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Silas_Sancona

A walk among legends in a Rockhound's playground... A thread for the casual, or not so casual palmtalk geologist..

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Silas_Sancona

As mentioned Monday while adding habitat pictures to this year's Cactus thread, took a somewhat cooler Monday morning to explore a couple places located on either side of Boyce Thompson Arboretum and the omnipresent Picket Post Mountain. Goals for the day included exploring a retired Perlite mine, and trying my luck at digging/ collecting a form of Obsidian which can be found in the mine, and tracking down some iNat observations of a particular desert plant that thus far has evaded personal, in - situ observation. Let alone collection ( of seed ).

Had also wanted to explore the lower portion of a canyon which wraps around the front of Picket Post ..and try to get more pictures of our local interesting lizards. While not as hot as it has been lately Monday, ended up cutting the trip short. As for those darn Lizards, Aside from our local Whiptail species, which are a challenge to approach, let alone photograph, and/ or noose ( for closer observation/ photographing ) to begin with, appears most other species in the area are staying out of sight, even in the earlier hours when most would be out sunning themselves ..likely a response to the on going drought.  That or everyone was taking the day off, lol.. Regardless...

It's sometimes ironic how an enjoyment of one aspect of the natural world often leads to enjoying and or studying other aspects connected..  In this case, while a lifetime geek of the green and leafy, have also enjoyed a casual study of Geology and rock collecting ..about as long as studying plants. Growing up in the shadow of the world's second largest source for Mercury, exploring the remains of these retired and abandoned "neighborhood" Quicksilver mines, and the human and natural history surrounding them, is about as natural as investigating the plant life that grows on the Serpentine derived soils that are also common to the same areas.

For many people, exploring a wash, particularly in desert / other arid areas often results in attention getting rocks seen being collected and later displayed in a home landscape or up on a shelf. " Rock Hounding ", as many call it, is a hobby that has played major roles throughout history in terms of discovering rare precious metals, gemstones, and/ or fossils. One could say that exploring an area for rocks could also lead to discovery of a rare animal or plant since, in some cases, certain organisms may live in an area of a particular soil type derived of a particular type of stone.

Like many areas of the western U.S. Arizona is about as diverse geologically as the landscapes in the state. One doesn't have to venture far to stand upon areas where one can find such important precious metals as Gold, Silver, and/ or Copper.. or valuable gemstones such as the unique " Ant Hill " Garnets, Fire Opal and Agate, San Carlos Peridot, the rare and mysterious 4 Peaks Amethyst, and of course Turquoise.. It is no wonder thousands of people from around the world descend upon Tucson in late January or February when the area hosts the annual Gem and Mineral show. Have attended myself and it surprised me just how many " rock hounds ", of every stripe / age are around.. All fascinated by rocks..

Mondays adventure may be a bit different than the usual, but offers up something just as interesting to enjoy..  For all the palm loving plant geeks out there, who also enjoy a little geology on the side,   this threads for you..


Broke the trip into 2 parts. In the first, explored a retired section of a Perlite mine that is also a public digging / collection site for a form of Obsidian called Apache Tears, and sits in the shadow of the legendary " Apache Leap " which towers above the eastern side of nearby Superior Arizona.  Area explored is also the site of a long abandoned mining town, Cemetery honoring the founders of that town, and contains a few native American ruins, ...and a very visible, but hard to access set of Wagon Wheel tracks ( by vehicle anyway ).  Geology here is very interesting as the area has been volcanically active at various times in the past, leaving behind quite an array of different rock types to observe.

Morning views.. Sans cattle encountered while crossing between one of the parking areas and the main trail leading to the mine. Can get a lot closer to the mine in a 4x4 vehicle.

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View north over Superior and the U.S. 60 nearby from mid point along Perlite Road:
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Early morning, eastern view of Picket Post Mountain and upper section of Arnett Canyon / Creek.
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Retired section of the Perlite mine and dig site. " Active " part of the mine is roughly .25 mile beyond this area.
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View looking down on the mine from a hill on the opposite side of it.
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Perlite, in it's natural form ( Same stuff used in soil mixes, just not " expanded " ) For those familiar, natural Perlite has a Soap stone- like texture but is very glassy and breaks apart easily due to volcanic origins. Exploring and digging here, it is recommended to wear sun or safety glasses and not to try and climb on the walls. To get the material used in soil mixes, raw Perlite is heated where it expands or " pops " like popcorn. That material is then refined to the appropriate size and sent off for further processing.
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" Apache Tears "  in Perlite Matrix ( "Matrix" often refers to any material a particular mineral is encased in < Gold in Quartz, etc >. Can also be referred to as the " host rock " ) Didn't post a picture but 98% of the black "dots" seen in the walls/ cealing of the mine are Apache Tears.
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Story behind the legend can be explored here: https://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/Apache_Tear_Drop-Apache.html   

