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The Ventura Gem & Mineral Society, Inc. (VGMS)
Rockhound Rambling
March 1999.

Table of Contents.


The Show was a tremendous success. This is due in large part to the extra effort given by so many of our members during the Show and throughout the year. Thank you so much for your help.

We had many good comments from dealers and attendees. All the dealers expressed an interest in returning next year. The Country Store, Plant Sale and Silent Auction had a record sales as compared to previous years. We are still assessing the performance of the "Show" and plan to have results soon.

The Boron Show sponsored by the Mojave Mineralogical Society will he held on the weekend of March 27-28. This is a great opportunity to collect Ulexite, Colemanite and other rare minerals during their field trips. If you have any questions about the Boron Show ask me at our next meeting.

The VGMS, Oxnard Gem & Mineral Society and Conejo Gem & Mineral Society are combining efforts with the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies to sponsor an Exhibitors/Competition Workshop to be held on Saturday, April 24, 1999. Details of this event are being coordinated by Olga Hammer and will be discussed at the general meeting on March 24, 1999. Please plan on attending.

I am truly honored to be your President. You made our 1999 Gem & Mineral Show one of the best. Thank you again for your great effort.

     Steve Mulqueen,

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Well, the Ventura Gem & Mineral Society's 1999 Annual Show is now history and I dare say a great success. All the dealers we have talked with want to be invited back next year. Their faces were all smiles and their comments about the show were glowing. They were particularly impressed with our club and made statements to the effect of how happy and helpful the club members were and how well we all worked together. Many of the exhibitors commented on the displays and the diversity of the exhibits. All in all, even with a sloooooww day on Saturday, everyone seemed to come away with a great feeling about VGMS.

Here are just a few of the interesting things about the show. The doors of the show opened with 10 or 20 prizes in the Donation Awards, and by the end of the show the list had expanded to 41 prizes from dealer and exhibitor gifts. The food was a big hit with all the attendees. Even though it was not elaborate, everyone mentioned how wonderful it was to be able to have something close at hand. We fed many more people than last year. It seemed that the show helped club members find new horizons as well. Sharlyne Holloway found that she has a wonderful announcing voice and is now considering a career in radio.

It is impossible to put on a show of this magnitude without the support of the whole club. To everyone who put in those long hours working before, during, and after the show, you deserve a heart felt THANK YOU from all of us as well as a great big pat on the back. It is not possible to single out one person for work effort because all of you worked so hard. The accounting, as of yet, is not finished but it does look like we made a good profit. But even if the profit is not huge, the show will bring us new members, and show cased our club and our hobby to people throughout the southwest.

To all members THANKS again for all your hard work and be very, very proud of what WE were able to do together.

     Red Jioras,
     Show Chairman.

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David Feinberg (Earthquake Dave) will speak to us about glaciers. Glaciers are found many places in the world. Think of the Great Lakes and Yosemite as examples from the past. Consider the glaciers which currently exist. How stable are they. Sometimes they grow, sometimes they recede. Why? David will talk to us about how glaciers are formed and their impact on the landscape.

     Kathryn Davis,
     Program Chairman.

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Saturday April 10th Field Trip to Lavic.

     One of the most productive collecting areas in the Mojave Desert, Lavic Siding offers an abundance of jasper in various colors along with agate and common opal. It's located 32 miles east of Barstow on Hwy 40 near Hector. More detailed maps will be available Saturday morning at 7:00am in the K-Mart shopping center parking lot on Victoria.
     The 4 hour drive is a pleasant one as are drives to all the sites in this desert. Pack a lunch as I'll make it a one day trip or there's a scenic but dry camping area at the site. I've got fond memories of this area as it was one of our first collecting trips as a member of the club. This type of collecting will spoil you with the abundance of material. Jasper polishes so well that I'll load up on material to tumble for the club. I'm also partial to common opal or potch and I'll be digging for that. Quantity is not a problem here. It's just a matter of selecting the best quality.
     It's easy to get to. The Hector turn off is just a few miles beyond the famed lava flow and rest stop on Hwy 40. The frontage road (National Trails Highway) is accessed at Hector and takes you to the Lavic road.
     We'll leave K-Mart at 7:00am or meet us at Lavic around noon. FIELD TRIPS ARE FUN! HAPPY HUNTING!
          Greg Davis,
          Field Trip Chairman.

