Saturday, January 30, 2016

Februrary Newsletter

The February Beacon is hot off the presses.  Check it out.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ash Canyon January 2016 Field Trip

 Contributed by Anita Williams

The monthly field trip for January was to Red Rock, NM.  We had a beautiful day and a nice turnout, including many new members.  Ansel took us through the Burro Mts to get to our destination.  The dirt roads were in good shape with a little snow and ice on the shady sections of the road.  We popped right out on the road to Red Rock and proceeded to go through “town” and over to Ash Creek.  The countryside was actually lush, on southwest New Mexico standards, thanks to all the snow and rainfall we’ve had. 
 Our target was finding ricolite in the drainage downstream from the actual outcrop of the rock.  We all parked at the gate and then spread out across the small valley.  This area has been picked over by rock hounds for years, but we were still able to find some small specimens showing very nice color and banding.  At the very least there were beautiful colors of rocks and pebbles which were collected for tumbling, cutting and rock garden display.  One piece of fossil wood was found that probably washed out from the overburden above the creek bank.
Ricolite is variety of serpentine also known as “verd-antique.”  It is green and banded with a variety of colors including yellow, blue, black, and white.  The rock polishes beautifully.  In fact it was mined in the late 1800’s and fashioned into items such as ash trays and lamp bases. It was also used as decorative stone is some buildings in Chicago.  Mrs. L.J. Cadwell of Chicago is credited with giving the name ricolite to the stone (Mineral Resources,1892, p.411).  This information was taken from Minerals of New Mexico, revised ed. 1959, by Stuart Northrop.
We gathered back at the vehicles for lunch and since it was still early in the day decided to go to another nearby location to collect psilomelane  It was an abandoned manganese mine called the Commadore.  We followed Dan to the location, parked the cars and did an easy hike to an area which had been trenched.
The psilomelane was easy to spot since it was black and was “intruded” into the bedded conglomerates throughout the area.  There were pieces of the ore lying on the surface, but some of the prettier samples were the psilomelane intruding the conglomerates and producing a breccia of black rock with colorful fragments of rock floating in it.  There were some chalcedony roses found in the area too.  It was a fun spot to collect and explore.
We all collected our buckets and bags and headed back to the parking area.  Smiles all around.  It was a good day rockhounding.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Gem and Mineral Show Update

It's another year, and another Gem and Mineral Show.   Show Vendor Coordinator Karen Blisard reports:

The dates for this year's show are September 3, 4, 5 with set-up on September 2 The show will be in the Intramural Gym at Western NM University.  Contracts for returning vendors will go out about March 1, due back April 1.  After that, we will know if we have room for new vendors.  We have quite a long waiting list, but I am happy to add new vendors to that waiting list.  We do add new vendors based on adding variety to our show
.  As usual Show hours are 9am to 5 pm on Saturday,  10am to 5 pm on Sunday,  and 10am to 4 pm on Monday. 

January Beacon available and New Poll

Happy New Year to all our readers!   Our first newsletter of the year is ready for your reading enjoyment.  

In addition, we are trying to get a better sense of who you are, our readers, so as to better focus our content. Please vote on the new poll on the right side-bar.  You may click on as many categories as apply to you.   Thank you!

Updated Library List

Thanks to a recent donation from a club member, we've added a number of new publications to our Club Library, reports our librarian, Jeannine Weiner.   Check out our new revised Library Contents.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Field trip to Zuhl

The Rolling Stones November Field trip was a rather civilized affair.  Ansel arranged a Saturday tour of the Zuhl Museum on the NMSU campus in Las Cruces.  The Zuhl’s became fascinated with fossil wood after a visit to northern Arizona and the Petrified Forest area.  They followed their passion by collecting polished and massive samples of petrified wood from all over the US.  Soon their interests grew to include fossils and mineral specimens.  Of course collections of this magnitude soon outgrow the house or even the warehouse.   The Zuhls relocated to Las Cruces from the east coast and donated the collection to NMSU for public display. 


We all gathered in the entry room and met our guide for the tour who introduced us to the history of the Zuhls and the collection.  It was a little hard to pay attention since the walls were covered with beautiful polished slabs of petrified wood mounted on the walls.  It was distracting to say the least. The guide then took us into the second room with displays of more petrified wood and a very impressive collection of fossils.  The guide then took us through a tour of geologic time ranging from Precambrian stromatolites, to Cambrian trilobites, to mid-Paleozoic crinoids, and on to Cenozoic reptiles and insects.  One of the favorite samples was the fossilized nest of oviraptor eggs.  Or maybe it was the perfect fossilized remains of the dragon fly in limestone from Germany.  It was hard to pick a favorite with so many spectacular specimens from which to choose. The museum is well worth a visit.  Check out the website for more information at

Sunday, November 29, 2015

December Newsletter

Here is our December issue of the Beacon.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WNMU Geology Course offered

Mary Dowse, WNMU Professor of Geology, will be offering Geology of New Mexico (GEOL 315 – CRN 20218) on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 pm to 8 pm this spring at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.  The class will start January 12 and end May 6.  There will be one day-long field trip to look at the geology of the local area.  People are welcome to sign up to take the course for credit or as an audit.

As many of you may know Mary will be retiring in May and this will be the last time she teaches the course, so if you have been thinking about taking it, this is your last chance.