RHS1 Connector – May 2007

RHS1 Connector – May 2007

In this issue…Feature Article: – Dinasaurs extinction still Mystery-: — Hunting fossils, Washington: – Rockhound Recipes and Tips: -Thom’s column — Feature Article: – Rockhound starters tips; —Travel:- Kansas; —RHS1 News.




In 1792 when the US Mint was established they were more than happy to strike silver coins from any amount of silver any person took to the mint. When the Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada, the government faced a new problem as tons of silver began to flow to the mint from Nevada, actually costing the government ten cents for every dollar struck by 1878.

Consequential battles raged in Congress between those that wished to stop the coinage of silver and those who wanted to pass tariffs. The result was tariffs and a law demanding the mints strike millions of silver dollars per month. A mint was then built in Carson City, Nevada to facilitate the profusion of silver from the area to be struck into coins. As the proceeds from the Comstock Lode dwindled the Carson City Mint was closed – just a few years in operation.

The discoverers of the Comstock load, incidentally, became disgruntled about all the blue mud that clogged their machines and sold out of their shares early on and very cheaply. If they had been experienced, they may have known that the blue mud was actually loaded with silver!

Many coins from the Carson Mint, incidentally, are now quite valuable finds! Many were lost due to meltdown during WW I and II, but some stored in government vaults survived. It is only to be guessed where a lucky treasure hunter may dig up an forgotten, lost, or privately horded Carson City silver dollar.

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Far More Than a Meteor Killed Dinos

Chicxulub Crater (cheek-shoo-LOOB) is an ancient impact crater buried underneath the Yucatan Peninsula, with its center located approximately underneath the town of Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico. Investigations suggest that this impact structure is dated from the late Cretaceous Period, about 65 million years ago. Thus the meteorite associated with the crater is implicated in causing the extinction of the dinosaurs.

There’s growing evidence that the dinosaurs and most their contemporaries were not wiped out by the famed Chicxulub meteor impact, according to a paleontologist who says multiple meteor impacts, massive volcanism in India, and climate changes culminated in the end of the Cretaceous Period.

The Chicxulub impact may, in fact, have been the lesser and earlier of a series of meteors and volcanic eruptions that pounded life on Earth for more than 500,000 years, say Princeton University paleontologist Gerta Keller and her collaborators Thierry Adatte from the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, and Zsolt Berner and Doris Stüben from Karlsruhe University in Germany. A final, much larger and still unidentified impact 65.5 million years ago appears to have been the last straw, exterminating two thirds of all species in one of the largest mass extinction events in the history of life. It’s that impact not Chicxulub which left the famous extraterrestrial iridium layer found in rocks worldwide that marks the impact that finally ended the Age of Reptiles.

Radar topography reveals the 180 kilometer (112 mile) wide ring of the crater (image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
“The Chicxulub impact could not have caused the mass extinction,” says Princeton University paleontologist Gerta Keller, “because this impact predates the mass extinction and apparently didn’t cause any extinctions.” Keller is scheduled to present that evidence at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Philadelphia, 22-25 October. The results of her research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, will be discussed in two technical sessions and a public lecture sponsored by the Philadelphia Geological Survey.

Marine sediments drilled from the Chicxulub crater itself, as well as from a site in Texas along the Brazos River, and from outcrops in northeastern Mexico reveal that Chicxulub hit Earth 300,000 years before the mass extinction. Small marine animal microfossils were left virtually unscathed, says Keller.

“In all these localities we can analyze the marine microfossils in the sediments directly above and below the Chicxulub impact layer and cannot find any significant biotic effect,” said Keller. “We cannot attribute any specific extinctions to this impact.” No one has ever published this critical survival story before, she said. Keller’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation. The story that seems to be taking shape is that Chicxulub, though violent, actually conspired with the prolonged and gigantic eruptions of the Deccan Flood Basalts in India, as well as with climate change, to nudge species towards the brink. They were then shoved over with a second large impact.

The Deccan volcanism did the nudging by releasing vast amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over a period of more than a million years leading up to the mass extinction. By the time Chicxulub struck, the oceans were already 3-4 degrees warmer, even at the bottom, she says.

“On land it must have been 7-8 degrees warmer,” says Keller. “This greenhouse warming is well documented. The temperature rise was rapid, over about 20,000 years, and it stayed warm for about 100,000 years, then cooled back to normal well before the mass extinction.”

Marine species at the time suffered from the heat. Most adapted to the stress conditions by dwarfing, growing less than half their normal size and reproducing rapidly with many offspring to increase the chances for survival. The Chicxulub impact coincided with this time. By the time climate cooled back to normal, most tropical species were on the brink of extinction. Then the second large impact hit and pushed them over the brink many straight to extinction.