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03-24-99 - VGMS General Meeting - American Legion Hall - 7:30pm,
04-01-99 - VGMS Board Meeting - VGMS Museum - 7:30pm,
04-10-99 - Field Trip to Lavic Siding,
04-10-99 - DEADLINE for April Bulletin,
04-17-99 - VGMS Workshop Open - 9:00am until Noon,
04-28-99 - VGMS General Meeting - American Legion Hall - 7:30pm.

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     February 18: Ray Meisenheimer gave a program to a group of 10 children and 9 adults at the club museum. They were a group of Head Start youngsters and children with special needs. Five of them were in wheel chairs. Later that afternoon Ray gave another program and museum tour to another Head Start group of children including 19 children and 6 adults.
     February 20: Ray was the entertainment program for 15 young boys ages 7 to 9 at a birthday party. There were 10 adults, friends, parents, and neighbors who dropped in just for the program. Ray had prepared sets of identified rocks for each of the Birthday Boys.
     February 25: Ray gave an hour long program with hands on specimens for a large group of 25 children and 10 adults at the Oxnard Learning Center in Oxnard. Ray then traveled to Port Hueneme, Southway Park, to talk about rocks, minerals and fossils with hands on specimens for a group of 20 Girl Scouts and 5 adults. Their ages ranged from 13 to 16 years of age.
     Several Boy Scout troop leaders and Girl Scout leaders have asked Ray to be available to explain about rocks and give talks while they are visiting VGMS show March 6 & 7.
          Florence Meisenheimer.

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The Lancaster show is April 24 & 25 at the Fairgrounds. There is always a field trip (starting promptly at 9 am) for palm wood and reeds on Saturday and colorful agate on Sunday. Rockhounds share rides and there is usually 10 or more cars going out.

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* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Q: Why is Christopher Columbus the Patron Saint of Bureaucrats?

A: Because when he left he didn't know where he was going, when he got there he didn't know where he was, when he got back he didn't know where he'd been, and he did it all on government money!

From the October 16, 1998 Backbone Newspaper in Payson, AZ, via People for the USA.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

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February 24, 1999.

     The General Meeting was called to order at 7:43pm by President, Steve Mulqueen.
     Introduction of Guests.
     David Mautz conducted the drawings.
     Greg Davis reported that there would be a map and details for the April field trip in the March bulletin.
          Webmaster's Note: I found no map.
     Steve and Susan Mulqueen will be attending the Boron Show, March 27-28,1999.

Treasurers Report: Richard Bromser gave the annual report and check book balance.

Bulletin: Bonnie Demianiw related that the deadline for the March bulletin will be March 10th.

Community Education: Ray Meisenheimer had two tours to the Museum. One group of about 40 kids and 15 to 18 adults. The other group had 14 boys, 1 girl and 8 adults.

     Ray stated that we need to clear out the rocks behind the Museum.
     Steve noted the membership applications in the February bulletin for the American Lands Access Association and the People for the USA.

VGMS Annual Show: Nancy Jioras stated that we are going to have a fabulous show. More tickets need to be sold. Set up will begin on Thursday, March 4th.

Program: Members shared their experiences of the Quartzsite and Tucson Shows.

Dues: Sharon Cunningham reminded the members that dues were due January 1, 1999.

Board Meeting: President Mulqueen stated that the next Board Meeting would be held at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, Thursday, March 4th, 1999, 6:00pm.

     There being no further business, President Mulqueen adjourned the meeting at 9:00pm.
          Respectfully submitted,
          Carlon Stobel,
          Recording Secretary.

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Happy Birthday to all those born in April. We hope you have a Great Day!

  • 04-08 - Edgar Isch,
  • 04-10 - Richard Bromser,
  • 04-16 - Martie Isch.

The April birthstone is the Diamond and the flower is the Sweat Pea.

     Brilliant and resistant has been considered an emblem of fearlessness and invincibility. The virtues ascribed to it are almost all traced to its hardness, transparency and purity. In ancient times the diamond was regarded as a sacred stone and one especially suited for sanctimonious use. Of the many medicinal virtues of the diamond, the guarding against infections was the most noteworthy.
     The diamond is supposed to enhance the love of a husband for his wife. An old superstition reports that the power of a diamond is lost if it is purchased or a theft. Only when received as a gift can its virtues be depended upon.

