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November-December 2016

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Calcite, 2.7 cm, from Williamson County, Texas; Jim Houran specimen, Blake Barnett photo.

Calcite, 2.7 cm, from Williamson County, Texas; Jim Houran specimen, Blake Barnett photo.

Sadly, a wide variety of colorful, aesthetic minerals is not native to Texas, my state of residence. Therefore, it was exciting when Blake and Courtney Barnett began offering a new selection of calcite specimens from an undisclosed quarry in Williamson County, Texas. Most crystals are destroyed in the quarrying and crushing process, and the quarry owner is keeping the location confidential for fear that people might trespass after-hours to dig for specimens. However, field collector Shawn Maddox was allowed to work a calcite pocket in 2012 with permission.

Maddox collected about 150 specimens, which remained with him until recently. The iron-stained calcites, covered with leaves, dirt, and pocket clay, required considerable preparation. Ample cleaning revealed some aesthetic stalactitic aggregates of translucent, rhombohedral crystals of yellow to amber color (see photo). Maddox's hard work indeed amounted to striking proverbial “treasure.” The Barnetts are reportedly in talks to secure a collecting contract at the quarry, so hopefully more good news, more specific locality information, and many more Texas specimens are yet to come.


Regarding the discussion between John S. White and Daniel E. Kile on the origin of hexagonal holes in the Lake George pegmatites in the July/August Letters column (pages 305 and 307): I purchased a smoky quartz crystal from Don Smith at the November 1985 New Mexico Mineral Symposium. This crystal was from the Ten Percenter mine. It is a tapered crystal measuring 9.3 × 2.3 cm at the base. The termination at the base is complex and includes fragments of albite. It seems to comply with the genesis of the holes that White proposed.


Living in Indiana for much of my adult life and being interested in minerals, it became apparent to me that I could focus in my collecting. Indiana is one state that I could realistically expect to build a reasonably complete and quality collection of the state's minerals and some of its rock structures.

Sedimentary-type geodes are a common south-central Indiana rock structure, with many containing up to several collectible minerals. Although geodes may be “looked down upon” by some mineral collectors, the crystals found in the occasional high-end geode rival many Midwest mineral specimens found in non-geode occurrences.

Perhaps the greatest importance of Midwest geodes, however, is that collecting them has for decades been a popular family activity and a springboard for generations of youngsters into serious mineral collecting and the geological sciences.

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