Collecting Tourmaline in Colorado – Brown Derby #1 Field Trip

The Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, Gunnison County, Colorado- An unusual LCT-Type Pegmatite with Rubellite Tourmaline, Lepidolite and Rare Earth Element Species
Philip M. Persson
3139 Larimer St., Denver, CO, 80205
perssonrareminerals.com
Exploration Geologist

When it comes to Colorado pegmatite’s, most people think of the vivid and prolific smoky quartz and ‘Amazonite’ feldspar combinations or perhaps fluorite or topaz crystals from the Pike’s Peak batholith, which can be seen in collections all over the world. Tourmaline is certainly not a species that comes to most collector’s mind’s from the Rocky Mountains, yet Colorado does contain several unusual and interesting pegmatite’s of the ‘LCT’ (lithium-tantalim-Niobium) type which contain fairly high-quality (though not ‘gem’ in the pocket sense) tourmaline crystals along with other rarer species. The most notable and certainly the most studied of these deposits is the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, located in the Ohio City/Quartz Creek District, approximately 18 miles northeast of Gunnison in the high mountains of Central Colorado. First mentioned by Eckel (1933) and later by Staatz and Trites (1955) in their exhaustive study on the Quartz Creek Pegmatite District, this locality has long been of interest to both collectors and mineralogists. In recent years, however, due to a combination of property access issues, remoteness, and a shift in focus of Colorado collecting to ‘dig’ localities for smoky quartz, amazonite et cetera, the Brown Derby seems all but forgotten. This article is not an attempt to eclipse or duplicate the already extensive literature on this locality, but rather provide a modern and collector-oriented perspective on this fascinating deposit.

Quartz Creek Pegmatite District

Gunnison Colorado, where the Quartz Creek Pegmatite District is located


Quartz Creek Pegmatite District

Close up of the Quartz Creek Pegmatite District


Figure 1: Map showing location of Gunnison in Central Colorado (‘A’), with inset from Hanley et al. (1950) showing the Quartz Creek Pegmatite District, with the Brown Derby #1 Deposit marked with red star.

The Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite is the largest and most mineralogically-complex of a group of over 5 semi-parallel, dike-like pegmatite bodies which are situated on the western slope of a fairly prominent ~9400 foot high hill above the small settlement of Ohio City, approximately 18 miles northeast of Gunnison, Colorado, and 180 airline miles southwest of Denver. (Staatz & Trites 1955). According to Cerny (1991)’s pegmatite classification scheme, these are classic ‘LCT’ (lithium-tantalum-niobium) type deposits, and contain the geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of such deposits. They intrude ~1.7 billion year old metadiorite and associated metamorphic rocks of the Idaho Springs group, the Precambrian basement complex which covers a large portion of the State. Geochronology work by Heinrich (1967) and others found the pegmatite’s to be syngenetic to metamorphosis of the host rocks ~1.7 billion years ago, and they intruded as large sheet-like bodies parallel to the internal foliation and structure of the host rock. They strike N/NE and dip gently into the steep southeast hillside at 20-35 degrees (Heinrich 1967). The largest 3 pegmatite’s of the Brown Derby group all display exceptional mineralogical and geochemical zoning which is typical of most large LCT-type deposits, with the #1 Dike exhibiting the highest mineral diversity.

along the strike of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite
Figure 2: Looking Southeast along the strike of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite; large metal grate visible in center of photo is covering one of the underground drifts leading to a large stope on the core of the deposit. (Photo copyright Rudy Bolona/mindat.org)

Entrance to the #2 Tunnel, or main adit of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite
Figure 3: The Entrance to the #2 Tunnel, or main adit of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, showing the sharp contact between pegmatite (white rock) and overlying metadiorite (dark gray) at the hanging wall contact. (Photo copyright Rudy Bolona/mindat.org)

