UV Light usage in mineral collecting – A Review of a dual band light under $100!

I finally got tired of not having a UV light to use in the field. Years ago I had a nice unit with dual LW/SW and a 12v cigar lighter plug, which worked with lots of portable battery packs and in my car for those nighttime visits to classic UV locations. Sadly, this light was lost and replacing it would be a few hundred dollars.

But, you never know how much you miss something like a good UV light until it is gone. There are just so many things a UV light helps with when checking out minerals. From the visual identification to seeing if a purchased specimen is glued, a good UV light pays for itself, quickly.

I was excited to read about the improvements to UVTools.com handheld Lamp, an all in one unit with a long wave bulb and a strong short wave bulb powered by 6 watts, a decent output, for just under $100. The kit comes with the light, which requires 3D batteries, a sample of minerals to test the light with shortwave and longwave reactive specimens. Safety goggles and a cd rom with study guides and informative literature complete the package, all in all, it gives a great start to any beginner, while the advanced collector will appreciate the power this highly portable hand held unit produces. I found the LW light to be very bright and it made some of the fluorites in my collection to glow bright white/blue. The shortwave light gives a bright reaction, but typically from a distance of no more than 6 inches from the lamp. It will not light up a hillside, or even a whole flat of minerals, but it is perfect for “one on one” specimen viewing.

Below: Photos of the kit, the minerals that came with it and some UV reaction from those specimens.

UV Kit, includes the lamp, 10 mineral specimens, safety glasses and a cd full of information.

UV Kit, includes the lamp, 10 mineral specimens, safety glasses and a cd full of information. Available from http://UVTools.com

Shortwave Photo Sample two Calcite rhombs glowing bright red

Shortwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

Longwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

Longwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

You can purchase this UV Lamp from the manufacture, directly at http://www.ultraviolet-tools.com for $99.99.

There were two interesting things I learned by using this UV light. This agate deposit near my house became that much more interesting when I found out that every single piece of agate glows bright green under shortwave light. That means there is a lot of uranium in the area, which is giving the agate that color. Then, a hill over from that agate deposit, at another agate deposit, the brown crust on some of the agates was determined to be an uncommon variety of feldspar, after it was found that these crystals, in micron size, were glowing bright pink, typical of the species. You might wonder, so what, crusts of brown on agate? Well, the sweet thing is that these agates would now glow three different colors, green, pink and orange, sometimes yellow, as well. Three color rocks are what it is all about, so being able to notice the brown crusty bits on some of the agates helps identify them for further UV evaluation! It should be no surprise, those glowing agates include the local petrified palm root and what I like to call “Manix Lakebed Agate” which is a slurry of reeds, roots, rods and roughage from the lake that got silicated into a variety of translucent gel agate in shades of clear to black with red inclusions to a thick jasper-like layered wad of organics in stripes of black, red, cream and white. All of these organic masses were ripe with uranium! Several uranium deposits dot the mountains to the south, UV light is a great indicator of “hot rocks”!

At WhereToFindRocks.com we give this product our recommendation for best starter kit for novices and backup/handheld for advanced collectors.
Just under $100.00 from a manufacturer who stands behind their product. http://UVTools.com

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This “Living Rock” is as CRAZY as a talking mammal on two legs!

The Ancestors of Us All

By Jeremy Zolan

If you’re friends with scientists, nature lovers, or enthusiasts of everything strange, you may have seen the article Crazy living rock is one of the weirdest creatures we’ve ever seen by Grist making rounds on social media lately. Prominently featured at the top of the article is a picture of said creature, which is actually an ascidian called Pyura chilensis- piure if you speak Spanish, a member of a subphylum called the tunicates. Diverse in color and morphology, these primitive inhabitants of oceans worldwide aren’t part rock, but actually are very close relatives of vertebrates due to their peculiar nervous system. Although they are technically invertebtrates because they have no bones or cartilage, they possess a very primitive spinal cord called a notochord that renders them closer relatives to fish. In the larval stage, most tunicates look like microscopic fish or tadpoles and freely swim until they find substrate to attach themselves. When they do, they change shape into a sessile form with siphons similar to those of clams to feed on plankton in the water column. The tail of the larval tunicate shrinks, the notochord dissolves, and the body becomes enlarged. Some species such as the piure live in colonies of many individuals and some are invasive and have outcompeted native benthic fauna, especially those found in the Mid-Atlantic and New England region.