Collected  " loot " and the days prize after a couple hours of digging /collecting. Serious collectors can extract specimen rock by the bucket full. One can further process the raw stones by tumbling to smooth and bring out the near- transparent nature of the material. While about average on the Moh's scale ( how the hardness of minerals/ gemstones is determined ) Obsidian ( 5-6 on the scale ) is considered a semi precious stone and is used in Jewelry making.

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One can dig for ..or simply explore already excavated piles of Perlite for Obsidian " Tears " which are extremely numerous. That said, most who collect here are after the bigger prize, bigger chunks that can measure up to 2 or 3" in size. Wouldn't be surprised if larger pieces have been collected through the years, or still await discovery in the walls/ cealing of the mine. Very familiar w/ old mines, i chose to dig primarily outside the caves since falling rocks is something one must be aware of at all times.

Other interesting geological features of another section of the hill where the mine is located. Not sure of the process involved, but very clear ( from folding in the rock < 1st picture > ) and bubble-like " pockets " and nodules present rock here is definitely Volcanic in nature. Because the area sits within what is known as Arizona's " Copper Triangle ", would not be surprised if, upon detailed exploration, copper ore is present in the rock somewhere on this hill, others close by. One of the largest active Copper mines in the state sits several miles to the east of Superior itself.

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Silas_Sancona

More views..
Closer ups of Arnett Canyon / Creek, and eastern shoulder of Picket Post

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Additional view of Superior on the way back down. Old Superior Airstrip in view.
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Flowering and non flowering Palmer's or Golden Flowered Agave ( A. palmeri, or chrysantha ).
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Potential Native American Ruins and more interesting geology. Assuming these are genuine sites, wouldn't doubt some off the stone has been re-arranged a few times by those defacing the sites, and those trying to repair any damage done.
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Can see how what looks like some type of sandy mud stone sits beneath a hefty layer of a more volcanic type of rock. Hard to tell in the pictures, but the " ledge" of the upper rock type juts out roughly 15 or so ft from where it sits atop the softer looking mud stone. Makes one a little nervous walking below it.
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High flying Agave and Beehive Chandelier. < Luckily the bees stayed calm. No way to tell if they are Africanized or your average, less temperamental honey bees, so best to avoid doing anything to disturb them.
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Cliff hugging Perityle ( Rock Daisy ) species just growing out of solid rock..
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Nearly- pristine Riparian corridor along Queen Creek. Native trees here include Willow, AZ. Walnut, Fremont Cottonwood ( pictured ) and Gregg Ash. Non-natives observed here include Tree of Heaven ( Ailanthus altissima ) Honeylocust ( Gleditsia triancanthos, pictured ) and one of two Washingtonia specimens.. Not entirely sure which sp. but appears quite happy.  Great spot to escape the heat, even if the creek is bone dry atm. Same creek cuts through Boyce Thompson Arboretum a mere 3 miles or so west of this location. One could walk to the arboretum from here if so inclined.
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Parting view of Superior and Apache Leap. Hope you've enjoyed the tour..

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Marie Nock

Fascinating tour!  Thanks so much!

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teddytn

I happen to be a bit of a rock hound myself. All the gravel and rocks I keep bringing home are from the shop I work at. The owner bought this hillside property for our new bigger shop to be built on and has had a mining operation going ever since. I don’t so much care for the look of the “blue” limestone, but it’s filled with quartz and I can’t keep my hands off of it. One thing my locale may have in common with yours. It’s very rocky and cave filled here. Pretty much everywhere I go I come back with at least a rock if not a pocket or trunk full. 

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Silas_Sancona
47 minutes ago, teddytn said:

I happen to be a bit of a rock hound myself. All the gravel and rocks I keep bringing home are from the shop I work at. The owner bought this hillside property for our new bigger shop to be built on and has had a mining operation going ever since. I don’t so much care for the look of the “blue” limestone, but it’s filled with quartz and I can’t keep my hands off of it. One thing my locale may have in common with yours. It’s very rocky and cave filled here. Pretty much everywhere I go I come back with at least a rock if not a pocket or trunk full. 