The #1 Pegmatite was developed from the early 1930’s through the 1970’s and was mined principally for the lithium content of lepidolite, along ceramic-grade feldspar, minor beryl, and a somewhat substantial production of microlite, a tantlum species, though it is unclear if the resulting microlite concentrate was ever processed (Heinrich, 1967). It is presently divided into two properties in legal terms; a large surface exposure with associated dumps, which sit on National Forest/BLM land and are open to mineral collecting, and a fairly small underground portion which is owned by a group which identifies themselves as ‘Precious Offerings Mineral Exchange, LLC’ and is based in Boulder, Colorado. They are involved in Bureau of Mines-mandated remediation work on the underground workings of the Brown Derby #1 Mine, and as their willingness to allow collectors underground is not presently known. The author does not want to encourage activity which may compromise their remediation efforts; therefore this article will focus on specimens and species which can be collected from surface dumps and exposures, of which there are many. Hopefully in the future, the owners of the underground mineral rights will allow collectors to participate in their efforts to recover specimens from this unusual deposit.

The Brown Derby Mine is best approached from U.S Highway 50 from a small turnoff approximately 6 miles east of the small settlement of Parlin and 17 miles east of Gunnison. Turn north here onto Forest Service road 802, also locally marked as the 44 Road. From here, continue north ~1.5 miles, bearing right at the ‘Y’ onto 802 north where some small granitic-looking outcrops start to become visible on your right. Continue on this fairly good dirt road north/northeast past a small stream crossing (may not be passable to passenger cars after recent rain or in the spring) and ~1 mile after the stream crossing, bear left at another fork up an obvious large ‘humpback’ like sagebrush-covered hill, passing a cattle fence (please respect local ranchers and close gate after your drive through!). Continue on this steepening road for another ~1.5 miles over somewhat rough terrain (4 wheel drive/AWD necessary, though high clearance is not mandatory for this section) until you reach a large flat ridgeline with small aspen trees in a grove on your left. This is a good camping spot. Continue until the road apparently disappears into the sage rush, then pick up another fairly good dirt road leading steeply downhill to the left/west towards now fairly obvious white pegmatite mine dumps below you. Continue down past several switchbacks to an eventual right turn through an open gate to a mine access road leading past an abandoned shack where core samples were stored/examined. The large dumps below you and the large gated adit to your right are the Brown Derby #1 Mine.
Tourmaline: Tourmaline is found in an impressive range of colors and several species at the Brown Derby #1 Mine. Of primary interest to collectors are large crystals and sprays of Elbaite variety Rubellite, which ranges from a dull whiteish-yellow color to choice ‘hot pink’ crystals reminiscent of Transbaikal, Russia or Stewart Mine, California rubellite crystals in color. While generally not gemmy, rare crystals to several cm. are found frozen in lepidolite and cleavelandite matrix, which do show gemmy, clear sections that could potentially yield small gems. An early 1970’s Denver Post article reported gem-quality elbaite in small amounts from the Brown Derby Mine (Eckels 1997), but the author has not seen any of this material in collections or institutions. Most impressive and aesthetic are radiating ‘sprays’ of parallel to sub-parallel pink Rubellite crystals set in coarse purple lepidolite matrix, with individual rubellite crystals up to 15 cm. or more in length. Early reports indicate that in several ‘pods’ in the core of the pegmatite, ‘logs’ of elbaite tourmaine crystals up to 30 cm. long showing ‘watermelon’ zoning with rubellite surrounding an elbaite core were found. The author has personally seen well-formed crystals up to 20 x 5 cm. in place. Also interesting are elbaite crystals which are either partially or fully psuedomorphed by lepidolite or muscovite, which are locally common. Large masses of tightly intergrowth elbaite crystals showing an amazing color gradation from lime-green to yellow to pink to reddish within a single crystal were also found fairly commonly (Staatz & Trites 1955). Staatz et al. (1955) looked at the geochemical variations within these crystals as a guide to color and color gradation, as well at petrogenesis of the pegmatite as a whole. Schorl is also found fairly abundantly at the Brown Derby #1 Mine, where it occurs in the wallzone and outer intermediate zones of the pegmatite, generally in subhedral to poor crystals, sometime radiating outward into the metadiorite.