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     Bertie Rains fell and has to be in the California Convalescent Hospital - 643-4196,
          Room 24,
          4020 Loma Vista,
          Ventura, CA.
Please send cards and visit. Bertie has been a member of VGMS for many years.
     I have nothing new on Marion Vient is still in the hospital. She was to be moved back to Community Memorial last week. We need to get an update soon. Both Bill and Marion need our support and our good wishes.
          Eleanor Rising,
          Sunshine Chairwoman.

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Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Laziness doesn't run in my family, it strolls.

Opportunities take now for an answer.

After all is said and done---there's exhaustion.

Contributed by Wayne Ehlers.

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MARCH 20-21 SAN JOSE, CA - Santa Clara Valley Gem & Mineral, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 334 Tully Rd, Hours: Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5, Chuck Blblenz, (408)734-2473.
MARCH 20-21 VALLEJO, CA - Vallejo Gem & Mineral Society, Solano County Building, Solano County Fairgrounds, Hours: 10-5 both days Dolores Mack, (707)644-3035.
MARCH 27-28 TORRANCE, CA - South Bay Lapidary & Mineral Society, Torrance Recreation Center, 3341 Torrance Blvd., Hours: Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5, Roger Mills, (310)377-6226.
MARCH 27-28 BORON, CA - Mojave Mineralogical Society, Boron High School Multi-Purpose Room, Hours: Sat 9-6, Sun 9-4, Tailgating, camping, field trips, P.O. Box 511, Boron, CA, 93596-0511.
MARCH 27-28 ROSEVILLE, CA - Roseville Rock Rollers, Placer County Fairgrounds, Hours: Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5, Terry Rutherford, (916)987-1244.
MARCH 27-28 LA HABRA, CA - North Orange County Gem & Mineral, La Habra Club House, 200 W. Greenwood, Hours: Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5, Loretta Ogden, (909)598-2456.
MARCH 27-28 SAN DIEGO, CA - San Diego Gem & Mineral Society, Al Bahr Shrine, 5440 Kearny Mesa, Hours: Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5, Bill Tirk, (619)582-7364.
APRIL 3-4 ANGELES CAMP, CA - Calaveras Gem & Mineral Society, Calaveras County Fairgrounds, Hours: 10-5 both days.
APRIL 10-11 PARADISE, CA - Paradise Gem & Mineral Club, Veterans Memorial Hall, Elliot & Skyway, Hours: Sat 10-5, Sun 10-4, Charles Brouse, (530)877-9266.
APRIL 24-25 LANCASTER, CA - Co-sponsored by Antelope Valley and Palmdale Gem & Mineral Clubs, Challenger Memorial Hall on the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, Hours: 9-5 both days, Fred Ebel, (805)947-1306.

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MIDWEST FEDERATION APRIL 10-11 COLUMBUS, OH - Veterans Memorial, 300 W. Borad St., Contact: Don Hall, 56 S. Columbia Ave., Columbus, OH 43209, (614)252-0781 ext 192, E-mail:

CALIFORNIA FEDERATION JUNE 18-20 TURLOCK, CA - Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, Contact: Al Troglin & Dennis Stuart at, Mother Lode Mineral Society hosts.

NORTHWEST FEDERATION JUNE 18-20 HILLSBORO, OR - Washington County Fairgrounds, Contact: Russell Snook, 73 South 26th Ave., Cornelius, OR 97113, Tulatin Valley Gem Club hosts.

SOUTHEAST FEDERATION JULY 9-11 NASHVILLE, TN - Tennessee State Fairgrounds, Contact: William Buckner, 115 Camey Rd., Clarksville, TN 37040, Middle Tennessee Gem & Mineral hosts.

EASTERN FEDERATION AUGUST 7-8 NEW CARROLTON, MD - Ramada Hotel Ballroom, Contact: Russ Shew, (301)493-8936.

