Update 1/7/2021: Added more great photos from our raffle winner at the end.
On a beautiful morning of Saturday, October 24, 2020, a group of very dedicated mineral lovers gathered together in Yuma, Arizona to brave the pandemic, the new medical questionnaire signup sheet, rough roads, and wilderness for a grand adventure.
Many new members signed up to participate, big thanks to all for you!
No coughing or feverish eyes were detected, everybody filled out their new sign-up pages, and off we went.
The road was rough due to the surface removed for construction, then turned into a rough desert road, going thru the protected Colorado River riparian area first, then following hills and washes north towards the Silver Mining District over the county border. We forded deep sand/gravel in a few places and some quite rough spots, but everybody made it to the mine in one piece. It took us 1 hour 20 minutes to get to the mine from the meeting spot.
Our destination was the world-famous Red Cloud Mine, which allows people to collect wulfenite on dumps based on a fee. The mine was reopened a few weeks before when the heat subsided. The Mindat location is https://www.mindat.org/loc-3348.html
The mine foreman, Roger, invited us warmly. We learned the mine’s history and geology. He showed us the samples of typical minerals to be found: wulfenite, fluorite, galena, vanadinite, and amethyst. Everybody got a ticket for the raffle as well.
Afterward, he pulled out flats of material for sale. Everybody was amazed and many people bought good pieces for the excellent sale price.
The participants split into a group collecting at Red Cloud and a smaller group going to North Geronimo.
Roger showed the first group what can be found on the dumps, beginning with the wulfenite-bearing dark material from the old dumps.
Later, the group moved to the pit, where everybody could see the contact zone between the andesite hanging wall and the dark mineral-bearing footwall rock.
In the pit, there are some old workings from many decades ago, but we stayed away as there was enough good material everywhere else.
After a happy day of collecting, some people headed home, but most stayed to camp on the mine premises.
After dark Roger took us to the old dump with his portable SW UV lamp and showed how to find fluorescent willemite. Some of it was white fluorescent, some green, but the best pieces had long phosphorescence as well. The Mn-bearing calcite was also a big hit as it was fluorescing with a magnificent deep red color.
People were proudly showing the specimens to each other late into the night.
The pleasant morning started with a colorful sunrise.
In the morning the groups switched their locations for the day. Some people decided to stay at Red Cloud to avoid the scary ladder climbing at N. Geronimo. It is not for everybody.
But before the collecting started, Roger held the raffle and people won excellent pieces of wulfenite and vanadinite worth much more than the collecting fee. Most of the winners were the new members!
North Geronimo Mine:
For an extra fee, the miners allowed us to go collecting into the famous North Geronimo mine for the whole day. It does not look like much on the outside but the deep red veins underground are excellent and amazing!
To get underground we had to scale some ladders down the vertical shaft and an incline, so it’s only recommended for people in good physical shape.
Yellow-orange vanadinite vein
I found a few micro pieces with galena and dark olive crystals, which I think is descloizite, but it will need to be verified as it was not reported from the mine before.
We also found some fluorite veins with cavities covered with pale green cubes, some coated with quartz points. One sample shows pale purple ghosts just below the faces of the crystals.
The walls of the mine are a mix of manganoan calcite with strong deep red fluorescence and fluorite In some areas, there is aragonite as well, fluorescing yellow. The patterns under SW UV light look other-worldly.
It was a grand adventure, well worth the long drive and a minimal collecting fee. I’ll be back in the future for sure!
Some of the collected specimens:
Deep red vanadinite from N. Geronimo mine, crystals up to 7mm long
Deep red vanadinite on calcite from N. Geronimo mine, bulky crystals up to 6mm width
Deep red to yellow vanadinite from N. Geronimo mine, crystals up to 1mm
Thanks to all who participated and welcome to all the new members, see you again in the future! Big thanks to everybody who sent in their photos for the report, much appreciated!
PS. Here are more great photos from the trip. Thank you, Margaret!
Wulfenite collected at Red Cloud mine
Wulfenite collected at Red Cloud mine