Rock on at the Maine Mineral Symposium

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View and learn all about tourmaline, amethyst, beryl and other minerals and gemstones at the 21st annual Maine Mineral Symposium, May 7-9, 2010, at The Senator Inn & Spa, in Augusta. The majority of presentations and exhibits are on Saturday, with collecting field trips on Sunday for registered participants. Symposium registration is $15.

“This is not like a regular rock and mineral show,” says Woody Thompson, Maine Geological Survey physical geologist and symposium organizer. “What distinguishes this symposium is the program of educational talks at its core.” These aren’t scientific discussions, but more informal presentations, he adds. The three-day program also includes exhibits and field trips. Displays will include the Eureka Blue tourmaline find at Newry.

While the emphasis is on Maine, New England, and the Northeast, the symposium also touches on more exotic locales. This year’s program includes talks on mineral exploration in China and the giant crystal cavern in Naica, Mexico.

Fun Fact: Mineral mining in Maine began in 1820 at Mt. Mica, and the site still is being mined. It remains one of the major producers of Maine tourmaline and is the oldest gem mine in the U.S. (Maine Dept. of Conservation)

Conference presenters include:

Frank Perham, of the famous Perham mining family of West Paris, who will speak on “Recent Pegmatite Mining at the Waisanen and Albany Rose Quarries, Maine.” Pegmatite is a host rock that often contains other minerals, such as tourmaline and garnet, and Maine is famous for it.

Louise Jonaitis, partner at Plumbago Mountain, who will discuss “What’s New at Newry,” where the rare Eureka Blue tourmaline was discovered. A large stone was presented as a gift to President Obama during his recent Portland visit.

Richard Bostwick, of New York City, will speak on “Franklin and Sterling Hill, New Jersey: A Great American Mineral Locality,” and the world’s premier source of fluorescent minerals;

Vandall King, of Rochester, N.Y., who will speak on “Lithium Mineralization in Granite Pegmatites.” Lithium is an important ingredient in many rare and colorful minerals in pegmatites.