Rubellite tourmaline crystals in quartz
Figure 4: 4 cm. long, slightly gemmy hot-pink Rubellite tourmaline crystals in quartz with partial rubellite crystals surrounding it, Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite.

‘curved’ Rubellite tourmaline crystal in Cleavelandite
Figure 5: Naturally ‘curved’ Rubellite tourmaline crystal in Cleavelandite and lepidolite. Curvature resulted from tectonic movement in pegmatite during crystallization. Scale in cm.

radiating pink Rubellite crystals to ~5 cm
Figure 6: Spray of radiating pink Rubellite crystals to ~5 cm. in fine-grained lepidolite and quartz, similar to Stewart Mine, California material. ~15 cm. field of view.

‘polychrome’ tourmaline
Figure 7: Good example of massive to coarsely-crystalline ‘polychrome’ tourmaline with gradation from pink to green to yellow, showing some translucent to slightly gemmy sections. Field of View 15 cm. across.

Lepidolite: Second after tourmaline in interest to collectors, and arguably more famous from the Brown Derby Mine is Lepidolite, the violet-colored lithium mica, which occurs here as ‘books’ and crystals to over 10” across! Books of lepidolite several inches across are common, and even 6” crystals are not unusual. Masses of nearly solid lepidolite 5-10 feet across can be observed in places in the pegmatite. Lepidolite along with other mica’s at the Brown Derby Mine were studied by Heinrich (1967), who also noted muscovite, zinnwaldite, and polylithionite, though the occurrence of the latter is questionable. In addition to the large tabular hexagonal ‘books’, lepidolite also occurs as large masses of fine-grained, equigranular crystals to several mm., which generally host more unusual species such as microlite or monazite. Finally, an unusual variety known as ‘ball lepidolite’ occurs locally in hemispherical masses up to 15 cm. composed of rounded, subparellel crystals, which supposedly have been worked into cabachons and other lapidary items. All lepidolite from the Brown Derby #1 Mine shows a handsome rich purple color and a generally bright luster.

Lepidolite to 15 cm
Figure 8: Large books of Lepidolite to 15 cm. across in quartz-cleavelandite pegmatite, hand for scale.

Monazite-(Sm): In addition to fairly common mineral like elbaite and lepidolite, the Brown Derby #1 Mine is also unusual in it’s concentration of more unusual rare earth element (REE) species. Arguably the most interesting of these is the recent discovery of Monazite-(Sm), though the possibility of this species at the Brown Derby Was first noted over 50 years earlier by the always astute E.M Heinrich (1960), who analyzed several monazite samples from the Brown Derby #1 Mine containing >10% Samarium(!) Colorado field collector and REE specialist Rudy Bolona collected several specimens of brownish-red massive Monazite associated with white Cleavelandite feldspar and lepidolite from a single boulder on the dumps in 2009, and subsequently has a sample sent to Dr. George B. Morgan at the University of Oklahoma, who analyzed it to be the very rare species Monazite-(Sm), found only at 3 other localities worldwide. While all monazite samples from the Brown Derby #1 Mine analyzed by Heinrich (1960) appear to contain enough Sm to qualify as Monazite-(Sm), Monazite-(Ce) also occurs at this deposit, so it is not safe to assume that all monazite collected at the Brown Derby #1 is Monazite-(Sm). Monazite-(Sm) occurs at the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite as subhedral masses to crude crystals up to ~6.5 cm. across, typically embedded in fine-grained lepidolite with cleavelandite feldspar and quartz. The Brown Derby #1 occurrence may represent the best locality in the world for this rare species, and new finds of this rare mineral are possible on the extensive dumps.

Monazite-(Sm)
Figure 9: Massive reddish-brown Monazite-(Sm) (analyzed) with purple lepidolite, 6.8 cm. across. (Photo copyright Rudy Bolona/mindat.org)

Pollucite: The Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite represents the only Colorado locality for this rare cesium species, which occurs as two large, ~30 cm. wide massive pods in the central core zone of the pegmatite, along with large crude crystals of opaque topaz, cleavelandite, and quartz (personal communication with Rudy Bolona, September 2009). No crystallized material is known, nor has this mineral been reported from the dumps.

