Weekend fossicking
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Author:  Lefty [ Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Weekend fossicking

Prospecting partner and myself are going to check out a new spot today. We have no evidence that anything other than quartz crystals at best exist in this range of weathered granite hills but no one ever found anything by sitting at home.

My own feeling is that wherever good-sized, well-formed quartz crystals abound, conditions were probably right for other kinds of crystals to grow to significant size, albeit they are much rarer than quartz.

With a bit of luck we might have found something worth taking pictures of by this evening.

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Had a brief look at the area but found little of interest. The property owner is ok with people being there but were unsure if he would be ok with us digging there. With little sign of anything where we looked (though there was a huge potential area to cover that we didn't) we decided to head back to the old amethyst dig.

We dug for several hours with little success. Around lunch time, I was scraping the hard decomposing granite floor of the hole when a small amethyst crystal popped up out of it.


I pushed my shovel along the floor where it had come from - and the shovel head disappeared into what should have been a hard pan. I retracted the shovel to find the whole head covered in smoky crystals. I had hit a collapsed vug. This one was bigger than the little pockets you normally find there, by the time we had scraped it out, we had gone down a couple of extra feet and pulled out several hundred crystals. Mostly small, there were a few bigger ones among it. Larger ones up to a couple of inches in diameter in the small sieve, the bigger sieve is full of quartz gravel and heaps of small crystals.



They ranged in colour from very light brown....

Image a deep, slightly orange-tinted smoky.


There were a few little clusters and crystal-on-crystal forms...





I kept aside around 500-600 carats of the cleanest crystals for faceting, both light and dark shades.



So we didn't dig up a fortune today - but we sure had fun cleaning out this pocket of crystals :)

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Does anyone have any tips on cleaning quartz crystals? I've heard oxalic acid but I haven't tried it.

Author:  Stephen Challener [ Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Don't use oxalic acid, it's very poisonous. There are less toxic rust removers which will work just as well.

Author:  wilsonintexas [ Sun Jul 24, 2016 4:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

I have used oxylic acid hot to clean quarts , including this one.


It could have used a little more work, but I was getting tired of it.

I suspended it and had a plastic sheet under it to catch the acid and recycle it. I used an large pan set in an electric frying pan to heat it.

Here is the MSD. It does not read to bad, but does say to avoid fumes. I always worked outsite.

In general it works best heated. Not boiling, but warm/hot.

I always wore rubber gloves (heavy ones) and eye glasses.

You could try some of the other rust removers recently mentioned including vinegar and molasses

At the time I was young and stupid. But I do not think that it is as bad as most other acids.

I had trouble with the MSD so I copied it into word and tried to clean it up a little

1 IDENTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTANCE/PREPARATION AND COMPANY/UNDERTAKING PRODUCT NAME Oxalic Acid SUPPLIER Abbey Chemicals 27-30 North River Road Great Yarmouth Norfolk NR30 1SH Tel: +44 1493 850303 Fax: +44 1493 330909 SDS No. O002
Emergency Contact Number (Office Hours) +441493 850303
2 HAZARDS IDENTIFICATION Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed.
CLASSIFICATION Xn;R21/22. 3 COMPOSITION/INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS Name Classification EC No. CAS-No. Content OXALIC ACID Xn;R21/22 205-634-3 144-62-7 50-100%
The Full Text for all R-Phrases are Displayed in Section 16
4 FIRST-AID MEASURES INHALATION Move the exposed person to fresh air at once. Get medical attention. INGESTION Provide rest, warmth and fresh air. Immediately rinse mouth and drink plenty of water (200-300 ml). Get medical attention.
SKIN CONTACT Remove contaminated clothing immediately and wash skin with soap and water. Get medical attention immediately.
EYE CONTACT Immediately flush with plenty of water for up to 15 minutes. Remove any contact lenses and open eyes wide apart. Get medical attention immediately. Continue to rinse.
5 FIRE-FIGHTING MEASURES EXTINGUISHING MEDIA Extinguish with alcohol-resistant foam, carbon dioxide, dry powder or water fog. SPECIFIC HAZARDS Oxides of: Carbon. PROTECTIVE MEASURES IN FIRE Self contained breathing apparatus and full protective clothing must be worn in case of fire.
PRECAUTIONS Follow precautions for safe handling described in this safety data sheet.
Avoid inhalation of dust.
Provide adequate ventilation.
contact with eyes and prolonged skin contact.
ENVIRONMENTAL PRECAUTIONS Spillages or uncontrolled discharges into watercourses must be IMMEDIATELY alerted to the Environmental Agency or other appropriate regulatory body.
Absorb with inert, damp, non-combustible material, then flush area with water. Collect spillage in containers, seal securely and deliver for disposal according to local regulations.
spilling, skin and eye contact. Provide good ventilation.
STORAGE PRECAUTIONS Keep containers tightly closed. Keep in original container.

