New Topaz Crystals from Pakistan now on exhibit

A spectacular new specimen of topaz and smoky quartz crystals is now on exhibit at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. This exhibit was recently donated by long-time museum supporters Sharon Meieran and Fred Cirillo.

Topaz and smoky quartz from Shigar Valley, Pakistan

The overall specimen, which stands over 14-inches tall, contains two large sherry-colored topaz crystals in a matrix of white/gray clevelandite (a variety of albite feldspar). Several large smoky quartz crystals tower over the topaz crystals. The minerals were found in the Shigar River Valley in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, an area known the world over as a source of many varieties of gems including tourmaline and aquamarine. Spectacular specimens like this one occur in deposits at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. If gem crystals are able to grow into an open cavity as they form, we get these amazing and showy rocks.

One of the reasons we close on Mondays and Tuesdays is so that we can perform case cleaning, maintenance and installation of new exhibits such as this one. We received several other fine mineral donations in the last month. Look for these to be on exhibit in the museum soon.

If you would like to come see the new specimen, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is open special Holiday Hours this Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. Happy holidays from all of us at Rice Northwest Museum!

Donor-Sponsored School Tours Top 1,000 Students for 2018

Nothing fills a museum with energy like school children on field trips. It’s always a pleasure to hear them marvel at our various exhibits of rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites, gold, and gems. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is proud to offer financial aid for qualifying schools and keep those hallways packed. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, we thought it would be a good time to update our followers about the program.

For background, the program began two years ago with a gift from a new benefactor. In 2018, we raised additional funds at the annual Benefit Dinner, specifically earmarked to help subsidize school trips for in-need communities. Qualifying schools may visit the museum, or we can send offsite programs to their classrooms. The goal is simple – to make sure kids of all backgrounds can experience how we can make earth science education fun. 

Schools can receive up to 75% of their program fees to be covered by our donors, based on the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. To date this year, the museum subsidized 19 school visits, mostly for grades 3 and 4, and served over 1,100 kids.

School buses line up adjacent to the Northwest Gallery. We like to see these buses all the time!

This week, a group of 5th graders made the trek from the Centennial School District, on the far east side of the area Rice NW Museum serves. The students learned about the rock cycle, how minerals form, how fossilization occurs, about mining, and about the volcanoes and earthquakes common in our region. 

Museum Educator Ramona Radonich prepares the students to enter the museum. 

If you would like to learn more about donating to the program, you can find more information on our Donations page.

To book a field trip or classroom visit to the Rice NW Museum for your school, please visit the For Teachers page and fill out the program form. We can review your financial aid status after you fill out the booking form. We are accepting reservations through June 2019 and look forward to seeing your students, so sign up today!

Job Announcement: Curator

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, seeks a curator to manage, maintain, and promote the museum’s collection of rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and meteorites. The curator must have the technical and managerial skills and expertise required to maintain, display, and enhance the Museum’s extensive collections and associated records. The position requires a dynamic person with a proven ability to translate the mineral collection into accessible and compelling exhibits and teaching tools or programs.

Competencies & Experience Requirements:

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in geology, Master’s or PhD preferred.
  • 20180820_144128At least 2 years technical experience in mineral sciences involving education, curation and/or collection management with a detailed knowledge of mineral collection management.
  • Proficiency in basic personal computer applications.
  • Basic knowledge of scientific mineralogical equipment.
  • Proficiency in the use of both verbal and written English language.
  • An ability to convey excitement about the value of earth sciences to scholars and novices alike. The curator must be as comfortable with people as with minerals and be capable of introducing one to the other.

Full job description and details are available at https://ricenorthwestmuseum.org/contact/job-seekers/

TO APPLY: Please email your resume and cover letter to careers@ricenorthwestmuseum.org  or mail job materials to Julian C. Gray, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, 26385 NW Groveland Drive, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124. Application materials must be received by October 8, 2018. No phone calls, please.

Survival and Resilience after a Cascadia Earthquake Event

Block diagram of Cascadia Subduction Zone

Block diagram of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where two tectonic plates are locked together and building up for The Big One. Image from the USGS.

This week’s New Yorker article on The Really Big One has struck a chord with my friends on my Facebook feed. I’ve seen several posts this morning from geologists and non-geologists alike expressing fear and hopelessness in the face of a looming threat: the next great Cascadia earthquake, which may happen at any moment and will bring the coastal Pacific Northwest along with both Portland and Seattle to its knees.

Though the article’s science and history are spot-on, the author has left out a critical part of the story: just what are we supposed to do about it? Contrary to popular belief, a Cascadia earthquake does not mean that everything is simply “toast,” as FEMA’s Kenneth Murphy is quoted as saying. Each of us has the power, both as individuals and as a regional community, to prepare for survival and resilience.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can do! Continue reading