Massive white crystalline Pollucite
Figure 10: Massive white crystalline Pollucite, 6.5 cm. across. (Photo copyright Rudy Bolona/mindat.org)

Stibiotantalite: Stibiotantalite is a rare Antimony Tantalum Niobium Oxide species found in LCT-type pegmatite’s and was first described from the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite by Heinrich & Giardini in 1957. It occurs as subhedral to poorly euhedral crystals generally 1-2 cm. but rarely up to 5 cm. associated with the secondary Tantalum species Rynersonite as a white to cream surface alteration of the stibiotantalite. Heinrich & Giardini found stibiotantalite on a large boulder on the dumps of the #1 Pegmatite, and thought that possibly all the stibiotantalite in the #1 pegmatite was contained in this single block, a large mass of cleavelandite, topaz and lepidolite from the core margin core. However, recent finds of small Stibiotantalite crystals by Colorado collectors on the dumps would argue otherwise.

Well-formed 8 mm. long Stibiotantalite
Figure 11: Well-formed 8 mm. long Stibiotantalite crystal on lepidolite-cleavelandite pegmatite, collected recently on the dumps. (Photo copyright Rudy Bolona/mindat.org)

Columbite-(Fe): Columbite-(Fe), the Fe-analogue of the Niobium oxide species Columbite, is found in several assemblages at the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite. In the core margin zone of the pegmatite, it is found with Cleavelandite feldspar, quartz, and mica minerals as large, crudely euhedral crystals to 10 cm. In the border zone of the pegmatite, especially towards the hanging wall contact with the metadiorite, it is found as small (<5 cm.) grains and crude crystals associated with reddish albite/perthite, Euxenite-(Y), and Monazite-(Ce). Nowhere at the Brown Derby deposit is Columbite-(Fe) an especially common nor conspicuous constituent, however it does occur through a wide portion of the pegmatite. Columbite-(Fe) in albite
Figure 12: Partial crude crystal of Columbite-(Fe) in albite, 8 x 6 cm. (Photo copyright Dean Allum/mindat.org)

Euxenite-(Y): A glassy green metamict Rare Earth species, previously identified as Betafite in some literature, is now believed to be Euxenite-(Y) (Heinrich 1967). Euxenite-(Y) is restricted in occurrence at the Brown Derby pegmatite to a core-margin albite replacement near the upper north margin of the core, but may exist in other unrecognized or mined-out zones as well. It occurs here as metamict masses to 4 cm. in weathered red albite with schorl and columbite-(Fe), and is highly radioactive.

Monazite-(Ce): Monazite-(Ce) occurs at the Brown Derby #1 pegmatite in several assemblages, making non-quantitative distinguishing from Monazite-(Sm) difficult to impossible. It is found as fairly sharp euhedral crystals to ~2.5 cm. in red albite with columbite-(Fe), probably from an analogous assemblage to the aforementioned Euxenite-(Y) zone. The Harvard University Mineralogical museum has several excellent crystallized specimens, one of which (HMM #104814) is pictured here.

Monazite-(Ce) to 2.4 cm. in perthite-albite-biotite pegmatite, Harvard Mineralogical Museum
Figure 13: Well-formed crystals of Monazite-(Ce) to 2.4 cm. in perthite-albite-biotite pegmatite, Harvard Mineralogical Museum #104814.

Microlite: Microlite, the complex tantalum oxide species, is known from several zones of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite and was one of the significant economic minerals of this deposit, though the present distribution of microlite in the dumps and in-situ would suggest otherwise. This is probably due to the fact that microlite occurred in concentrated ‘shoots’ or elongated pods in fine-grained lepidolite-quartz-cleavelandite pegmatite, a mode of occurrence similar to that at the famous Harding Pegmatite in New Mexico. These ‘shoots’ were mined selectively for their microlite content, and ~1200 pounds of Microlite was concentrated and stockpiled for processing, though it is unclear if this material was ever actually sold (Hanley 1950). Hanley also estimates that ~9,000 lbs. of microlite remained at the time of his study in 1944 at the Brown Derby #1, though it is unclear how much of that has been mined since. Mineralogically, microlite forms small crude to somewhat euhedral octahedral crystals to 1 cm. with a resinous brown to black luster and distinctive radiation ‘burn halo’s’ in the surrounding lepidolite. These crystals are often quite radioactive and may in fact be uranomicrolite.