Pretty much any place you go here it's almost guaranteed you'll end up bringing home something.. I always do, lol.  Numerous places to dig / collect everything from Fire Agate, Geodes, several other types of Agate, Petrified Wood, Turquoise, etc around the state as well.

There's a nice display of both raw Malachite and Azurite up at Boyce Thompson ( Arboretum )  Can find smaller ..what is often referred to as " rip rap " sized pieces for sale is some of the local landscape supply yards.  Would love to have some bigger pieces like these for a yard eventually.
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amh

Another stellar thread Nathan.

My local rocks are a choice between limestone and more limestone, it can be boring, but there is a wealth of marine fossils to be found. I haven't found any vertebrate fossils (with the exception of shark teeth) on private land, but for those who are curious; both Pedernales Falls state park and Canyon Lake dam park have viewable vertebrate fossils.

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Silas_Sancona
36 minutes ago, amh said:

Another stellar thread Nathan.

My local rocks are a choice between limestone and more limestone, it can be boring, but there is a wealth of marine fossils to be found. I haven't found any vertebrate fossils (with the exception of shark teeth) on private land, but for those who are curious; both Pedernales Falls state park and Canyon Lake dam park have viewable vertebrate fossils.

:greenthumb:

You guys also have Holy Rock, which i wish was sold in bulk out here and in CA. rather than piece by piece in Aquarium shops. Remember collecting pieces of some sort of Chert-type rock from near a gas station on the north side of San Antonio when passing through. The weathered Limestone out there makes great mounts for various ferns /certain orchids, etc.. and looks great paired w/ various cacti ( that tolerate Limestone ) in display- type containers.

Have seen videos from down in the lower Rio Grande Valley showing fossilized Clams, Oysters, etc just laying all over the ground in areas.

Back in the Bay Area, Scott's Valley, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is a fossil hot spot where a 4 million yr/ old Whale skeleton was found about 5 or 6 years ago. As much time as i spent at the beaches there, never realized Capitola, just south of where the Boardwalk is located in Santa Cruz, was another local Fossil hot spot as well.
https://californiafossils.org/category/county/santa-cruz/

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amh
36 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

:greenthumb:

You guys also have Holy Rock, which i wish was sold in bulk out here and in CA. rather than piece by piece in Aquarium shops. Remember collecting pieces of some sort of Chert-type rock from near a gas station on the north side of San Antonio when passing through. The weathered Limestone out there makes great mounts for various ferns /certain orchids, etc.. and looks great paired w/ various cacti ( that tolerate Limestone ) in display- type containers.

Have seen videos from down in the lower Rio Grande Valley showing fossilized Clams, Oysters, etc just laying all over the ground in areas.

Back in the Bay Area, Scott's Valley, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is a fossil hot spot where a 4 million yr/ old Whale skeleton was found about 5 or 6 years ago. As much time as i spent at the beaches there, never realized Capitola, just south of where the Boardwalk is located in Santa Cruz, was another local Fossil hot spot as well.
https://californiafossils.org/category/county/santa-cruz/

Lots of clams and snails here, there are also some cylindrical coils that I haven't properly identified. I think I'll go fossil hunting this summer.

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teddytn

Literally on the backside of the shop I work in we’ve got a small mining operation going on. I haven’t found anything out of the ordinary yet, but it doesn’t stop me from looking. Definitely keep my eyes open for good landscaping rocks at least.A1F5241E-F0C0-4DDE-821B-F84C0D66C51F.thumb.jpeg.fb276aa2a63fa0fcb4f50a4adc437887.jpeg815D49DE-F8D1-4A26-BB7C-B6A840035603.thumb.jpeg.3ca455beff471db27514b29cd51e1392.jpeg0470740B-CF4D-4395-B88D-7D246D3DAF4A.thumb.jpeg.aa95f10db2e30e040f1fc9604cb84ac3.jpegIf you zoom in that whole wall is peppered with quartz6954D936-4B10-4424-B559-B103F7A85481.thumb.jpeg.226dce711af165ca9016f1dec18e5bf7.jpegF407EC2C-7E46-481F-B1C2-BA17BDE2DE93.thumb.jpeg.c2dec4041b61226ce9669961130285aa.jpeg