Typical cluster of Pyura clustered together, creating a meaty looking rock.

Pyura Chilensis being served as food

Pyura Chilensis being served as food

Equally as peculiar is the mysteriously high concentration of vanadium found in the tunicates. Vanadium is an unusual but not uncommon metal that exists in many brightly colored oxidation states. Usually, vanadium as the vanadyl cation (vanadium in its 4+ oxidation state double bonded to oxygen) is only necessary as a minor trace element in biology. Tunicates however have up to ten million times the amount of vanadium in their bodies that other living things do. They use it in the form of a vanabin- a vanadyl-protein complex possibly employed for oxygen transport. This is somewhat of a mystery; there is no scientific basis for this because tunicates another oxygen binding metalloprotein as well- hemocyanin, a blue copper containing complex found in many kinds of marine life. It is thought that this molecule could handle all of a tunicate’s needs for oxygen transport. Much research is being done in this field so we may know the answer.

Tunicates are also edible and while you may be unappetized by something that looks like the Horta from Star Trek, many Chileans, Japanese, and Koreans call them dinner. In Korea, they are typically eaten raw as hoe (raw seafood) with seasonings like soy sauce and chogochujang, a spicy chili paste. Koreans do use them in soups, stews and other dishes like bibimbap. In Chile, the rocklike piure are eaten raw with lime or in a soup which is a bit like a Chileno bouillabaisse. Tunicates are quite common on the seashore and though they may look extremely terrifying, in this day of farm to table eating and waste-not want-not ethos surrounding food, why get all squeamish over trying a bit of alien looking seafood?


Pyura Chilensis cluster


Michibata H, Uyama T, Ueki T, Kanamori K (2002). Vanadocytes, cells hold the key to resolving the highly selective accumulation and reduction of vanadium in ascidians. Microscopy Research and Technique. Volume 56 Issue 6, Pages 421 – 434

Tatsuya Ueki et al (2003). Vanadium-binding proteins (Vanabins) from a vanadium-rich ascidian
Ascidia sydneiensis samea

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“liquid-like magnetic flow” found in the mineral Herbertsmithite

Quantum Spin Liquid, a third type of magnetism, was demonstrated in December of 2012 by a team at MIT, in the form of synthetic herbertsmithite. Herbertsmithite is believed to be a two-dimensional quantum spin liquid: a solid material whose atomic spins continue to have motion, even at absolute zero temperature. This exciting research has potential to improve technology, another wonderful scientific advance related to the study of mineralogy. While this form of magnetism is limited to the pure synthetic herbertsmithite, the minerals found in nature are quite interesting in their own right.

We noticed a beautiful example of this rare mineral available on eBay by the seller MineralMan999. This sample shows some big crystals for the typical material.
You can use this link to search for samples of Herbertsmithite on eBay

This uncommon Copper Zinc Hydroxide Chloride named to honor Dr. G. F. Herbert Smith (1872-1953) of the Natural History Museum, London, England, who discovered the mineral paratacamite.

HerbertSmithite Crystals for sale from MineralMan999

Copper Zinc Mineral Herbertsmithite found in natural crystals

Rare Copper Mineral Herbertsmithite in natural form, for sale on eBay

The blog “Nanoscale Views”, written by Douglas Natelson, had the best article about understanding quantum spin liquids in a easy to digest fashion. On the subject of the experiments,

So what did the experimenters do? They grew large, very pure single crystals of herbertsmithite, and fired neutrons at them. Knowing the energies and momenta of the incident neutrons, and measuring the energies and momenta of the scattered neutrons, they were able to map out the properties of the excitations, showing that they really do look like what one expects for a quantum spin liquid.

