Pikes Peak Batholith Blue Amazonite and Smoky Quartz

Cinco De Mayo, 2014.

Went up picking as tradition on Cinco De Mayo and had some luck eventually finding blue amazonite and smoky quartz crystals.  I was prospecting an area I’ve never been to before and wasn’t having much luck, after about 5 hours of nothing (and many miles of good exercise) I decided to check out somewhere else.  On the hike back to the car I found some float pegmatite that had a shade of “green” and I started digging (you’ll see examples in the video similar to what I saw).  After about an hour of digging test holes (about 2 feet deep) I hit some peg that looked promising and so I started to follow it.

I continued to hit color but only in what looked like a small crack.  The color didn’t seem to follow anything specifically, but generally the color was in a certain area so I continued to follow it.  Eventually I started to find crystals, most just sidewall or partial crystals with one or two flat sides, but that is a great sign so I continued.

I was about 1-2 feet down and following the peg when a seam started to open up and produce more traditionally shaped crystals.  The video shows several spots along the way including the largest opening in the seam which was probably a good 5-6 inches tall and a foot or so wide.  The seam continued producing smaller crystals and 1-2 sided microcline/amazonite for another 10 or so feet before it completely pinched out.  I continued for several hours in all directions but didn’t find anything else worth while.

The crystals were double-coated with iron oxide and a thin white milky quartz type coating.  This proved to be very difficult to clean up.  I started with Iron Out for 72 hours and then I used a 10% Phosphoric Acid solution in a low heated crock pot for over a month along with a water gun to chemically soak and chip away the coatings.  Several stones I was able to get most of the coatings off, but the blasting of hot chemical through the millennia in this pegmatite took its toll and etched many of the smoky quartz crystals and stained the amazonite. Where it has etched them the coating is very difficult to remove.

My favorite part of this dig, however, was that the sky blue Amazonite.  Not the typical green that you find in the area.  I have not yet invested time in creating cabochons but I suspect this amazonite will be gorgeous if used this way.  Thus, I didn’t clean but about 1/3 of the crystals I brought home figuring someday I’ll be grinding away the coatings and not worrying about the specimen quality of the stones.

This was a cool crystal, obvioulsy needs more soaking but will give you an idea of what has come off the rest of the crystal

This was a cool crystal, obvioulsy needs more soaking but will give you an idea of what has come off the rest of the crystal

Smoky Quartz Cluster

This was a cool cluster that was in the center of the largest part of the seam/pocket. Most of these are gemmy, and flipping it over they are mostly double terminated.

Smoky Quartz

The smoky quartz “teaser” from the video.

Microcline

I suspect this is amazonite, but I really liked the coating without any cleaning!

This Amazonite / Smoky Quartz combo was one of the several I found.  This was at the bottom of an opening that was not in the video.

This Amazonite / Smoky Quartz combo was one of the several I found. This was at the bottom of an opening that was not in the video.  Unfortunately 6 weeks in a hot acid bath didn’t clean it fully.

 

Pegmatite amazonite quartz

I like this one as it shows the quartz and amazonite starting to separate and form euhedral sides from the host graphic granite rock.

Smoky Quartz

This was the largest smoky quartz I found as seen in the video. I love the termination!

Amazonite facets

I really like this stone for the natural facets and the gorgeous sky blue color!

Large Blue Amazonite

Largest amazonite of the day, about 3.5 inches.

Parallel Growth Smoky Quartz

This parallel/stepped growth smokey quartz pair had a chunk of amazonite attached.

Many of the smoky quartz are gemmy, which I absolutely love the root beer color of this kind of quartz.  Likewise, I have saved many of these stones for faceting if I decide to pick up that part of the hobby.  I also procured many garden rocks.

Hiking out in the twilight it had been a very long day and I was exhausted, but deeply satisfied!

The bigger smoky quartz

The bigger smoky quartz (uncleaned)

The smaller smoky quartz

The smaller smoky quartz (uncleaned)

Prospecting Devils Head – Thanksgiving “Gobbler” Crystal Pocket

I had the opportunity to dig on Thanksgiving this year so I went up two days straight to Devils Head to enjoy the beautiful unseasonably warm weather we were having.  It had snowed earlier in the week and there was quite a bit of coverage.  I took Boogie and we prospected in a new area eventually finding some float with the greenest coarse Amazonite I’ve seen at this locale.