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     Dr. Robert T. Bakker will tell us about a Wyoming undergraduate who finds what professors missed for over a century. After 120 years a student fossil hunter has dug up the entire head of Brontosaurs, the great thirty ton, long-necked vegetarian from the Jurassic Period. The new fossil leads to theories that the Thunder Lizard really did make the land shake.
     Brontosaurus made headlines in 1879 when most of the skeleton was excavated in Wyoming. The '79 "Thunder Lizard" was the very first good specimen from a super-gigantic dinosaur species. But there was a problem. No head. So the Yale Professor who found the bronto faked a big, square, boxy skull, using parts from two different quarries. The phony square head was copied in all other bronto mounts in all other museums and no one suspected. Then, in the 1970's, Connecticut Professor Jack McIntosh blew the whistle on the cranial Chicanery. A banged-up head from Utah seemed to be the real skull of brontosaurs and it was much smaller and much more streamlined than the squarish one used for a century. Some doubts still remained. The Utah head was missing some key parts - the lower jaw, the teeth, the ear bones - and the fossilized bone surfaces were hard to study because they were damaged.
     Finally in 1996-98, the osteological Holy Grail vas obtained. Melissa Connely, a student from Casper College in Wyoming found what everyone had hoped for, the near perfect head of Brontosaurs. In fact, the new dig was very close to the original 1879 discovery. Nearly every bone in head and jaw was there, even the ultra-thin bones connecting the brain to the ear drum. This is one of the best Jurassic heads found anywhere in the world. Thirty bones were knit together to make the skull in the living bronto, and in the new Wyoming head each bone can be studied separately, thanks to the expert cleaning done by the Wyoming student.
     The new, near-perfect skull reveals astonishing facets of bronto head structure that was never suspected before. In the front and back, the skull is made up of massive, heavy, strong bones, the usual arrangement for dinosaurs. But all the middle bones - the ones below the eye - are almost paper-thin and loosely attached to each other. So weak is the middle skull zone that if the brontosaur ever sneezed, its cranium would rattle. Why? It will take years of study to work out the details, but some suggestions already have been published. Big animals today, such as elephants and rhinos, make noise to communicate, very loud and very low, so low that you feel the vibrations through your feet. Powerful, low noise passes through trees and leaves, even rocks, so it's a way to call out through the forest. Could brontos have used their loose skulls to make really deep, really powerful calls? Could they exhale from their huge lungs and blow through the roof of their mouth to vibrate all those thin loose cheekbones like the mouthpiece of a multi-ton Jurassic saxophone?
     Could be, it's a fun theory. Herds of brontosaurs in the mating season making the earth tremble with their infra-sound exhalations. Brontosaurus was named the "Thunder Lizard" in 1879 because it supposedly made the earth shake as it walked, but it didn't. Footprints show that the bronto-feet were like cushions and the big beast would have walked silently, elephant style. However, the new skull suggests that the name is correct after all - the earth trembled, not from bronto foot-falls, but from the vibrating cheek bones in the brontosaur head.
          From the Los Angeles Basin Geological Society Newsletter March - 1999.
          Contributed by Steve Mulqueen.

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WOW! Was that a great show we put on or what! I had a great time, talked to some wonderful people, and served up a mess of food. I'd like to give a great big thanks to Eleanor, Mabel, and Sharlyne who help me so much in the kitchen. They were such a great help to me, and I signed them up for next year already. Thanks again ladies, you were wonderful!

Thank you to all of you who contribute to this newsletter. I just put it together, but it's your contribution of articles. and information that makes the newsletter what it is.


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Our Donation Award Winners were:

  • First Prize of $100 went to Nancy Belvedere of Camarillo (way to go Mom!),
  • Second Prize of $50 went to Martie Isch of Bakersfield.

Our Beanie Babies Winners were:

  • Humphrey the Camel went to Steve Medler of Santa Paula,
  • Cranberry Bear went to Briana Cosentino of Santa Paula,
  • Kick the Bear went to Luke Miller of Oxnard,
  • Valentina the Bear went to Kristin Mahoney of Acton, CA.


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The Art of appreciating and enjoying
a stone that reflects Nature in miniature.

     Have you ever looked at clouds and seen people or objects? Have you ever gazed at a stone and noticed that it looked like a bird or a mountain or waterfall? If you have then you will be surprised to learn that you have experienced the Japanese art of Suiseki. This art form began around 500 AD. These stones are also known as meditation stones.
     In the last ten years there has been a growing interest in this ancient art. It is not just enough to find a stone that looks like a mountain. There are several criteria used to judge each piece. Shape, texture, patina to name a few. Those that succeed in being accepted among aficionados are often sold for thousands of dollars and occasionally more. The beauty of this art and the hunt for material is that it can be done while rockhounding in general.

Suiseki can be divided into three categories:

  1. Sansui Keiseki or Keijohseki (Landscape or Scene Stones);
  2. Sugata Ishi (Figure Stones);
  3. Biseki (Beautiful and Pattern Stones).

     In the landscape stones there are numerous classes of which I will list only a few.

Dan Ishi (Terrace or Step Stone): This stone should be formed like a terrace or steps, with good flat surfaces with at least two steps, it should be very simple, with straight lines but interesting enough to look like a real scene. Many farms are on terraces in Japan because there are more hills than flat lands on which to farm.