As for how the dinosaurs were affected, that’s a bit harder to say specifically, since dinosaurs did not leave a lot of fossils behind to tell the tale.

“Dinosaur fossils are few and far between,” Keller said. “People love the dinosaurs but we can only really study what happened to them by looking at microfossils because these little critters are everywhere at all times. In just a pinch of sediment we can tell you the age, the prevailing climate, the environment in which it was deposited and what happened. It’s remarkable.”

What the microfossils are saying is that Chicxulub probably aided the demise of the dinosaurs, but so did Deccan trap volcanism greenhouse warming effect and finally a second huge impact that finished them off. So where’s the crater?

“I wish I knew,” said Keller. “There is some evidence that it may have hit in India, where a crater of about 500 kilometers in diameter is estimated and named Shiva by paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee from the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. The evidence for it, however, is not very compelling at this time.”

Geological Society of America

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Yakima, Columbia, and Walla Wally valleys in Southeastern Washington hold a wealth of Mammoth fossils from Ice Age floods which plagued the regions from Spokane to the Tri-Cities region. Scientists are asking for information on any finds of whole or fragment fossils of mammoths in this area which they are studying in an attempt to understand more about Ice Age flooding and how they impacted the animals of the region. Mammoth fossils, which proliferate in the area are of major interest.

Joseph T. Pardee in 1910 put the first piece of the Ice Age floods into the puzzle. He claimed evidences of a Glacial Lake (Missoula) in Northwest Montana. In 1923 J. Harlen Bretz published papers proposing that massive geological features of the Columbia basin were the result of catastrophic flooding. It wasn’t until 1940 when Pardee published his findings of evidences that Lake Missoula had suddenly burst forth torrents of water Southwestward that the features of the two regions were connected. Studies since this time have revealed increasingly valuable information about the Ice Age flooding of the Basin region by some of the most immense and powerful floods known to have ever occurred.

To the rockhound, this means some intense fossil hunting possibilities. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory geologists would love your help in gaining what knowledge they can recover from these incredible floods. The fossils of the area contain much information that the land itself cannot provide. Information gathered about the region is being compiled and a proposal is in the workings for interpretive centers located at different points throughout the flood and fossil regions from Montana through Washington and into Oregon.

You are invited, and encouraged, to forward any information you may have about fossil finds of Mammoths and other mammals in the basin area to PNNL member, George Last of Washington, at (509) 3767-3961 or


For more information about the floods and the proposed interpretative trail, visit the Ice Age Flood Institute at:


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RHS1 Members News

Hi Readers.

Is it really May already? Time sure flies when your rockin’ hard.

I’d like to take some time to bring your attention to some of our recent posters in the forums who have some pictures posted of items they just can’t identify. Maybe you could give them a little help. Some of these items are pretty puzzling. Pictures don’t always allow for easy identification, but they may be things you have picked up yourself and so might recognize them without problems.

In the Gazette you may have seen that I have promised to send out a few pounds of Prineville moss agate, plus the cost of postage for anyone in the Prineville Reservoir area that finds and returns my rock pick to me. It’s not that it is a great rock pick. In fact I just picked it up last minute before my trip down there last summer after having lost the previous one, too, which actually was a good one. But having it sent back would sure give it some sentimental value,so I am offering a few pounds of the beautiful moss agates that I picked up in that area as a reward. If you have found those agates, of course, you won’t really care about that but my bet is that you haven’t found them. Since I haven’t heard from anyone, it’s probably a safe bet that it still hasn’t been found either. So lets take that as a lesson. If you have a great secret rock site, watch your rock gear real close unless you’ll be going back there almost right away.

I apologize to those whose shows I did not get out to this month. I am trying to get my rig running correctly and have made a few fixes, but obviously, haven’t hit the right one yet. Sooner or later I’ll be back out on the road sooner than later I hope for the sake of my sanity. I really am tired of picking up carbonized wood because it’s the only thing local enough to pick up. It does look kinda nice along the back fence though.

If you have been watching the Earthquake watch stats in the forum, the first yearly statistics are posted in the Gazette for you to ponder on. When people ask you “hey, what’s shakin”, you might as well know the answer.

Being that there are no major announcements this month, I’m going to sign off here. See you in the forums!

Rockin’ the Third Rock and the Fourth



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Global Rockhound Community


“A Two Burner Cook Stove Will Do “

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to cook good food when you’re out camping. In fact with a simple two burner cook stove, a couple of pots and pans, and basic utensils you can cook some meals that may be considered on the gourmet side. Well that may be an over statement, but the meals you can cook don’t have to be simple hot dogs and hamburgers by any means.