The ground was covered with snow but I was able to dig and work my way into a small quartz / amazonite seam.  The frozen ground (about 8″ deep) made it difficult to find the crystals but I did find some.  The float amazonite was better color than most of the crystals I pulled out and nothing was euhedral and well shaped, but I brought home several small chunks to clean up.  I have this spot in mind for when the snow melts next spring.

I then took a several mile hike and finished out the “Double-Quad” pocket.  I pulled out a couple more nice light amazonite and marble countertop crystals and some books of mica.  Not too much left but there was a branch of the pocket I missed.  I was in the shade for this process so I decided to walk some more IN THE SUN and see what prospecting I could do.

Book of Mica from the Double Quad Pocket Day #2

Book of Mica from the Double Quad Pocket Day #2

Contents for the Double-Quad pocket Day #2, and some garden rocks along the back

Contents for the Double-Quad pocket Day #2, and some garden rocks along the back

I found some granite and quartz chunks laying on the ground so I started digging in a new spot and found several flat sides on some of the quartz chunks I was pulling out.  This lead me to some red-colored dirt and small crystals.  I was in a small seam.  Getting oriented with the seam I followed it North and it would open up and then close up producing mostly small and medium sized crystals along the way.  About two feet into the seam I started hitting larger chunks of quartz and then a small pocket no larger than a football produced some really nice crystals.  This stretched over two days.

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving day; on the way up on Friday I saw a huge flock of Turkeys and thus I felt it appropriate to name this pocket the “Gobbler” pocket.

Smokies from the Gobbler Pocket - 2 days of excavation

Smokies from the Gobbler Pocket – 2 days of excavation

The gates into Devils Head are now closed to vehicles and only ATV/Motorcycles will be allowed until May.  Given I’m 15 miles into Devils Head (by road) and then another couple of miles off road in my newest areas, it will be spring before I am able to prospect this area more.  Can’t wait!

Some of the smokies from the Gobbler Pocket

Some of the smokies from the Gobbler Pocket

 

Both smokies were found away from the base; proving that the pocket was crushed

Both smokies were found away from the matrix; proving that the pocket was crushed, pre-repair shown in the video

Repaired cool smokey

Repaired cool smokey

Smoky from the top plate of the Gobbler Pocket

Smokey from the top plate of the Gobbler Pocket

“Double-Quad” Quartz / Amazonite Pocket

Went up to Devil’s Head again as the weather was supposed to be gorgeous (and it was!) on November 10, 2013.  I am prospecting in a new area and wanted to go back and check out a couple of signs I found on my way out the last trip.  I dug up the area and found some partial microcline and a few smoky quartz crystals.

My next spot was based on a float rock I found.  You’ll see it in the video, lots of white quartz in the pegmatite so I dug directly below.  Ended up finding a cool seam which turned into a small pocket.  The crystals were decent sized (1 to 4 inches) and the microcline was euhedral.

The euhedral amazonite (faint color, common for Devilshead) including some twins

The euhedral amazonite (faint color, common for Devilshead) including some Carslbad twins

The seam and pocket extended for about 24-30 inches (a couple of directions) and had easily 20 pounds of microcline crystal fragments (many came back as garden rock).  As you can see, there is a greenish tint to the microcline making it amazonite (that means it has traces of lead in the mineral).  This is the second time I have found amazonite at Devils Head, here is the account of the first.  There are several smaller Carlsbad Twins in the find too!   Amazonite is much more common (and deeper color) as you head southwest further into the Pikes Peak Batholith, so it was a treat to find this day!

The largest Faint amazonite / microcline euhdral crystal

The largest faint amazonite / microcline euhdral crystal

The smoky quartz was very interesting out of this pocket; I’ve seen milky quartz coated smokies in the area before, but never “granite countertop” coated smokies like this!  It is really a neat color/texture!  I have noticed that soaking these longer the outside coat is slowly coming off; so I have a few crystals that are going to soak for a while to see what the quartz looks like underneath.

Great color, texture and shape to this smoky

Great color, texture and shape to this smoky

This point was right next to a large root that found the seam and followed it

This point was right next to a large root that found the seam and followed it

One of the smokies from the video

One of the smokies from the video

This shows the "granite countertop" coating that was on all the smokys

This shows the “granite countertop” coating that was on all the smokies

Cool smoky quartz from the video, love the coating!

