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Military Armor Inspired by Twinning in Mollusk Shells?
April 10, 2014 | MIT News

“The shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta, are not only exceptionally tough, but also clear enough to read through. Now, researchers at MIT have analyzed these shells to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral.”

Mineral Hardness Picks
April 10, 2014 | Store

Mineral hardness picks are pencil-like tools that have points made from materials that match the hardness of minerals in the Mohs Hardness Scale. With them you can easily test the hardness of mineral grains in a rock and test the hardness of small-size specimens. In our opinion they are easier to use than pieces of minerals and allow you to obtain more accurate results. They also do not contaminate your specimen with particles of the hardness mineral.

History of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine
April 3, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey Repository

The Arizona Geological Survey has published “History of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine, Pinal County, Arizona” in electronic format.

Spring Mineral Shows
April 1, 2014 | has a large list of mineral shows that will take place this spring. The list is updated frequently so book mark it and check it occasionally. There is probably a mineral show near you.

If you live on the east coast one to check out is the New York / New Jersey Mineral, Fossil, Gem and Jewelry Show on April 11-13 at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center. There will be 340 dealers.

Another is the Fine Mineral Show, April 25-27 at Embassy Suites in Houston.

Rare Earth Elements in New Mexico
March 29, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey Repository

The Arizona Geological Survey has published Rare Earth Elements Deposits in New Mexico by Ginger McLemore in electronic format. It is from the Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals, Phoenix, Arizona, April 30 – May 4, 2012.

Uranium and Thorium of the Reading Prong
March 27, 2014 | Pennsylvania Geological Survey

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey has revised and republished: “GEOLOGY AND MINERALOGY OF URANIUM AND THORIUM IN THE READING PRONG OF BERKS, LEHIGH,

Quote: “Portions of the Reading Prong of Pennsylvania are part of a U- and Th-rich province that contains a complex variety of U and Th occurrences. Concentrations as high as 1 percent U were found.”

The publication contains a wealth of maps, field information, laboratory data, and geological analysis.

Rare Earth Recycling?
March 20, 2014 | ScienceLine @ NYU

“Some experts think that recycled rare earths from scrap materials and discarded products may eventually be able to meet up to 40 percent of global demand. That could be a boon for the U.S. and other Western nations, since China now dominates the world market for rare earths and can effectively control their supply and price.” Quoted from

Related: What Are Rare Earth Elements?

Oceans Beneath the Earth?
March 18, 2014 | University of Alberta

“It might be the ugliest diamond you’ll ever see, but within this brown sliver of carbon is a gem of a find for a University of Alberta scientist working to unravel an ocean-sized mystery deep beneath the Earth.” Quoted from the University of Alberta press release.

The Largest Graphite Mine Outside of China?
March 9, 2014 |

The Ontario Graphite mine is being reopened and management believes that it will become the largest graphite mine outside of China. Graphite economics have improved since the previous owner closed the mine in 1994.

What is Sunstone?
March 9, 2014 |

What happens when minute flakes of copper in a common orientation are scattered through a piece of transparent feldspar?

Uses of Gold
March 9, 2014 |

Of all the minerals mined from the Earth, none is more useful than gold. Its usefulness is derived from a diversity of special properties. Gold conducts electricity, does not tarnish, is very easy to work, can be drawn into wire, can be hammered into thin sheets, alloys with many other metals, can be melted and cast into highly detailed shapes, has a wonderful color and a brilliant luster.

Organic Gems
March 6, 2014 |

Although most gemstones are mineral materials, a number of organic materials and fossilized organisms are considered to be gemstones. The most common of these are pearl, bone, amber, coral, ivory, petrified wood, fossil coral, dinosaur bone and more.

Mineral Collectors at the Arizona Mineral Museum
March 6, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey

This video features interviews with several mineral collectors who attended the opening reception for the University of Arizona Mineral Museum and Flandrau Science Center 2014 Exhibit.

World Potash Developments
March 4, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey Repository

The Arizona Geological Survey published the World Potash Developments paper from the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals held in Scottsdale, April 30 to May 4, 2012.

March 4, 2014 |

Olivine is the name of a group of rock-forming minerals of Earth’s crust. It is usually found in mafic and ultramafic igneous rocks. It is also found in Earth’s mantle and in some meteorites. Although it is not often used in industry, gem-quality specimens are cut into a gemstone known as peridot.

The Oldest Mineral Grain
March 2, 2014 | BBC

A zircon crystal found in a sandstone of the Jack Hills region of Western Australia has been determined to be approximately 4.4 billion years old.

February 27, 2014 |

Chrysoberyl is an extreme gem. At 8.5 on the Mohs Scale it is the third hardest gem mineral. At 3.7 to 3.8 it has a very high specific gravity for a non-metallic mineral. It is the gem with the finest cat’s eye. And, some specimens change color depending upon the type of incident light.

100 Years of Crystallography
February 20, 2014 | has an interesting article about the history of crystallography.

Max von Laue won the Nobel Prize in physics 100 years ago for his work on how crystals diffract x-rays.

Geology of Diamonds
February 18, 2014 |

An interesting article on “Diamonds and the Geology of Mantle Carbon” that considers the various types of diamonds, their host rocks, inclusions, geographic distribution, environments of formation, age, trace element composition, textures, carbon/nitrogen isotopes, geobarometry, and lots more.

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Interview
February 13, 2014 |

The Arizona Geological Survey just published a special episode of Arizona Mining Review. Lee Allison interviews Peter Megaw, Exhibits Chair of The 60th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show which begins today. At least 40 other gem, mineral, fossil and jewelry shows have been occurring in Tucson for the past few weeks.

February 13, 2014 |

Peridotite is a host rock of chromite, a source rock of diamonds, a potential sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide and the rock that makes up much of Earth’s mantle. Did you realize it was so important?

Related: Misconception: Diamonds Don’t Form From Coal

Rare Earth Mine in Missouri?
February 9, 2014 | Aljazeera America

This article takes a quick look at the rare earth element potential of the Pea Ridge Mine, located in southeastern Missouri and the Mountain Pass Mine in California.

Related: What are rare earth elements?

Mohs Hardness Scale
February 6, 2014 |

Mohs Hardness Scale is a set of reference minerals used to estimate the relative hardness of mineral specimens. It is widely used by students and geologists in field and laboratory studies.

Fluorescent Minerals
February 4, 2014 |

A few minerals have an interesting physical property known as “fluorescence”. These minerals have the ability to temporarily absorb a small amount of light and an instant later release a small amount of light of a different wavelength.

Conflict Minerals
January 26, 2014 | National Geographic

National Geographic has an article about “conflict minerals”. These are minerals that are mined or stolen for the purpose of supporting military operations, particularly in eastern Congo.

Intentionally Weathering Olivine to Fight Climate Change?
January 23, 2014 | Nature

A Nature article reports how some researchers believe that climate change can be mitigated by crushing olivine-rich rocks and exposing them to weathering – to take advantage of olivine’s ability to sequester carbon.

Big Rare Earth Find in North Korea?
January 21, 2014 | Voice of America

“A recent geological study indicates North Korea could hold some 216 million tons of rare earth minerals [...] if verified, the discovery would more than double global known sources and be six times the reserves in China, the market leader.” Quoted from the Voice of America article.

Related: rare earth minerals“>What are Rare Earth Elements?

Copper Ore: Supergene Enrichment
January 21, 2014 | Tucson Citizen

David Briggs has another article in the Tucson Citizen. This one on the supergene alteration and mineralization assemblages, which are formed when these sulfide-bearing deposits are exposed to near-surface, oxidizing solutions (groundwater) as they are exhumed by erosion and exposed to weathering.

World Potash Developments
January 19, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey

“Potash is a non-renewable resource that is a key ingredient in fertilizer along with phosphate and nitrogen. Increased demand for fertilizers and potash has driven potash prices from US$96/tonne in September 1990, to US$203/tonne in July 2007, to US$495/tonne in April, 2012. A dwindling supply of arable land worldwide coupled with population growth requires increased food production from that land.” Quoted from the report.

Australia and the United States Are Producing Rare Earths Again
December 17, 2013 |

After China restricts their exports of rare earth elements, the United States and Australia are back in production.

December 15, 2013 |

Turquoise is a blue to blue-green gem material that has been used by people worldwide for over 6000 years.

2014 Mineral Shows
December 12, 2013 | has a comprehensive list of mineral shows for 2014. There are probably at least a couple of shows scheduled near you!

Coloured Gemstone Deposits in the Yukon
December 10, 2013 | Yukon Geological Survey

Nice publications on the geology of gemstones are rare. Here is a nice open file report from the Yukon Geological Survey.

It is Open File Report 2004-10, “EXPLORATION CRITERIA FOR Coloured Gemstone Deposits in the Yukon” by Lori Walton.

Anthill Garnet?
December 3, 2013 |

They are called “anthill garnets” because they are found on and around the margins of anthills. The ants encounter the garnets while excavating their underground passages, haul them to the surface and discard them.

Related: What is Garnet?

Rock and Mineral Projects at
December 3, 2013 | is a website where K-12 teachers post projects that they would like to have funded and anyone anywhere can provide support. Many of these teachers would like to have materials to help them teach about rocks and minerals. Here are three projects that might appeal to you.