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Silas_Sancona
9 hours ago, teddytn said:

Literally on the backside of the shop I work in we’ve got a small mining operation going on. I haven’t found anything out of the ordinary yet, but it doesn’t stop me from looking. Definitely keep my eyes open for good landscaping rocks at least.A1F5241E-F0C0-4DDE-821B-F84C0D66C51F.thumb.jpeg.fb276aa2a63fa0fcb4f50a4adc437887.jpeg815D49DE-F8D1-4A26-BB7C-B6A840035603.thumb.jpeg.3ca455beff471db27514b29cd51e1392.jpeg0470740B-CF4D-4395-B88D-7D246D3DAF4A.thumb.jpeg.aa95f10db2e30e040f1fc9604cb84ac3.jpegIf you zoom in that whole wall is peppered with quartz6954D936-4B10-4424-B559-B103F7A85481.thumb.jpeg.226dce711af165ca9016f1dec18e5bf7.jpegF407EC2C-7E46-481F-B1C2-BA17BDE2DE93.thumb.jpeg.c2dec4041b61226ce9669961130285aa.jpeg

That stone would make a good looking raised planter, exterior wall, or scattered in a larger bed with either desert or other arid- type plants. Would contrast anything with bright or bluish green, or silver-ish colored foliage nicely.

Many landscape supply places here sell a rock type that fractures in a similar fashion, but looks like giant pieces of bark and is brown, & reddish colored. Looks good in with things grown in containers for display, & some larger beds but gets lost in areas where a lot of earth toned colors are used either on the exterior of buildings, or in the landscape.  Really pricey stuff too.

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Silas_Sancona

Here's some more examples of the rock i've come across..

First group is from the area i visit out east of Florence.. ( in the Socially Distanced threads ) Tried my best to number the different types but not sure how well the #'s will show up, lol.. regardless:

#1 is a silty Limestone you'll find on some of the " balds " between the more extensive Boulder fields ( which are all Granite )  Some of these Limestone balds / hills show up as gray looking areas on Google Maps / Earth of the area. Not pictured, but can be seen in pictures in threads i've done from this area is the hill of icy looking Quarts/ Gypsum out there as well.

#2 is a chunk of the Granite type out there.. Didn't show up too well in the picture.

#3 Some thin pieces of the same Limestone as #1 but eroded more / containing more pits. Sounds like Ceramic Tile when tapped. Thinking this is an example of our notorious Caliche, just only a few inches thick compared to other areas where Caliche can be a couple feet or more thick.

#4 ..not sure what i'd call this stuff but there was a low ridge i'd explored / crossed over that was covered in it. Grain is fine/ texture smooth, like a mud stone or Shale but is really hard and sounds like thick tile when tapped. Most pieces seen fracture in a similar type pattern as these. Only spot in this area where i've seen this kind of Stone.

#5 Similar to #4 but grain size is a bit larger ( like Sandstone ) but this stuff is much harder / doesn't break off like sandstone typically does when scratched.

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Some small pieces of the interesting rock encountered out where i'd collected the Apache Tears. Can see there were lots of bubbles that formed in this stuff. What's harder to see in the pictures is the inside of these " bubbles "/ air pockets are filled with crystals, likely Quartz.
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Some type of Schist i picked up along a wash near Picket Post.. While it looks like the stone would be banded in alternating bands of darker/ lighter Gray,  The lighter bands are actually whatever mineral is in the rock that is highly reflective in full sun, similar to Tiger's Eye Agate. Easy to spot from a distance when walking this wash.  Stones look solid light gray in shade.
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Not sure what the green/ brown banded stone is on the right. Was the only piece of that i came across. 