Doha Ishi (Hill and Slope Stone): A mountain or hills with a slope or plateau gliding away would be considered a Doha Ishi.

Taki Ishi (Waterfall Stone): This could be a stone with two types of material one making up the base stone and the other representing the falling water. The "water" could even be a mineral of some kind. There are many many stones that could fall into this class. However, if one is collecting only the best type of suiseki and is being very selective, one should make certain that the waterfall is realistic. Turn the stone around to see that the material representing the water does not go over the top and down the back side.

Mizu Tamari Ishi (Basin or Lake Stone): A stone with a good sized natural depression that holds water would be a Mizu Tamari Ishi. A plain depressioned stone might be a basin or a puddle stone. If one found a stone that has some high parts around the depression or hole, it might be considered a lake surrounded by slopes and / or low or high mountains.

Simagata Ishi (Island Stone): A stone that is not too large, naturally weathered by wind or flowing water for thousands of years forming a shape resembling something one might see in a bay or ocean, can be called an Island stone.

     The next category is that of Sugata Ishi (Figure Stones). These stones must look like some object, animal, or a person. The shape or form is very important in this group. These include:

Thatched Roof House Stones that are collected by many people just like mineral collectors might specialize in coppers or some other mineral. The old country houses in Japan have thatched roofs that are highly esteemed. Another is Tsubo Ishi or Urn Stone. This must have a natural cavity for holding water.

     There is no end to the third category, called Biseki (Beautiful or Pattern Stone). Instead of shape or form being the important factor, one now looks for beauty and color of the stones. Is it a good rich color, or does it seem shallow? One will want something that is rich and definite and penetrating. One item in this group is the Chrysanthemum Stone. This is a stone usually dark in nature that has feldspar crystals in the shape of Chrysanthemums. I will bring my recent purchase of this biseki to our next meeting for those of you who are interested. (Inez.)
     There are many famous locales that yield high quality suiseki specimens. In America collectors are being urged to search in their own backyards. They suggest materials of hardness 5 or greater. In the articles I have read I have seen several Jasper specimens that were beautiful. If you are interested, the California Suiseki Society charges $20.00 a year membership beginning January 1. Members receive a club pin, the club newsletter published quarterly, the right to display in their annual February show. All members are insured against accidents when collecting on club-sanctioned trips. Send $20.00 to California Suiseki Society, 1023 Santa Fe Ave., Albany, California 94706. You might want to check out their web site too. Just go to the world wide web and type in Suiseki and a great source of information awaits, each with links to other locations. Check your rock collections to see if you have anything that might qualify in any of these categories. Who knows if that museum quality $100,000 specimen lies next to your back door.

Webmaster's Note: For those of you who don't have the latest of browsers the address which you can type in to get to the web site is

     Much of this information is from Toy Sato in her article on Suiseki and from the web sites of Felix Rivera and the California Suiseki Society.
          Contributed by Inez Shakman.

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The Basics of Mineral Collection.

Garry Alexander: Mining Geologist, BHP San Manuel.
Anna Domitrovic: Mineralogist, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Gene Schlepp: Western Minerals, Tucson.

     Thomas Edison was one. So were John Wayne and Col. Washington Roebling, the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge. These men were mineral collectors. For thousands of years people in all walks of life have succumbed to the mesmerizing beauty and scientific nature of minerals.
     What is it that first attracts a person to the incredibly beautiful and fascinating world of minerals? It could be a color that has never been seen before or a geometric shape so perfect it's hard to believe it's natural. Maybe it was a shiny pebble picked up by a child, or that "lucky stone" that was a gift from a cherished relative or friend many years ago. Whatever the cause of this affliction called mineral collecting , the only known cure is to totally immerse oneself in it.

