Geology In


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Hold a nugget of Oregon sunstone in your palm, and you will understand why the 1987 Oregon legislature designated it as the official state gemstone. Sunstone is a variety of a mineral called oligoclase. Uncommon in its composition, clarity, and colors, it is a large, brightly colored transparent gem in the feldspar family. Inclusions of hematite and copper give the mineral a golden shimmer. In Oregon, sunstone occurs in the south, central portion of the state near the California border.

Some Oregon sunstones exhibit a glow from within due to millions of microscopic copper platelets, known as schiller. Colors of the stone vary from clear, champagne, yellow, light pink, salmon, orange, and red to blue-green. Intense red and blue-green are the colors that are most rare. Sometimes, when viewed from different angles, as many as three colors will show within one stone. Sunstone is 6.5-7.2 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means it can be polished, faceted, and carved and made into jewelry.

Sunstone is mined from shallow pits in Lake and Harney counties, where it formed in lava flows millions of years ago. Native Americans valued sunstone nuggets, trading them across western America and using them in Medicine Wheel ceremonies. Sunstone has been found in burial sites and sacred bundles.

What Causes The Color In Oregon Sunstone?Sunstone occurs in a range of colors that begin with colorless and ranges through to yellow, orange and red. The color is determined by the abundance and size of the copper platelets within the gemstone. The copper platelets impart a green, pink or reddish color to the stone. Some exceptional stones can show more than one color. It can start off pink and on the other side of the stone be bolder and strengthen in color which could be orange.

Sunstone is an amazing specimen. It is translucent to transparent Feldspar that produces bright metallic flashes when light interacts with tiny plate-like mineral inclusions within the stone. When light enters the stone it reflects a flash of light in the eye of the observer who views the gemstone at the correct angle. This is also known as aventurescence.

Pink can either be the stone base color or be produced by a haze of schiller. The orange color shades go from orange-yellow to orange-red which is described as copper or copper red. Another color is root beer which is the deep reddish brown, slightly orange to almost pure red to even slightly blue

Dust Devil Mining CompanyTheDust Devil Mining Companyis located in the heart of Oregon sunstone deposits near Plush, Oregon. Visitors to the mine have a rare opportunity to prospect on virgin ground freshly opened by heavy equipment. You are not limited to digging tailings.

The mine is not only accessible from many routes but also family-friendly. The digging fee is very affordable while visitors can stay in nearby motels at fair prices. Tent-camping is also available.

Address: BLM 6155, Plush, OR 97637Double Eagle MineThe Double Eagle Mineis located in the high desert of southcentral Oregon, just northwest of the town of Plush, Oregon. The mine is among a small group of fulltime mining companies located near Plush.

Visitors have the opportunity to search for rare Oregon sunstones. Those that cannot dry-camp at the site can be accommodated by nearby motels and RV resorts at low and affordable rates. Visitors can also buy these rare gemstones directly from the miners. fees are $60 per person for you to lease access to a virgin ore pile for one day of shovel and screening for Oregon Sunstone crystals. (Children under 12 years old are Free)Spectrum Sunshine MinesOne of Oregons premier gemstone mining sites isthe Spectrum Sunshine Mine, which is open for gemstone enthusiasts mining expeditions. You can visit the site and search through fresh and unprocessed material for the whole day. Additionally, they have high grade conveyer belts to ease your process of picking out gemstones from the material of high grade condensed piles of ore, ensuring that you have a chance to find the best gems on this mine.

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The photo is Sunstones from Oregon Hold a nugget of Oregon sunstone in your palm, and you will understand why the 1987 Oregon legisl…

A Quadrillion Tons of Diamond. Under Your Feet

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and colleagues said the findings are unlikely to set off a diamond rush. (Representative image: Reuters)

That diamond on your wedding ring isnt as rare as you might think. A quadrillion tons of them. Beneath your feet. Ripe for the taking.

There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earths interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to set off a diamond rush. The scientists estimate the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.

The ultradeep cache may be scattered within cratonic roots — the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates. Shaped like inverted mountains, cratons can stretch as deep as 200 miles through the Earths crust and into its mantle; geologists refer to their deepest sections as roots.

In the new study, scientists estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamond. Considering the total volume of cratonic roots in the Earth, the team figures that about a quadrillion (1016) tons of diamond are scattered within these ancient rocks, 90 to 150 miles below the surface.

This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, its relatively common, says Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MITs Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. We cant get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before.

Fauls co-authors include scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the University of California at Berkeley, Ecole Polytechnique, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Harvard University, the University of Science and Technology of China, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Melbourne, and University College London.

A sound glitchFaul and his colleagues came to their conclusion after puzzling over an anomaly in seismic data. For the past few decades, agencies such as the United States Geological Survey have kept global records of seismic activity — essentially, sound waves traveling through the Earth that are triggered by earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions, and other ground-shaking sources. Seismic receivers around the world pick up sound waves from such sources, at various speeds and intensities, which seismologists can use to determine where, for example, an earthquake originated.

Scientists can also use this seismic data to construct an image of what the Earths interior might look like. Sound waves move at various speeds through the Earth, depending on the temperature, density, and composition of the rocks through which they travel. Scientists have used this relationship between seismic velocity and rock composition to estimate the types of rocks that make up the Earths crust and parts of the upper mantle, also known as the lithosphere.

However, in using seismic data to map the Earths interior, scientists have been unable to explain a curious anomaly: Sound waves tend to speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons. Cratons are known to be colder and less dense than the surrounding mantle, which would in turn yield slightly faster sound waves, but not quite as fast as what has been measured.

The velocities that are measured are faster than what we think we can reproduce with reasonable assumptions about what is there, Faul says. Then we have to say, There is a problem. Thats how this project started.

Diamonds in the deepThe team aimed to identify the composition of cratonic roots that might explain the spikes in seismic speeds. To do this, seismologists on the team first used seismic data from the USGS and other sources to generate a three-dimensional model of the velocities of seismic waves traveling through the Earths major cratons.

Next, Faul and others, who in the past have measured sound speeds through many different types of minerals in the laboratory, used this knowledge to assemble virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals. Then the team calculated how fast sound waves would travel through each virtual rock, and found only one type of rock that produced the same velocities as what the seismologists measured: one that contains 1 to 2 percent diamond, in addition to peridotite (the predominant rock type of the Earths upper mantle) and minor amounts of eclogite (representing subducted oceanic crust). This scenario represents at least 1,000 times more diamond than people had previously expected.

Diamond in many ways is special, Faul says. One of its special properties is, the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.

The researchers found that a rock composition of 1 to 2 percent diamond would be just enough to produce the higher sound velocities that the seismologists measured. This small fraction of diamond would also not change the overall density of a craton, which is naturally less dense than the surrounding mantle.

They are like pieces of wood, floating on water, Faul says. Cratons are a tiny bit less dense than their surroundings, so they dont get subducted back into the Earth but stay floating on the surface. This is how they preserve the oldest rocks. So we found that you just need 1 to 2 percent diamond for cratons to be stable and not sink.

In a way, Faul says cratonic roots made partly of diamond makes sense. Diamonds are forged in the high-pressure, high-temperature environment of the deep Earth and only make it close to the surface through volcanic eruptions that occur every few tens of millions of years. These eruptions carve out geologic pipes made of a type of rock called kimberlite (named after the town of Kimberley, South Africa, where the first diamonds in this type of rock were found). Diamond, along with magma from deep in the Earth, can spew out through kimberlite pipes, onto the surface of the Earth.

For the most part, kimberlite pipes have been found at the edges of cratonic roots, such as in certain parts of Canada, Siberia, Australia, and South Africa. It would make sense, then, that cratonic roots should contain some diamond in their makeup.

Its circumstantial evidence, but weve pieced it all together, Faul says. We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one thats left as a reasonable explanation.

The above story is based onmaterialsprovided byMIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A Quadrillion Tons of Diamond. Under Your Feet

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and colleagues said the findings are unlikely to set off a diam…

Minerals Could Bear the Scars of Collisions With Dark Matter

Ancient minerals buried underground could bear scars of early collisions with dark matter. Minerals such as halite and zabuyelite could serve as natural dark matter detectors, scientists said.

Did Early Earth Collide With Dark Matter? 500 Million-Year-Old Minerals Could Hold Key To Ancient Encounter. Kilometres beneath Earths surface, some minerals could bear the scars of collisions with dark matter.

Minerals deep inside Earth might contain telltale traces of collisions with dark matter the elusive stuff that researchers think makes up most of the matter in the Universe. Experiments designed to search for these traces could one day complement or even compete with ongoing efforts to detect dark matter directly.

Researchers using sophisticated detectors sunk deep underground have searched for signs of dark matter for decades. But now, Katherine Freese, a physicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her colleagues suggest that minerals such as halite (sodium chloride) and zabuyelite (lithium carbonate), can act as ready-made detectors1.

Astronomers can detect the gravitational influence of dark matter on the motion of galaxies and galactic clusters, but have never been able to spot it directly. The prevailing explanation for dark matter is that its made of material known as weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which interact with normal matter mainly through gravity.

Direct-detection experiments aim to find the faint after-effects of WIMPs colliding with the nuclei of atoms in materials such as germanium, silicon or sodium iodide inside a detector.

Such experiments must be positioned deep underground, to guard against the cosmic rays that bombard Earths surface. These rays can also leave faint traces of their collisions with detector materials, which can swamp any potential signals from dark matter. So far, only one experiment the DAMA/LIBRA experiment at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy says it has detected dark matter, but the claim remains unverified.Digging deepFreese and her colleagues argue that minerals such as halite and zabuyelite are already deep inside Earth and thus are shielded from cosmic rays. According to the teams analysis, published last month on the preprint server arXiv, if a WIMP were to smash into the nucleus of an atom of, say, sodium or chlorine, the nucleus would recoil. This would etch a path anywhere from