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.


19 pound 11" Brassy GOLDEN PYRITE Pyritohedral Crystals -Peru

This year in Tucson the wholesale price for good Peruvian pyrite specimens was triple what it was two years ago in 2011. I asked several dealers about this, and was given several reasons:

The earth is a big place with a lot of out-of-the-way places where Mother Nature has created some truly odd and amazing geological formations. Here are pictures of what are frequently described as the 25 strangest geological formations on Earth -- locations that for the most part I had never heard of or seen before. Enjoy!


China's Zhangye Danxia mountains were formed on red terrigenous
sedimentary layers that have been eroded for 24 million years.


Just outside the mine entrance, a miner drives the locomotive

Photos by Eric Greene taken during a June, 2015 visit to the Rogerley Mine

 

It seems I jumped the gun. In our early March newsletter, I wrote: "Another noteworthy event this year was the announcement that UK Mining Ventures that 2015 was their last year of mining at the Rogerley Mine in England." Apparently this is not necessarily the case. While there are some substantial hurdles which must be overcome in order to continue mining, happily there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.


This sign marks the entrance to the world famous Bear Lake Diggings locality near Bancroft, Ontario

It was 3 p.m. Saturday before my collecting buddy Dave Redfield and I met up to start the long ten hour drive to Bancroft, Ontario (the so-called "Mineral Capital of Canada") for a week of collecting. Dave is a wonderful traveling companion on a collecting trip for several reasons: First, he volunteered the use of his truck, which could carry back a ton of rocks (assuming we found any good enough to keep). Second, he insisted on doing all the driving, so my share of the work was to navigate and keep talking so Dave didn't fall asleep. Third, Dave is a superb raconteur, and supplied a never-ending stream of stories and witty remarks that helped make the trip fly past. We stopped for dinner en route, then pushed on to Bancroft, arriving after 1:00 AM at our campground. Although our reservation didn't start until the next night, we were in luck and found a spot to pitch our tent and crawl into our sleeping bags for some much-needed sleep.


11.8" Bright Yellow Natural SULFUR STALACTITE - Blue Fire Volcano, Java, Indonesia


Molten sulfur burns atop a solid sulfur deposit at Kawah Ijen volcano

Locality Photos by Olivier Grunewalt
Specimen photos by Treasure Mountain Mining

In Tucson this year, I found a vendor who was selling sulfur stalactites, up to 13" long. The stalactites were a bright, butter yellow color, and consisted of multiple "frozen" rivulets of sulfur. They came from the Kawah Ijen volcano on the island of Java in Indonesia. Here, stalactites form naturally when the molten sulfur drips over the edge of a drop off and "freezes" as it flows along the stalactites as thin rivulets of bright yellow solid sulfur.