The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
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,
A "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.
The 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.
Viewed from a distance, these look
like typical brown rocks. Geology teaches many lessons,
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
of lessons in geology apply
to everyday life. What works for rocks often works for people.
wonders may reveal themselves.
When viewed with short wave UV
light, for example, the minerals from Sterling Hill glow
lessons - all part of the same big picture.
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!
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.
museum also has some spectacular fossils (like these amazing crinoids
seen nice crinoids before, but these are the
best! The little
plates at the base of the calix are still articlated and star-shaped.
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
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.
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!
Amanda, Jess, and Dan exploring with the nice UV lamp.
examining some pink calcite that he found in the Pasaic Pit. The Sterling Hill Zinc Mine is a great place to collect
More pictures to come!