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Month: October 2010

Back To Copperopolis – Rockhound Field Trip

Back To Copperopolis – Rockhound Field Trip

After the first dig, Jessie and I just couldn’t resist taking a second run back there right away. We had another person with us, too – she had seen Jessie’s cache from the first trip and was gung ho to try her hand at digging a few herself. This time the weather was warm but not as excruciating as the first time in.

I did some studying before this trip and found that our spot is in the Southern portion of a formation that runs all the way up to highway 26 and possibly even further North than that. Not having a lot of time to explore this time, we settled for just going back to the dig knowing that we’d find something. Something turned out to be a lot better than our first try at the pit.

Beginner’s luck doesn’t quite explain Jessie’s luck in finding a major pocket. She again had the biggest load to carry back to the car this time. While I had the biggest stone of the day – Jess once again topped me out with a spectacular green moss crystal. Her friend,Gina, was amazed and thrilled with her cache. While she came along expecting to find a few crystals, she was not prepared for the size of the stones she was finding. To tell the truth – neither were we.

For all Gina’s friends back home she said would never believe she actually found those herself — yeah, she did – and they were AWESOME!  I didn’t get pics of hers, but they are about the same trend as the ones in the pics below.

That said – we took some more pics for you all to enjoy.

Favorites from my dig cache
These are my favorites for the day. The one on the left is the biggest single crystal of the day.

The crystal on the left was the biggest single of the day. It’s not the best crystal, however. It’s got a bit too many of the watery feathers in it to be clear at the size it is. The medium size crystals are much clearer than the larger ones.

Quartz Crystals from Copperopolis 5
These are Jessie's favorites from the day.

Jessie  had the biggest cluster (top left) and a lot of beautiful medium sized clear stones. She also got a lot of so-so stones that will probably end up being the start of what I call “driveway rock” collection. Those are the stones you toss in the yard somewhere for decoration. Non-hunters seem to love looking at these piles and picking something out for themselves to take home. There’s always party favors somewhere when you visit a rockhound’s home.

Let’s move on to the real prize of the day – also one of Jessie’s finds:

Moss quartz crystal
Gorgeous water clear crystal with green moss.

I have never seen a true moss quartz crystal before, and perhaps that isn’t the right technical name for it, but one look at that picture and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s about the best description to be had for this gorgeous stone. It’s close to an inch wide and there is a crust, as you can see, but promises to be a stunning pendant piece when the layer is removed.

We did explore around the rock formation above the dig up by the main road this time. The view was spectacular. Almost spectacular enough to make me actually like being in California for awhile.

Copperopolis view from the top
Veiw from the rock formation above the dig site.

And of course – Rickie had a great time and enjoyed a little more sun and hiking this time with the weather a bit cooler than last time. I think his smile says more about how the day went than anything else I can say.

Dogs can so smile.
Love this guys smile - he says it all for all three of us.

Um….if anyone should make it out to Copperopolis and find a folding army shovel……..It’s mine. Could ya let me know it’s been located?   I’ll be back for it – trust me  on that one!

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New Technology for Artifact Evaluation Opens Closed Doors to Past

New Technology for Artifact Evaluation Opens Closed Doors to Past

Finding an ancient stash of coins or metal relics has always been exciting, but if a coin was corroded enough, there wasn’t a lot of historical significance that could be tapped from that coin. Advancements in technology are allowing coins to tell tales we never had access to before with old methods of coin analysis.

Using new applications of X-ray fluorescence and isotope analysis, and specialized software and reference materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, scientists have at their fingertips a means of nondestructive evaluation analyze coins while extracting vital data about the coin which was previously unavailable to them using older and more destructive methods of analysis.

Coins can now be correctly attributed to the particular ruler when corrosion leaves questions about the origin of the coin, but using the new methods of calibration, scientists can also fingerprint the ores from which the coin was fashioned. Because metals differ from location to location, by fingerprinting the metal the coin is composed of, scientists are able to use the new technologies and methods of calibration to tell where the metal in the coin came from.

By putting together the rulers coins were minted under and location from which the metal originated archaeologists have a means to place the dates of mining industry and find out more about a culture’s commerce than they could ever uncover before. They can also do so with unprecedented accuracy. Tests run on coins have already shown that the mines of Arabia operational much earlier than presumed, although it is still a question whether the Romans had moved to the region earlier than presumed or or whether the mines were already running when they arrived. The interaction between Romans and Arabian culture was going on earlier than supposed.

Fingerprinting metal artifacts is likely to lead to some very startling discoveries about early mining and trade. Perhaps it won’t be long before we find which far away culture was mining the copper of Northern Michigan over six thousand years ago. Is the who-done-it novel about to succumb to a new breed of archaeological reports?

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Rockhound Trip Report: Copperopolis, California

Rockhound Trip Report: Copperopolis, California

Last week I took my Niece out for a first real rockhound excursion.  Jessie is in her late twenties so this wasn’t a “give a little kid their first taste” trip.  She’s randomly looked for rocks when she’s been where she sees things she likes, but this was her first real down and honest “lets go get these things” type of trip.  I’d already been to the site so I knew that we were in for a good day and was pretty excited about the trip myself.

It was around 10:00, clear, and sunny when we got to the hill and it was pretty obvious that early that we were in for some heat later on.   Here’s the view from the dig site:

The pointed rocks on the outcrop on top above the site almost looked like they were gigantic coated crystals of some sort themselves. If it hadn’t been so darned hot I might have gone and checked those out.
We really enjoyed having this great bit of scenery to look at when we headed for a break in the shade.

That early, a lot of the site was still in the shade so we started out on a comfortable dig.  The ground at the pit was dry and a little harder than I’d have liked, but with a hammer, crowbar, garden claw, and shovels we were able to get through enough of the rocky clots to to reap some good rewards.  Around noon the sun was starting to make life rough for us and there was no longer any shade at the pit. Now and again we’d wander to a shady spot and do a little scraping around but wandered back to dig some more when the shaded location didn’t produce.

RIcki had a good morning exploring, but when the sun started getting high, it didn’t take him long to decide where he was going to spend the hotter hours of the day.

Part of Ricki’s winning fight against bone cancer is a lot of interesting hikes and fresh air.

We enjoyed most of the wildlife we saw, but this next little guy didn’t get the same reaction that the cute little dear playing along the roadsides did.

This guy startled us when he climbed out from under a rock while we were digging

After taking a few minutes to try to figure out what kind of spider he was and snapping a picture of him, he was escorted onto the shovel and off to a spot far enough away to ensure he wouldn’t be sneaking back to the pit.  As hot as it was getting, he probably was glad to be where he could crawl off under a log to hide for awhile.

By  mid afternoon the heat and sun were getting the best of us and we’d finally had enough and decided to go back up to the rig and have some lunch and be on our way. Back at the rig we noticed this odd tree formation.

This tree formation looks just like the devil sitting on a stump playing a fiddle.  Was he waiting for us to sell our souls for a good strike?

Even without knowing yet that I had a hole in my bag and was leaking out a few crystals on the walk back to the rig (Big oops), the devil didn’t stand a chance of a deal because there were plenty enough crystals between the two of  us for Jess and I to call it a pretty successful day:

These are some of my finds for the day. There are a few close ups of a couple of them in the photo gallery

Jessie had some of that good ole beginners luck that we’re all so familiar with and took home about three times as many as I did – she got the biggest and the best of the day, too.   Of course, I was a light weight in all the heat and sun and took more breaks than she did so she deserved the heaping cache she took home.

We made few more more stops on the way home.  One was the Milton Cemetery.  That place was spooky even in the daylight.  On the road near the cemetery, Jessie found a piece of jasper (might be chert, I didn’t look at it that well) that was a greenish blue with tan orbs in it.  It reminded me somewhat of Bruneau Jasper.

Anyway – for you haunted cemetery lovers — here’s a few glimpses of the cemetery.  There are a few inhabited homes in the area but for the most part, there is nothing around to suggest there ever was a town here.

The Cemetery Main Gate

Here’s a shot of one section in back of the cemetery.  Behind it you can see some of the hills in the area.  Definitely would like to go back and check those out a little bit.  They are part of the same rock formation that the dig site is so there might be some good hunting in those hills — if there is any public property out there, that is.

This pic from the back of the cemetery shows a little of the age and condition and why it seemed so spooky in there.

Now here’s an interesting concept in cemeteries.  When the headstones fall, just prop them against a tree and let the visitors guess which of the unmarked mounds the people are in.  Judging from the look and feel of this place someone (or something) would probably show up after dark that would be glad to show you.

Well, they are there somewhere. We tried hard not to step on anyone. Unmarked mounds are all over.

Well, that’s the highlights from this trip out.  We had enough fun that we’ll be going back in a few days.  Um….this time I’ll be checking my pack for holes before I go.