To Shoshone, California in The Morning

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Okay, who’s the rockhound dumping in the desert? Pulled off the road a bit about eight miles from Shoshone. I promised myself no rockhounding today but look what I found! This isn’t construction debris, some of the sandstone pieces have been slabbed. Nice 1/4 inch thickness. Collected half a bag of miscellaneous. A few agate pieces light up soft lime green but nothing special. My metal detector doesn’t trip on anything but one of my Geiger counters won’t quiet down on a sandstone piece with a purple deposit. Hmm. Another mystery. I will return. Oh, the last photo shows the tricky entry point to the highway. Don’t get high centered. #roadtrip#rockhound#rockhounding#shoshone#restingspringswilderness#inyocounty#minerals#radioactivity

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Found the Mines!

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Old but well shouldered road leads on. This is on the other side of the hill that makes up the south wall of the canyon I visited last. BLM has this mine mapped, calling it the Shaw Mine. Mindat says that is one of many names used in the area. Topozone shows the location on an older USGS topo. Nothing showing on the map about any mine in the canyon. That will take going to the USGS store to see if a much older USGS map shows what was happening there. I am walking on this road past the several hundred yard section that has been completely destroyed by floods. There are a few two rock cairns to guide you. #geology #geologyrocks#limestone#nyecounty#mines#minerals#lead#zinc#silver#nopahwilderness#pahrump

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I sound depressed, I’m just tired. And I should have said a deposit of calcite, not calcite by itself. These rocks were picked up at random in broad daylight. I mention the Convoy Dragonfly. Great portable lamp. Take it fully charged and have spare batteries. Long wave. The majority of fluorescent material shows up under SW, nevertheless, this will give you a good idea of an area’s potential if you have to hike in to a collecting spot. This is iPhone photography of course so colors and brightness are only partially true. I’ll show off some more interesting rocks (non-UV), later on. #geology#rocks#ultravioletlight #fluorescentminerals #nopahwilderness#inyocounty#pahrump#explore#outdoors#mojave#desert

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In The North Nopah. Again.

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Sorry this isn’t in portrait view. Above the shelters I heard a continuous noise on this fairly windless day. Did not have my external mike. Huge amount of bees around this opening. Constant wind noise which I usually hear from a mine with an unblocked opening somewhere. You tell me, air shaft for the mine or from a cave? People were definitely up here and though it doesn’t look like a man made opening, I’m thinking it could be little else. Could not feel any wind because of the bees preventing me from getting close but that has to be wind noise, coming or going. I wonder if there is moisture below and hence the bees. You tell me! #mines#geology#rocks#caves#limestone#exploring#tunnels#nopah#bees#desert#mojave#inyocounty#geologistonboard#geologyrocks#adventure

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Moving Out and Up!

Three Minute Video on How Geodes Form

Here is a great video on how some agates form, perhaps most:

At this point, let me lapse into text from my now dead book project. This is me talking:

In the case of agates, some literature calls them a, “distinctly banded fibrous chalcedony.” While that may be true for science, a technical discussion on that beyond the scope of this book, agates are simply pretty, translucent at least in part, and common throughout America and the Southwest. I’ve described Burro Creek before. That’s an area in Arizona for collecting. The Cady Mountains in the Mojave Desert near Barstow, California has many kinds of agates, including what’s called the beautiful Top Notch. Clubs may have claims focused on agates, like the one near Las Vegas owned by the Southern Nevada Gem and Mineral Society.

In an interview with Valley Verde TV, Pat McMahan, the world’s leading agate expert, summed up their origin story in just a few unscripted sentences.

“An agate is actually a type of quartz. It’s a non-crystalline quartz and it often forms as a result of volcanic ash like what you have at Mount St. Helens. So, you have a lava flow like you have in Hawaii that has gas pockets and cracks in it — these become the future home of agates. You then have a subsequent eruption with volcanic ash. Rain falls on top of the ash, picking up the silica of the ash, ashes are a form of quartz, depositing that in the lava rock. The rain then soaks through the lava rock, fills the gas pockets, and if it picks up minerals in the process, you have agates that are colored and have inclusions of different kinds. More rain ensues, and ashes are washed away after millions of years, the lava rock turning into soil, with agates just laying there for us.”

Video with Pat explaining geode formation here:


In explaining petrified wood formation, Halka and Chronic use similar terms. “Because volcanic ash is made of tiny fragments of unstable silica glass, groundwater seeping through the sediments soon becomes charged with dissolved silica. The silica tends to come out of solution when it contacts organic material such as old wood or animal bones. Little by little it has accumulated in pore spaces within the trunks, bringing with it traces of iron, manganese, and other mineral substances that now add brilliant color to the wood.” If we can think of gas pockets and cracks filling with silica instead of replacing pore space within wood, we might better understand the process of agate building.

The first video graphically demonstrates what Halka and Chronic and I could only paint a picture of with words.
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 Every Rock Has A Story YouTube Series for Kids – Please Share

 Every Rock Has A Story: A YouTube Series for Kids – please share

Dear Colleagues (with apologies for multiple posts),

I wanted to let you all know that my YouTube video series for kids called  “Every Rock Has A Story” is now complete.  Thanks again to the many friends and colleagues who sent good words and encouragement when I started making these videos in May.  The response from kids, parents, teachers, and the academic community has been overwhelmingly positive.  My YouTube channel now includes 44 original episodes plus a brand new Teacher-Parent Guide and accompanying teacher resources.  You can find it all here:
While my target audience was grades K-4, the videos are fun and appropriate for all ages.  For the GSA membership, I might particularly suggest the messages in Episode #14Episode #33, and Episode #43 if you’d like to take a peek yourself.  Watch a few episodes, have a laugh at my expense, and who knows, you might just discover a new perspective on rocks and minerals.  Afterall, we are all still learning.
Now, my principle aim is to get this educational resource into the hands of parents and teachers who might wish to incorporate it into Fall lesson planning and beyond. Communicating the value and excitement of science to young people has never been more important.  Given the positive response, I think that if more people knew about the videos more people would use them and benefit from them.  If you have any connections in your local school system, if you know any teachers or parents, please share this educational resource with them.  Tweet it, Facebook it, email it, text it, morse code it… whatever works.  I made the video series in an effort to help parents and teachers through the challenges of the COVID19 shutdown when many kids (including my own) were stuck learning from home.  Now, it is a lasting open resource that (I hope) can help inspire the next generation of geoscientists.
Thanks for sharing Every Rock Has A Story with kids, parents, and teachers you know.  I hope everyone is safe and well during this challenging time.


BLM Wilderness Area Collecting Rules

Collecting in a BLM or USFS WA is generally allowed unless a Resource Management Plan for that area prohibits it. These RMPs are constantly changing so there may be disagreement in the field when you meet someone in authority. Mostly, WAs are closed that have such things as native artifacts or petroglyphs.

BLM is pretty good online at stating which WAs are expressly closed, however, they often state that a WA is closed when in fact it is open. Look at their literature for a WA in any BLM field office, it will often contradict what they say online. BLM tells people to follow the “Leave No Trace” set of principles which are actually an ethos and not a force of law, unless the RMP incorporates them as a rule of law for a WA. Again, Leave No Trace is _not_incorporated into the Wilderness Act or existing nationwide BLM policy manuals.

As you can see by this letter, BLM CA headquarters owns up to collecting and so does the USFS. I can post an image of that letter later.

A Quick Two Hours in The North Nopah

Last week I discovered some outbuildings to an old mine on the east side of this particular hill in the North Nopah WA. Today, I was trying to find some clues to the west side claims that make up the old Nopah Group. No luck today, the heat too great to stay out too long.

Nye and Inyo County

The North Nopah and Finding the Nancy-Ann Mine

Trailhead coordinates for both mines

36°07.765′ N 116°10.426′ W
36.129417, -116.173780

Nopah Group Claim area No. 1 : Mary-Ann Mine, other pervious names (approximate)

36°07.626′ N -116°09.318′ W
36.12710, -116.15530

Nopah Group Claim area No. 2

36.12305, -116.15919 (MRDS approximate)
36°07.38300′, -116°09.55140′

More workings listed than the other claim area, I have not explored this area. This has potential for better rocks.