Kurt FriehaufPhotos from Mineralogy

Kurt Friehauf

Fieldtrip to Sterling Hill Zinc Mine, New Jersey

Sterling HillSterling HillThe Sterling Hill and Franklin zinc mines are located in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, a two hour drive from campus.  They are both world class mineral sites, hosting by far the most varieties of fluorescent minerals in the world. 

Sterling HillSterling HillThe deposit was very high grade and so the mine was produced by underground methods, in contrast to the giant open pits mining lower grade rock that are common today.  When the economics of undeground mining weren't profitable, the company closed the mine down.  Two brothers who worked as miners there bought the property and turned the tunnels into a mining museum. 

Sterling HillSterling HillThe museum employs wonderful tour guides who are miners with real experience underground.  The museum has special collection days/nights, too, during which they allow mineral collectors to take samples. 

Sterling HillSterling HillOur tour guide was Ron Mishkin - he's hilarious!  Coincidentally, he once worked in the same mine that I worked in during my Ph.D. research (Superior, Arizona).

Sterling HillA "xenolithoid" of mafic gneiss within coarse-grained marble.  Amazing things happen to limestone when it's heated and squeezed to metamorphic temperatures and pressures!  In this case, the limestone became fluid, like toothpaste, so heavy blocks of mafic gneiss sank down into the goo and were trapped when conditions cooled. 

Sterling HillSterling HillThe museum has a pile of rock they allow collectors to pilfer through.  There's a nominal charge for samples, but the rocks are so rare that the price is a trifle if you really appreciate nature's wonders.

Sterling HillSterling HillViewed from a distance, these look like typical brown rocks.  Geology teaches many lessons, though.  Geology teaches us to focus our minds to look more carefully and deeply at otherwise superficially innoccuous things.  Many of the world's wonders don't cry out with clamorous cries for attention, rather some hum only softly, but are none the less wonderful.

Sterling HillSterling HillA lot of lessons in geology apply to everyday life.  What works for rocks often works for people.

Sterling HillSterling Hill mining museum, NJGiven the right light, hidden wonders may reveal themselves. 
When viewed with short wave UV light, for example, the minerals from Sterling Hill glow brilliantly. 

Geology lessons - people lessons - all part of the same big picture.

Sterling Hill dryMiner's Dry - where wet, dirty digging clothes were hung to dry between shifts.  The Sterling Hill Mining Museum has a lot of great culture on display.  Brilliant idea!

Sterling Hill high grade oreThe high grade ore is very strongly fluorescent.  Manganese-bearing calcite glows red and willemite (zinc silicate) glows green.  There are many other minerals at the mine that glow other colors.

Sterling Hill museum with great crinoidsThe museum also has some spectacular fossils (like these amazing crinoids from Morocco). 

Sterling Hill museum crinoidsI've seen nice crinoids before, but these are the best!  The little plates at the base of the calix are still articlated and star-shaped.

Sterling Hill west shaft stationUnderground with guide Ron Mishkin. 
Ron is a mining geology sage!
  He graciously shares his lifetime of adventures as a mine geologist all over the U.S. with the class. 

Sterling Hill west shaft stationRon Mishkin getting ready to demonstrate how the bell system was used for communication between miners at the shaft station and the hoistman in the hoist house.

Sterling Hill Jess and MattMatt broght his high-end UV lamp to better find fluorescent minerals underground.  Jess is clearly having a great time (and taking notes in her field book - a very wise practice!)  Good job!

Sterling Hill Matt Amanda Jess and DanMatt, Amanda, Jess, and Dan exploring with the nice UV lamp.

Sterling Hill Chris collecting in the pitChris examining some pink calcite that he found in the Pasaic Pit.  The Sterling Hill Zinc Mine is a great place to collect minerals!

More pictures to come!

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