Cool smoky quartz from the video, love the coating!

The "keepers" from the day

The “keepers” from the day – reference is a gold dollar, not a penny

 

Devil’s Head Prospecting Trip – October 2013

Had an open Sunday so I decided to venture up to Devil’s Head Colorado to prospect in a new area that has much less digging than the typical Virgin’s Bath area.  From my neighborhood, I could tell there was snow up on Devil’s Head and the Rampart Range but I decided to give it a try anyway.  Worst case, I figured, I could hit an old site or even prospect some of the old mines that are on the map that I haven’t searched before.

Upon driving up the snow was covering the ground in the trees but the flatter, more open areas appeared to be snow free.  I decided there was enough snow-free area to make it worth a prospecting hike.  I headed a couple miles off of the road and started to see some good signs; but alas there was digging in the area where all looked good.  All the digging was very old; but still it seems that there is no virgin ground around!  I ended up finding a nice white quartz point in that area but decided to continue further off the beaten path.

A little after noon I found a snow-free spot that had some quartz shards that weren’t very crystallized but pretty clear; and some pegmatite so I started to dig.  I ended up pulling an okay crystal of good size out (about 2.5″) and then a great looking microcline crystal; so I figured there could be some finds.  I pulled out the camera and shot some video of the crystals I dug out.  Check it out!

The sun started to get low on the horizon and behind the clouds and with the wind the nearly 40 degrees started to fall quickly; and the clouds were encroaching while flurries started.  Given the car was about 2 miles uphill (much of it very steep) I decided to bury the hole and head out.  Nearly an hour later I was heading out in a cloud/fog looming over Devil’s Head.  All in all, a wonderful Sunday adventure, perhaps the last one of the season for this locale!

Bigger crystals than usual, the largest is about five inches!

Fun crystal seam at Devil's Head

Fun crystal seam at Devil's Head

Thanks to James for identifying the microcline (smaller of the two below) crystal as a Carlsbad Twin due to the 180 degree reversed twin!

3" Twinned Microcline, 4" Quartz and LARGE Microcline

Picketwire Canyonlands meets Multicast

Had a fun trip with the Delockroys and my family to the Picketwire Canyonlands south and west of La Junta, Colorado. We signed up for the US Forest Service’s new Guided Auto Tour which is an alternative to the 5+ mile hike in the heat of South-Central Colorado! This was very near the old Santa Fe Trail and features a bunch of history; old and “new”. The USFS employee was very knowledgeable in the Geology and History of the area including many legends and stories! I was a little bummed that we didn’t see the Petroglyphs that were advertised all over the brochures; those were along the trail you hike in; but I guess there needs to be some incentive to get folks to hike the trail too! 🙂

The main reason for the trip was to see the Jurassic dinosaur tracks–Brontosaurus and Allosaurus side-by-side! These are the longest tracks by far in any Morrison formation and for sure the longest set anywhere in North America. There was some flooding in August that had not been cleaned up yet (not the terrible flooding we had along the Front Range in September) but it still was fantastic. Normally the Purgatoire River is a trickle and you don’t get your feed wet; that wasn’t the case as you’ll see this trip! Colorado has had a much wetter summer than in the past decade this year!

The video says it all; enjoy! Feel free to comment on YouTube or this blog posting if you have any questions! Oh, and a shameless plug; my band Multicast‘s song “Spitfire” is the soundtrack to the video. Enjoy!

Picketwire Canyonlands Auto Tour Trip: September 2013

Had a fun trip with the Delockroys and my family to the Picketwire Canyonlands south and west of La Junta, Colorado. We signed up for the US Forest Service’s new Guided Auto Tour which is an alternative to the 5+ mile hike in the heat of South-Central Colorado! This was very near the old Santa Fe Trail and features a bunch of history; old and “new”. The USFS employee was very knowledgeable in the Geology and History of the area including many legends and stories! I was a little bummed that we didn’t see the Petroglyphs that were advertised all over the brochures; those were along the trail you hike in; but I guess there needs to be some incentive to get folks to hike the trail too! 🙂

The main reason for the trip was to see the Jurassic dinosaur tracks–Brontosaurus and Allosaurus side-by-side! These are the longest tracks by far in any Morrison formation and for sure the longest set anywhere in North America.  There was some flooding in August that had not been cleaned up yet (not the terrible flooding we had along the Front Range in September) but it still was fantastic.  Normally the Purgatoire River is a trickle and you don’t get your feed wet; that wasn’t the case as you’ll see this trip!  Colorado has had a much wetter summer than in the past decade this year!