Microlite in crude 3-4 mm. crystals in fine-grained purple Lepidolite
Figure 14: Microlite in crude 3-4 mm. crystals in fine-grained purple Lepidolite; specimen 4 cm. across. (Photo copyright John Betts/mindat.org)

Other accessory species: For the sake of brevity as well as the fact that they do not occur in ‘collector-quality’ crystals, other species such as Topaz, Beryl, Garnet, and Bismutite will not be discussed in detail here. Suffice it to say that they are present at the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, and a quick search of the already extensive literature on this deposit will yield many interesting references.

In closing, the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite remains one of the more interesting and unusual pegmatite deposits in Colorado, and unlike many similar localities, a large portion of the dumps as well as surrounding prospects remain both on public land as well being as accessible to vehicles. The Brown Derby #1 deposit is also unusual in that while it continues to yield excellent, aesthetic specimens of relatively common minerals such as Rubellite tourmaline and lepidolite, finds of extremely rare species such as Monazite-(Sm) have also been made recently. If you plan to visit from Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, please be respectful of local claim holders and property owners and exercise safety and common sense around the large dumps and potentially dangerous mine faces and outcrops. With persistence and luck, this locality should continue to yield great mineral specimens for many years to come.

References
1.) ‘Mica’s of the Brown Derby Pegmatites, Gunnison County, Colorado’, Heinrich, E.M, The American Mineralogist, Volume 52, July-August 1962.
2.) ‘A New Lepidolite Deposit in Colorado’, Eckel, F.B., American Scientific Society, 16, pp. 239-245.
3.) ‘Lithia Pegmatites of the Brown Derby Mine, Gunnison County Colorado’, Hanley, John B., 1946, American Mineralogist 31, 147.
4.) ‘Pegmatite Investigations in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah: 1942-1944’, E.M Heinrich et al., USGS Professional Paper Paper 227, 1950.
5.) ‘Stibiotantalite from the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, Colorado’, Heinrich, E.M & Giardini, A.A., American Mineralogist 45, pp. 728-731, 1960.
6.) ‘The Quartz Creek Pegmatite District, Gunnison County, Colorado’, Staatz, M.H. & Trites, A.F., USGS Professional Paper 265, 1955.
7.) ‘Paragenesis of the Topaz-Bearing Portion of the Brown Derby #1 Pegmatite, Gunnison County Colorado’, Rosenberg, P.E., American Mineralogist 57, 571-583, 1972.
8.) Mindat.org, accessed 8-01-2013 to 8-15-2013.

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When the weather is warm, St. Lawrence County is one of our favorite New York Locations for collecting!

Find more about Weather in Potsdam, NY
Click for weather forecast

Thinking about the East Coast quite a bit, our minds are set on the display cases for the NY/NJ mineral show in Edison New Jersey, April 12-14. We found ourselves involved in organizing all of the cases, nearly 50 six foot tall wall cases, filled with great minerals from the NorthEast, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The trees are blooming here in Southern California and it makes me wonder what it is like in St. Lawrence County, one of our favorite collecting regions in the United States. Well, as of the end of March, 2013, it looks like Potsdam is still getting the occasional snow flurry. So, keep an eye out for days of sunshine and take a trip to St. Lawrence County, a real wonderland of minerals.

The-Vug.com published an issue of their printed magazine on St. Lawrence County and Chester County Pennsylvania, two diversely mineralized areas popular to collectors of the 1800’s. Because of the remoteness of St. Lawrence County, many of the locations for collecting are still available to collecting. Specifically, the deposits on Selleck Road and Power’s Farm, located a short distance from the college town of Potsdam, offer interesting crystals to those who make the trip.