     In the beginning collecting stages, you would benefit from joining a mineral and gem club. Mineral clubs offer information about minerals and their localities, organize field trips, arrange for guest speakers on related topics, and most importantly in Tucson, sponsor gem and mineral shows. Shows like the February Tucson Gem and Mineral Show bring together mineral collectors and dealers, mineral museum exhibits, and buyers and sellers of minerals from all over the world. What an incredible opportunity to learn about worldwide mineral localities and talk to the people who are involved in bringing their jewels to our doorstep!
     A trip to a mineral show or a rock shop can be quite a learning experience. Most first-time mineral show attendees are surprised at the prices attached to mineral specimens. Why should one mineral cost $10 while another costs $10,000? As any new collector soon finds out, mineral prices are determined by quality, locality, aesthetics and availability. (In 1968, for instance, mimetite from the Congresso Mine near San Pedro Corralitos, Chihuahua, Mexico sold for $3 a pound. Today, a fine 3" by 3" mimetite specimen can fetch from $350 to $500.) One exciting aspect of mineral collecting is that beautiful specimens can be found that fits anyone's budget.
     If you are new to mineral collecting you should begin by determining a budget and following your interests. Find out more about a certain mineral that you find interesting or appealing, or a locality with an unusual suite of minerals. Focus your attention on crystals, or minerals of a specific size or color, and build your collection around your particular interest. As you gain more experience you can broaden the scope of your collection.

     Some collectors would rather find their minerals in the field. The field collector is a rare breed. Imagine this: You've been using a screwdriver to dig in the same spot for quite a while when you feel it slide into a void. You can hardly wait to see what nature is willing to offer behind that last rock. Breathless with anticipation, you lean closer and peer into a hole you have ever so carefully opened up. A beam of sunlight glistens off crystals faces like diamonds. Finally, you can breathe again as you gently remove perfect crystal after perfect crystal from their rocky vault. This is what what field collection is all about. This is why a field collector spends hours digging in the ground. This is what makes mineral collecting such an exciting hobby.
     Mineral collecting requires hours of research, skill, patience and lots of luck. All of these factors play important parts in becoming a successful mineral field collector. Know where you are going, what you intend to collect, and what you need to do it properly, and you have the beginnings of a successful collecting trip.
     Start with research. Once again, a mineral and gem club is a good source of information, as well as libraries, colleges and universities, state and federal agencies. Natural history and mineral museums provide a fun, educational way to find out about minerals: what they are, where they come from and how to get them.
     You'll need the proper gear if you want to collect your own minerals. Experienced collectors have their favorite tools and their personal methods of using them. Basic tools include a rock hammer or small crack hammer, an assortment of chisels and screw drivers, a small pry bar and a small shovel, a pick and a whisk broom. A hand lens or jewelers loupe is also carried by serious collectors. After all, not every specimen is the size of your fist. You'll also need wrapping material like tissue or toilet paper, or soft plastic, and boxes with secured covers to tightly pack your wrapped specimens for safe transport. After having worked so hard and so long, it can be devastating to lose a specimen because of careless handling.
     There is unwritten etiquette that all good field collectors follow. If you are invited to collect at working mines, hard hats, safety glasses and steel-toed boots are required. If collecting outside working mines, always confirm the status of the land through private land owners or public and government organizations. Always get permission to collect. Never destroy or vandalize any property or equipment, or the undisturbed natural surroundings. Close any gates you open. Never make your own road. Use existing roads or trails, even if barely discernible.
     Safety is undeniably the most critical part of a successful collecting trip. An injury stops the fun for everyone. Be aware of your surroundings and be careful where you walk and where you collect. Wear eye protection, gloves, sturdy boots and proper clothing to cover arms and legs. Avoid collecting alone, but if you must, make certain someone knows your exact location and when you plan to return. Take extra food and water to remote areas, which seem to be where most good localities are found.
     The value of self-collected mineral specimens is determined by perfection, color, location, size, rarity, and most importantly, personal aesthetics. But the excitement of discovery never diminishes regardless of the number of trips made. For every field collector there is the thrill of victory and the agony of the feet!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

     Building a mineral collection can be fun, rewarding and even profitable. The sphere of the mineral hobby can yield a diverse assortment of activities and enduring friendships. Let your enthusiasm be your guide! Good luck and happy hunting.

     Here is how to get started if you want to collect your own minerals from the field.

  • Contact museums, universities colleges or organizations that offer geology or mineral collecting trips or tours.
  • Take a field trip with a rock-hounding club (you can find such groups by looking in the Yellow Pages under clubs or lapidaries).
  • Look in the Yellow Pages under mining companies. Some have viewpoints or conduct public tours of their facilities. Call their general office numbers for information.
  • Call U.S. Forest Service offices, state Geological Surveys or Department of Mines offices, or the Bureau of Land Management for information and guidelines on field collecting. They can tell you where to go and what is legal to collect.
  • Try map stores, geological survey offices and the Forest Service for maps and publications on rockhounding.
  • BE PREPARED! At a minimum you will need a rock hammer, hand lens or jewelers loupe, protective goggles and collecting gear (canvas sacks or cardboard soda flats; newspapers, paper towels, or toilet paper for wrapping; field notebook to record when, where, and what you collected). Outdoor stores and surplus supply houses can provide you with all you will need.

