By Susan Schmidlin
I had the opportunity to attend the Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club on the second Thursday of the Month and I was able to see how the club holds its general (more formal) meetings.
Some of the regular members set up a table with strong lights for a display area. Several members brought special pieces to be highlighted during the meeting. The petrified wood pieces were spectacular. One was thinly sliced and showed beautiful transparent red throughout the ringed body while having an outer shell of green coloring covering the edges.
Rhodocrosite from Romania was the feature of the special display. It was an underground stalactite when discovered, hanging down into a cavern. Imagine walking through and seeing four foot formations suspended from the ceiling that are a spectacular pink color! The specimen that was displayed during the meeting was a slice of the stalactite that was as big around as a whole pie and was standing upright on a base. The pink stood out with white florettes gracing the surface, it was thin enough for the lights to shine through and show the intricate designs front and back.
The meeting was informative as well as enjoyable. With the Portland Regional being held Oct. 11th, 12th and 13th (the largest show in the Pacific Northwest); volunteers were busy signing up to help with the many tasks. The club members gain free admittance to the Gem and Mineral Show by volunteering making it a win/win for the members and for the show.
There was a field trip rundown with a lively narrative of weather that the group encountered at Hampton Butte, along with descriptions of some of the 230 lbs. of specimens that they collected including fiery red jasper, petrified wood with orange swirls of agate, and the surprising piece of petrified wood that had red mossy agate interlaced throughout. That piece was found just a few feet from the truck and it was right on top of the ground! The club is gearing up for the next field trip to Saddle Mountain in Eastern Washington during October.
One club member had gone to the Federation Meeting held this last August in Butte Montana and reported about ideas that the other clubs were doing and the Junior Program Scholarships that are available through the Federation. He was able to tour the copper and magnesium mines in the area that are a mile below the earth’s surface. Next year the meeting will be held in July and they are already scheduling field trips for agate hunting at rivers that haven’t been open to the public for fifty years.
The last segment of the meeting included a synopsis entitled “How We Find Rocks and Minerals.” Through a slide show presentation, we got to see ancient river courses throughout the Pacific Northwest; it included the areas between our current coastline and the Willamette Valley that were under seawater. Ancient volcanoes created high peaks with minerals from deep inside the earth and glaciers moved through the area changing the landscape as well as bringing quite a mixture of gems and minerals off the high volcanic mountains into areas where we find them today. The sand on our beaches actually came from Idaho many millions of years ago! Now I know why I can find the same color of geodes on a plateau several hundred feet above rock hunters as they search valleys near a river. I look forward to hearing more at the next meeting, and I hope to see you there.
– Susan Schmidlin