Monthly Archives: February 2013

Camborne School of Mines visit The Tucson Gem and Mineral show, day three

Day 3

Fossil palms and fish in the death assemblage from Green River Formation, Wyoming

Huge amethyst geode from Uruguay

A slower start to the day with the parking lot almost empty when I arrived at the Convention Center but during the day there was a gradual increase in overall numbers.

Again there were a number of persons who showed particular interest interest in our exhibit, including a mine geologist who was very interested in our programmes and where our geologists and miners eventually end up working. It is interesting to note that many of the US geology graduates end up working for companies within the USA even if they do then end up occasionally working abroad. The geologist in question was a regular visitor to the Katanga region of the DRC working on a copper & chrome operation.

We attended two public talks during the day, the first was a presentation given by Gail Spann, a female collector with information as to how women like to be treated when collecting, buying and searching for minerals. It would seem that  chocolate figures quite highly in the equation, and I for one would wholeheartedly agree!

The second talk was given by Dr. Robert Downs and concerned the Mineralogy of Mars, it was a most interesting talk from an academic with a senior position in NASA’s Mars Curiousity programme. There were stunning photographs taken from the rover in adjusted colours and a wonderful video sequence shot by the lander from the point at which the heat shield was jettisoned until touchdown. There was a real sense of falling with the craft towards the surface an alien world!

The talk lasted for the better part of an hour and I for one would have been quite happy to have listened for a further hour.His specific instrument on the rover was an X-ray diffractometer with Rietveld capability, the technology has now been commercialised and his graduate student had brought along a couple of ruggedised cases, perhaps about the size of  a large rigid briefcase. The cases contained a complete field XRD and XRF facility, there was much interest in the equipment and unfortunately I was unable to speak with the student about the instrument. But it was apparent that this is a technology that will be available in the near future, whatever the price may be!

Just one day left now, I seem to have either caught the ‘Tucson Flu’ or have brought some bug with me because my chest hurts and I am coughing quite a bit. Time for an early night and hopefully I shall feel better for the final day.

Camborne School of Mines visit The Tucson Gem and Mineral show, day two

This was Schools Day and we were greeted by scenes of chaos as large numbers of school age children were shepherded around the show by teachers and helpers. Many of the dealer stands had been barricaded off with chairs in contrast to the first day when all of the stands were open access. Throughout the day there was a continuous stream of big yellow school buses dropping off and collecting school groups. Besides the schoolchildren there seemed to be about the same number of visitors to the show and I spent time talking to a number of people who were showing interest in our exhibit.

Natural History Museum case

Huge cut fluorite in Smithsonian Institution’s case

Rare earths!

I also spent a bit of time going into part of the city in search of postcards, a very important part of any excursion whether it be Coverack or across the Atlantic, it has to be noted that postcards in the US are also extremely good value and generally of  high quality. Having found the Tucson Visitor Center, I then set out to find a post office in order to purchase postage stamps. With a street map provided by the Visitor Center and two sets of contradictory information from other pedestrians I eventually found the Post Office, purchased my stamps and returned to the Show. It was just after midday and the sun was high in the sky and extremely hot. Upon my return Ed and I discussed the nature of our blog and I realised that I had neglected to pick up my hard drive when I had vacated the motel room that morning! So back to the motel, a distance of about 1 mile, with Ed’s datastick to collect a copy of my existing blog document. I will not make that mistake again, I was feeling quite warm by the time I arrived back at the Show.

Invited to join a group of Ed’s friends for a Thai meal. The food was excellent but the service was atrocious, strange that this should be so since this is the land where good service is king! Nine diners and the last meal was delivered at about the same time as the rest of us were finishing our food.

Camborne School of Mines visit The Tucson Gem and Mineral show

Peter Frost, Geology technician and Edward Loye, rare earth mineral researcher have written guest blog entries from the Tucson Gem and Mineral show in Arizona.

Peter writes on the arrival day 15/02/2013:

Ed and I arrived safely and more importantly so did the specimens. I didn’t arrive until about 23:30 local time, we are 8 hours behind the UK – I think! Tuesday was a ‘get over the flight(s)’ day, I found a river park to walk around with many birds, amazing cacti and some animals as well. Ed explored some of the dealers who are set up in motel rooms around the vicinity of the Convention Centre.

Yesterday was registration and set up day for exhibitors but not until 3.00 pm so Ed took me to see a few of the dealer venues, there must be hundreds of individual dealers here in fact there are so many that I am quite surprised that I even managed to find a room so close to the venue. Some of the material on show by dealers is quite unbelievable, well seen through my eyes, on the other hand there is also a ‘tackier’ end of the market as well. But the majority of the individual dealers we wandered into had the most fantastic wares on display. Highlights for me was from a Columbian dealer with the most beautiful emeralds, numerous tourmalines and some wonderful Spanish sulphides. There were even fibreglass, life size dinosaurs available, some of which were motorised because there was a small stegosaurus with a moving tail!

There were also dealers who deal in fossil specimens and some of those were quite spectacular and I would certainly give some of them houseroom!

So onto our set-up, we have prestigious neighbours: the Natural History Musuem (NHM) and the Museum of Scotland.

It took us over three hours to set up our case, rather too much time being spent trying to get our banners mounted with the sticky backed velcro that I had taken because the material lining the case wasn’t quite hairy enough! Eventually we managed it with the help of more double sided velcro pads from the NHM.. So by about 6:00 PM we were done, had received aesthetic advice about layout from NHM staff, had window polished the glass front of the cabinet, mounted the front and locked the display. We were done! Now all that remains is to go in this morning and see if everything is as we left it and to await the comments of visitors and dealers. We can then wander around and see what else is on display!

Weather is wonderful, about 70 F yesterday probably getting warmer towards the weekend, no clouds yesterday or today. I have seen more sun in three days than in the last – well I don’t know how long!

Day 1 – Open to the public

Arrived at about 10:15 AM to be greeted by congestion in the car park outside the Convention Centre and visitors queuing to buy tickets, I, as an exhibitor was of course able to breeze straight in and head for our display.

Long queue on opening day!

Success! The sticky backed Velcro from the NHM contingent, a heartfelt thank you to them, had worked and our banners had stayed where we had fixed them.

Amusing natural dog-shaped formation

There has been quite a lot of interest in our cabinet from visitors and dealers with an interest in Cornish material. Ed has managed to ensure that our display will be written up in no fewer than three places by talking to contacts and being there at the right time to catch official photographers as they made their way around the Show. The physical impression of the Show is of a massive indoor space, imagine the Stannary at least 5 times longer and 3 times wider, even then I may have underestimated the overall size. There is also a further exhibition area that appears to be set up as a basketball pitch.

Some of the exhibitor displays are quite remarkable with quite stunning specimens. I also spotted a few uranium specimens (torbernite) and a large chrysotile specimen that appeared to be shedding fragments and with a rather loose appearance. I seem to recall that it was from an academic institution and not a private individual. Some of the dealer material is wonderful and there is obviously quite a large volume of material coming out of NW Pakistan and Afghanistan, presumably not collected by westerners! Namibia also seems to figure quite highly as a source of specimens. The most expensive specimen that I have seen so far had a price tag of $275,000 that would buy quite an average sized UK home! Specimens in excess of $10,000 were quite common on the bigger dealer stands. At one stand I was told that overall sales of $1,000,000+ weren’t unexpected. So far everyone I have spoken to has been extremely friendly and interested in why we have come and more importantly whether we are intending to come again in the future.

Yet again the weather has been fantastic.