RHS1 Connector – April 2007

RHS1 Connector – April 2007

In this issue…Feature Article: – The Next Major Quake Zone? –Feature Article: – “CRISM” — Rockhound Recipes and Tips: -Thom’s column — Feature Article: – Cleaning Crystals; —Travel:- Montana; —RHS1 News.

Image: credit Roger Weller Cochise College


A Little Bit of Gold

Gold is considered a rare earth element, yet 90% of the Earth’s surface is known to contain gold. The oceans are the richest source of gold. Scientists are now intently investigating mining on the ocean floors as well as methods to extract the metal from ocean water in a cost-effective manner.

Antarctica is the only continent yet to be mined for gold. You don’t need to find vast lodes as just a little of the metal can go a long way. In Fact, it is the most malleable metal known to exist. Just one ounce can be stretched into a 50 mile long wire and one gram can be flattened into a full square meter sheet. No need to worry about running out either. Gold is recyclable. Your fillings or favorite earrings quite possibly can be recycled gold from a weapon or piece of jewelry made by ancients thousands of years ago. Now that’s conservation!

Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community



N.W. United States/British Columbia, Canada.
The Next Major Quake Zone?

An active geological fault, the Seattle Fault, runs under the city. Although neither the Seattle Fault nor the Cascadia Subduction Zone have caused an earthquake since the city’s founding, the city has been hit by four major earthquakes: December 14 1872 (magnitude 7.3); April 13, 1949 (7.1); April 29, 1965 (6.5); and the Nisqually Earthquake of February 28, 2001 (6.8). The Cascadia subduction zone poses the even greater threat of an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater, capable of seriously damaging the city and collapsing many buildings, particularly Downtown and in the Industrial District, which is built on fill.

On February 5, 2007 scientists warned that a major quake may be immanent in the area of Vancouver Island. We have not seen this – yet.

But according to all evidence, we may not be so lucky for very long. While the San Andreas Fault line has captured attention for years, the lesser publicized area running north of that region, from North California up to Vancouver Island, Canada, has been prone to violent earthquakes throughout history with another being expected in the near future. Being that this area is thought to be the place of an upcoming catastrophe, (and also being that I live practically in the center of this volatile region) I thought it well deserving of a bit of discussion.

The region running south from Vancouver Island, BC Canada through Cape Mendocino, California is known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Subductions zones are volatile areas for not only major earthquakes, but for tsunami generation and volcanic activity as well. In a subduction Zone, an oceanic plate is being pushed under a continental plate. These plates lock and tension is built.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone.
The tension periodically becomes too great and the energy is released in the form of an earthquake. If the fault looses friction and slips, major damage can result, and not only earthquake damage. When the upper plate snaps and moves seaward, it displaces water rapidly and a massive tsunami may result as well as the destructive convulsing of the earth. In the Cascadia subduction zone, the oceanic Juan de Fuca plate is converging with and sliding under the North American Plate.

Subduction zones also produce chains of volcanoes at the perimeter of the zone. As the oceanic plate pushes underneath of the continental plate, it encounters much heat and pressure which melts the rock. While some of this molten rock will travel downward, some travels up to the surface where a chain of volcanoes will be formed. In the Cascadia region, the chain of volcanoes is part of the “the ring of fire” which runs from the West Coast of South America on up to Alaska and down to Japan in the Eastern hemisphere.

The Cascadia Volcanoes have a strongly volatile past and have produced some dauntingly huge eruptions throughout their history. The string consists of 13 major volcanoes, several of which are considered Super-Volcanoes.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is currently the most studied subduction zone in the world. Much is being learned about not only the earthquake past and potential of this area, but of the tsunami and volcano history and threat as well. Current study is also being done to develop means of predicting when and how strong earthquake events will be and where tsunamis may be expected. The volcanoes are being closely monitored as well as it is believed that volcanic, and even super-volcanic, activity is immanently possible.

The Geography of The Cascadia Subduction Zone:

The Cascadia Subduction Zone.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 1,100 kilometer long convergent plate boundary where the Juan De Fuca plate is converging with and sliding under the North American plate. It runs from the San Andreas Fault in Northern California to mid Vancouver Island In British Columbia Canada and is subducting at an average rate of about 44mm/year. There is no trench at this border as is usual in a subduction zone and the compression and uplift of the crustal blocks has resulted in a range of spectacular geologically and biologically unique mountains. The uplift of this region has been measured to be a distance of approximately 5mm/year.

A narrow, locked zone has been detected along the subduction zone which averages 60km in width running only 50km offshore in many places. The locked zone widens at the Olympic Peninsula. The angle of the subduction is also much steeper in Oregon than in the Vancouver area, meaning it is possible that the plate is segmented.

On the other side of the Juan De Fuca plate meets the Pacific plate approximately 400km to the west. A 500km long submarine mountain Chain called the Juan De Fuca Ridge borders this rift. Young Volcanoes, lava flows, and hot springs have been discovered along the crest of the ridge indicating that hot, young oceanic crusts are being subducted. This fact is important as heat reduces the ability of rock to store mechanical energy such as that caused by the friction between two locked plates.

There are a substantial number of fault lines running through the Cascadia area as well. There are at least a dozen just in the area between Vancouver and Olympia. More are being discovered it is thought that others are located under the crust where they are difficult to find.

A weakened crustal zone runs Through Idaho, Oregon and NW up through the BC area. Unusual crustal blocks of the Cascadia zone are under continual study. One block, the Oregon crustal block, has been found to be moving clockwise around a pole in Eastern Oregon and is pushing northward on Washington resulting in a North/South compression of the state.

The perimeter of the subduction zone contains 13 major volcanic mountains, some which have produced major eruptions, and most considered to still be active. One, Mt. St. Helens, is currently active. Others are under surveillance as it is felt that they have the ability to produce major eruptions at any time.

Scientists have also found that the Cascadia Subduction Zone has produced some rather harrowing tsunamis in the past and is quite capable of producing large tsunamis in the event of a mega-thrust earthquake, when the stress on the locked portions of the plates can no longer hold the stress and erupt.

The History of The Cascadia Subduction Zone:

Eruptions within the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Earthquakes Scientists have found that over the last 10,000 years this subduction zone has produced between nineteen and twenty-one major earthquakes, at least 17 producing magnitude 9 earthquakes. If you remember the great quake in East Asia in 2004 that produced the devastating tsunami that took over a hundred-thousand lives, you can imagine what exactly we are talking about – except there looms a distinct possibility that the East Asia event was actually much smaller than what we might be expecting from Cascadia.

In devastating quakes such as are typical of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the whole fault zone can rupture all at once causing massive destruction and calamity along the whole fault line. Tsunamis from major Cascadia eruptions have traveled as far as Japan.

Studies have further revealed that the earthquakes “cluster”, that is, there will be a major quake every few hundred years for a while, then there will be a period of between 500 and 1,000 years of relative calm. The two most recent quakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone were in 1500 and 1700, just 200 years apart. Does this mean we are past due or at the end of a cluster?

The most recent mega-thrust earthquake in this series was in 1700. It has been determined through many forms of evidence that this mega-thrust earthquake (magnitude 8.7 – 9.2) was responsible for a tsunami that hit the coast of Japan on January 26 of that year and this date has been ascribed to the 1700 quake.

Tsunamis: Studies have revealed evidence for at least 60 tsunamis throughout the Cascadia region in the last 14,000 years. These tsunamis have traveled several kilometers up rivers, and up to several thousand meters over shorelines.

Indian legends tell of waters leveling shoreline villages. Studied locations from Vancouver to California revealed that they had been hit periodically by tsunamis, some locations have been found to have been hit repeatedly. With major population centers now in Japan and on the NW American coastline, a tsunami resulting from a Cascadia quake could well be as devastating as the earthquake itself.


The volcanic history of the area also tends to be a bit on the explosive side. There have been 8 eruptions from these volcanoes in the last few hundred years. While many are dormant at the moment, there rests a possibility that any could produce massive eruptions at any time. This volcano chain contains 13 very large volcanoes, one of which (St. Helens), is currently active. The volcanoes of this chain from north to south are:

  • Mount Silverthrone -Elevation 3,160 metres (10,367 feet)
  • Location Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, British Columbia, Canada
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Pacific Ranges
  • Prominence 974 m
  • Type Caldera, Lava domes, Pyroclastic cones
  • Last eruption Unknown, possibly younger than 1000 AD
  • Mount Meager – Elevation 2,645 metres (8,681 feet)
  • Location Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, British Columbia, Canada
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Pacific Ranges
  • Prominence 220 m
  • Type Complex volcano
  • Last eruption 2350 BP
  • Mount Cayley – Elevation 7,825 ft (2,385 m)
  • Location Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, British Columbia, Canada
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Pacific Ranges
  • Prominence 674 m
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 20,000 BP
  • Mount Garibaldi -Elevation 2,678 metres (8,786 feet)
  • Location Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, British Columbia, Canada
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Garibaldi Ranges
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption Holocene (~10000 BP)
  • Mount Baker – Elevation 10,778 ft (3,285 m)
  • Location Washington State, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 1880
  • Glacier Peak – Elevation 10,541 ft (3,213 m)
  • Location Washington, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascade Range
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 17th-18th Century
  • Mount Rainier – Elevation 14,410 ft (4,392 m)
  • Location Washington State, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 1854
  • Mount St. Helens – Elevation 8,365 ft (2,550 m)
  • Location Washington, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Active stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 2004-2007 (ongoing)

Mount Adams.
  • Mount Adams – Elevation 12,277 ft (3,742 m)
  • Location Washington State, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascade Range
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption ~550 BC +/- 1000 years

Mount Hood.
  • Mount Hood – Elevation 11,249 feet (3,429 meters)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption 1790s
  • Mount Jefferson – Elevation 10,497 feet (3,199 metres)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption – ?
  • Three Sisters – 10,363 feet (3,158 metres)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Complex volcano/Shield volcano cluster
  • Last eruption 1600 years ago
  • Newberry Volcano – Elevation 7,989 ft (2,435 m) (Paulina Peak)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Shield volcano with pyroclastic cones
  • Last eruption ~ 690 AD
  • Mount Mazama – Elevation 8,159 feet (2,487 metres)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascade Range
  • Type Caldera
  • Last eruption 2290 BC +/- 300 years
  • Mount McLoughlin – Elevation 9,495 feet (2,894 metres)
  • Location Oregon, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano (dormant)
  • Last eruption ~ 20,000 yrs ago
  • Medicine Lake Volcano – Elevation 7,913 feet (2,412 metres)
  • Location California, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascade Range
  • Type Shield volcano
  • Last eruption 1,000 years ago
  • Mount Shasta – Elevation 14,179 ft (4,322 m)
  • Location California, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Stratovolcano
  • Age of rock 593 kyr
  • Last eruption 1786
  • Lassen Peak – Elevation 10,462 feet (3,189 metres)
  • Location California, USA
  • Range Cascade Volcanic Arc, Cascades
  • Type Lava dome
  • Last eruption 1917Geological studies in the Cascadia area have revealed that the Northern Cascadia Volcano area has produced small end super-volcanic eruptions in the past. Six are known as of this date. One of these eruptions produced 33 cubic miles (137 cubic kilometers) of ash. To get an idea of the size of the eruption consider that a similar eruption in Oregon would result in ash fall in the Midwestern states. This size of an eruption dwarfs the 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia which killed 36,000 people.While the volcanoes existing today are not the same ones that caused these ancient eruptions as far back as 3.7 MYA, the risk of another major event in the Cascadia zone can not be ignored. Many of the Cascadia Zone volcanoes are still listed as active even though they have not erupted in hundreds to thousands of years. While the rest are considered dormant, they can not be ruled out as areas of threat which can activate at any time.

The Present Earthquake Threat in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Deep seismic activity can now be tracked and recorded. These deep tremors, while not perceptible to us, give alert to the seismologist that the earth is moving again at the subduction zone. It has been found that the plates are not continually, yet slowly, sliding but rather they “jump” periodically and pass the stress upward to the more shallow locked sections of the fault. This is where the earthquakes happen. They are much more likely to happen during the seismic events, which are called “episodic tremor and slip” than during periods of quiet (although no time can be ruled out completely). It was this type of seismic event that motivated earthquake warnings just last month. It seems that we may not have seen the last of this cluster yet and are overdue following the timing of previous quakes in this series.

New information about silicone rock in fault areas is also painting a picture of possible major quake events in the Cascadia area. It is now known that when silicone is present, friction will heat the silicone which melts to become a lubricant thus cutting the friction and allowing the rocks to slide. Major and rapid ground movement can result from this lubrication of converging rock.

Fault lines which converge with the subduction zone can also be areas of extreme danger. While faults further from the actual quake area are not necessarily impacted by a quake in another area, those which run into the Subduction Zone may erupt as a result of the movement of the plates. Seattle is sitting on such a fault line. Seattle is actually getting a double dose of threat as the crust of the area is mostly sedimentary rather than solid rock which would better withstand a strong shaking. Scientists are conducting vast amounts of studies at the moment to find out what exactly to expect there in the event of a major quake and what areas are likely to receive the most damage. Steps are being taken to outline necessary emergency actions in the event of a strong quake.

Ongoing studies of the Cascadia Subduction Zone will allow scientists to better understand how subduction works and how to predict major cataclysmic events. Until the question of how to predict quakes can be better answered, you may want to forgo the temptation to buy beach front property in the Cascadia Zone.

Sally Taylor. RHS1 Earthwatch April 2007.

Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community

February 16, 2007

CRISM Uncovering Clues of Martian Surface Composition

Reaching its first 100 days of operations, the powerful mineral-detector aboard the newest satellite to circle Mars is changing the way scientists view the history of water on the red planet.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), designed and built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., has teamed with the five other cameras and sensors aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to provide new clues about where water could have existed -on or near the Martian surface.

“We’re finding that Mars has even more compositional diversity and complicated geology than had been revealed by instruments on other Mars orbiters,” says Dr. Scott Murchie, CRISM principal investigator from the Applied Physics Laboratory. “With CRISM’s help, this mission is going to rewrite our understanding of the planet.”

“CRISM’s high spatial resolution provides the means to not only identify a greater range of minerals on Mars but also to associate them with small scale geologic features,” says Dr. Sue Smrekar, deputy MRO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “The result is a tremendous leap forward in interpreting the geologic processes and volatile environments that created different rocks throughout the history of Mars.”

Since beginning its primary science phase in November 2006, the orbiter has sent home enough data to fill nearly 1,000 compact discs – quickly matching the record for Mars data returned over nine years by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. About 30 percent of MRO’s data has come from CRISM; through its telescopic scanners the instrument has taken more than 700 images of specific targets, including more than 250 at high resolution that pinpoints areas down to 15 meters – or 48 feet – in 544 “colors” of reflected sunlight. The camera has also mapped nearly a quarter of the planet at lower resolution – showing areas as small as 200 meters (660 feet) in 72 colors – and monitored abundances of atmospheric gases and particulates in the atmosphere, returning over 500 separate measurements that track seasonal variations.

“We started mapping in northern Martian summer, so we’re able to compile a nearly complete map of the ices and minerals present in and around the north polar cap,” says Dr. Frank Seelos, CRISM science operations lead from the Applied Physics Laboratory.

Some CRISM images reveal unprecedented details of geologic processes on Mars, such as intricate compositional layering of the polar caps, and ancient rocks from Mars’ earliest history that record a time when liquid water was pervasive and long-lasting. Its coverage of the north polar region is providing new insight into the vast field of gypsum-rich sand dunes that surrounds the polar cap. Over the past three months the CRISM team has placed several of these images on the Web at http://crism.jhuapl.edu; team members also plan to discuss details of the data in papers to be published this spring.

CRISM’s resolution in near-infrared wavelengths is about 20 times sharper than any previous look at Mars at these wavelengths. The instrument is searching for areas that were wet long enough to leave a mineral signature on the surface, looking for the spectral traces of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits, and mapping the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. By identifying sites most likely to have contained water, CRISM data will help determine the best potential landing sites for future Mars missions seeking fossil traces of past life.

NASA’s Phoenix mission team is using data from CRISM and other high-resolution MRO instruments to support landing-site selection for its spacecraft, scheduled to touch down in the northern Martian plains in May 2008. Phoenix will determine the composition of both dry surface soil and ice-rich subsurface soil; CRISM’s infrared sensitivity to the ice and salts typically found on Mars has proven valuable in helping the team find sites with ready access to both features.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL), which has built more than 150 spacecraft instruments over the past four decades, led the effort to develop, integrate, and test CRISM. The CRISM team includes experts from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad; visit http://crism.jhuapl.edu for more information.

Information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is available online at http://www.nasa.gov/mro. The mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor and built the MRO spacecraft.

Relayed by Hellas News Service Mars.

Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community

RHS1 Club News

Hi Readers.

For those of you who are interested in becoming members of RHS1 or receiving announcements of our monthly newsletter, please make note that you will have to reply to an activation notice which will be emailed to you to be activated for either. Please make sure to put rockhoundstation1.com in your address books so you can receive this email. If you have registered for either and have not received an email, please contact me and I will help out with activation. This measure is not meant to frustrate you, it is just a security measure.

We are currently working on getting a new Merchant unto the site. We will soon be welcoming Black Cat Mining Co. They have a great line of equipment and tools for gold prospecting, so you will want to check them out. They will be live as soon as we can get their data feed online for you. In the meantime, don’t forget all of the other great shops we have for you here. If you haven’t seen the proshop yet you are missing a store filled with tools and accessories for rockhounds and lapidary artists. Alibris books has a great line of rockhound books. If your budget is limited this is one of the world’s largest resources for used books, so price doesn’t have to scare you to order from them. I bought a used rock hunting guide from them. They had marked the price down because it had been written in – I found the previous owners notes extremely helpful, hahahaha.. Oh and maybe I should mention that Rock and Gem Magazine from our merchant, Magazines.com, is only $18.95 for a year instead of the usual $24.95 you are probably paying for it now. Go figure. All in all, if you haven’t stopped in at the RHS1 shopper’s guide or at the ProShop (on the front page) you are probably missing out on something good.

I’m really excited about the interaction between our Oregon members. We have a pretty good crowd from Oregon of course the rocks there are just a bit spectacular, too. It’s good to see everyone having so much fun together and getting some good information back and forth. We are getting pockets of members now from other areas, too, and I sure hope you will find RHS1 just as good a way to get to know other rockhounds in your area (or areas you are headed to) as those in Oregon are. Summer is coming on fast better get your trips organized quick! The way to find others is to post. No one is going to know you are here if you don’t get to the forums. Be sure to put your State or Country in your profile, too, so people will know where you are from when you post.

That’s it for now, folks.

Life’s short rock hard.



Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community



“German Apple Cake “

OK this recipe has nothing to do with outdoor cooking at all.

But you do cook indoors sometimes, right?

What this recipe DOES have to do with, is flat out good eaten. It was one of my most requested deserts when I was working at the country club. As I have been sorting through things here in my house getting ready for my move to Florida I came across it again along with a couple other kick butt recipes that I will share with you over the next couple of months. They may not be inline with the theme of my column here, but if you try them you will understand.
And hay you can always fix this before you go out in the wild and take it with you, right? Just think how jealous the other Rockhounds in your group will be when you brake this one out of your cooler. Eat it cold or eat it warm, it just don’t matter. It is that good.

German Apple Cake

  • Half a cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Half a cup sugar
  • 1 and half teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 or 5 tart apples Granny Green Smith are best

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
Combine the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and 2 eggs in a mixer and beat thoroughly.
Add flour, baking powder, and vanilla extract, beat till well blended.
Spread evenly in baking dish.
Combine half a cup sugar and cinnamon.
Peel and core apples, then slice into thin slices. Save apples peels for sauce.
Coat evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Arrange apple slices on top of batter in overlapping rows, pressing lightly into batter.
Bake one hour till done.

Calvados Sauce

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy) optional apple peels

In a heavy sauce pan heat apple cider and apple peels.
Reduce to 1 cup.
Strain to remove the apple peels.
Add heavy cream and reduce to half volume.
Stir in Calvados.
While still warm spoon over Apple Cake.
If you refrigerate the calvados sauce it will harden into an apple butter
you can spread on toast or just about anything else.

About Thom…

Thom Meyer is a retired professional chef who has a degree in Culinary Arts – Also an avid camper and most importantly a person who likes to eat. Lately he has been involved in marketing and building websites when not using WordPress for them, a process of which in some circles he is considered an authority. Among his many websites that he maintains are www.recipes-4-all.com and www.wp-revealed.com



“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”
Hunter S. Thompson

Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community

TRAVEL :MONTANA, The Treasure State

If you have an urge to take a trip to the Northern States to do some rockhounding this summer, you will want to make sure a trip to Montana is on your agenda. Montana, called aptly “the Treasure State” is home to both the famous Montana Moss agates and the “Yogo” sapphire, the beautiful cornflower blue variety. Whether you like wooded mountain streams or desert canyons and cliffs, you will find something to your tastes in Montana.

If you are going to Eastern Montana, be ready for desert terrains complete with rattlesnakes. The South Eastern Part of the state through which the Yellowstone River flows is the home of the famous Montana Moss agate. Between the Harding area and the Miles City area the agates are best found to the south of the river, and from Miles City to the Sidney area they are most plentiful to the North of the river. The best hunting is in the creek areas to the North of the river East of Mill City.

South near the border of Montana and Wyoming are the Pryor Mountains, the home of the famous Dryhead Agates, which are now on privately owned property, but many types of crystals, agates, and artifacts can be found in this unique area. The Bighorn River provides spectacular views as well. These mountains are mostly desert land, but there are trees on the mountains at fairly low elevations so shade is available for hot, tired hunters.

Throughout the East, fossils can be found in the cliffs and canyon lands. While you need a permit to collect some fossils (and you will need a good reason to get a permit – casual hunting isn’t one of them) others are fine to collect on public land. Petrified woods can also be found throughout Montana and can be collected in small quantities with no permits.

A Petrified Log.
From the Continental Divide on West, Montana looks like a completely different state. The Western portion of the state contains spectacular wooded mountains, lakes, and streams. The country is beautiful enough to enjoy in its own right, but rockhounds get a bonus. This portion of Montana has an array of great hunting possibilities. The hunter may search for artifacts and minerals in ghost towns and old mining areas that dot the land. Those with a lust for panning may find there is still a good bit of gold, but care must be taken not to set up panning on claimed land. There are many claims on public land, so it is best to check with the BLM service before deciding to strike your fortune in someone else’s chosen spot. The mine tailings in the Anaconda area are a good place to start the search for gold.

Crystal Park on the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway is said to have an inexhaustable supply of crystals, both quartz and amethyst. This area is free to dig. It is 220 acres of public land set aside specifically for rockhounds. If you are out to get away, this might not be the best spot for you as it is said that around 5,000 people visit every summer, but if you are interested in great crystals, that is a good place to start looking. Crystals of many varieties can be found in many locations throughout the Western portion of the state

In the Helena area near Canyon Ferry some mines offer public fee digging for sapphires. Some rent equipment. A lucky prospector may find their own sapphires out in the creeks of the area, too, but the most likely finds will come from the fee digs. For those interested in the famous Yogo sapphires, these mining digs are your best chance of finding these rare stones. I n the Ruby Reservoir area south of Alder calcite, opalite, and garnets are plentiful. The Southwest portion of the state is rich with brightly colored petrified woods and agate.

Montana is snowed under during the winter so you will want to make your trip in summer months. If you are planning to visit just East of the Continental divide, you may want to go either in the spring or fall as this desert area gets extremely hot. West of the divide, the best seasons for these mountain regions is in the mid summer. Be sure to take a variety of clothing with you as mountain weather can be quite changeable. The Western Mountains are home to many types of wildlife such as bears, cougars, and moose, too, so be sure that you know safety techniques for dealing with these animals. A quick trip to a BLM office in the local area is a good place to start any rockhounding excursion in Montana.


Rock Hound Station 1
Global Rockhound Community



This month: Cleaning Crystals

Crystal. collection-Sally Taylor & Munchie

This Month:

Part 1: Cleaning From the Digs
Part 2: Cleaning for Scryers and Healers

Part 1:Cleaning From the digs.

It’s great finding your own quartz crystals. It’s too bad that they don’t look as great just out of the ground as they do in the rock shops though. In fact, sometimes, other than seeing a few points through the mud, it’s hard to tell you even have crystals under all the dirt or clay. If you are lucky, you can get away with just the quicker routes. Some will take some heavy duty action. The first step is always the same. First you have to wash the dirt off.

I’ve collected crystals from a lot of different locations and got very lucky with some. Just holding the cluster under the kitchen faucet and scrubbing them with a toothbrush rendered beautiful clear gems. Others needed much more washing especially those that came from clay soil. Ho what a mess that clay is to get off of your crystals. It’s especially tough when the crystals are still in a vug that is packed with clay.

