Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gem and Mineral Show Field Trips

by Kyle Meredith

People from all over look forward to the Grant County Rolling Stones Annual Gem and Mineral Show on Labor Day Weekend. In addition to buying and selling rocks and minerals, jewelry, and lapidary supplies, there are free displays and activities to entertain the whole family.

Among the activities are field trips scheduled for each of the three days of the show. Every morning at 9:00 there will be an educational tour of local geological interest, and at 1:00 each afternoon you can join a field trip for collecting rocks and minerals, weather permitting.

On Saturday morning, September 1st, Dr. Mary Dowse of WNMU will lead a trip along Highway 152 from Ft. Bayard to Mimbres, where participants will see different kinds of rocks of nearly all of the geologic ages of the Earth and will have the opportunity to collect fossils, as well. The trip will visit outcrops along the highway and there will be a limited amount of walking.

Saturday afternoon’s collecting trip goes up on Bear Mountain to the club’s geode claim, where this year new material has been exposed. The mineral most commonly found there is banded and fortification agate in rhyolite. In the past, geodes with pockets of crystals have also been uncovered, but you really never know what will turn up. The seven-mile gravel road is easily accessible by any vehicle (barring fresh mud and ruts), but to drive further than the first mine requires high clearance. Walking is encouraged. A bag or bucket is essential, and a pick and shovel is helpful to the serious collector, but interesting specimens can usually be found on the surface and in the road.

Sunday morning, September 2nd, local author and historian, Terry Humble, will host an approximately two-hour bus tour of area mines. (Note: there will be no bathroom breaks.) Space on the bus is limited, so show up early. However, if there are additional seats to be filled, the tour will start at 9:15.

Sunday afternoon collecting will again head up Bear Mountain Road to an altogether different location where various fossils—including shells and corals—are imbedded in limestone. Although the main road is passable by all vehicles, the 1½ mile spur for collecting requires a high clearance vehicle and experience driving it. Carpooling is suggested. Additionally, we will be looking for vesuvianite—a garnet-like mineral in large, fractured crystal forms—not gem quality. A word of warning: the terrain is rugged and sometimes steep with dense thickets of oak and cat claw. (It is as vicious as it sounds!)

On Labor Day morning, September 3rd, Sylveen Cook of Royal Scepter Gems and Minerals will lead her walking tour of the geology and ore deposits of the Boston Hill Manganese District. The nice exposures there, and the relationship of that deposit to similar settings at Lone Mountain and Georgetown, will provide a great hands-on learning experience about the regional ore deposition. It requires a short drive across town. The walk is on a winding, sloping path with little shade, so don’t forget to bring water.
On Monday afternoon, the group will visit a small fluorite mine in the Burros, less than an hour out of town. Hammers and chisels will be useful, but lazybones can find small chunks of purple, green, and blue fluorite lying on the surface. A little water to wash off the dust will help reveal the “good stuff.” There is a long stretch of gravel road to get there, but it is suitable for any vehicle. Note: there are deep and dangerous open pits, so children and pets must be closely monitored!

All trips will depart from the Grant County Business and Conference Center in Silver City on Highway 180 East (next to Ace Hardware.) Morning trips start at 9:00; afternoon trips will leave at 1:00. Be early! Carpooling is recommended when possible. Rain can cause a trip to be canceled, but it's best to show up if you think there's any doubt. Morning trips will be over by lunchtime—plenty of time to come back and linger at the Show or join us on the afternoon trip. A rock hammer and bag or bucket are suggested for collecting. And it’s important to bring drinking water! Remember: rock collecting is inherently hazardous! It is important to pay attention to your surroundings! 

Entrance to the Show and all activities are free, so join us on Labor Day Weekend for the 29th Annual Gem and Mineral Show in Silver City. You may email for more information.

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