The video says it all; enjoy!  Feel free to comment on YouTube or this blog posting if you have any questions! Oh, and a shameless plug; my band Multicast‘s song “Spitfire” is the soundtrack to the video. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 2013: A New Hope

Today was a great day and my second outing for the year, this time to the New Hope Amethyst lode claim as guests of the Canyon City rock club.  I was with the Lake George Gem and Mineral club , there were 5 or 6 clubs on this field trip.  Lots of eager Rockhounds wanting to get out find some amethyst quartz crystals!!  The day was slightly overcast which was perfect for a day of digging–bright but not too hot or sunny. I started the day doing some prospecting and walking around the claim and surrounding public lands.  I found some epidote in quartz/granite which was cool; but nothing else per se.  Richard, the field trip leader for the club, had given me a clue on where to find some calcite crystals so I went on a hunt for them.  I was able to find the area he mentioned; but obviously someone had been digging there already and I didn’t see the calcite crystals he mentioned.  The seam that had been dug out had some dried red clay and I figured I should see what that was about so I started digging in that carefully.  I ended up finding a small plate of small quartz points which was exciting (thanks to Carl Carnein for his help with identification).  Unfortunately the host rock was extremely brittle and even exercising great care it was hard to extract the plates without everything busting into tiny pieces.

Cute calcite cluster found in the maroon clay

Cute quartz cluster found in the maroon clay.  These will scratch glass.

I continued to dig into the clay and uncovered more small plates of quartz crystals, again they were very brittle but I was able to extract a couple 1.5 – 2″ pieces intact which was exciting!  Continuing into the pocket I the clay turned iridescent maroon colored and that is where I found a couple of really pretty plates, one, the back/side of the pocket was able to be extracted intact that was rather large, 4-5″ long.  Sweet! The below cluster was one of the intact small clusters which came from this area of the small pocket.

Calcite cluster without the coating of calcite

Quartz cluster that was pretty clean…

Awesome large cluster of calcite crystals intact!!

Awesome large cluster of quartz crystals intact!!

Once I got to the end of this small pocket I broke into a small but pretty smokey and amethyst quartz vein.  It quickly pinched out and I decided to see what everyone else was finding and relax for a little bit. Overall the calcite pocket was about 3-5″ high, 1-3″ wide and about 4″ deep at the largest points.

"Zipper" Vein of Smokey and Amethyst Quartz at the end of the Calcite pocket

“Zipper” Vein of Smokey and Amethyst Quartz at the end of the quartz pocket

Everyone was having luck about two feet deep digging an amethyst vein.  There was a lot of folks digging in a tight space so I decided to try and intercept the vein a little ways away from the crowd; 10 yards or so uphill.  I dug and dug in all directions but did not find the vein…it either made a significant turn, went further down than I was wanting to dig (which was 3+ feet!); or pinched out.  After a couple of hours I reclaimed my prospecting and just hung out and listened to everyone talk and enjoyed the stories and watching everyone find great little clusters.

Small amethyst, milky and smokey quartz clusters and points

Small amethyst, milky and smokey quartz clusters and points

I went through some of the tailings and found some cool little points, and after everyone was done they offered me a chance to dig in the excavated hole and I enjoyed about an hour of finding great small milky quartz covered plates before it was time to head home.  It was a wonderful day with great people; I’ve really enjoyed visiting this claim and appreciate the opportunity to do so!

Needs a little more scrubbing; beautiful amethyst quartz!

Needs a little more scrubbing; beautiful amethyst and smokey quartz!

Calcite crystals in close proximity to quartz vein

Quartz crystals in close proximity to quartz vein

 

Music News: Freq Modif Active

Been a while since my project Freq Modif has been active; but that sleeping beast awakes. Right now there is a Facebook page and a Soundcloud page. I have 25+ tracks ready to go online; I’m going to add them a few at a time–much like a glacier melts–so does the Freq Modif archive to create a constant stream…

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/users/44238971″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

 

And the patch above was my dad’s; he was a Radarman in the Navy.  I love the patch and it hangs in the studio with all the electronics equipment!