FOMS Field Trip Reports, 2014 - 2017

Most FOMS field trips are open only to FOMS members aged 13 and older. Proper field trip gear is required; hard hat, protective eyewear, gloves and sturdy shoes.
For a complete set of rules and regulations follow this link FOMS Field Trip Safety Rules and Regulations
FOMS thanks the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, the Franklin Mineral Museum, Eastern Concrete Materials quarry manager Michael Guida, and Braen Stone Industries quarry manager Mark Deighan for offering our club the opportunity to collect mineral specimens the good, old-fashioned way.

Collecting at the Balls Hill iron mines, Saturday, November 21, 2015

On our last dig of 2015, the club had a special field trip. Thanks to the efforts of our field trip coordinators Bernie Kozykowski and Rich Keller, we visited the Ball's Hill Iron Mine for the first time in decades. Although the site is just yards from Cork Hill Road, and crossed by hiking trails, it is private property and digging has not been allowed there for many years. The fact that it is situated across the street from the local police station discourages unauthorized loitering.

Bernie worked with Mike Gunderman to secure permission, and then he and Rich, Earl Verbeek, and Mark Boyer visited the site ahead of time to make it safe for a field trip. Bernie used a leaf blower to clear off pathways and provide sound footing across rock piles. Bernie, Earl, and Mark also flagged unsafe drops and open pits with emergency tape.

The morning of the dig was cool but clear. Bernie met with FOMS members on the roadside, and gave a brief talk on the history of the site. These are very old diggings, some of the first iron mines in the area. He provided a map of the location and list of potential minerals to be found there. About 28 members participated, and diggers were checked to be sure all complied with EFMLS field trip safety guidelines.

A very short hike through the woods brought us to several dump piles, all easily accessible, but quite weathered. Breaking rock was essential to find and identify minerals worth collecting. Members reported finding good examples of magnetite ore, lots of epidote, pyrite, quartz, and microcline feldspar. The latter fluoresces a weak red in short wave UV light.

All diggers exited the site safely, with some very heavy buckets of rock!


Old mine entrance at Balls Hill Mine.

Collecting at the Taylor Road Dump, Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our Spring 2015 dig at Taylor Road site was more productive than usual. We had 20 members attend, and started right on time. Describing some of the things we found:
Petedunnite, a bit of a surprise! - a rock with lots of calcite, some quartz, and a mineral shading from light to dark green. The green mineral is petedunnite, with exsolution willemite in it. When lit with a short wave UV lamp, the willemite appears as tiny dots in the green matrix, it looks like moss or maybe a cauliflower pattern.
Stilpnomelane (there are several chemical variations, iron rich ferri-stilpnomelane, etc). Looks like a shiny coating, almost waxy, green and coppery colors on calcite or dolomite.
Fluorite, variety chlorophane. The color is sometimes described as sherry, or root beer, or amber, in a black pyroxene matrix, and the fluorescence is a beautiful teal or blue-green in both short wave and long wave UV light. This is interesting stuff, when exposed to sunlight and sufficiently weathered, the fluorite may lose its daylight reddish color, and it then fluoresces an ordinary fluorite deep blue.
A lot of calcite, white and salmon pink, with sparse willemite and franklinite and andradite garnet.
Very rich sphalerite, variety cleiophane, with black willemite, in a black pyroxene matrix. The sphalerite is visible as silvery spots in daylight, fluorescing orange and purple SW, orange and blue LW.
We found a good amount of green microcline feldspar, the variety we call amazonite, that fluoresces blue-gray SW.
Apatite (probably fluorapatite) in black pyroxene matrix, both as spots and surface coatings / exposed veins. You can't see it well in daylight, but it fluoresces weak orange SW only, no response at all to LW UV.
Quartz veins, including one specimen mixed with calcite that fluoresces red in SW UV. A specimen of pyroxferroite, best known because the type locality is the Sea of Tranquility on the moon!
The member who is *least* fond of snakes was the one who turned over a boulder and found a large garter snake underneath.
Our total poundage was 445 lbs collected, which certainly helps the Franklin Mineral Museum.

Collecting at the Braen quarry, Saturday, June 21, 2014

The highlight of FOMS's spring field trip season was the June 21 dig at Braen Stone Industries' Franklin Quarry on Cork Hill Road in Franklin. Recent blasting here had reportedly revealed large masses of purple fluorite. Braen employee Mike Gunderman proudly showed us a football-sized chunk that he had saved for himself. Unfortunately, the freshly blasted material at this location was coated with white marble dust and the bright sunshine made it virtually impossible to find anything collectible. The only notable find at this spot was a pocket of smoky quartz crystals in a large boulder. Aside from this find, this area proved to be barren, so FOMS collectors were escorted as a group to a past-favorite location at the far northwestern corner of the quarry. As on many previous FOMS trips to this area, fairly rich pieces of yellow-fluorescing norbergite were encountered. Some of the norbergite was accompanied by sparsely distributed grains of longwave-fluorescent corundum as large as 4 mm across. Bladed crystals of tremolite were also fairly abundant, and one specimen had several blades encrusted with a druse of crystallized pyrite. One lucky collector found euhedral crystals of uvite, and several other collectors found large crystals of pyrite. One sheared cubic pyrite crystal cross-section measured 1 ½” on edge, in a hard, dark matrix.

Franklin Quarry employee Mike Gunderman shows off his prized find of purple fluorite. Mark Boyer photo.

The 4-cm-long smoky quartz crystal found by Steve Kuitems at the Franklin Quarry. Steven M. Kuitems, DMD, photo.

Collecting at Hamburg quarry, Saturday, May 17, 2014

FOMS's trip to the Eastern Concrete Materials Quarry in Hamburg, N.J., on May 17 coincided unexpectedly with the field trip of another regional mineral club. This is the second time that this has happened. It would appear that it is the quarry operators' practice to lump together the field trips of different clubs on the same day, so FOMS members should expect this situation at future trips to this quarry. For this dig, the weather was perfect but unfortunately the mineral-collecting prospects were dismal. We were directed to the lower northeastern section, where little was collected other than some small pyrite crystals and epidote as slickensides, veinlets, and crystallized druses.

Collecting at the Taylor Road site, Saturday, April 19, 2014

By April 19, glorious spring weather had finally arrived and 15 FOMS members were eager to collect at the Taylor Road Dump in Franklin. Owned by the Franklin Mineral Museum, this site is opened for collecting only for FOMS field trips. This spring's dig turned up sphalerite, chlorophane-variety fluorite, and a little fluorescent quartz. An additional report of fluorescent norbergite likely means that material had been dumped here from local marble quarries along with waste rock from the Taylor Mine.

Collecting at Sterling Hill Mining Museum, Saturday, March 15, 2014

The first trip of FOMS's 2014 collecting season was on March 15 at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Winter temperatures kept many collectors away, but seven die-hards came out to put their picks and rock hammers to work. The pit and quarry areas were made available so collectors had ample opportunities to prospect for specimens. Material found included galena, willemite crystals in calcite, and a hydrozincite-aragonite mix.