Here are a couple of recipes you can try that go well together, are easy to make, and taste great. Plus they can be made on a simple two burner cook stove, or in a pot and pan over an open fire.

Seafood Chowder

  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can (or about 12 ounces) tuna in oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium can of diced potatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Combine everything except the tuna in a pot.
Simmer, covered for about 10 minutes or until the celery is tender.
Add tuna and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Serves 6

Flat Bread

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (more or less)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
Mix ingredients together in a bowl to make a stiff dough.
Pinch off pieces about the size of a tangerine.
Pat down to make a round about 1/8 inch thick.
Dust with flour.
Lightly oil a frying pan and brown the bread on low heat on both sides.
Repeat till all the dough is used.

There you go. A quick simple meal that sure beats the heck out of hot dogs. See ya’ll next month when I’ll be talking about barbecue and grilling and I’ll have a great barbecue sauce recipe for you.

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

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Konza Prairie, in the Flint Hills, Kansas
Kansas might not be the first place someone would think of when planing a rockhound excursion. Along with some unique scenery, Kansas also is alive with rockhound opportunities as well.

Flag of Kansas.
Fossils proliferate throughout Kansas, just waiting to be dug from the chalk and limestone hills and bluffs of the Northwest or the sandstone, lime, and flint of the Southern Central regions. Fossils of a range of early aquatic creatures from the early seas which covered the area. Finds of plesiosaurs and other marine animal fossils have been made as well as those of land creatures such as Mastodons, camels, sloths, and horses.

More common, yet interesting, fossils which may be more easily hunted by the recreational hunter include insects, which can be found in digs in Elmo Kansas, Greenwood County Kansas, Hamilton Quarry Belvidere – Kiowa County, Garnett – Anderson County, Lawrence – Douglas County. Trilobites, gastropods, sponges, ammonites, brachiopods, bivalves, and others can also be won by the diligent hunter.

For those who are a bit more interested in rocks and minerals than fossils, it might be of interesting note that the Northeastern portions of the state are glaciated that is huge glaciers ground their way through leaving many types of minerals and rocks in it’s wake. Would it be interesting to note that coveted Lake Superior Agates themselves can be found in these glacier paths? Had Aunty Emm told Dorothy about those she may have been more interested in staying near home.

Dolomite and calcite, being associated with limestone, is also a frequent trophy of a hunt. Calcite is, in fact, the most common mineral in the state. Other minerals that can be won by the Kansas hunter are galena, jasper, marcasite, gypsum, and amber. Of course, amber, while looking like a mineral, is actually fossilized material, nonetheless, it can be found in Kansas.

If we still haven’t hit your soft spot for hunting, perhaps you would be interested in Haviland Crater (also known as Brenham crater), located in South centrally located Kiowa county. This impact crater is thought to be young, 1,000 years or so, and while being the smallest impact crater, 15,000 pounds of pallasite meteorites have been recovered from it’s vicinity so far. Pallasite meteorites are distinct in that they contain crystals of olivine (peridot). It is the only mineral crystals that come from extraterrestrial sources known at this time.

For the treasure and relic hunter, Kansas is a true mecca. It is estimated by the Kansas Historical Society that 700 ghost towns exist throughout the state. Early expeditions of Spaniards and French crossed the state. Civil War battlefields dot the land. Old railroad boomtowns came and went. Trails of gold hunters blazed westward through Kansas. Indians roamed the prairies. There is no end to the possibilities for the avid relic seeker in this historically wealthy state. It would be a grave mistake to pass through without a metal detector and at least a few side trips to a Kansas ghost town. Do be conscientious of private property and local laws regarding metal detectors.

Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence, Kansas
Of course, Kansas offers a lot of other interesting features to see while you are there, too. You may want to check out Science City in Kansas City Missouri or the Exploration Place in Wichita. Both feature hands-on exploration activities. In Dodge city you can experience the Boot Hill Museum where you can walk through a historic cemetery, ride a stage coach, watch an old west-shoot out among learning about and viewing other old west relics and replicas. In Topeka you can learn about the old railroad history at the Great Overland Station Museum or attend the Kansas Museum of History for a broader look at the areas rich history. In Atchison you may take a tour of the childhood home of legendary Amelia Earhart. These are just a few of the States entertaining educational attractions. Natural attractions are diverse and plentiful as well.

In Southeastern Cherokee County you can explore caves which can be found scattered through the “Ozarks of Kansas”. In Barton County, at the state’s center you can visit Cheyenne Bottoms, a wet land of over 64 square miles which attracts over 300 species of migrating birds during the spring and fall seasons, including many endangered species.

The state of Kansas is surely a worthy mark on the rockhound’s “places to go” list. You will, however, want to be careful about what season you decide to make your journey to this historically rich country. When planning a trip to Kansas, you will do well to plan to travel in late spring or early autumn as the summers can be hot. Rain can be expected occasionally, as well as a bit of mugginess in some of the more Eastern regions. A few jackets, sweaters, and rain gear should be all that is needed in normal circumstances during these seasons. Flash flooding of some areas should be watched for, as well as back roads and 4WD trails that become impassable when wet. Winters are cold and snow is normal and so not a good time to plan a rockhounding excursion in this state.

Oh and as Dorothy may have warned you, you may need to watch for the occasional tornado as well.

Wilson lake. Kansas

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So you’ve got an interest in rocks and just don’t have any clue how to get started actually finding your own specimens. Don’t feel like you are the only one who has gone through this one. While a few rockhounds were brought up in rockhounding families and had built in teaching systems at their finger tips, the rest of us had had to wing it. Here’s some practical tips for those who are not real sure which way to go first.

Of course, one of the first things a new rockhound really needs to do is find out what gems look like in the rough. Look at plenty of pictures, go to museums, rock shops, rock clubs so you can see what different gems and minerals look like. The best specimens are those that still are in the matrix rock, which is the rock the gemstone is found in or on. Matrix rock may vary from place to place but getting good solid samples of what gems look like in their natural setting will help you recognize not only them, but places that you might find them while you are out hunting.

If you live in an area that has a lot of great gem material you will be able to start as easily as learning how to look for material. If your local area does not produce material, you will have to rely on some study to find where to hunt as well as how. There are plenty of guidebooks, CD’s, and maps that can help you find locations where you can hunt.

Once you have gotten to the area you are going to hunt, you will want to look for places where water has flowed and rocks and gravel have accumulated. Rock bars in creek beds and on river banks are excellent sources. Lake shores, creeks, and rivers will be easiest to hunt during the seasons when the water levels are the lowest. Many great gravel beds will be covered in the high water seasons so plan your trips to water areas accordingly. Sometimes you can find places that a creek has changed courses or has just completely dried up. Dried creek beds can sometimes be followed for miles, and can reveal a wealth of gemstones along the way

. Road cuts and ditches can also be excellent sources of gem material. Ditches are especially good after heavy rains which wash new material into the gullies. Dry washes on hill and mountainsides and landslide areas are good catches for gem material.

Once you find material, you will want to look uphill from where you found it. When climbing, you will want to search for crystals on the uphill side of rocks and tree or bush bases and other places that a rock can be stopped during a roll down a hill. When finding large rocks or rock ledges look for seams or cavities where crystals might grow. Veins of quartz are a good indication that you might find quartz crystals in the vicinity. Look for rocks that are the same color as the particular gem material you are looking for and follow those upward to a source.

If you are on flat land often you will just have to troll over the ground watching for rocks and rocky areas. If you are hunting glacial till, that is rocks that were dropped by glaciers, what you find on the surface will mostly be what there is in the area. You may find many types of material in glacial till but to know what to expect without looking you will first need to know the history of the glaciers that moved through the area. If the rocks are from local sources you will probably find occasional outcropping of rock to dig around.

It is easiest to hunt in sunshine as many of the rocks you will be hunting will stand out in sunlight, sometimes from fairly good distances. Sunlight shows the translucence of agates, and the glassy, greasy, or waxy look of jaspers, jade, agate, opal and other stones. Crystals will be often have geometric shapes, but can loose these geometric facets if in water so you might need to look at the translucence of the crystal if you are panning them from water. If you think you might have something, it is important to just pick it up and take it with you for later identification. The worst that can happen is that you will have an interesting rock to put in your drive or garden. Resist temptation to hit a crystal you think might be a diamond. Despite the fact that diamonds are the hardest minerals known, they will shatter when hit with a hammer! It would be very interesting to know how many people have destroyed wonderful diamonds by not realizing they will break when smacked with a rock pick. If you think you have an agate but aren’t sure, you can tap that against your rock pick. If it has a glassy sound when it hits, it may be agate.

Take a screen with you when hunting. When you run across rocks that contain crystals, you can pan the dirt around the rock and sift it through the screen to find stones that have fallen from the rock. This is a great way to get garnets or other crystals without having to pick them out of the rock and risking breakage.

As with anything else, the more practice you get in hunting and recognizing gemstones and crystals, the easier it becomes to find them. If you don’t succeed right away, don’t get frustrated. Even the most experienced hunters have off days. That’s when you hear about how great the scenery was!


Image and info credits for this edition: Wikipedia:

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