8 EXPOSURE CONTROLS/PERSONAL PROTECTION Name Std ST - ppm LT - ppm LT - mg/m3 ST - mg/m3 OXALIC ACID WEL 2 mg/m3 1 mg/m3
If ventilation is insufficient, suitable respiratory protection must be provided.
HAND PROTECTION Nitrile gloves are recommended.
EYE PROTECTION Goggles/face shield are recommended.
OTHER PROTECTION Wear rubber apron. Wear rubber footwear.
9 PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES APPEARANCE Solid Powder, dust Granular COLOUR White ODOUR Odourless SOLUBILITY Soluble in water Soluble in Ethanol.
MELTING POINT (°C) ~101.5 RELATIVE DENSITY 1.65 20 BULK DENSITY 800 - 900 kg/m3 pH-VALUE, DILUTED SOLUTION 1.5 1 PARTITION COEFFICIENT (N-Octanol/Water) -0.81 10 STABILITY AND REACTIVITY STABILITY Stable under normal temperature conditions and recommended use.
Avoid excessive heat for prolonged periods of time. M
ATERIALS TO AVOID Strong oxidising substances.
3 / 4 REVISION DATE: 14th November 2007 Oxalic Acid HAZARDOUS DECOMPOSITION PRODUCTS Oxides of: Carbon. 11 TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION TOXIC DOSE 1 - LD 50 7500 mg/kg (oral rat)
INHALATION Vapours irritate the respiratory system, and may cause coughing and difficulties in breathing.
INGESTION Harmful if swallowed. SKIN CONTACT Harmful in contact with skin. EYE CONTACT Irritating to eyes.
12 ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION EC 50, 48 Hrs, DAPHNIA, mg/l 137 IC 50, 72 Hrs, ALGAE, mg/l 1550 MOBILITY The product is soluble in water. COD 180
13 DISPOSAL CONSIDERATIONS GENERAL INFORMATION Waste to be treated as controlled waste. Disposal to licensed waste disposal site in accordance with local Waste Disposal Authority.
DISPOSAL METHODS Dispose of waste and residues in accordance with local authority requirements. 14 TRANSPORT INFORMATION GENERAL Not regulated. 15
REGULATORY INFORMATION LABELLING Harmful CONTAINS OXALIC ACID RISK PHRASES R21/22 Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed.
SAFETY PHRASES S24/25 Avoid contact with skin and eyes.
STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging) Regulations. APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE Safety Data Sheets for Substances and Preparations. Classification and Labelling of Substances and Preparations Dangerous for Supply. GUIDANCE NOTES CHIP for everyone HSG(108). Workplace Exposure Limits EH40.
4 / 4 REVISION DATE: 14th November 2007 Oxalic Acid 16
OTHER INFORMATION REVISION DATE 14th November 2007 REV. NO./REPL. SDS GENERATED 05 SDS NO. O002 SAFETY DATA SHEET STATUS Approved. DATE 14th November 2007 SIGNATURE Thomas Tailford RISK PHRASES IN FULL R21/22 Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed

Author:  Lefty [ Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Thanks Wilson. I might try some ordinary household calcium/rust remover first and if that doesn't work, I'll go for something stronger.

