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July-August 2015

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State Earth Science Symbols of the American Southwest

The theme for the 2015 Denver Gem and Mineral Showis Minerals of the American Southwest. For this show, the American Southwest is defined as the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Colorado is omitted because its minerals are always a prominent feature at the show, and California is omitted because it is better classified as part of the Pacific Coast.

These southwestern states have demonstrated local pride through laws designating their choice of iconic earth science symbols, including minerals, fossils, rocks, and gemstones. In some instances, a group of citizens may have petitioned their state legislature to vote for a particular symbol. In other cases, legislators submitted symbols to advertise outstanding aspects of the state. Approval is not difficult because these symbols are generally not controversial and require no expenditures.

The symbols described in this article highlight prominent earth science aspects of their respective states. Many, if not all, of these minerals, rocks, gems, and fossils will be on display at the show.  

Mark Ivan Jacobson, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, specializes in pegmatites and their histories of exploitation.       

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