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teddytn

@Silas_Sancona I’ve been working with that rock for a while, it’s does really well as a landscape rock for sure. I’m still not sold on the color in a planting but I’m stacking them up for the desert bed. Here’s a low wall I dry stacked at the bottom of my yard. 06D582D5-A56E-4C43-83E2-E47BA8DA1C3C.thumb.jpeg.8121e4dc3c71721f30fa21a5949965e7.jpegIt does fracture nicely and there’s a plethora of just movable by hand pieces that are completely flat, I think this winter I’m going to work on a patio at the bottom of my yard made completely out of pieces like this.D60D64CB-E94D-484F-AC79-DEE889A2B0D4.thumb.jpeg.86f0a5db065488924632829c6f3ca146.jpegThere’s this tan colored portion that runs almost in waves with the blue, I’m guessing sandstone, but this could just be an ancient staining of this clay soil were in here. Definitely going to mix pieces like this in the desert planting. Found this geode on a creek walk the other day. 9DB254D9-3077-4DD3-8A4A-249AF03F62AD.thumb.jpeg.1f6b81cb0979ce97d3ab7da8bcd4130f.jpegMy house is literally full of cracked geodes, crystals, minerals, semi precious stones, random rocks I just like the look of on almost every hike I go on

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teddytn
39 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Here's some more examples of the rock i've come across..

First group is from the area i visit out east of Florence.. ( in the Socially Distanced threads ) Tried my best to number the different types but not sure how well the #'s will show up, lol.. regardless:

#1 is a silty Limestone you'll find on some of the " balds " between the more extensive Boulder fields ( which are all Granite )  Some of these Limestone balds / hills show up as gray looking areas on Google Maps / Earth of the area. Not pictured, but can be seen in pictures in threads i've done from this area is the hill of icy looking Quarts/ Gypsum out there as well.

#2 is a chunk of the Granite type out there.. Didn't show up too well in the picture.

#3 Some thin pieces of the same Limestone as #1 but eroded more / containing more pits. Sounds like Ceramic Tile when tapped. Thinking this is an example of our notorious Caliche, just only a few inches thick compared to other areas where Caliche can be a couple feet or more thick.

#4 ..not sure what i'd call this stuff but there was a low ridge i'd explored / crossed over that was covered in it. Grain is fine/ texture smooth, like a mud stone or Shale but is really hard and sounds like thick tile when tapped. Most pieces seen fracture in a similar type pattern as these. Only spot in this area where i've seen this kind of Stone.

#5 Similar to #4 but grain size is a bit larger ( like Sandstone ) but this stuff is much harder / doesn't break off like sandstone typically does when scratched.

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Some small pieces of the interesting rock encountered out where i'd collected the Apache Tears. Can see there were lots of bubbles that formed in this stuff. What's harder to see in the pictures is the inside of these " bubbles "/ air pockets are filled with crystals, likely Quartz.
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Some type of Schist i picked up along a wash near Picket Post.. While it looks like the stone would be banded in alternating bands of darker/ lighter Gray,  The lighter bands are actually whatever mineral is in the rock that is highly reflective in full sun, similar to Tiger's Eye Agate. Easy to spot from a distance when walking this wash.  Stones look solid light gray in shade.
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Not sure what the green/ brown banded stone is on the right. Was the only piece of that i came across. 

Excellent, I see the quartz in the bottom picture inside all the pockets. Their formation is awesome, having that blade like structure. That schist would go well in a potted plant. The color on the green banded stone is beautiful. Is there copper mining anywhere close do you know?

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teddytn

Blue crystals may be my favorite. This is blue kyaniteD5330D33-096D-479C-963D-710BDF77A237.thumb.jpeg.f35f628a3a1902bb1bc09b7b708887a9.jpegquartz ringed by blue lace agate063F7856-D4B4-43BA-BDFE-D95A92943232.thumb.jpeg.de12f7732c5af898005bb3ea8bbe53d1.jpeganother blue lace agate7FF8EC56-E1A2-44FA-9A1A-7F3AEF36611B.thumb.jpeg.309df88c99cfe01a6808a71e3fc6e4d4.jpegblue banded agate76E8B4AA-3BD6-4E73-8C21-16F9F4FC4FFC.thumb.jpeg.dd4ab5ea103b317389b76c73082196f1.jpegsodalite0E84AD0E-FC9F-46BA-8DF3-071173CD8502.thumb.jpeg.69e1360dbb7ce9de981aa6df025f536c.jpegthus is either blue adventurine or afghanite I can’t recall off the top of my headF60C64D1-FE2B-4A01-B27D-4BF83FA04ECA.thumb.jpeg.5af55b8c07edf6380956fa3f252e7712.jpegthis is all lapis lazuliECFF5C6B-E924-46D1-A25A-07E65419E262.thumb.jpeg.023d60d2d53dc103c47bb76a6428f628.jpeg

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sandgroper

This is a great thread, terrific photos gents.

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