Author:  dchallener [ Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

I think the worry about oxalic acid is the chance of getting kidney stones.

Author:  Lefty [ Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

dchallener wrote:
I think the worry about oxalic acid is the chance of getting kidney stones.

Never eat rhubarb leaves, full of the stuff apparently. Silverbeet (chard) and spinach are also supposed to contain small amounts.

The Pacific staple vegetable Taro can sometimes contain tiny needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate that can spear you inside the mouth. Some of it has to be leached in water to get rid of them. Never happened to me but then I only ate it a few times, it has a flavour all it's own.

Author:  Dan&Sally [ Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

If it's just rust stains something like CLR should work. Calcium, Lime, Rust. Or iron out is a laundry product that may also work.

Author:  Lefty [ Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Hey Wilson, did you find that cluster yourself? I only just saw the photo now, a lot of this forum's photos don't come through on the system where I work for some reason.

Author:  Lefty [ Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Showed a mate that little crystal cluster I found the other weekend, plus a few other bits. He reckons he'd probably be able to get about $150 for the cluster. He says new age folk come into his shop on a regular basis looking for crystals. He's coming with me on Sunday for a dig.

I'm slightly sceptical as to the ability of a crystal to do much other than look interesting - but who am I to judge? :) Unearthing a pretty, transparent rock in it's natural environment certainly has a positive effect on me, if other people find themselves uplifted or calmed (depending on the colour I believe :) ) by a crystal then good for them.

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Didn't strike one of those collapsed vugs today. Fossicking partner and I cleaned out the bottom of the pocket from the other weekend - nope, we definitely got them all then.

We did get a collection of bits and pieces, some of which I'll probably facet someday. Fossicking partner found this crystal - unlike many of them from that place there is no smoky tint to the purple, it's just a straight out rich purple. It's also mostly clean material from which there will be two good-sized stones. One for fossicking partner and one I'll keep for myself for the cutting.


Guy in another hole found this smoky crystal.


Ok, that's enough of quartz crystals for the moment. Next time I think I might go back after the garnets or something else.

Author:  Lefty [ Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Despite what I said in the previous post, it's back to the crystal place again tomorrow. Fossicking partner's father doesn't want to drive him up to my place early in the morning and pick him up again in the evening, fair enough, it's a two-hour turnaround by the time he gets home each time. Fossicking partner has had a problem with a slightly excessively heavy foot and is currently without a drivers license :) He should have it back shortly, hopefully his foot has gotten a little lighter in the interim. Then we can start going further afield looking for a bigger variety of things (father and other prospecting-minded friends have all been busy the past few weekends). I'm itching to go after something different after about 4 trips to the same place in a row but I need to fulfil the urge to prospect or I'll start to experience withdrawl symptoms.

He only lives a short distance from the crystal place so I'll meet him there as usual in the morning. It will be some effort but I'd like to investigate the hard floor just underneath the loose sand where so many crystals have been dug from in that spot over the past 30 years or so. We've found a number of vugs that were down in the hard floor with an opening into the softer sand above. My bet is that there are still good-sized vugs full of crystals in that decomposing rock that no one has ever dug because they were too sensible to bust their asses for some quartz crystals. It'll be 20 Wheaties and 2 pounds of porridge for breakfast in the morning :)

Author:  Lefty [ Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Then again, who's to say their are not some huge, beautiful crystal specimens and giant clusters hiding there? There used to be one about 18 inches long and about 9 inches in diameter on the shelf behind the bar of the local pub (until someone stole it). Maybe there are some really huge crystals there somewhere.

Author:  Shifter55 [ Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Given that these seem to all be the smokey quartz style growths, there's probably a dozen or more still in the earth.
I wouldn't expect pinpointing them to be easy without the right tools and a geology degree though...
This wouldn't happen to be near Lowmead would it? There is some amethyst in NSW but it seems to be the included and stouter crystal form, which has more blue tones than I like.

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