What’s in the Box? Quicksilver

Halloween has passed, but the scares continue with this slippery substance: mercury! The faded label on this vial, acquired in a recent donation, says, “Mercury from thermometer.” Inside, a silver blob bounces back and forth when the vial is shaken. But what is this toxic liquid doing in a blog post from a mineral museum?

Mercury in vial

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New Permanent Exhibit of Rare Myrickite on Display

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon, is proud to announce a new permanent exhibit featuring myrickite carvings, slabs, jewelry, and polished specimens, all donated by John Li of Portland, Oregon.

Myrickite is a lapidary term that refers to agatized or opalized cinnabar (a mercury mineral). It is the small quantity of mercury that gives the stone its beautiful red coloring. Myrickite is a lapidary arts term that refers to agatized or opalized cinnabar. It is named after the prospector Francis Marion “Shady” Myrick who first discovered it in California’s Death Valley in 1911. It is very similar to Chinese Chicken Bloodstone in color, but myrickite is much harder than the cinnabar stained serpentine (Chicken Bloodstone). Both myrickite and Chicken Bloodstone are considered precious materials for carvings, chops and jewelry. But myrickite is rare, and to date, less than one ton has been found and used in art stones. Continue reading