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November-December 2012

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Unusual Quartz and Chalcedony Pseudomorphs From Canada's Alberta Badlands

Southeastern Alberta's “badlands,” as described by Gross (1998), have been world renowned for their Upper Cretaceous dinosaur fossils since the start of the “Great Canadian Dinosaur Rush” in 1910. The best-known fossil sites are in the Red Deer River Valley around Drumheller (the location of the Royal Tyrrell Museum) and downstream, to the southeast, in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Despite long-term knowledge by local residents that crystals occur in the same formations, and collecting by local rock and gem clubs, these occurrences are still less well known than are the fossils. Consequently, they have attracted much less attention in the literature, with descriptions restricted to the Drumheller area. Sinkankas (1959) mentions silicified, hollow dinosaur bones lined with quartz crystals; Sabina (1978) notes the occurrence of pseudocubic quartz; and Mussieux and Nelson (1998) describe various types of quartz crystals.

This article grew from a publication by one of the authors (Menzies 1997) based on collecting experiences starting in the early 1990s. The principal areas covered are along the Red Deer River around Drumheller and to the north along Meeting Creek and the Battle River near Donalda.

Dr. Michael A. Menzies, a mineral collector for thirty years, has written about the minerals of Idaho's Sawtooth Range and the worldwide occurrence of topaz. This is his first article for Rocks & Minerals.

Si Frazier is a lifelong mineral collector with a special interest in quartz. He taught geology, mineralogy, and gemology for many years. He and his wife, Ann, are now engaged in research for a book on quartz.

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