Tucson 2014 - "Inn Suites Show"Last Updated: 3rd Feb 2014
By Jolyon & Katya Ralph
Tucson 2014 - Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show ("Inn Suites Show")
Another year, and here we are, back in Tucson. And our first stop is the show that everyone still refers to as the "Inn Suites" show even though the hotel changed name several years ago. The Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the Hotel Tucson City Center is one of the shows run by Marty Zinn and is where many mineral dealers encamp for the bulk of Tucson time.
Katya and I arrived on Saturday late afternoon and went straight into a party hosted by Tomasz Praszkier of Spirifer Minerals.
Whilst everyone else was drinking, I took the opportunity to look through his display cabinets, and noticed a fine selection of new alabandite crystals from Merelani, Tanzania, up to about 5cm in size! Will this region ever stop astounding us with new mineralogical discoveries?
Next stop was to visit Alfredo Petrov, as he always has something odd to talk about. This time was no exception:
This is a natural paper formed as a surface layer on ponds outside the Filadelfia mine, Chapare, Bolivia made up of magnesioriebeckite asbestos fibres that have been washed out of the mine and collect in puddles and dry in the sun.
It's not always the most aesthetic specimens that catch my eye. This specimen from Dave Bunk's wholesale area intrigued me:
John Cornish has returned from his epic digging trip to Tasmania where he was assisting at the Adelaide mine in recovery of some large fantastic crocoite specimens, but it was these two pieces that interested me:
Every year I remain astounded at how The Adelaide Mining Company in Tasmania manage to get their incredibly fragile crocoite specimens to the show without them being completely destroyed. This year luck was again with them, and despite their shipment being subjected to sixty degree pitches during a very choppy sea journey, they arrived intact - primarily due to their custom boxes.
Dai's Rock Shop from China showed the typical odd mix of chinese mineral specimens. Firstly, they had the carved agate 'grapes' that we've seen before (plus, inside similar carved from green fluorite). But they also had more unusual minerals, such as lorandite on offer.
Jordi Fabre wasn't set up when I was touring the show on Sunday, although it appeared that someone certainly missed him!
Amethyst and zeolite minerals are both commonly found in basaltic rocks, but it's surprisingly rare to find good crystals of both associated together. Mineralmovies.com had several large specimens of heulandite and stilbite on amethyst from Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada.
During the Tucson Show last year, we heard that a meteorite had exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. I jokingly asked Dmitriy Belakovsky of Exotic Minerals if he had any the morning after the meteorite had hit, and he smiled as simply said 'next year'. This year, Dmitriy informs me that there's probably more fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite here in Tucson than there are left in Russia.
I saw some very nice pieces of this meteorite showing fusion crust and internal fractures in the room 158, where Viacheslav Kalachev offers many minerals and meteorites from Russia. The photo shows larger pieces, but small representative fragments can be bought from as little as $10.
A tip-off from Khyber Minerals (thank you) sent me to Southern African Minerals where they had some rare fibrous crystals of sugilite. They look a little like erythrite at first glance. Crystalline sugilite is not at all common.
Wendel Minerals from Austria are one of my favourite places as a mineral photographer because they have such wonderful classic european amd worldwide mineral specimens. But today they made my job so much easier by giving me high-quality image files that they had prepared earlier of their specimens. Here are some examples of what they had on offer:
Finally, we ended the day visiting our friends at dioptase.ru who run the Altyn Tyube mine in Kazakstan, the type locality of dioptase. Now, for those of you who have not read the article on our visit there last summer, please click this link: Jolyon and Katya visit the Altyn Tyube mine in Kazakstan.
For dioptase aficionados, Altyn Tyube has never had the same level of respect that Tsumeb or the central african mines have had, simply because of crystal size and clarity. But recent excavations in Kazakstan are revealing better quality material, and the prospects are good for even better material in the future.
One of the curiosities about this deposit is the relatively small number of species found there. Dioptase, Malachite and rarely cuprite are the only copper minerals found. Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that very recently a deposit of turquoise was discovered only 2.5km away from the Altyn Tyube camp. The area had been explored extensively during soviet times, so it is quite remarkable that this was missed.
Then we had time to enjoy some freshly cooked steak with our friends from Kazakstan and watch the sun set over Tucson. As we live in the UK, we've hardly seen the sun at all since last year, so this was an excellent way to end the evening.
The next show report will be from the Pueblo Show, in the next 2-3 days.
If you're in Tucson for the show please stop us and say hello. Also, come to the Riverpark Inn (Pueblo Show) on Tuesday 4th Feb 7pm for the first of the Tucson Mineral Lectures. I will be one of the presenters, giving a presentation on the future of mindat.org.
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