Discovery of Massachusetts Mineral & Stones in Shelburne Falls

What a Rocky World We Live In!

The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club is a group of amateur collectors, mineralogists and professors of geology. They promote geology, mineralogy, the lapidary arts, paleontology and educational programs for elementary school age children by giving mineral presentations that showcase the importance of rocks and minerals in our everyday lives. Think curbs around town: granite. And computers: they are pretty important, right? Gold, silica, nickel, aluminum, zinc, iron, and thirty other minerals besides go into their construction. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Just look around you, or down where your feet are scuffling along. What do you see? Rocks, lots of rocks—little gritty pebbly ones and big unbudging ones. Where do they come from? What are their names? What makes some of them so pretty, so valuable even? And who cares?

Well, rocks are actually very important in our lives and the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club will be delving into all things rocky, and explaining their value to us, at the Arms Library’s Rock Talk on Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm in Shelburne Falls.

This talk is one of the final programs in the “Dig Into Reading” Summer Program for youth; however, the program is sure to be entertaining and informative for all ages…

Read the rest of this entry »

What Did Native Americans Once Call Connecticut River Clay Concretions?

Massachusetts Treasures:
Famous Formations: Clay Concretions
By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club’s geology contest! To answer our last contest question, read the following carefully:

Clay Concretions are flat, usually round discs of clay and silt that formed underwater along the Connecticut River. These formations are not as old as some mineral occurrences in the area. Still, they are estimated to be over 10,000 years old. Native Americans who lived close to the Connecticut River in Hampshire County called them “puddle stones” and could very well have used them as money or as jewelry for ceremonies. No one is quite sure how these discs get their almost perfect round and layered shape, but some believe that the mud and clay were spun in a circular motion by moving water, building up layers of clay silt that, over thousands of years, have hardened them into the discs we find today. The Hadley and Hatfield areas of Massachusetts are known for having some of the nicest Concretions in the country. The discs can range in size from 1 inch to 4 or 5 inches across and are regularly sought by divers and collectors today.

WEEK THREE CONTEST QUESTION

Here is our third and final contest question, good for two free adult admissions to the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” on March 26 and 27, 2011: What name did Native Americans once give to Connecticut River Clay Concretions?

Deadline to enter to win is Thursday, March 24th at 7pm (EST). Must include full name, town and an accurate email address in the comment fields below to be eligible to win. Name of winner will be posted below with directions on how to claim your tickets.

FIELD TRIP TIPS

Unless you are a professional diver and collector, it would be impossible for you and me to take a collecting field trip for Concretions into the swift cold waters of the Connecticut River! The next time your family takes a trip to a lake or hikes the New England woods, be sure to search for pegmatite, a type of rock that often contains crystal formations, or look for splashes of color in rocks as you walk. And (carefully) check pockets around tree roots. Rocks and fossils and minerals gather in tree roots and are buried or washed away by water every day. Or, consider taking a “virtual” field trip! There are a number of western Massachusetts and global geological formations that are accessible online as “dynamic digital maps,” created by researchers from the University of Massachusetts. Your next field trip leaves now at this web link: ddm.geo.umass.edu.

For our last blog post, we’ve included an enlarged photo of a (very, very old) Clay Concretion from our Club’s Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kit.

Best wishes to all our contest participants! It’s a bit sad to think that this is our Club’s final post and contest question! But we hope it doesn’t mean the end to your interest in fossils, rocks, and minerals. There’s a whole world of adventure out there, just waiting for you to discover…

The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club promotes responsible rockhunting. Always ask permission to walk private lands and take only photographs, not samples, of protected geological formations. CVMC meets most months at the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more information, feel free to visit our website: www.cvmineralclub.org.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maria Sansalone

Maria works as the primary cross-reference editor for Merriam-Webster Inc., in Springfield, Massachusetts. She and her team have cross-reference checked every dictionary entry for the last two editions of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Her personal life revolves around the work that she does in memory of her son, William, for two family-oriented nonprofits in western Massachusetts: Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club. It was the desire to learn from experienced collectors about New England’s minerals on behalf of kids on treatment that led her and her husband to join the CVMC community.

What is the Massachusetts Official State Gem Stone?

Massachusetts Treasures:
Official State Gem Stone of Massachusetts
By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed entries for Week One of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club’s geology contest, good for two free adult admissions to the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” coming up March 26 and 27, 2011. We invite you to join in for Week Two. Are you ready for your next contest question?  Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Official State Fossil of Massachusetts?

Massachusetts Treasures:
Official State Fossil of Massachusetts
By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

It’s an honor for me to be a guest blogger for Hilltown Families on behalf of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club! The Club’s members love to talk rocks, fossils, minerals and mineral collecting—any topic related to the field of geology! If you have questions (post below), I’ll be happy to pass them along to our members.

Every March, the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club sponsors the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” and as a result, five western Massachusetts schools benefit annually. Proceeds from the Club’s Show help us to provide Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kits, an attractive mineral collection that identifies official State rocks, minerals, and fossils—many representing western Massachusetts!

We’d like to offer students and homeschoolers who visit Hilltown Families the exclusive chance to win two free adult admissions to our 2011 Show coming up March 26 and 27, at the Holiday Inn at Ingleside, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. For the next three weeks, we’ll offer a contest question based on geology entries from the Club’s School Kit booklet, and Hilltown Families will randomly choose a weekly winner from comments submitted to each blog entry. Children 12 and under are admitted free for the Show, as well as Scouts in uniform. Winners will be contacted to provide names and addresses ahead of Show time for special complimentary admission at the door.

WEEK ONE CONTEST QUESTION

Our contest question for Week One is: What is the Official State Fossil of Massachusetts?

See if you can find the answer in this paragraph:

The Connecticut River Valley is world-famous for an abundance of the official state fossil of Massachusetts. In 1802, a young South Hadley farmer by the name of Pliny Moody was plowing his field and happened to turn over a rock, which had fossil tracks embedded in it. At the time he had no idea what he found, but later in 1833, Professor Hitchcock of Amherst College claimed an ancient bird made them. Years after, Pliny’s discovery was determined to be the first tracks found in North America left by dinosaurs! The Connecticut River Valley was actually once the location of large ancient lakes, which were visited by many different dinosaurs (Eubrontes, Grallator and Anchisaurus), walking in mud flats along the edges.

Deadline to enter to win is Monday, March 14th at 12pm (EST). Must include full name, town and an accurate email address in the comment fields below to be eligible to win. Name of winner will be posted below with directions on how to claim your tickets.

FIELD TRIP

Amherst College has an extensive collection of Massachusetts’ official state fossils, many of which are from the western Massachusetts area. You can see them on display in the college’s Museum of Natural History.

In case you haven’t quite figured out what mystery fossil (or fossils) we mean, we’ve included an enlarged photo of a mounted specimen from our Club’s Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kit above.

Best of luck to all our contest participants! We’ll see you next week for our second blog post and contest question!

The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club promotes responsible rockhunting. Always ask permission to walk private lands and take only photographs, not samples, of protected geological formations. CVMC meets most months at the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more information, feel free to visit our website: www.cvmineralclub.org.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maria Sanslone

Maria works as the primary cross-reference editor for Merriam-Webster Inc., in Springfield, Massachusetts. She and her team have cross-reference checked every dictionary entry for the last two editions of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Her personal life revolves around the work that she does in memory of her son, William, for two family-oriented nonprofits in western Massachusetts: Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club. It was the desire to learn from experienced collectors about New England’s minerals on behalf of kids on treatment that led her and her husband to join the CVMC community.

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