          Reprinted from the Fall, 1996 issue of "Sonorensis",
          the newsletter of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson.

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By Richard Pankey, Safety Chairman.

     Each year faulty electrical wiring and appliances cause fires and electrocutions in homes and shops throughout the country. As in our daily lives, we use e1ectricity in many ways in our hobby. It powers our cutting, grinding and polishing equipment. It lights our shops and showcases. And much of what we have is not always new and in compliance with the latest technology and current safety codes.
     Included with my recent State Farm homeowner's insurance bill was a flier that had articles on safety, financing and home maintenance. I would like to pass on some of their electrical safety tips.

Always use extension cords properly to avoid a fire hazard.

  • Use extension cords only as a temporary solution - never as permanent wiring.
  • Grasp the plug when removing cords from an outlet. Pulling or jerking the cord can damage wires, causing both a fire and electrical shock hazard.
  • Use the proper size cord for the load it will carry. Undersized cords or long runs of cord may cause overheating.
  • Check cords regularly for damage. Never repair a cord by splicing it.
  • Running a cord under rugs or rolling them into a bundle may cause overheating.

Be careful with electrical appliances and tools.

  • All electrical appliances and power tools should be listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or other recognized testing organizations.
  • Never use a light bulb with a higher wattage than what the fixture recommends. Doing so could lead to overheating.
  • Always keep appliances and their power cords away from any water or dampness.
  • Keep electrical heaters away from combustible materials. Also, keep the electrical cord away from any heater to prevent it from burning or melting.
  • If any appliance or tool gives even the slightest shock or tingling sensation, unplug it and ask a qualified electrician to inspect it.

     The next time you work in your shop, or set up your showcase, or use an extension cord, power tool or appliance, take some time to be sure that these tips are being followed. Treat electrical equipment with respect and keep it working properly to reduce the chance of injury and damage to property.

PRACTICE SAFETY with electricity in your shop, around your home and at shows.

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If you look directly at a black-light lamp it could cause eye damage. So says an eye specialist. The ultraviolet rays from black-light are greater than those from the sun and caution is urged.
     from The Agatizer,
     via "Exchange Bulletin Gems", 10/83,
     CFMS Bulletin Editors' Workshop.

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By Chuck McKie, Chairman.

     The field trip to the Monte Cristo Mountains in Nevada should be a good trip because the information I have received from several sources indicates that there are some very good collecting sites in the area.
     But remember it is at a fairly high altitude, so those who may have breathing or heart problems would probably be wise to check with your doctors before coming on this trip. My heart is not perfect either but I was in this area (Tonopha) collecting turquoise a few years back.
     Since there will be some hard rock mining, you will need to bring suitable tools for that; such as sledge hammers from 2 to 4 ounces, to as heavy as you feel comfortable in handling and some chisels to help split the rocks. And a pry bar could come in handy also. Goggles or other eye protection is a MUST to protect your vision from being destroyed or damaged by flying rock chips. The chips are sharp and fly as fast as a bullet. Having been a recipient of them, I can testify that they cut hard and quick. Also heavy gloves save a lot of cuts and bruises as well as blisters.
     For the digging portion, spades, small shovels or scoops, and trowels might be handy.
     I don't know what the weather will be but bring warm coats - even in summer it can be very chilly at night in the high desert - or sweaters and enough shirts to wear in layers so you can take one off to cool down if you become hot.
     Boots! Don't forget your boots! That is a bad problem I have! I see people all the time who wear low quarter shoes and tennis shoes but I tell you true and from my own experience, they are very hard on the feet on a hillside and offer almost no protection from rolling rocks or dropping tools. And boots are a lot easier on the ankles when you try to sit on your feet while digging.
     A squirt bottle filled with clean water can assuage your thirst, or squirted on a rock might show what it would look like after it is polished.
     I guess rain gear might be appropriate but I usually just hunker down and try to keep dry when it rains. There's always another day to go rockhounding.
     You might want to bring a camera to take a record of your trip - like the worst trip you'd ever been on - or hopefully, the best one of your life.
     We will plan a pot luck for Saturday night, so bring your contribution, your own dinnerware, and if you have a small table we usually can use that. If it rains, we might be able to move into our trailers or campers. If it snows, it's not too far to Tonopha to a casino and restaurants.
     Getting to the collecting camp site, I probably will go via Reno, stopping overnight at the Boom Town campground. Then on to Fernley (on Hwy 80) and south on Alt 50/Alt 95 to Yerington. But I might go on to Yerington for the first night and camp there behind the Casino (camping spaces).
     Be advised....I've just received an e-mail from Bob White who was in the Monte Cristo Mts. last September. He says the gas station in Coledale was CLOSED. The last gas coming south from Reno was at Mina (about 35 miles north of Coledale) and it was not cheap.
     From southern areas, I think Hwy 15 to Las Vegas would be a good route. The casinos at the Nevada/California state line have good food at reasonable prices and the parking is usually easier than in Las Vegas. The highway exchange in Las Vegas from Hwy 15 to Hwy 95 is kind of confusing, so watch the road signs carefully. When I was there in February 1998, there was a lot of construction going on. The exchange is after you get all the way past the downtown casino area, but not far past it.
     From Las Vegas to Tonopha (200+ miles), there is not an awful lot. I advise you to fill up on fuel before leaving LV. Tonopha has a casino with camping spaces behind it. Check inside for permission.

