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November-December 2012

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California Blue Mine, Yucca Valley, San Bernardino County, California, A New Gem Pegmatite

The discovery in 2006 of gem-quality aquamarine by Dave and Elizabeth “Liz” Schmidt is the first discovery of a significant gem-bearing pegmatite north of the well-known Southern California gem pegmatite fields.

Early in 2006, Dave, an avid field-collector friend, asked me to identify an unknown blue “hexagonal” crystal that he found in the San Bernardino Mountains near Yucca Valley, California. Years earlier, in 1975, I had the privilege to collect at the Little Three mine in Ramona with Louis Spalding Jr., Josephine Scripps, and John Sinkankas. After becoming intimately familiar with the pegmatites of the Ramona and Pala districts, my knowledge continued to expand to include the numerous locations and features of other famous Southern California gem districts. My experience made me skeptical that gem-quality aquamarine could come from the Mojave Desert area. Dave's locality, the California Blue pegmatite, does not appear to be related to the pegmatites located in the Peninsular Ranges of California.

Michael P. Hunerlach, a former U.S. Geological Survey researcher, is a mining geologist with the U.S. Forest Service. A mineral collector for more than forty-five years, he is an avid field collector and underground miner, actively involved in the prospecting, mining, and recovery of collector mineral specimens; he specializes in Mother Lode gold geology.

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