Monday, March 23, 2015

Have a location you want featured? Let me know!

Dear readers,

I've gotten a few suggestions lately about spots to cover for this blog. Do you have a location you would like to see written up here? It doesn't have to be a major spot, I'm willing to visit smaller and more out of the way sites as well.

Suggestions accepted in the comments, or you can send me an email.

I'm looking for sites located only on public land, for ease of access.

I'll take suggestions for anywhere in the whole wide world, but the chances of my actually visiting the place are vastly higher if it's in Sonoma, Lake, or Mendocino Counties, or somewhere nearish those.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Field Trip: Lake Mendocino, Ukiah, California

Lake Mendocino is a fun place to wander around and look for rocks, though you have to know the areas of shoreline that are best in order to find much. We've previously covered the area where the Russian River enters the lake, but today we'll have a look at the opposite end. It's definitely best to go when the water isn't too high.

From Ukiah, take State Street north to Lake Mendocino Drive, and park in the parking area by the dam. Walk all the way across the dam, until the paved path leaves the lake and begins to go up the hill -- at this point, take the small trail to the left that takes you down to the shore.

You're aiming for the point of land that sticks out into the lake, with a sheer dirt cliff. As you approach, start inspecting the cobbles around your feet for colorful jaspers.

They come in various colors, from purple and yellow to bright reds. They're not very concentrated, but definitely worth it when you find one!

You should also watch for petrified wood -- it is rare, but interesting. The wood grain is well-preserved, and some pieces even have bits of charcoal embedded in the stone.

Lake Mendocino Petrified Wood
And, of course, don't forget to admire the lovely views of the lake and the mountains while you're there! If you're lucky, you might spot some great blue herons, or even a bald eagle or two.

Happy hunting!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mineral of the Day: Fluorite

Fluorite is a popular mineral for collectors, since it is relatively common and inexpensive, and can be found in large, showy crystals of many shades and colors.

Frequently cubic-shaped, and blue, purple, green or yellows [though it can be found in every color of the rainbow, less commonly]. It is frequently found alongside minerals such as calcite, dolomite, galena, and sphalerite.

Some fluorite will fluoresce beautifully under UV light [as the name might suggest].

Some fluorite will even fluoresce in sunlight!

Care should be taken to keep specimens stored out of direct sunlight, as the color may fade, and it should not be stored in water, as this may also damage the specimen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fossil shell geodes

Partial fossil geode from Rio Dell, California
Ever found a fossilized shell that broke open and revealed hundreds of bright yellow crystals growing inside it, like a tiny geode?

They're usually calcite crystals that grew inside the hollow of the shell during the fossilization process -- since fossils are frequently preserved by calcite, there's an abundance of the mineral around to create the crystals.

The one above I found at Rio Dell, California -- I saw quite a few of broken ones, and probably some of my nice complete fossils have crystal vugs within them as well, although I haven't wanted to break them open and find out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mineral of the Day: Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the blue variety of the gemstone beryl, which comes in a number of different colors [Green is emeralds, golden is heliodor, colorless is goshenite, pink is morganite, and red is, well, red beryl]. The coloration differences are caused by impurities within the beryl.

Aquamarine is probably the most common, and can be found in most beryl-bearing localities. That isn't to say that it's all over the place, but it's a fairly accessible gemstone to buy. Crystals from Brazil and Pakistan are usually inexpensive, although one must be aware that they have often been irradiated to enhance the blue coloration.