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting
Tremolite from Selleck Road

map to collect tremolite and uvite at power's farm and selleck road in st. lawrence county, new york

The Tremolite is abundant and easy to collect, you can simply roam the forest floor and find several different styles of crystals. The more uncommon find at this location is the brown dravite tourmaline crystals. Either way, I would enjoy spending another day or three at this location.

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

Selleck Road Tremolite Collecting

To the north a few miles, Power’s Farm is the home to one of the most famous New York locations, the classic black Uvite tourmaline crystals are found.

Collecting at Power's Farm in New York

You can read more about it in the book reprint of The-Vug.com Magazine, which is available for purchase at this link, it is very colorful and inexpensive!

You can read that issue, online, hosted by WheretoFindRocks.com by clicking the magazine cover.

#6 1

Hotel rooms in Potsdam are available on Hotels.com, a great town to visit!

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The iconic Steamboat Tourmaline – an American Treasure

In 1907 the famous Steamboat Tourmaline was unearthed by Frank Barlow Schuyler in San Diego County in a rich tourmaline-bearing pocket zone in the mine which was named the Tourmaline King. It was then sold by Schuyler to Washington A. Roebling and it is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution.

professional photograph of the steamboat tourmaline cluster

Although the Steamboat Tourmaline is well known, few people are aware of its discovering in California by Schuyler. Schuyler was born on August 20, 1872 in Falls City, Nebraska. Schuyler took up the same work as his father, a machinist and manufacturer of mechanical tools and married his wife Ella S. Libby in San Luis Rey, California in November of 1894. Then in 1897, their only son Gerald Barlow Schuyler was born.

Schuyler teamed up with D.G. Harrington of Oceanside, California in March of 1903. The pair was exploring the Pala Chief Mountains in San Diego County for pegmatites. During their exploration, they stumbled upon a huge tourmaline deposit which they named the Tourmaline King Mine. Schuyler and Harrington began to construct an underground drift into the pegmatite directly under their surface discovery in 1904. About 60 feet underground and a few years later, the team found a gigantic tourmaline crystal-filled pocket. It extended almost 30 feet in length, about 10 feet wide and was uninterrupted for about 30 feet down dip. This single zone produced around 8 tons of pink tourmaline. The bulk of this discovery was sold to the Imperial Chinese government for a considerable price of $187.50 per pound.

business card of Frank Schuyler
Business card of Frank Schuyler

Schuyler presented and sold his tourmaline gems that he had extracted from the Tourmaline King Mine, at the 1915 Panama Pacific international Exposition in San Francisco. His slogan during the exposition was “wear a tourmaline for luck”. Schuyler also sold and presented other specimens that he had extracted from the Tourmaline King Mine in San Diego County at the exposition.

Robert Max Wilke, a California mineral dealer, purchased the patent grant deed from Schuyler in 1916 for rights to the Tourmaline King Mine so he could work it himself. This purchase by Wilke is the end of Schuyler’s involvement with the Tourmaline King Mine. Wilke went on to discover large amounts of lepidolite, morganite, tourmaline and kunzite at the mine. Wilke eventually abandoned the Tourmaline King Mine in 1922.

photograph of the steamboat tourmaline on display
photograph taken by Chris Stefano at the Smithsonian

The amazing Steamboat Tourmaline is housed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. The Steamboat Tourmaline is one of the best tourmaline specimens from the Tourmaline King Mine in San Diego, California.

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Collecting minerals from “Cross Hill”, Nuevo California

A friend of mine asked to go visit the feldspar mine on the mountain in Nuevo California, about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, toward Riverside and on the way to San Diego. I had not been to the location in five years and I had heard that there was a lot of activity in the area with houses being built. As this has been a classic collecting location, along with the possibility of general prospecting around the area, I wanted to see what was going on.