Rocks for 6th grade science

Fluorescent rocks and minerals

Middle school rock identification

Rock, Mineral, Gem and Fossil Kits
December 2, 2013 | Store

The Store has a nice selection of rock, mineral, gemstone and fossil kits for personal or classroom use.

What is Iris Agate?
November 27, 2013 |

““Iris Agate” is a name used for a finely-banded agate that produces a spectacular display of color when it is cut properly and illuminated from a direction that sends light through its very thin bands.”

Bill Magee the Gem Miner
November 24, 2013 |

An interesting video about Bill Magee, a gem miner who lived and found lots of gems in southern California. (His big find – about 1 1/2 tons of morganite crystals – is at about 22:30.)

The Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection
November 24, 2013 | Gemological Institute of America

The Gemological Institute of America has an article with five videos and a photo gallery that gives you a “behind the scenes” look at the Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection.

The Worlds Largest Emerald Mine
November 14, 2013 | Gemfields Plc on YouTube

This video shows a few activities at Gemfields’s Kagem Emerald Mine in Zambia.

October 25, 2013 |

Labradorite is a feldspar mineral of the plagioclase series. Some specimens exhibit a schiller effect, which is a strong play of iridescent blue, green, red, orange, and yellow colors. Labradorite is so well known for these spectacular displays of color that the phenomenon is known as “labradorescence.”

Gold Prospecting by Picking Eucalyptus Leaves?
October 23, 2013 | Nature

An article in Nature suggests that Eucalyptus trees might translocate gold from the ground and into their leaves, making them potentially useful in gold prospecting.

The Acid Test
October 23, 2013 |

The Acid Test: Geologists use dilute hydrochloric acid to identify carbonate minerals and detect their presence in rocks.

Turquoise the Gem Mineral
October 22, 2013 |

Turquoise is a blue to blue-green gem material that has been used to make gemstones and art objects by people worldwide for over 6000 years.

October 13, 2013 |

Ametrine, a combination of amethyst and citrine is a bicolor quartz and a gemstone of growing popularity.

It is produced commercially from just one mine in the world, located in eastern Bolivia.

Texas Mineral Resources Map
October 13, 2013 | University of Texas at Austin

“The Bureau of Economic Geology frequently fields calls from the general public to find information about clay deposits, uranium site locations, sand and gravel deposits, or what
resources, in general, are located at or around a specific location. The interactive Map provides the public with the means to search out locations on their own, and click on the points of interest, bringing up pertinent information…”

For more information about the map see the “Under the Radar..” section here.

Gold in Pennsylvania?
September 15, 2013 | Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists Newsletter

The current issue of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists Newsletter has an article titled: Panning for Gold…in Pennsylvania???.

Digitizing, Cataloging, and Publishing Arizona’s Mining Legacy
September 12, 2013 | Arizona Geological Survey

Arizona Geology Magazine has an article that describes the work being done to place an archive of information about mining in Arizona online for public access.

Ancient Chinese Jade
September 8, 2013 | National Geographic

National Geographic has a video about how Chinese artists made large jade disks over about 5000 years ago. The disks that they made are remarkable considering how difficult a material jade is to work.

Related: What is Jade?

Recovering Rare Earth Elements from Mine Tailings?
September 6, 2013 | USGS

“USGS scientists are reanalyzing rocks, minerals and associated mine tailing samples – some collected 120 years ago – to assess their rare and critical elements, which could become potential for economic development.” Quoted from the USGS press release.

Related: What are rare earth elements?

We are constantly looking for interesting items related to geology and general science. When we find something interesting we share it here. Bookmark this page and visit often. You can also receive our news for free by RSS feed or email. We publish updates three or four days per week.

Homeowners InsuranceHomeowners Insurance usually does not cover damage caused by floods, landslides, earthquakes and other geohazards.
frac sandFrac Sand is a high-purity silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing to enhance the flow of oil and gas from tight rock units.
Diamond formationDiamonds from Coal? Diamonds form under a variety of conditions that rarely involve coal as a source of carbon.
fluorescent mineralsFluorescent Minerals glow with spectacular colors when illuminated in the dark with an ultraviolet lamp.
Uses of heliumHelium is a byproduct of the natural gas industry. Its most important use is in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.
Canada diamond minesCanada Diamond Mines: Canada is the third largest producer of gem-quality diamonds in the world.
Utica shaleUtica Shale: New wells in eastern Ohio prove that the Utica Shale will be a major source of natural gas and natural gas liquids.
Green River fossilsSpectacular Fossils of the Green River Formation. Some of the world's best-preserved fossil fish from an intermountain lake.
OpalOpals: Gem quality opal is one of the most spectacular gemstones. A single stone can flash with every color of the spectrum.
NovaruptaMost Powerful Eruption of the 20th Century: People in Juneau heard the volcanic blast - over one hour after it occurred.

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