You can read his entire article HERE

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Glenn Rhein’s Amazing Mineral Discovery in Amity New York

During the Tucson Gem, Rock and Mineral show, we met up with Hershel Friedman to discuss our joint workings on the New York/New Jersey Mineral show exhibit organization. That is, the two of us have selected people to put in collections of minerals from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

While we were going over this subject, we got to talk about how excited we were for Glenn Rhein to show off his mineral finds from his property in Amity, New York. Huge Scapolite crystals, Spinel and all sorts of wild things are being found and will be on display at the NY/NJ show in April 2013.

This video documents the recent discovery of new minerals from Glenn Rhein in the classic locality of Amity, New York, near Warwick. Glenn discovers amazing crystals while excavating on his property, and reaches out to the mineral community for help in figuring out what they are. Glenn then becomes an expert in the deposit and starts finding amazing minerals. Produced and documented by Hershel Friedman of Minerals.net, and filmed by Mark Gilden of Rombus Digital.

Great Video showing the Amazing Finds by Glenn Rheim in Upstate New York!

We hope you enjoyed that video, be sure to share it with your friends. It would even make a great video to show your rock club next time a speaker is unavailable! Thanks to Minerals.net for making this video and promoting a great story! We are looking forward to more videos from minerals.net

Thanks for visiting Wheretofindrocks.com!

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Visiting the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show with the Staff from the Los Angeles Natural History Museum

Tucson Rock and Gem time again, from the end of January until well into the month of February tens of thousands of people involved in minerals, rocks and gemstones flock to Tucson for the annual three weeks of trade shows. During this time the buyers and the sellers need to be housed, fed, and entertained, in addition to the countless hours everyone spends going from one show to another, visiting with friends and going to dinner parties, it is a whole world apart for many individuals in this line of work.

Several people post updates about the Tucson show, like Jolyon Ralph of MinDat.org or John Veevaert of MineralShows.com.

The set of show reports we like the best are the ones from the ladies of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum.

Assoc. Curator Eloise Gaillou, work-study student Caroline Im and Collections manager Alyssa Morgan of the LANHM 2013

Assoc. Curator Eloise Gaillou, work-study student Caroline Im and Collections manager Alyssa Morgan (3/4 of team L.A. County)

In these three blog entries, Elouise, Caroline and Alyssa share with the general public the life of three los angeles museum workers during the Tucson show. Though, I am pretty sure no mention of the cramped sleeping quarters are mentioned.

The first report is on the AGTA and GJX gem shows

Red Beryl and Sapphire Bracelet on display at the GJX show in Tucson 2013

This is the bracelet I’d do terrible things for. Red Beryl and Montana Sapphires. Ouch.

The next blog entry is about the various mineral shows around the Tucson area, from the Inn Suites (Hotel Tucson) to Riverpark and onwards to some of the more…less visited areas of the Tucson Gem Show.

Roy Foerster, donating a flat of Pyrite crystals the LANHM

There were neat pyrites from Merelani, Tanzania, with interesting morphologies. Roy Foerster, Gem and Mineral Council Treasurer bought us a flat of them. Thanks Roy!!

Then, finally, the BIG show, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show at the Convention Center, which caps off the whole event. A behind the scenes look at one of the important parts that makes the TGMS so legendary, the display cases.

Not to brag or anything, but you KNOW my team here in LA walked away with the GRAND PRIZE for professional educational exhibits

Los Angeles NHM Tucson Gem Show Exhibit 2013

So, while other show reports talk about what minerals are new, why prices are so high and so forth, these reports give you a much better look into the lives of the professionals who make Tucson their home, for a large percentage of their total lives, in the month of February.

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