View Nuevo Quarry pinpointed in a larger map
First I heard there was a gate up. That did not seem to bode well, but it looks like the Korean Church at the bottom of the hill put a gate up at the beginning of the road. It was open (and public land!) so we drove through. Going up the hill was no problem, just like in the past. The odd thing was, going up the hill, the graffiti was out of control on those rocks, empty ammo cases littered the ground alongside empty beer bottles. In addition, these signs saying that the road was PRIVATE were sprayed on the boulders, which is just plain nonsense! This is a road. You can not simply buy the rights to some land and close off a public road. There were work crews, lots of construction going on and shockingly, houses were springing up in this area. The turn off to the quarry was way worse than I remember, as they graded the dirt road down, down, down, so that the turnoff was a six foot climb in the Jeep, which was a little shocking. But, then the road seemed fine, as I remember, and we pulled into the parking area to start our walk to the quarry and dump pile. Seriously, nobody is going to tell me that, as a citizen of California and America, that I am not allowed to go on a public road, to an abandoned quarry to collect some worthless rocks that nobody will miss. Just because some chumps want to spend millions of dollars to build their secluded homesites doesn’t mean they can keep me from the public road outside their house. Keep those ATVs, the gun nuts and the teenage drinkers away, I’m here for some science and some nature.
Smithsonian Nuevo California Garnet
Here is the photo that got me interested again, a photo from the Smithsonian of a nice garnet from this location.

The quarry is very interesting, mainly feldspar and massive quartz, with huge crystals of schorl tourmaline embedded inside the feldspar. Along with this are garnets, most always forming in one thin layer on the outside of the feldspar blocks, the rare find of a scrap of aquamarine is possible and uncommon radioactive crystals of monazite and thorianite. I wanted to try and find some of the radioactives and nice garnet plate, my friend was looking for schorl chunks to put into reference kits for the kids. We found everything that you could expect to find from the quarry and spent about 2 hours collecting before hitting the road back to Los Angeles, with a wide open freeway, pre-rush hour, it was a great trip. If you are in the Southern California area, this is an interesting place to check out and I hope you make it without any problems and who knows, maybe in a few years the road will be paved! (and gated, to keep you ruffians out) This is BLM land, no person should DARE to stop entry to that land. Access to this area has been served by that road which far predates the church or the houses being built up there. It is absolutely shameful if anyone tries to stop you.

Overlooking the felspar quarry in Nuevo California
Overlooking the quarry from the parking area.
Huge Crystals of Schorl in feldspar
For size reference, here is my hand.
Nuevo Quarry with John
A human for size reference.
Another view of the schorl wall at Nuevo
More mouth-watering schorl!
Schorl Crystal in Matrix
This schorl crystal would fall to bits if we tried to remove it from matrix.
loose schorl crystal
A typical scrap of Schorl Tourmaline found on the dumps.
Garnet crystals on feldspar matrix
Commonly seen are the blocks of feldspar, more uncommon is a coverage as rich as this with well formed crystals.
Unidentified radioactive minerals
You can tell these are radioactive due to the radiation rings discoloring the quartz/feldspar matrix.
leaving the quarry with some kid rocks
Leaving the quarry with some rocks to share with the kids.

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Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay 2012

eBay is a fantastic place to find everything for sale. While there are plenty of dyed, glued, misidentified and various other hoaxes online, there are also some fantastic dealers who are honest, well educated and provide amazing service. As per customer satisfaction results gathered by The-Vug.com, we present to you the Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012!

Top 10 Rock and Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012

#10 – Heliodor

Three generations of the mineral dealers, Star and Elena Van Scriver have a wide variety of minerals available. Specializing in Russian minerals and Moroccan minerals, this store has over 4,000 items to chose from, mostly as store items with buy it now pricing. You can view their store by clicking this link.

Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor
Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor



#9 – Benson’s Collectibles

Alan Benson has been selling minerals on eBay for several years, helping to finance his college studies. That’s right, this man helped pay for his textbooks with eBay! He has a fine selection of minerals from worldwide locations, with a focus on New Jersey minerals, as he is close to the locations. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California from Alan Benson Collectable Land



#8 – ScepterGuy

Joe George is an avid Quartz miner. The crystals he has dug out of the ground have made it into magazines, museums and fine collections around the world. Crazy scepters and amethyst from Hallelujah Junction, fascinating terminations and twinning in specimens from Washington state, this man does the hard work to rescue these crystals from the mountain! Not only does he have a fine mix of specimens, people love his acrylic bases and mineral tack, something somewhat hard to find. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Pink Fluorite on Matix from France
Pink Fluorite on Matix from France from Scepter Guy



#7 – Meryln8804

Christopher Stefano is a recent graduate, another self supporting college student for a time. Now he does his ebay and website while working two jobs and raising a newborn! What a guy, because his store is constantly full of great mineral, with a focus in the unique and uncommon minerals of the world. As a specialist in Michigan minerals, if you are looking for an interesting mineral from that area, contact Chris! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Copper Crystals from Michigan
Copper Crystals from Michigan from Merlyn8804



#6 – JMineral

A bad reputation is being cast on many Chinese dealers, as fake and treated minerals are common in many of their eBay stores. JM Mineral is an extreme exception to this, with amazing minerals, popping up on eBay often WELL before any American ever lays eyes on them! The new finds out of Mongolia has made this dealer shine! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Green Quartz Cluster from JMineral



#5 – Crystal Springs Minerals

Crystal Springs focus is South African and Namibian minerals. With so much to chose from in that area of the world, Crystal Springs Minerals is a great source from that area of the world. A richly stocked eBay store and constant restocking has made them a favorite dealer to buy from! People love their red quartz, green fluorite, gem crystals and interesting minerals from the Kalahari. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa
Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa sold by Crystal Springs Minerals



#4 – Open Adit

Open Adit is a fine dealer of LARGE minerals and FRESH imports. Evolving over time, the minerals have always been FINE and amazingly inexpensive! As importers of hundreds of thousands of minerals, Open Adit has found a great way to make large sized cabinet specimens available to the public by presenting them online. Weekly auctions and tons to chose from, if you need a colorful addition to your collection or a display piece, Open Adit is the place to go! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa
Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa sold by Open Adit



#3 – Globe Minerals

Nik, the man behind the operations at Globe Mineral, has a FINE eye for natures beauty. One thing for sure, there is rarely a specimen that we would not like to have for our collection here at WheretoFindRocks.com! Colorful, bold and hand picked, Nik travels around the world hand picking selections to showcase on eBay. As eBay is Globe Minerals main distribution source, there is nothing held back, everything fine is presented on eBay and his customer service is top notch! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco
Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco sold by Globe Minerals



#2 – Jewel’s Fine Minerals

It has been a beautiful experience to watch this ebay dealer constantly improving the quality of the minerals, photos and service. It is almost impossible to imagine that Jewel’s Fine Minerals can get much better. A wide variety of minerals, this dealer is constantly traveling to mineral shows, buying collections and sniffing out all the great minerals to present to the public on eBay. The large amount of store items, weekly auctions and great attention to quality minerals makes Jewel’s Fine Minerals one of the accounts to constantly keep checking out! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Calcite and Fluorite from USA
Calcite and Fluorite from USA sold by Jewel’s Fine Minerals


AND, as a result of all the activity and customer feedback to The-Vug.com in 2012, the #1 Mineral Dealer on eBay…

#1 – Mineral Man 999

Mineralman999, Jasun and Mandy McAvoy, are legendary sellers of minerals on eBay. For good reason! They have had mineral auctions, ALL of them, starting at .99 cents, every week for over 7 years. Sometimes the sales prices of these minerals are in the THOUSANDS of dollars, but they ALWAYS start at .99 cents! Fantastic photos, minerals from all over the world, there is not a week that goes by that we do not find at LEAST one mineral that would be something worth fighting over! Classic minerals, new finds, gem crystals, gold, crazy locality specimens. MineralMan is THE place to visit each and every week. His #1 status is well deserved! You can view his store by clicking this link.

ineralman999 on eBay
Gold Crystal from Venezuela sold by Mineralman999

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