My first route is the same with these pieces, except that with the thicker muds and clays I use a garden hose rather than a sink faucet. Spray the rocks with as much force as possible. If this does not remove all of the dirt (and if it’s clay it may well not remove it all) let the stones sit for a few days to dry. Once the dirt is dryed, brush it off with a stiff bristled brush. Brush off as much as you can by hand and then repeat spraying it with water. You may even be tempted to take the stones to a manual car wash or rent a power washer if you have enough to warrant the expense and time. If you still have not succeeded, repeat the process of drying brushing and spraying. Once you have gotten to the point of just a bit of dirt on the stones you may want to try soaking the stones in an ammonia cleaner then spraying again. As tiresome as this may seem, you must make sure to get all of the surface dirt off of the crystals before using any other methods to remove coatings or iron stains.

Once the dirt is gone from the stones you can assess what else you might need to do. If there is just a small amount of iron staining, you may be able to remove these by soaking the crystals in bathroom porcelain cleaners designed to remove iron. One is actually called Iron Out. This may take a few days of soaking. Follow the directions on the bottle to mix the cleaner and leave your crystals soaking in a plastic bucket, checking daily to see if they are clean. If they are still stained or coated after several days, you will need stronger cleaners.

There are several acids that can be used for cleaning crystals, but a few are just plain dangerous and should not be used. Most professionals suggest using oxalic acid. There is a pharmaceutical variety, but the cost will be high. If you do not have a rock shop near you, you will want to call your closest rock club and ask where to buy this. The amount you need will be determined by how many crystals you have to clean and how dirty they are.

Start by putting your crystals in a 5 gallon bucket and use the water/acid ratio recommended on the acid package. If you do not see any results coming from this after a few days, add more acid and enough water to keep the crystals submerged. This process works best, especially for stubborn mineral deposits, if you cook them. A crockpot or hot plate which can hold your container easily make good cookers, but you can use anything as long as you are cooking where the fumes can disperse such as a carport or covered porch. Make sure to keep the water levels over your crystals.

IMPORTANT NOTES- do not clean the crystals with acid inside your home as acid fumes are poisonous and can be quite deadly. Keep your soaking rocks where they are safe from curious children and pets, and where the fumes will not be a source of problems. If you use a garage make sure to keep the door up.

If your acid turns deep green, it is used or “spent” and you will need to add more if your crystals aren’t clean yet. Check your crystals everyday and if you aren’t seeing the results you want after a week, you might need stronger acid.

If you are familiar with using acids you may also use muriatic acid but do note that this is a much stronger acid and is much more dangerous. This acid will burn you if you splash it on your skin. If you use this acid, wear gloves, long sleeves and pants, and safety glasses while working with the acid. Also keep a hose and baking soda handy for spills. Quickly wash a spill with water and then put baking soda on the area to deactivate the acid.

While using either acid, read the labels first so you know what you are doing. Always add acid to the water rather than water to the acid, and always deactivate the acid when you are finished with it. This can be done with garden lime and/or baking soda. Once the acid is deactivated it is safe to dispose of as you wish. Do make sure it is thoroughly deactivated before you dispose of it though.

Part 2: Cleaning for Scryers and Healers

What might look like a clean crystal to the crystal hunter and gift shop customer, is not necessarily clean from a metaphysical point of view. Crystals store energies and if the stone has been in contact with negative energies, you are not gonna like the results you get from that crystal! You will also want to clean irrelevant “memory” from the stone so they do not distort your scrying view. The only time you would want to use a “dirty” crystal is if you are trying to find out about the previous owner. Then the old energies will be useful instead of confusing, distorting, or even harmful.

To clean a crystal for metaphysical purposes is much simpler than cleaning a stone from the digs. You need only place the crystal in a glass of water into which you have dissolved a tablespoon of salt. Place it in a window that receives sun and/or moonlight for 24 hours, then rinse the crystal off and you are good to go for most purposes.

If you know a stone has been used frequently or has been exposed to abnormally negative energies, you may want to add a step to this cleaning process. Wrap the stone in a natural fiber cloth. Cotton, linen, wool, or silk work well. Now bury the stone for 48 hours. The natural fibers will protect the stone from getting soiled without exposing the crystal to unnatural elements. The ground around the stone will absorb and neutralize any existing energies allowing you to start using the stone fresh when you dig it up and unwrap it again.


Image and info credits for this edition: Wikipedia: Nasa: USGS: Roger Weller: Cochise College:

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