As mineral collectors on the internet know, the jokes can often lead back to one mineral.
Cummingtonite. Eliciting snickers in a room of freshmen geologists (and honestly, still getting chuckles from aged field geologists under the right conditions). Lately it is the most popular iron rich amphibole mineral to be searched for on Google. We all know when we see that fact it is not because people are looking for their favorite ugly brown rock! Most minerals are searched for their beauty, this mineral can only claim its name as the claim to fame.
Cummingtonite is a rather uncommon mineral, hailing from the riverside on the far western edge of Cummington, Massachusetts. Here is a sample of the mysterious brown crusty amphibole they were mining. Scratching their heads, someone noticed this as an unknown mineral and dubbed it Cummingtonite, in honor of the town it was found. This is often the case, such as Elbaite, Annabergite, and Boleite.
This specimen pictured is from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. It shows a chunk of brown radiating crystals with embedded garnets. Donated by a prominent American Mineralogist Charles Upham Shepard, a man who submitted the approvals for Danburite, Microlite and others. He had one of the largest collections of minerals in the United States, donating specimens to various museums in life and death. He was a well respected lecturer on subjects of Natural History. Charles Upham Shepard graduated from Amherst College in 1924, the same year that Cummingtoite was accredited.
1824. Cummingtonite. (Dewey.)
“I have here given this name to a mineral found by ‘Dr. J. Porter in
Cummington. It appears to bo a variety of epidote. Its color is gray,
sometimes with a faint reddish tinge, unless when acted on by the
weather, when its color is yellowish. It is in distinct prisms, with oblique
seams like’ zoisite, and in radiated or fascicled masses, which are com-
posed of slender prisms. Luster somewhat shining or pearly. It is nearly
as hard as quartz, and sometimes makes a slight impression upon rock
crystal. Before the blowpipe it blackens, and a small portion melts, when
the heat is very great, into a black slag, which ik attracted by the mag-
net. With quartz and garnet .it forms a largo mass in Cummington.”
C. Dewey : Geol. Min. Mass.; Am. Jour. Sci., 1st series, Vol. VIII, p, 59.
1824. Cummingtonite. Lies by the roadside in the east part of
Known to the common people for several years under the name.of copperas
rock; occasionally used in dyeing as a substitute for sulphate of
J. Porter: Min. Loc.; Am. Jonr. Sci., 1st series, Vol. VIII, p. 233.
Cummingtonite, the inspiration for snickers, memes and lame t-shirts, has a much more benign beginning!
With your knowledge of what Cummingtonite is, beyond a cleaver play on words, now I will tell you how you can go collect your very own specimen, along with brightly colored Lepidolite mica, UV reactive opal hyalite and shiny Hematite crystals. Far off in the desert of Arizona, nobody will hear your terrible off color humor besides your collecting partners. If you’ve ever been collecting petrified wood with a group of geologists who loudly exclaim “I’VE GOT WOOD!”, you have an idea of what to expect.
The location to collect Cummingtonite is just off to the north of the BBC Mine, a half hour away from Parker, Arizona.
The area is a wonderland of mineral collecting, with the BBC mine area boasting FINE crystals of Hematite, sometimes assosicated with Chrysocolla. Further to the North is the Planet area, filled with Barite, Malachite, Chrysocolla and all sorts of beautiful minerals. Fluorite, Gold and more copper minerals are found within 20 miles of this location, so beyond the oddball amphibole Cummingtonite, there are plenty of reasons to visit this area!
The location is a simple series of trenches, where you can find a very odd form of Lepidolite, normally known as being bright purple, here it is yellow. The hematite at the cummingtonite location is not nearly as nice as the hematite at the BBC mine. <---click to view photos on MinDat.org
The material from here is not even a tenth as nice as the crunchy material from Massachusetts, however, being able to collect your own specimen of this odd, uncommon material, is something to get excited about!
If you would like a more “in-depth” view into this collecting location, let me advise you to check out the excellent Android App that will guide you to several locations around the Quartzsite/Parker area. Download this Android App for $4.99
We love you readers so much that we provided a google map pointing you to the locations.
View Cummingtonite and BBC Mine in a larger map
And I’m not completely innocent on the juvenile jokes…I am the proud owner of a Dickite specimen from Beaver Creek.