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Rockwood Gem and Mineral Society
St. Louis, Missouri

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ROCKWOOD ROCKHOUND NEWS for SEPTEMBER 2001

Welcome back to another year!

September Meeting

We hope everyone had a great summer and are all ready to start back to our regular routine.   We will begin the year by welcoming back Dr. Michael Fuller.  He has had another very successful year at Tell Tunenir.  The lake is filling up so they left the monastery & went back to excavating the village.  Some great finds were made so it will be exciting to hear all about it. 

Field Trips To Far & Distant Places!

Midwest Federation Trip

By the time  this bulletin is published several of our members will be at the Midwest Federation Show in Rice Lake , Wisconsin .  We will take lots of pictures and will share our trip with the club at some future meeting.

Hank Schlichter is going to continue with his “Mineral of the Month” Talks.  In September he will tell us all about selenite.  If you have a nice piece of it, bring it along to show us.

News from Other Clubs

Pyrite Suns
Pyrite suns are found in the coal mines of Sparta , Illinois at the 300 foot level in a very narrow seam laying on top of the coal vein.  Miners in four mines bring them out in their lunch buckets, thus preserving what would otherwise be destroyed in the mines.  Originally thought to be marcasite, research by the Smithsonian Institution has proven them to be pyrite and therefore, very durable.  Surrounded by black shale and coal, a very difficult cleaning process unveils their hidden beauty.  Dating in age to 35 million years old, one of the present theories of origin has them as a pyritized fossil replacement of a lily pad.  Their natural beauty lends them to a variety of jewelry making ideas.
(Via Lithnics via Golden Spike News)

Mazon Creek
Illinois ’ most famous fossil site is Mazon Creek.  Scientists think the area was a delta where one or more large sluggish rivers entered  a shallow  subtropical sea.  the sea in turn covered most of what is now Illinois during the Pennsylvanian Period, about 300 million years ago.

Scientists have found and described more than 350 types of plants and 320 animals from fossils from Mazon Creek, including both land dwelling and marine animals.  The most famous is a bizarre creature know as the Tully Monster which was adopted as Illinois ’ state fossil.

Rapid burial in the delta’s soft sediments created some remarkable fossils.  Some are soft bodied animals that are rarely found as fossils.  Color patterns can even be seen on the skin of some of these animals!  Traces of gills, internal organs, and hatchlings with yolk sacs can be seen on fossil fishes.  Tentacles can be seen of fossils of animals similar to jelly fishes.

About 140 Insect fossils  have been found and named here.  Forest dwellers included more than 60 species  of millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, and spiders.  Nine known small amphibians preyed upon them.  More than 34 species of freshwater fishes, shrimps and horseshoe crabs inhabited ponds and streams in forests  that grew on shore.  In the near shore waters of the delta front were fishes, and  a variety of invertebrates, including mollusks, shrimps and worms.
(Geobopological Survey)

Murphy’s Law of Computing

When you get to the point where you really understand your computer, it’s  probably obsolete.  

For every action, there  is an equal and opposite malfunction.  

He who laughs last probably made a backup.  

A computer program will always do what you tell it to do, but rarely what you want it to do.  

A complex system that does not work is invariable found to have evolved from a simpler system that worked just fine.

(Via MWF Internet)                            

 A Tumbling Tip
In tumbling stones, particularly during the polishing phase, one of the more important factors is the speed with which the stones roll inside the tumbler.  Various means of slowing the action down have been used; plastic pellets, rice hulls, corncobs, walnut shells and many different thickeners from sugar to soap have been tried.  I think I may have hit upon the ideal thickener because it can be fine-tuned to give the exact degree of retardation of the tumbling action desired for a given charge.  Metamucil!  Try it; you might like it!  Prepare  our charge as usual with the normal amounts of stones, water, and polishing medium, be it tin oxide, ceric oxide or alumina and water.  Add a teaspoonful of Metamucil and tumble the resulting mixture for a few hours.  Check the thickness of the slurry.  If it is what you want, continue.  If too thick, add a little water;  if it’s too thin, add more Metamucil. Check every day to  make sure it’s doing what your want.  It is really surprising how well this simple additive does.
           Ted Robles,
           Indefatigable Experimenter

A Voice from the Past
It was great hearing from one of our former members, Bob Beckman.  Bob was a member from 1977 until 1995 when he moved into a retirement home in Webster Groves . He was an active member serving as Editor for the Rockhound News and as Treasurer for several years.

 Because Bob is now troubled with arthritis and back problems, he is no longer able to do any lapidary work.  Therefore, he wants to sell his Cabouchon Machine.  Here is a description.

Used Star Diamond 6-inch Cabouchon Machine, including a 1/3 h.p. motor and a 24x 36 cab making attachment.  Also comes with approximately 20 lbs of semi-precious rough, including some opal and turquoise stones.

Asking $100.  Make an offer.

            Phone 314-961-3114.