Collecting Chrysotile at the Phillips Asbestos Mine in Arizona

Near the city of Globe Arizona, the Salt River flows. In the canyons around this important waterway, there are several outcrops of serpentine with various stringers of fibrous Chrysotile, the safest variety of the fiber form minerals processed into asbestos materials. Alternating veins of calcite/aragonite, serpentine and chrysotile created a valuable ore to be mined for a period of time. The mines were so profitable that various buildings were erected to serve the miners of the salt river valley.

Following the directions in the excellent field guide, Minerals, Fossils and Florescents of Arizona, which we highly recommend owning, we had no problem finding the location.
Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona

It was easy to spot this location on the satellite map.

Map of the Phillips Mine Location

Arriving at the location, you find the entrance to the road starts at an abandoned campground. It must have been really nice back when it was in business, now it looks like it could be the setting for a freaky horror movie.
seneca lake permit sign
abandoned seneca lake campground

After driving through the campground, you cross a little stream and proceed down an easy to maneuver dirt/rock road toward the mine. On the South side of the road you’ll pass the old lake that must have been the jewel of the campground.
stream you cross at the start of phillips chrysotile mine road
seneca lake
gravel road leading to the chrysotile mine location

The drive is beautiful, with great vistas, steep canyons and amazing colors that the canyons of Arizona are famous for! Off in the distance, bright white mine dumps could be seen, making the prospect of finding mineral specimens imminent.
canyon walls while driving to rockhound
thin cliff road in arizona
Beautiful Scene from the drive in the canyons of arizona
Dumps of the Asbestos Mines from the Canyon Walls

Arriving at the mining area you are greeted by some very creepy abandoned buildings that make the campground take a second seat to a horror movie film set!
Abandoned Mining Town in Central Arizona
Abandoned Buildings at the Phillips Mine

Off in the distance the mine dumps could be seen. Getting to the dumps is a simple uphill walk up a dirt road.

Phillips Chrysotile Mine in the Distance

At the top of the road you find yourself at the foot of a massive pile of mine debris which is rich in Aragonite, serpentine and chrysotile.
Mine Dump at the top of Phillips Chrysotile Mine Road
Mine Dump at Phillips Chrysotile Mine

Great specimens could be found all over the dump, with banded Aragonite that glows bright green in UltraViolet Light and veins of Chrysotile, which makes for very beautiful display specimens.
Specimen of Serpentine, Chrysotile and Aragonite
Specimen of Chrysotile from Arizona

Going to the Phillips Chrysotile Mine in Central Arizona is a great trip for a beautiful view into a seldom seen part of Arizona mining history! Specimens are abundant and there is something for everyone!

Related posts:

Collecting Pink Halite in Trona California – Once a year, Second Weekend of October!

Once a year the wonderful community of Trona, California, and more appropriately, the men and women of Searles Lake, invite the public to come and participate in one of the most exciting mineral collecting trips in the United States.

People come from all over the world to experience the Trona-Gem-o-rama. Two days, three field trips, plus a rock show going on for both days.
There are several great local dealers who make the show a treat to visit, such as Tom and Steven Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com and WolfeLapidary.com
If you like Petrified Wood and Petrified Tree Branches, Steven is the man to talk to! He gives lectures at local Southern California gem, mineral and fossil clubs.
Steven and Tom Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com at the Trona Show
Saturday hosts two field trips, both two and half hours long. More about those in another post, this one is about the Sunday field trip, which is four and a half hours long, starting at 9am. The “Pink Halite” dig, where you are guided out to a large area to collect at, filled with brine pools with bright pink halite crystals growing on the underside of the ridges in the ground.

Typically, these tools are perfect for the extraction of the salt crystals. A short handled 10 pound sledge, a custom made spike (which I left behind! ARGH!), pick and crowbar. The stretcher is often a great tool because wheeled carts and wagons have a tough time in the sharp ridges popping up everywhere across the surface. This year, any sort of cart, dolly or wagon would have been perfect and we only made one trip with the stretcher.

tools needed for collecting halite on the salt deposit in Trona California

This year, 2012, the digging was very different than the last seven years. There were no brine pools, only a large flat white area of solid salt crust. That was quite a shocker compared to past years of getting wet in the brine pools and tearing your hands apart when the tools dry and salt crystallizes on them, creating a sand paper like surface on the tools.

Instead of getting wet in the brine pools, you simply had to go to a slightly protruding ridge, where white salt crystals are often visible on the surface, work with a pick or spike a perforated area a foot into the back of ridge, then, flip the broken chunks over to reveal the crystals on the underside.

Salt Ridge waiting to be flipped over
Salt Crystals revealed after flipping over the surface

People are scattered all over the lake bed, collecting their hearts out, trying to get the best material in the limited time you have on the salt flats.

Halite Digging at Trona!
Ridges flipped over, in search for pink halite

After digging the halite, you have to pack it up and carry it out. That takes a considerable amount of time!

Packing out your salt crystals

And then you have to get the salt home! A challenge in itself! You need lots of packing material and containers. This year we did not plan on being able to collect a lot of material, but we couldn’t fit another piece in the van and still had an hour left before the time was up!

salt crystals packed into the car

While we were there we saw Stan from Midwest Minerals, a large wholesale company in Tucson, Arizona, mining Halite crystals.
He has a great idea, placing the found specimens directly into a crate, no muss, no fuss. We might copy him next year!
Stan from Midwest Minerals collecting Halite
Prying halite crystals from the ground
A happy halite miner at Trona

Every second weekend in October, you can find thousands of rockhounds descending on Trona in search of pink salt crystals! We hope you can visit next year! Hotel rooms are available in Ridgecrest, just a half hour away from Trona, find a room for the event on Hotels.com

There is an app for android you can download, one is free and one is $4.99, but BOTH of them have a five page article about collecting in Trona.
Android App with Trona instructions

Buy the Paid Version for $4.99
OR
Download the Free Sample Version, it still has the Trona guide in it, for free.

Related posts:

Field Guide Review: Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona

Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona is a thick field guide to 90 locations across the state of Arizona, most still available for collecting in 2012!

Originally published in 2006, this book contains complete, easy to follow maps and directions to each location, along with colorful photos by Jeff Scovil.
For the absolute beginner, there is a nice chunk of informative reading in the front of the book, giving the basic information for several minerals, along with global mineral information like cleavage, hardness and luster. A bit of time is spent on rock formations and geologic conditions, which will help understand the basics behind why minerals are found where they are.

The copy we have has been used to travel to nearly half of the locations in the book. The book gives clear instructions for reaching a location, along with GPS directions, which are easy to punch into google maps while en-route to a location. In addition, each location pinpointed in the book has produced the material described and only once has there been claim markers up on a location showcased. We have collected Hematite crystals, UV minerals, Dendrites, Calcite, Selenite, and Serpentine. Several trips inspired by this book have resulted in fine specimens that are in our permanent collections.
Clicking the book cover will show you available copies for purchase on Amazon.
Book Cover of Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona by Neil R. Bearce
Check out eBay for copies of this book for sale and other minerals of Arizona

There are a lot of field guides to choose from, each with their own unique features. In addition to the easy to follow directions, colorful photos and the accuracy of the information presented, the book also does a great job covering the state, listing collecting spots all over the state, with close proximity to other states. For instance, the residents and visitors to Saint George Utah might be surprised to find that a deposit of Gypsum/Selenite is available in the hills stretching out into Arizona, available from the back roads connecting through Utah. More locations spill across into New Mexico and several of them are a perfect distance between Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Many field collecting guides are simply shelf filler, this book has a wide variety of information, collecting options and we can not recommend another mineral field collecting guide more.

Related posts:

Fossil shells replaced by calcite found in the roads of Central Texas

The Central Texas counties surrounding Limestone County are full of beautiful ancient marine shells replaced by calcite, both massive and crystallized. Luckily for the collectors of minerals and fossils, hundreds of miles of low traffic roads in Central Texas contain a wide variety of ancient sea life replaced by calcium carbonate. They are up on the surface of gravel and dirt roads, as snowy white gravel, stretching down the country lanes.
Calcite replaced marine shell
red, yellow and blue flowers along the countryside of central texas
This area of collecting is centrally located between Interstate 35 and 45. Those highways run through Texas, connecting San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas. In between this area, vast deposits of limestone of a very high quality are found and mined for agricultural and industrial use. It is often found as crushed aggregate used to cover the stone roads of back country Texas. Spiraling out of the central texas area like a web connecting new developments with well maintained farm routes, the white roads of Texas are often found to contain calcite crystals and calcite replaced marine shell fossils. Clams, Brachiopods, Turritella, Ammonites and other interesting shells are found, often with cores and voids filled with crystals of calcite.
Fossil on matrix from central Texas replaced by calcite.
Getting to a collecting location is simple! Simply pull up Google Maps and take a look at a satellite view of Central Texas. As you get closer, look out for maintained county roads, which you will see, are bright white. This white color is caused by this limestone gravel. Make a note of these roads to inspect and take a trip to Marlin, Mart, Rosebud, Franklin, Calvert, Madisonville, and Crockett. Since there is ample loose gravel, do not DIG into the road or bother to take tools with you. Loose Gravel. Mostly made up of calcite replaced shells. What an amazing collecting experience. Simply opening your car door will result in you finding a loose fossil. With smartphones, androids and iphones, simply using google maps while navigating will be all you need for a spur of the moment collecting trip. This area is a little over 3 hours from San Antonio, a quick 2 hours from Austin, Houston and Dallas. It is a PERFECT field trip in all weather besides tornadoes and snow!
google satellite view of a typical white limestone gravel backroad in central Texas
a photo of the loose gravel limestone roads and the fossil containing gravel that is scattered across Texas

Related posts:

Maryland’s Chromite Deposits – A Mineralogical Monopoly

The Serpentine Barrens of Central Maryland produced an interesting landscape for a 19th century business monopoly on chromite ore, being the sole resource for world looking for new metal alloys. In addition to the facinating story of this legacy of chromite ore, the mines also produced a line of fine minerals, brucite, antigorite in fine crystals and the gem variety of serpentine known as “wiliamsite”.

Today, much of the serpentine deposits in Maryland and Pennsylvania serve as a wildlife sanctuary. The serpentine rocks and their serpentine soils were not fit for cultivation, providing a natural host for sparse grasses, scrub brushy oaks and acid loving pine trees. In addition, rare wildflowers are found only in these uncommon serpentine soils. Because these areas were never fit for cultivating, only nice flat farm land has been turned into housing developments, leaving these woodlands free from destruction. At one point in time, these areas of scrub oaks and rocky soil would have looked barren in comparison to the rich tree heavy forests surrounding that land. Now, in contrast to the houses and civilization popping up in every direction, the serpentine barrens are a rich forest

You can read this full article on this PDF, just click on the page below. This is an excerpt from the book reprint of The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine, which contains all sixteen issues of the magazine. You can buy the book on The-Vug.com and it has dozens upon dozens of articles like this, written by a variety of world traveling mineral collectors. We highly suggest this book, it is a STEAL at $34.95

line pit chromite article free pdf link

Related posts: