FOMS Field Trip Reports, 2015 to 2020

Most FOMS field trips are open only to FOMS members aged 13 and older. Proper field trip gear is required; hard hat, protective eyewear, gloves and sturdy shoes.
For a complete set of rules and regulations follow this link FOMS Field Trip Safety Rules and Regulations
FOMS thanks the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, the Franklin Mineral Museum, Eastern Concrete Materials quarry manager Michael Guida, and Braen Stone Industries quarry manager Mark Deighan for offering our club the opportunity to collect mineral specimens the good, old-fashioned way.

Collecting at the Braen Franklin Quarry, Saturday, May 18, 2019

There was bright sunny clear skies, cool temperatures, and lots of freshly blasted Franklin Marble in the quarry to check, which was fortuitously washed free of most of its white rock-dust due to a heavy rain the night before. After signing in, we first had a mini Mine Safety course by the Braen Aggregate staff. We were then led down to the collecting area where the real fun began. After only three hours of collecting, a multitude of scattered crystals and thin sheets of pyrite were found by a number of collectors. One surprise find was a cluster of dark olive uvite crystals found mixed in with pyrite and spongy carbonates. There were several exposures of fluorite found, but one was unique in that the fluorite was present as a thin purple ring around a core of pale yellow norbergite with scattered bits of diopside, which together fluoresced a bright yellow with pale blue patches under SW UV. After not having found corundum for several trips, it was nice to have three different finds. Corundum was found with pyrite and uvite, with green serpentine and a talc-like slip-and-slide zone, and finally on a large boulder with up to two inch phlogopite crystals and scapolite. Minor rutile and micro spinel crystals were also associated with these three finds. The corundum fluoresced bright red under LW UV, and even brighter under the Convoy light, which brought out the huge surprise of cream and orange fluorescing sphalerite on the green slip surfaces, something that is rarely found at the location. Regardless of the quality of their finds, all twenty-four members that attended left satisfied with the minerals they found.

Collecting area at the quarry

Ring of fluorite around a core of pale yellow norbergite with scattered bits of diopside.

Pyrite crystal (3/16 inch, 5 mm) in Franklin marble.

Sphalerite and corundum under longwave UV light. The sphalerite fluoresces cream and orange, the corundum red.

Phlogopite crystals and scapolite.

Collecting at the Balls Hill iron mines, Saturday, November 21, 2015

On our last dig of 2015, the club had a special field trip. Thanks to the efforts of our field trip coordinators Bernie Kozykowski and Rich Keller, we visited the Ball's Hill Iron Mine for the first time in decades. Although the site is just yards from Cork Hill Road, and crossed by hiking trails, it is private property and digging has not been allowed there for many years. The fact that it is situated across the street from the local police station discourages unauthorized loitering.

Bernie worked with Mike Gunderman to secure permission, and then he and Rich, Earl Verbeek, and Mark Boyer visited the site ahead of time to make it safe for a field trip. Bernie used a leaf blower to clear off pathways and provide sound footing across rock piles. Bernie, Earl, and Mark also flagged unsafe drops and open pits with emergency tape.

The morning of the dig was cool but clear. Bernie met with FOMS members on the roadside, and gave a brief talk on the history of the site. These are very old diggings, some of the first iron mines in the area. He provided a map of the location and list of potential minerals to be found there. About 28 members participated, and diggers were checked to be sure all complied with EFMLS field trip safety guidelines.

A very short hike through the woods brought us to several dump piles, all easily accessible, but quite weathered. Breaking rock was essential to find and identify minerals worth collecting. Members reported finding good examples of magnetite ore, lots of epidote, pyrite, quartz, and microcline feldspar. The latter fluoresces a weak red in short wave UV light.

All diggers exited the site safely, with some very heavy buckets of rock!

Old mine entrance at Balls Hill Mine.

Collecting at the Taylor Road Dump, Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our Spring 2015 dig at Taylor Road site was more productive than usual. We had 20 members attend, and started right on time. Describing some of the things we found:
Petedunnite, a bit of a surprise! - a rock with lots of calcite, some quartz, and a mineral shading from light to dark green. The green mineral is petedunnite, with exsolution willemite in it. When lit with a short wave UV lamp, the willemite appears as tiny dots in the green matrix, it looks like moss or maybe a cauliflower pattern.
Stilpnomelane (there are several chemical variations, iron rich ferri-stilpnomelane, etc). Looks like a shiny coating, almost waxy, green and coppery colors on calcite or dolomite.
Fluorite, variety chlorophane. The color is sometimes described as sherry, or root beer, or amber, in a black pyroxene matrix, and the fluorescence is a beautiful teal or blue-green in both short wave and long wave UV light. This is interesting stuff, when exposed to sunlight and sufficiently weathered, the fluorite may lose its daylight reddish color, and it then fluoresces an ordinary fluorite deep blue.
A lot of calcite, white and salmon pink, with sparse willemite and franklinite and andradite garnet.
Very rich sphalerite, variety cleiophane, with black willemite, in a black pyroxene matrix. The sphalerite is visible as silvery spots in daylight, fluorescing orange and purple SW, orange and blue LW.
We found a good amount of green microcline feldspar, the variety we call amazonite, that fluoresces blue-gray SW.
Apatite (probably fluorapatite) in black pyroxene matrix, both as spots and surface coatings / exposed veins. You can't see it well in daylight, but it fluoresces weak orange SW only, no response at all to LW UV.
Quartz veins, including one specimen mixed with calcite that fluoresces red in SW UV. A specimen of pyroxferroite, best known because the type locality is the Sea of Tranquility on the moon!
The member who is *least* fond of snakes was the one who turned over a boulder and found a large garter snake underneath.
Our total poundage was 445 lbs collected, which certainly helps the Franklin Mineral Museum.