Reports for The 10th Winter Gathering of Micromounters February 2011.

Winter Gathering of Micromounters

By Henry Barwood
Professor of Science, Earth Sciences, Department of Math and Physics, MSCX 312G, Troy University, Troy, Alabama 36082

This year was the 10th meeting of the Winter Gathering of micromineral enthusiasts at Advent Christian Village, Dowling Park, Florida. The event was scheduled for February 24-26, 2011; however a fair number of participants arrived on Wednesday before the meeting and began setting up scopes and working on minerals. The Gathering is hosted by Martha and Ed Cunningham and has become a "must" event for micromineral collectors in the Southeast.

Thursday, the meeting got underway with around two-thirds of the participants arriving and setting up scopes. One of the hallmarks of the Winter Gathering is a well-stocked give-away table, and this year was no exception. Earl English brought down a collection that belonged to the late Emily Adams of the Henderson County (NC) Gem and Mineral Society (passed along by Brian Stefanic) and everyone found material worthy of mounting. A first for us, long time participant Don Reems had a close encounter with a deer on his way to the gathering that wrecked his car. and he had to cancel his attendance.

Friday, Ed Cunningham led a field trip to the PCS phosphate mine that was attended by about half the group. The rest stayed at the meeting and worked on minerals. By early evening everyone had reassembled, and went for dinner at the lodge Café downstairs from the meeting room. While they were busy with dinner, Bob Stevens set up a surprise party for Ed and Martha celebrating the ten years they have sponsored the meeting. They returned from dinner to find a cake, punch, flowers, card and a Madagascar celestite geode as a gift for their generosity. We all wished them another ten years!

Saturday the day began after breakfast with lots of mineral examination and swapping. Before lunch, Julian Gray gave a talk on Graves Mountain, Lincoln County, Georgia. His talk contained excellent images of the various minerals found there (of course, a lot of them were hardly micros!). Lunch was hosted by Martha and Ed and was located in a separate building this year (we ran out of room because so many scopes were set up). Everyone donates money and Martha oversees the preparation of a nice sandwich buffet . It has gotten to be a hallmark of the meeting.

After Lunch, Bob Rothenberg gave a talk on "mystery minerals". He had excellent images of various species, notably anatase and elements. Each category was preceded by a puzzle that we had to solve before proceeding. The group has some excellent micromounters, but our puzzle solving skills leave a bit to be desired! Bill Lechner followed with a talk on the stacking technique to achieve maximum depth of field in images. His talk was excellent and was accompanied by lots of examples from his collection. Jim Daly presented a talk on some of his memorable field trips. He had lots of images of the minerals as well as the locations where they were collected.

The meeting ran at full speed until around 8PM when everyone sort of ran out of energy and began to pack up. We had 24 scopes set up. Notable give-away material, in addition of Emily Adams' specimens included some very nice Aris specimens (arisite) from Bill Lechner, and the usual Arkansas syenite material that contained kuptletskite, labuntsovite and ancylite.

The Winter Gathering Field Trip to the PCS Phosphate mine.

By Earl English
Forest City, NC

Friday, Ed Cunningham led a field trip to the PCS phosphate mine.

We caravanned to the PCS offices, where we were met by Mike Williams, who immediately showed us to the important facilities, and the coffee pot.

In walking down the hallway we spotted some rocks and core drills in one office, and soon made inquiry about the possibility of getting a closer look.

Mike took us to the office of the resident geologist (I believe his name is Don) who gave a very impressive impromptu presentation on the collection, and the geology of the mine area. We were allowed to handle each specimen, ask a lot of questions, and all too soon were herded down the hallway to Mike's office for a briefing about the mine, the company and the area.

Mike's presentation was very informative, wide ranging, and extremely interesting.
We were given handouts about the processing of phosphates, and another on the fossils that are encountered in the area. Then, we were led to the company's van for a trip into the mine area.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny, a very slight breeze, and close to 70º. Mike gladly answered the many questions our group had, and freely distributed the finds that he had made. Everyone found at least a few pieces of bone, and sharks teeth, ray plates, shells and more.

Again too soon we were loaded into the van for the trip back to the office, where we said goodbye to our host, and headed for the Telford Hotel in White Springs for a delicious lunch.

Next year, I hope that we can do as well.

Photos are here.

© 2011

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