” I couldn't agree more.

ANNIVERSARIES: Congratulations are in order for the Krantz company, the oldest and one of the largest geoscience dealers on the world market, which in 2008 celebrated 175 years of doing business. It was founded in 1833 as a “mineral shop” in Freiberg, Germany, by Adam A. Krantz. Four years later Krantz moved his business to Berlin, and in 1850 he moved it to Bonn, where it has been thriving ever since, selling mineral and fossil specimens, field equipment, and teaching aids for geology.

Another anniversary worth mentioning is that of Gems & Gemology, the quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America. This year marks its seventy-fifth year of publication.

CARNEGIE AWARD REMINDER: Nominations for the 2009 Carnegie Mineralogical Award are being accepted through 15 December. They should be submitted to Marc L. Wilson, Section of Minerals, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213;

The award recognizes outstanding contributions that promote mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education, ideals embodied in the museum's Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems. The award is open to individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions. Private mineral enthusiasts, collectors, educators, curators, and mineral clubs and societies as well as museums and universities are eligible.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: As always, there are many individuals and groups to thank for their continued support of the magazine. The Cincinnati Mineral Society and the Mineral Section of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society underwrote color costs for the Connoisseur's Choice column, the Seaman Mineral Museum Society contributed toward the New York graphite article, and donors to the Color Fund made color possible in the other articles.

We also thank the Denver Gem and Mineral Show for naming Rocks & Minerals as the beneficiary of the auction held in conjunction with their September show, and we thank John Veevaert, ably assisted by Jesse Fisher, for conducting the online auction in October to benefit the magazine.

Marie Huizing is the Managing Editor of Rocks & Minerals.

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