Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mineral of the Day: Okenite

Today's mineral is Okenite, those ever-popular fuzzy white cottonball minerals. Named after the German naturalist Lorenz Oken, they were first discovered in Greenland in 1828.

It is important to note that natural Okenite is WHITE. If you see it in other colors, it has been dyed. The white crystals do not have good contrast with the white matrix, and many sellers use food coloring to make a more colorful specimen, which they then try to pass off as natural.

Okenite is usually associated with zeolites, and is generally found inside basalt geodes. The 'hairs' are someone flexible, but still very fragile.

In my days of doing mineral shows, I found that putting a sign saying "Fragile - do not touch" did not deter every passer by from jamming their finger into my okenites. When I got fed up with smashed and mangled specimens, I put up a different sign that said, "Danger! Sharp needles!". Problem solved. However, they are actually quite soft and harmless to touch, just be very gentle with them.

Most of the Okenite currently in the market comes out of India, particularly Maharashtra Province.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Interested in guest-blogging?

I've had so many people email me with wonderful photos and stories to tell about their favorite rockhound sites, that I thought some of my readers might be interested in writing their own guest posts for Rockhound Times.

This would be open worldwide - I'm interested in hearing about sites from anywhere. Just so long as it's one you don't mind sharing with the world!

If you're interested, email me at rockhoundtimes at gmail dot com.

What I'd want from you:

A brief summary of yourself in a sentence or two: ie, "Example McExample is an avid outdoorsman from North Carolina and has been rockhounding for the last five years." [If you prefer to use a screen name rather than your real name, that is fine]

A link to your blog or website, if you have one - this will be put at the top of your post so interested readers can follow you home. If you want them to, of course!

What I'd like to see in a post:
Directions to the site
A comment on equipment needed and ease of access
What's found there
A few photos
A summary of the site with your own comments.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Field Trip: Meteor Crater, Arizona

Note: No collecting is permitted at the crater. This field trip is for geological interest only!

Meteor Crater
Meteor Crater, also known as Barringer Crater [and formerly called Canyon Diablo], is a meteorite impact site not far from Flagstaff, Arizona, said to be the world's best-preserved meteorite impact site.

The crater was created around 50,000 years ago, when a nickel-iron meteorite some 55 yards across struck the earth. Most of the meteorite's mass is thought to have boiled away during descent and impact, leaving only fragmented pieces within the crater.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Field Trip: Sharks Teeth near Bakersfield, California

Hello Rockhounds,

This blogger has been indoors a lot lately, between school and some family issues that have taken up a lot of our energy lately.

To tide you all over, I'm posting photos of a field trip I took many years ago to collect fossil sharks teeth in the Bakersfield area. I hope you will excuse the scant details, for it has been a very long time since I made this trip, and much of it has faded.

I found out much later that it was probably a bad idea to dig around in it without a dust mask on, due to the chance of contracting Valley Fever, but I guess I wasn't one of the unlucky ones.

It's easy to tell which layer has the fossils. It's the one that's been substantially excavated by rockhounds over the years.

Many of the shark's teeth  are small and fragile, but plentiful. Every now and then you'll come across a more solid specimen, particularly in the soil that hasn't been exposed to the sun.

Fossil bones are also in evidence, although the pieces I found tended toward the crumbly side.

 Some of the teeth are embedded into rocks, while others just sit loose in the dirt.

This one was my favorite. Love all the different colors in a single specimen. You'll find red, orange, brown, and gray fossil teeth quite frequently, but usually they are monochromatic within a single fossil.

The best of the day's haul, cleaned up and brought home.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mineral of the Day: Celestite

Madagascar Celestite

Celestite [also called Celestine] is a clear to blueish gray mineral, with crystals which often resemble those of Barite [though Celestite is much less common]. The name comes from the Latin 'caelestis', meaning 'heaven or 'sky' - a reference to the beautiful blue color.

Some of the most impressively blue specimens come from Madagascar, such as the example above.

Celestite is a popular mineral for collectors, for obvious reasons. It is also the only commercially mined source of strontium carbonate and other strontium compounds, which are used in pyrotechnics, television tubes, and even cancer treatments.