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March-April 2013

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Chips from the Quarry

FIFTY SHADES OF PURPLE: That plus an array of other hues were what greeted visitors to February's Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where the theme was Fluorite: Colors of the Rainbow. The mineral was also the theme of our January/February issue, and, as it turns out, is the subject of three articles that spilled over into this issue: “Mexican Fluorite” by Peter Megaw; “Fluorite in Granitic Pegmatites” by Mark Jacobson; and “La Fluorita Dulcita Prospect, Cochise County, Arizona” by Bob Jackson.

MERELANI FOCUS: In addition to fluorite, this issue also turns the spotlight on minerals from Merelani, Arusha Region, Tanzania, in a group of five articles, including the Connoisseur's Choice and Word to the Wise columns. We thank authors John Jaszczak, of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, and John Rakovan, of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for coordinating these articles.

MEMORIES OF MOROCCO: Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend the wonderful first Conference, held in Poland in 2011 (see recap article by Alfredo Petrov in the November/December 2011 issue of Rocks & Minerals), waited sixteen months with mounting enthusiasm for the second conference, this one to be held in Morocco, in November 2012, immediately following the annual Munich Show.

The lurking question, however, was if we were setting ourselves up for disappointment with such high expectations. Speaking for the more than one hundred adventuresome souls who spent almost two weeks traveling in this hospitable country, I'd say expectations were not only met, they were exceeded! With Marrakesh as our starting point, and nine minibuses as our main mode of transportation, every day packed new experiences and every evening brought a feast and lively entertainment.

Key organizer Tomasz “Tomek” Praskier (who also planned the Poland conference to perfection) choreographed six days of preconference collecting, three days of the conference itself, and then three days of postconference activities. Keeping us occupied were collecting opportunities at world-famous mineral and fossil sites (think Bou Azzer, Mibladen, Taouz, and Alnif, to name a few); mineral shops and markets, mini-mineral shows, and miners; a classy party in a renovated-just-for-us carpeted mine with sit-down dining and dancing; nightly local entertainment (think traditional musicians, singers, snake charmers, performing monkeys, dancers, and more); Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, with its complex labyrinth of merchant stalls, food sellers, and performers; accommodations that ranged from luxurious hotels to Berber tents; a 100-camel-caravan ride on the Erg Chebbi dunes to watch the sunset; our convoy of zooming, rumbling vehicles, followed by billowing sand clouds and encouraged by cheering riders, crisscrossing the washboard Sahara; illustrated mineral programs by top-notch speakers (think Peter Lyckberg, Jolyon Ralph, and Georges Favreau, to name a few); spectacular scenery through the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains; and unequalled camaraderie and time to share a drink with friends new and old (“coffee, tea, beer, and vodka included; soft drinks extra”).

For a full recap, see Jolyon and Katya Ralph's report and photos posted on, 20 November 2012.

Caption: International participants in the 2012 Conference in Morocco, shown here outside the conference center hotel in Midelt.

Caption: Tomek Praszkier, the Pied Piper of conference planners, will be chief organizer of the next Conference, which will be in Madagascar in 2014.

MEMORIES OF MUNICH: As anticipated, the 2012 Munich Show lived up to its reputation as Europe's top mineral event. Its theme of Minerals of Africa was carried out with spectacular specimens displayed with style and class in the special exhibit area that would have done any museum proud. And, as always, a well-orchestrated publicity campaign kept the aisles filled and the dealers smiling. What was unexpected was the Saturday night snowfall that blanketed the city and even some of the show's outdoor attractions, including the dinosaurs, one of which is pictured here. Meanwhile, U.S. show-goers, about to leave for home, were confronted with their own weather-related problems as news spread of Hurricane Sandy and the closing of many East Coast airports. Indeed it was a show to remember.

Caption: With Jack Frost nipping at their noses, snow-covered dinosaurs on display in Munich greeted visitors on the last day of the show.

SALOTTI AWARD: The Seaman Mineral Museum Society proclaimed Dr. Joanne Kluessendorf, director of the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha, Wisconsin, as recipient of the prestigious Dr. Charles A. Salotti Earth Science Education Award for 2012. The announcement was made at the Celebration of Diamonds, a fundraiser event, held 20 October in Houghton, Michigan. Kluessendorf, the fourteenth person to be so honored, played an integral role in the Weis Museum's planning and development, and she continues to oversee its growth and success in reaching thousands of children and families each year with its exhibits and programs.

The evening's guest speaker was Tony Nikischer, winner of the 2011 Salotti Award. His talk, tied to the event's theme mineral, was titled “Diamonds in the Rough.”

The Seaman Mineral Museum Society welcomes nominations for outstanding candidates in earth science education for its 2013 award. Letters of nomination and supporting materials for nominees may be sent to Dr. John Jaszczak, A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, 1404 Sharon Ave., Houghton, MI 49931.

Caption: Joanne Kluessendorf (left), recipient of the 2012 Salotti Award, with Joanie Salotti, daughter of Dr. Charles Salotti, for whom the award was named.

COLORADO COLLECTING: On 26 March 2013 the Weather Channel begins airing an original series of nine weekly programs that follow the prospecting adventures of a group of Colorado collectors as they search for the gem treasures offered by their home state. Called, appropriately enough, “Prospectors,” the thirty-minute episodes explore the perils of braving Colorado's extreme climates and elevations in the quest for such minerals as topaz, aquamarine, and rhodochrosite. Among those collectors featured are Steve Brancato, Amanda Adkins, Rich Fretterd, Brian Busse and the Busse family, and Joe Dorris and the Dorris family.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The Houston Gem and Mineral Society, in memory of Arthur E. Smith, and the Cincinnati Mineral Society underwrote color costs in the Connoisseur's Choice column; Maryanne and John Fender (Fender Natural Resources) did the same for the Museum Notes column. Donors to the Color Fund contributed toward color in the remaining articles. All are thanked for partnering with Rocks & Minerals to support color photography in the magazine.

For a complete list of all 2012 donors, show and auction volunteers, and shows providing space, see pages 217–218 in this issue.

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