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Keweenaw Mineral Days

MINERAL COLLECTING
IN THE COPPER COUNTRY

Mineral collecting is a great hobby as long as you have the correct attitude. If you expect to find a financially valuable treasure every time you go out to collect, you will certainly be disappointed more often than not. Successful collecting is a combination of skill, hard work and luck. We want your collecting experience to be fun and rewarding, but there is no guarantee of finding a treasure.

We prepare the rock piles by moving around rock to expose “new” rock to increase your chance of success. For most rock piles we are exposing fresh rock, but inevitably some of the rock has been previously searched and for some piles that have been often used for collecting the rock is simply being turned over. No matter the case, every time rocks are moved around your odds of success are better, especially in “fresh” unsearched rock (our goal to provide you). We move around enough rock to handle the number of participants in a particular event, but sometimes people find treasures in rock that has been exposed on the surface for 10’s of years!

The joy of a great find is an uncommon event yet we all want one. However, do not expect to find enough minerals at each event that exceeds the cost of your registration. Yes, some will find minerals much more valuable than the cost of registration while others will not. That is an inherent part of the hobby of mineral collecting.

The purpose here is to help retreat participants have reasonable expectations and avoid complaints that “I did not find enough.” Mineral retreat events are not a staged “Cash and Treasures TV” event and there is no guarantee of finding anything at all! Especially, there is no guarantee that participants will find something that exceeds the cost of the event. We certainly hope that our participants find enough minerals, good times and camaraderie to compensate the value of their registration costs. But remember, collecting is a combination of skill, hard work and lots of luck.

The retreat organizers have obtained legal permission to access and prepare old mine rock piles for surface collecting. You may be on the site ONLY during the times of the event. The newly moved rock will often be coated with fine particles (“muck”), which will make finding minerals even more challenging. Your eyes are the essential tool for mineral collecting. For finding minerals such as datolite or greentsone, your eyes are the only tool. For finding native copper and native silver a metal detector can be quite valuable. But you can find native copper without a metal detector! Metal detectors can interfere with each other when too close (especially Whites), so there can be problems and frustrations with a lot of people with similar metal detectors in a collecting area. We try to prepare a sufficient area to accommodate everyone allowed on the site, and also limit the number of participants per site.

Copper Country Minerals

The Copper Country is notable for native copper mines and the rock piles used for the retreat comprise the waste rock from these old copper mines (an actual mine name is also the event name: e.g., Caledonia Mine). At all of the localities it is possible to find native copper either in mass or crystallized form. Massive is much, much more common than crystallized, and virtually everyone will find native copper at a locality notable for native copper. Native silver accompanies native copper and it, too, can be found at all localities, but much less frequently.

There are over 130 different minerals found in the mines of the Copper Country. You can find many of these at every site. The common minerals are:

PRIMARYHYDROTHERMALMINERALS
analcime
anhydrite
barite
calcite
celadonite
chalcocite
chlorite
copper (native)
datolite
dolomite (ferroan)
epidote
feldspar (microcline, adularia)
gypsum
hematite
laumontite
mohawkite (algodonite, domeykite)
prehnite
pumpellyite (greenstone)
quartz
silver (native)

SECONDARY(SUPERGENE)MINERALS
chrysocolla
cuprite
malachite
tenorite

Some sites are more notable for certain minerals than other sites, but that does not mean you cannot find fine specimens of other minerals. Based on experience by collectors, the collecting “focus” is different at the localities.

Collecting sites for 2014 Keweenaw Mineral Days
are highlighted in blue

Collecting Focus - native copper and if you are lucky native silver

Iroquois, Ojibway, Seneca, Central, Kearsarge, Northwest, LaSalle

Collecting Focus - native copper and chalcocite

Baltic, Trimountain

Collecting Focus - native copper and if you are lucky native silver, copper in prehnite, copper chisel chips

Cliff

Collecting Focus - native copper, greenstone, and datolite

Central Exploration

Collecting Focus – datolite

Delaware, Connecticut, Drexel, South Cliff

Collecting “Focus” – copper in agate amygdules

Wolverine #2, (be sure to bring a big hammer as you have to break a lot of rocks to find agate and copper filled amygdules)

Collecting “Focus” – greenstone, native copper, prehnite, analcime

Phoenix

Collecting Focus - native copper, prehnite and if you are lucky native copper wires

Champion

 

 

Updated November 22, 2013


A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
Michigan Technological University
1404 E. Sharon Avenue
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295
E-mail: tjb@mtu.edu
Telephone: (906)487-2572
FAX: (906)487-3027

© 2013 A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum