The Surprise Pocket
in Gilman Notch, Center Ossipee, Carroll County, New Hampshire

by Jonathon Herndon and Eric S. Greene

All photos by Eric Greene. Click on photos to see enlarged versions.


View of Bayle Mountain reflected in Connor Pond, Ossipee, New Hampshire

This is article was first published in the March-April, 2011 edition of Rocks & Minerals magazine. The only changes that have been made are to add extra photos. This article is reproduced with permission of the publisher. Rocks & Minerals is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g935274222.

Arguably the greatest thrill for any serious field collector is discovering, opening and collecting an over-sized, jam-packed crystal pocket. Unfortunately, it's an event that most field collectors never experience. When such an exciting find does occur, it's a thrill that we believe should be shared with the mineral collecting community. The tale of the Surprise Pocket is such a story - with an appalling twist - as told through the eyes of coauthor Jon Herndon.

by Eric Greene

INTRODUCTION

Mina Ampliación a Victoria is a pyrite deposit about 4 kilometers north-northwest of the tiny village of Navajún, in the Cervera district in La Rioja province, Spain. The surrounding area forms the headwaters of the Barranco de la Nava in the Sierra de Alcarama foothills of the Iberian Range. The deposit was discovered in 1965, and, through the years, pyrite from Navajún has been appreciated by and highly sought after by mineral collectors for its unique, highly aesthetic, exquisitely sharp, brightly lustrous, near-perfect single cubic crystals, clusters of interpenetrating crystals, and crystals embedded in matrix. Arguably the finest cubic pyrite crystals in the world come from Navajún (not Logrono, as they are sometimes mislabeled). The degree of perfection of these crystals causes many neophytes to exclaim in amazement and ask if they are manmade. Because of its beauty and perfection, Navajún pyrite has become the icon of Spanish mineralogy since its discovery.


by Eric S. Greene

Having the chance to collect pyrite at Navajún, Spain has been #1 on my bucket list since I first saw specimens from Mina Ampliación a Victoria. Now, after a buying trip to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in France, my dream was about to come true. It was the 4th of July. My wife Jeanne and I were celebrating America's Independence Day by visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, then heading south to Navajún to meet mine owner Pedro Ansorena Conde and dig for pyrite. The drive from Bilbao takes about 3½ hours on a superhighway that passes over and around rolling hills and mountains studded with state-of-the-art windmills and field after field of wine grapes, wheat and hops. The last 40 km of the trip takes over an hour because the road winds through small villages and up, down and around hairpin turns on the way to our destination.

The Story of an Extraordinary Boulder Unearthed at Manhan River Mine, Easthampton, Massachusetts

by Eric Greene & John Marshall

6.1" Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan River Lead Mine,
Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999

At heart, all mineral collectors are field collectors. So when someone finds an extraordinary specimen, the thrill can be shared by the entire mineral collecting community. And, as anyone who has experienced it can tell you, the precise moment of making an exceptional find is forever etched in your memory… well, usually. Occasionally, when a truly great specimen is found, the finder doesn't immediately realize the significance of what has emerged from the earth. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months before the true importance of the find is realized. This is such a story.

by Mike New

Photos and map by Eric Greene, Treasure Mountain Mining

Note: Have you ever dreamed of traveling to a foreign country and buying up and bringing home thousands and thousands of dollars of mineral specimens? I know I have, and in the process I've romanticized the trip into a series of exciting collecting adventures in fabulous localities in the most remote corners of the globe, where I buy the most fantastic and beautiful crystals for pennies. Alas, the reality doesn't come anywhere close to my fantasies (it never does, does it?), but I have been enjoying for several years the opportunity to be an armchair traveler when my friend Mike New heads to Mexico to buy minerals. Here is his latest report, which he has generously agreed to let us share with you. Enjoy! -- Eric


The Deccan Traps in Maharashtra, India

Since the 1970s, the state of Maharashtra in India has provided an abundant supply of zeolites and other minerals that have come out of the enormous lava flows called the Deccan Traps. The traps are arguably the largest volcanic feature on the earth. They consist of hundreds of layers of flood basalt over 6,500 feet thick, which cover almost 200,000 square miles - larger than the state of California. Basalt quarries in this region produce hundreds of tons of mineral specimens every year, creating a glut that keeps the price for most of these pieces amazingly low. Zeolites are a popular group of minerals to collect because they are so beautiful and because they contain such diversity in color, crystal form and rarity (some are very common and inexpensive to collect and some are rare, costly, and a pleasure to finally own). Most all the specimens come from basalt quarries which provide material for the building boom that has gone on in central India for the last 40 years. Others are found when wells are dug and when construction projects for buildings and roads require blasting.