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Never throw a plastic bag into a campfire. It can heat-seal and explode with the violence of a shotgun blast. Anyone standing close by can be sprayed with the molten plastic and be severely burned.
     from El Monie Gem Scoop,
     via Exchange Bulletin Gems, 10/83,
     CFMS Bulletin Editors' Workshop.

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By George A. Loud, Chair,
AFMS Conservation & Legislation Committee.

     "BLM Bulletin - Fossils and Petrified Wood" (4310-84-P) announces proposed rules "to consolidate BLM's regulations and provide the public with a single reference to the agency's policies and regulations for collecting fossils and petrified wood on public 1ands." According to the BLM Bulletin the proposed rules would be responsive to an executive order of March 4, 1995 directing federal agencies to simplify their regulations.
     Currently, 43 CFR 8365.l-5 (b) allows for the collection of "reasonable amounts" of common invertebrate fossils on BLM lands without a permit. The collecting of petrified wood on BLM lands is covered by a separate rule, 43 CFR 3622.4, which provides the maximum quantity of petrified wood that any one person is allowed to remove without charge per day is 25 lbs. in weight plus one piece, provided that the maximum total amount that one person may remove in one calendar year shall not exceed 250 lbs."
     The BLM notice of proposed rule-making characterizes the newly proposed rules as a consolidation and simplification. Further, it characterizes the difference between the proposed new rule and existing regulations as relating only to the extension of the 25 lb. per day maximum rule for petrified wood to additionally cover invertebrate and/or plant fossils. In point of fact, the proposed rules differ from existing regulations in other important details. Specifically, the language "plus one piece" presently found in 43 CFR 3622.4 relating to the collection of petrified wood, would be dropped. Thus, not only would the maximum amount of invertebrate and/or plant fossils be limited by the proposed rule, the collecting of petrified wood would also be restricted to 25 lbs. per day maximum (without the provision for the additional "one piece"). Further, the 25 lb. maximum for invertebrate and/or plant fossils would include "the surrounding matrix in which the fossil is imbedded" - another difference from the existing regulations which do not mention matrix.
     In correspondence with the BLM I raised the following objections to the new proposed rules:

1. Insofar as the proposed rules would:
(1) include matrix within the weight limit and
(2) drop the language "plus one piece", the new rules would impose significant new restrictions on collectors and go well beyond a "consolidation" or "simplification".

2. Inclusion of matrix within the weight limit would encourage removal of matrix from fossils in the field with several undesirable consequences. Firstly, proper development and exposure of fossils in the matrix is an art not well suited to practice in the field. Removal of matrix in the field, rather than later at the leisure of the collector is much more likely to result in damage to the fossil. Secondly, it is often desirable to leave at least some amount of matrix attached to the fossil in order to provide information as to the geological context in which the fossil was found.

3. Deletion of the provision for "plus one piece" of petrified wood would encourage the breaking up of petrified wood in the field with the consequent loss of value to the collector.

     The proposed new rules would inadvertently promote undesirable collecting practices.

Please forward your comments to:
     Bureau of Land Management,
     Administrative Record Room 401, LS,
     1849 C Street, NW.,
     Washington, D.C. 20240.

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