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Archive for the ‘gemology’ Category

 

diamond mine, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Check out Anne Gordon’s incredible description of her descent into South Africa’s Bultfontein Diamond Mine – “Here“.

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Tourmaline – Bancroft Gemboree

If I was asked to pick one gem as my favorite, it would definitely be tourmaline. Look at these colors. These cabs are in a tray that was displayed by a merchant at the Bancroft Gemboree.

Red tourmalines are known as “rubellite”, one of the better known deposits being some 30 kilometers south east of Mogok in Burma where the gem is found in an alluvial bed of decomposing gneiss. Chinese miners generally worked this deposit as red tourmaline was needed for the buttons of mandarin’s gowns.

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Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal

 

scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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Bancroft Gemboree 2010

You never know what you are gonna find at the Bancroft Gemboree and for that reason it’s always an adventure that I look forward to. The 2010 event was no exception. I met some old friends – Ralph Schroetter amongst them. I was grateful for the Oregon Sun stone that he handed me. It was a gift with a lovely peachy hue.

In retrospect, I really wish that I had bought one of these old beauties. The going price was $40 a piece. This appealed to both my caving and rock and mineral interests. The Carbide lamp burns acetylene which is produced within the lamp as a result of the reaction between Carbide (C2H2) and water. With the number of old abandoned mines up in the Bancroft area and the caves in the local marble, I would not be surprised if these old carbide lamps had seen local use. Check out the pitfalls of buying a carbide lamp here.

As usual, the better faceted and collector stones were found at the lower venue, while up on top of the hill the outside vendors displayed the greatest diversity of product. Year after year it seems the same vendors pick the same locations.

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Aragonite in Asni – Morocco

Here I am in Asni Morocco, Joe is to the right of the picture, Mohammad is to the left.

You may notice in an earlier blog that I wrote about Mohammad and the evening that we spent with him and his little brothers in one of those mud-walled Berber dwellings. Here he is at his job – selling crystals beside the road.

We learned from Mohammad that he got his crystals from a valley near there – a hidden wrinkle in the dry red hills that was absolutely lined with amazing crystals. Several of us hiked up into the mountains the following day and found the valley that he told us of. At the time I did not know a great deal about crystals, gems or geologic wonders and I assumed because of their color the crystals must have been amethyst. I recall the rock from Thunder Bay and to me this rock from Asni looked pretty similar. I took several large clusters of crystal with me, but as they weighed my pack down I eventually discarded them somewhere in the sands at the edge of the ocean or down toward the Sahara.

In thinking about it and knowing more (with the aid of the internet) those crystals must have been aragonite. Asni is well known for this crystal. Aragonite is a pseudomorph of calcite. This means it has the same chemical formula, but the ions are packed differently. Apparently if aragonite is heated at 400 degrees it reverts to calcite. The color that I have seen on the internet is identical to what I remember seeing in Morocco, varying from a fruity, brownish purple through to relatively milky and in the quantity that I saw, it was like an Aladdin’s cave of gems.

Mohammad had several species of rock with him, I only remember that one place he sent us to.

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Gold Bearing Quartz vein

Finding gold in Ontario

There are supposedly over 9000 abandoned mines known to exist in Ontario – shafts, caverns and tunnels, many collapsing, unstable or traps within which poisonous gases settle.

At this mine the granite hillside is undercut. Here a fallen boulder, streaking in oxidizing mineral residue, partially blocks a downward leading cavity. From another enthusiast I have learned that there is more to the mine than what I could see (I did not go in past the entrance which appears to end abrubtly). Unless there is another entrance off in the bush, this must have been the way that the old miners had followed the vein.

I understand that there is a tunnel that leads down into water and at least one other that dead ends. Don’t explore abandoned mines, they are deadly and many people loose their lives in them each year.

Apparently 2489 tons of ore were produced from this mine. It was estimated to be worth around $8500.

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Hempfest near the Mine


Abandoned Gold Mine in Ontario

There are a couple of interesting rumors floating around about this mine, one, like the rumour of the chicken in El Dorado suggests that a local cow was found to have a nugget in its belly when slaughtered. Another rumor was that the fatality that contributed to the mine’s closure was a collapse that killed several workers – other sources suggest that it was only 1 worker who had died. Apparently the body/bodies were never recovered.

Anyway, this old gold mine is at the end of a short gulley up against a remote, though beautiful hill of granite. Nearby towns are all just barely functioning, most buildings boarded up and rotting.

About the only thing that seems to have attracted outside attention lately (aside from my own) was the “hempfest” nearby – but none of that at the mine.

Drenched in DEET, trying to read my GPS which refused to function beneath the trees, I approached the mine cautiously, watching for loose rock and the ever-present possibility of bears. (I realize that some suggest you wont find bears in mines, but that is no consolation if I round a corner and find myself face to face with the bear that isn’t there). I found no bears, but the horse flies chewed big scabs onto the top of my balding head.

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finding sapphires in Ontario

This is what ruby and sapphire looks like in their rougher forms. They are hexagonal crystals, generally displaying a six sided shape and in the case of the cabbed ruby in the fore-ground, also showing some pretty obvious hexagonal zoning. Zoning indicates the placement of the rough crystal faces as the crystal grows. There is a continuum between corundum and sapphire, both are of the chemical formula aluminum oxide, its just the quality of the crystal that dictates whether it will be a gem or a mineral specimen.

I found the blackish crystal encased in calcite at the Faraday Hill road cut near Bancroft; only the tip was protruding from the rock and I roughly chipped it out and dissolved the calcite from it using Coca Cola.

The two rough reddish crystals are Mysore Rubies from India – not woth much at all and the cab is also from India, I bought it from Sahib for a couple of dollars – its way to opaque to be of much value but I liked the way it showed the zoning so clearly.

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Raw Silver in Cobalt Mining Museum

dad 043, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here is my dad in the Cobalt mining museum. Sitting on top of a safe they have a chunk of silver that they dug out of the earth nearby worth around $14,000. I doubt that must be the value by weight – maybe there is some kind of value added for collector appeal. If you are big on silver this is the place to go. I would imagine that there is more you can learn about silver in this museum than any place else.

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Whats under Cobalt

P1020263, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I just got back from Cobalt last night, it was a long drive – 6 hours.

While in Cobalt I took an abandoned mine tour. Its a service offered by the local museum – well worth doing if you like that kind of thing. This here is one of the tunnels in the old Colonial Mine. There are over 27 kilometers of passage – stretching as far as Lake Temiskaming I am told. Beneath the level we were at the tunnels are all flooded. Shafts lead up and down – but not anywhere near where we were – it was quite sanitized and safe for the average visitor.

Tunnels spidered along through dense black rock following the calcite veins that had led to silver. Outside every mine there were big piles of scree, it suggested something of the extent of the tunnels within.

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