30,000 Diamonds

A rare diamondiferous peridotite has been found in the Udachny Diamond Mine. The Russian mine is one of the 10 deepest open-pit mines on Earth. A chunk the size of a golf ball has geologists counting the micro-diamonds imbedded within the rock.

In addition to diamonds, the 10.5 g rock contains specks of red and green garnet and other minerals.

Prof Taylor and his colleagues examined it using a giant X-ray machine to study the diamonds and their relationships with associated materials.

They also beamed electrons at the materials inside the diamonds to study the chemicals trapped inside.

This created 2D and 3D images which revealed a relationship between minerals.

…The images also showed abnormal carbon isotopes for this type of rock, indicating it was originally formed as part of the crust of the Earth, withdrawn by tectonic shifts and transformed into the shimmery rock scientists see today.

Along with the 30,000 diamonds fused into the peridotite are red and green garnets making for a beautiful and unusual specimen.

screen shot of sci-news 30000 find

January 21 is #MuseumSelfie Day

Wednesday January 21 is an unofficial holiday, #MuseumSelfie Day. This event is a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate your favorite museum, which of course is the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Rice NW Museum Director Julian Gray with USGS Volcanic Hazards poster

Rice Museum Executive Director Julian Gray selfie with USGS Geologic Hazards at Volcanoes poster. This is also a great example of a lava dome.

Visit the Rice NW Museum Wednesday and take a selfie with your favorite rock, fossil, gem, museum sign, exhibit case, or gallery. Post your pictures with #MuseumSelfie and follow @RiceNWMuseum and @MuseumSelfieDay. More instructions, suggestions, and ideas are on Cultural Themes.

Earthquake Swarm

The State of Connecticut has been experiencing earthquakes the recently. The phenomenon is referred to as a swarm, and has residents on edge. A similar recorded incident in this area of the United States happened in 2006-2007 in the State of Maine and reported a swarm of 40 earthquakes. The east coast has been relatively quiet since then. It is still too early to tell if this new swarm will continue. A full story can be read at NBC Connecticut.

New Ichthyosaur Found in Rare Fossils

New findings in Scotland show ichthyosaurs are unique to the warm shallow waters of what is now Scotland during Jurassic period, 117-169 million years ago. A team of paleontologists headed by Dr Steve Brusatte of National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh has discovered a new genus and species of ichthyosaur in rare fossils.

“During the time of dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats. Their fossils are very rare, and only now, for the first time we’ve found a new species that was uniquely Scottish,” said Dr Brusatte, who is the first author of a paper published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The newfound species, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi, was a 4-meter long aquatic dolphin-like reptile. It was near the top of the food chain and preyed on fish and other reptiles.

9 New Mineral Names Announced

American Mineralogist announces 9 new mineral names in their latest issue. The new names are adachiite, dymkovite, ferroindialite, grandaite, iwateite, kitagohaite, rauchite, torrecillasite, and c. For a look at the complete article, it is available as a PDF file online.

Rock and Gems Magazine Features the Rice NW Museum

The need to support the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals was the focus of the lead article in the January 2015 issue of Rock and Gem magazine this week. The article was written by Bob Jones, a personal friend of founders Richard and Helen Rice as well as Bill and Sharleen Rice Harvey, captured much of the history and lore of the collection. Bob highlighted some of the major minerals in the museum and the stories of how they came to be in the collection.

This museum actually far exceeds in quality many publicly supported mineral museums, due to the combination of a wide range of superbly crafted lapidary materials and an astounding collection of priceless minerals. The collections were originally assembled by Richard and Helen Rice, who began collecting in 1938.

These were what I call the “halcyon years” of rockhounding, when quantities of superb minerals were available at reasonable prices. Richard and Helen continued to collect right into the 1990s, an amazing length of time for any serious collector. The quality of their collections was so good they chose to establish a museum so the public could enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Thousands of visitors come to the museum each year.

Page 17 from the January 2015 Rock and Gem Magazine article on the Rice NW Museum.Page 18 from the January 2015 Rock and Gem Magazine article on the Rice NW Museum.

The article covers not only the birth and development of the Rice Northwest Museum, but the impact of its founders on mineral collectors and lapidary hobby by organizing local groups and national organizations to support encourage and educate future geologists and rockhounds. Continue reading

Popocatepetl and Colima Volcanoes in Mexico Erupting

A webcam focused on Mexico’s volcano, Popcatepetl captured ash erupting, erupt ash from the snow covered upper slopes today. This is one of two active volcanoes in Mexico, the other being Colima with two explosions over this past weekend with ash plumes reaching an estimated 10,000 feet/3km into the skies over the volcano.

It’s been over 100 years since Colima was the site of a large eruption so researchers are studying reports as people prepare to evacuate if the volcano continues to show activity.

According to reports from CENA PRED Mexico, the translated report for the recent activity on Popcatepetl states:

In the last 24 hours the monitoring system of Popocatepetl volcano registered 57 exhalations accompanied by emission of steam, gas and ash. The most significant was presented at 06:57 and recorded 57 minutes of tremor. During the night glow was observed over the crater.

Over a 24 hour period on January 4, CENA PRED reported the Popocatepetl volcano was under a “yellow” alert as they reported “113 low-intensity exhalations” and explosions of “low to intermediate intensity. Continue reading

December Birthstone Day this Saturday

This Saturday is Birthstone Day for December. That means free museum admission for anyone born in the month of December!

Cathodoluminescence image of a zircon crystal from Jack Hills. Photo: John Valley, University of Wisconsin

December babies, your birthstone is zircon. Forget diamonds: zircons are truly forever. The oldest known minerals in Earth’s crust are zircons from Jack Hills in Australia. They have been dated to 4.4 billion years old!

Give to the Rice NW Museum on #GivingTuesday

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 is international #GivingTuesday, a day to give back. Please keep the Rice Northwest Museum in your giving plans for this year.

The event is the day after Cyber Monday and is designed to encourage giving to others. The supporters recommending giving freely of your time volunteering, giving to charity, and giving back.

On Thanksgiving, we give thanks. On Black Friday, we give deals. On Cyber Monday, we get online. On Giving Tuesday, we give back.

And you know what the greatest, coolest, most innovative part about this whole movement is? It doesn’t matter how much you give, or how much you give, only that you give. Join in. Be part of a movement.

You may give to the museum by:

It takes a few dollars or hours to make a huge difference in the museum’s ability to offer free and low cost programs for school children from around the Pacific Northwest, local, national, and international educational outreach programs, to offer extraordinary exhibits and special programs, and introduce thousands of people to the joy of rock collecting and preservation and natural sciences.

The project is a United Nations Foundation program.