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July-August 2010

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Chips from the Quarry: July/August 2010

BUTTERFLIES, BEETLES & BUGS, OH, MY! Literally a show-stopper at last year's Munich Show was a most unusual walk-through exhibition: it featured matching combos of insects and minerals. Of course, by now you've already seen the cover with some examples of the striking pairs. You can read more about these colorful companions in this issue's article “Flying Jewels” (pages 326–330), and you can see the real thing in late October when the Munich Show will again feature the exhibit, this time on an expanded scale.

SUMMER SERIES CONTINUES: Tom Rosemeyer adds yet another Copper Country article to his continuing series on the mines and minerals of Upper Michigan. As in the past, we are running it in the July/August issue as a tie-in with the annual Copper Country Mineral Retreat, this year being held the week of 8–15 August. For a delightful read, see Tom's article on pages 300–316; for details on the retreat, see website Suffice it to say, this is a collector's dream vacation, offering mine tours, underground and surface collecting, mineral swapping, a banquet, luncheons, lectures, a benefit auction, a mineral show, and, of course, the opportunity to visit the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Tech in Houghton.

BILL LARSON AT SPRINGFIELD: While some collectors are “retreating” in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August, others will be gathered in West Springfield, Massachusetts, where Bill Larson, of Fallbrook, California, is the featured exhibitor at the East Coast Show. Dates are 13–15 August. As is tradition for the featured exhibitor, Bill will fill fifty-three display cases with some of his best specimens, including San Diego gem crystals, worldwide rare and fine minerals, illustrated specimens, rare Burmese crystals, and selected gemstones and objets d'art. In addition, he will give an illustrated talked titled “The Legendary Valley of Rubies, Mogok, Burma.”

Caption: Bill Larson in Mogok, Burma.

Caption: Bill Larson in Mogok, Burma.

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? To paraphrase the old nursery rhyme, “With pretty rocks all in a row!” The Monroe Welcome Center, at Mile Marker 10 along I-75 Northbound, in Monroe, Michigan, has a newly sprouted outdoor rock garden as an attraction for visitors. Featured are rocks from around the state, thirty-seven boulder-sized ones to be exact: twelve igneous (with red signs), twelve metamorphic (with green signs), and thirteen sedimentary (with blue signs). Still to come is the labeling, which fell victim to budget cuts and will eventually include the name of the rock, its age, the quarry or mine and county from which it came, and its dimensions and weight. Currently, handout sheets keyed to the numbered rocks give this detailed information. There is also a handout explaining Michigan's geology and geological resources. Who would have guessed that an interstate rest stop would become a popular roadside destination for tourists or a field trip site for school classes and even mineral clubs!

Caption: A section of the Welcome Center rock garden in Monroe, Michigan, off I-75, 10 miles north of the Ohio state line.

Caption: A section of the Welcome Center rock garden in Monroe, Michigan, off I-75, 10 miles north of the Ohio state line.

A CASE FOR EDUCATION: The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club, which meets at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Science Museum, recently established a “Significant Minerals” School Kit Program. Their goal is to annually assemble and donate to area elementary schools five display cases containing the official Massachusetts state rocks, minerals, and fossils from localities in the state. Specimens are labeled and are accompanied by a brochure telling about their significance. Funding for the ambitious project is provided by proceeds from the club's annual show, held in March, and enthusiasm for the project comes from an active membership, approximately one hundred strong and a mix of amateur collectors and professional mineralogists. We congratulate this group not only for their educational efforts for the next generation, but also for celebrating their seventieth anniversary this year.

Caption: One of the mineral cases donated to area elementary schools by the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club.\

Caption: One of the mineral cases donated to area elementary schools by the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club.

WHAT A SITE: The Online Mineral Museum is a new resource for mineral collectors and researchers. The site contains 62,388 photographs of more than 30,000 mineral specimens fully searchable by mineral name, varietal name, or locality. The site is hosted by John Betts and is accessible at the following address:

Upon entering the museum, visitors may look up mineral specimens in alphabetical listings, click on a country or state, or review minerals based on groups such as phosphates, sulfides, or pseudomorphs. A separate search page allows searching on all or partial spellings of mineral species and/or localities.

The database currently has 30,714 mineral specimens representing 1,491 valid mineral species from 149 countries, with the most specimens from Mexico (2,497) and the fewest from Yemen (1). The U.S. state represented most is Arizona (1,643), and the least is Nebraska (4). The most remote mineral locality represented is the mid-oceanic Central Indian Ridge, 3,300 meters beneath the Indian Ocean.

Also included are the following:

  • 1,498 mineral specimens from the type locality of that species;

  • mineral photographs of rare species such as oxykinoshitalite, fluor-canasite, chistyakovaite, or armbrusterite that are not found on other Internet reference sites;

  • 1,371 mineral pseudomorphs—the only easily accessible Internet reference on pseudomorphs;

  • 1,905 fluorescent mineral specimens illustrated in daylight and under UV illumination;

  • 1,031 diamond crystals; and

  • 631 twinned crystals.

The Online Mineral Museum will be continually updated, with approximately 4,000 new mineral specimens added each year. The minerals are not for sale—this is a noncommercial reference site for the benefit of mineral researchers and enthusiasts.

Inquires should be addressed to John H. Betts,

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The Cincinnati Mineral Society and the Mineral Section of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society underwrote color costs for the Connoisseur's Choice column, something they have been doing since the column began in 1993. Donors to the Color Fund contributed toward color in the remaining articles. All are thanked for their generosity.

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