15.07.2015
Dazzle your students with a glowing display of colorful fluorescent minerals under ultraviolet (UV) light. The 2015 Tucson Gem and Mineral show is the annual gem show from which vendors from around the world and buyers come to find the best specimens on the planet.  The show consists of approximately 33 hotels hosting dealers from around the world and the convention center hosting the main show. If you have never visited the Tucson show be sure to place it on your bucket list.  If you do have spare time do visit the Titian Missile Museum, or the Tucson air museum, or even Tombstone Arizona which is only about one hour away from Tucson. We were fortunate enough to have made a few new contacts and brought back some very nice specimens from Mexico, California, and Canada.  Do check our fluorescent mineral category few new specimens for sale here shortly.
One last thing to note fluorescent scheelite also runs along with gold.  So for those gold prospectors its always important to carry a shortwave UV light.  For where there is scheelite there is a high probability for gold! We have been rock hounding for the world class fluorescents at Miller Canyon for several years.
In 2011, the Monument Fire swept through the canyon, burning trees and other vegetation on the ridges and along the canyon walls. Just before the arrival of Chris Powell and his son, Kevin, Ken & I were beset with a stomach virus that was quite severe. The hike up was uneventful except that a birder came up to tell us to tell us that the spotted owl was just across the canyon. We always take longer on the way down than the way up due to the weight of the rocks, and so we take several rest stops. We made it to the bad section where the trail is washed out beside the four-inch water line and you need to scramble up and down rocks and boulders.
We hadn’t seen Kevin for some time and when we arrived at the truck we were surprised to see that he wasn’t sitting comfortably waiting for us. Sure enough as I got close to the lot, Kevin was looking for me and saying exactly what Ken had thought had happened. Ken went to the emergency room the next day and found out that indeed he had broken the fibula bone in his leg where it attaches to the ankle. If you are a beginner on a tighter budget consider getting a 10 gallon fish tank from Walmart for about 15 dollars and then buying the wire mesh cover at your local pet store or online.  This will allow you to show off those magic rocks to all your friends who will think you painted them! Any location that was once a mine has a possibility to have fluorescent minerals.   DO NOT go into old mines as they are very dangerous and you can lose your life! Note: Shortwave ultraviolet radiation (UV light) can sunburn eyes and skin with prolonged use at this wattage we strongly recommend to always wear UV blocking glasses and afford direct skin exposure. One of the most spectacular museum exhibits is a dark room filled with fluorescent rocks and minerals that are illuminated with ultraviolet light. Fluorescence in minerals occurs when a specimen is illuminated with specific wavelengths of light.
The wavelength of light released from a fluorescent mineral is often distinctly different from the wavelength of the incident light. Diagram that shows how photons and electrons interact to produce the fluorescence phenomenon.
In addition to "activator" impurities, some impurities have a dampening effect on fluorescence.
Many minerals fluoresce one color under short-wave UV light and another color under long-wave UV light. One of the first people to observe fluorescence in minerals was George Gabriel Stokes in 1852.


The scientific-grade lamps used for mineral studies have a filter that allows UV wavelengths to pass but blocks most visible light that will interfere with observation.
Two excellent introductory books about fluorescent minerals are: Collecting Fluorescent Minerals and The World of Fluorescent Minerals, both by Stuart Schneider. Ant Hill Garnets - tiny garnets that ants haul to the surface and discard on their anthill. Lightning Strikes Map - A NASA map showing the worldwide distribution of lightning activity. This sketch is a key to the fluorescent rocks and minerals in the large color image at the top of this page. Tumble-polished specimens of fluorite in normal light (top) and under short-wave ultraviolet light (bottom).
This spodumene (gem variety kunzite) provides at least three important lessons in mineral fluorescence.
This image shows some pieces of tumbled ocean jasper under normal light (top) long-wave ultraviolet (center) and short-wave ultraviolet (bottom). Every year you can expect to find newly discovered specimens from different locations across the planet.  The show starts officially Feb1 through the 14th but the savvy collector will get there a few days early and beat out other buyers before the shows officially start. The following summer brought monsoon rains with no trees to absorb any of the runoff, and the canyon became a river.
We were interested in seeing the bird, but not any extra hiking, so we declined the additional walk. Ken figured that he must have missed the turn-off to the parking lot and continued on down the trail.
Use caution wear UV blocking safety glasses and children should always have adult supervision when using the lamp. They glow with an amazing array of vibrant colors - in sharp contrast to the color of the rocks under conditions of normal illumination. Ultraviolet (UV) light, x-rays and cathode rays are the typical types of light that trigger fluorescence.
These books are written in easy-to-understand language and each of them has a fantastic collection of color photographs showing fluorescent minerals under normal and different wavelengths of ultraviolet light.
These are suitable for student use and the lamp is accompanied by a pair of UV-blocking safety glasses. Even though the Nelly James Mine is at 7500’ elevation on the north side of Miller Peak, the three-mile long hiking trail starts in the desert where temperatures easily reach into the 90s during the summer. Since we started glow-hounding the location after the loss of vegetation, three places have become particularly bothersome. The night before we drove to Sierra Vista, Chris, Kevin and I went for a night hunt at Mahoney Mining area, south of Deming, NM. Although they were not happy about getting up so early, we made it over to the parking lot at the start of the trail by 8 AM. Meanwhile the sky above Miller Peak was getting very dark and we could hear rumbling of thunder.
The big arroyos would be unpassable quickly while the road down from the parking lot is scarred with many places where water has run across. He had made it to the bathrooms which are about two miles down the road from the fork in the trail.


These types of light have the ability to excite susceptible electrons within the atomic structure of the mineral. They are great for learning about fluorescent minerals and serve as valuable reference books.
The hike isn’t bad on the way up; it is coming down with one or two backpacks filled with fluorescent treasures that takes its toll. Two of the areas are large arroyos that cross the lower part of the trail and are so deep and wide that you need to scramble down and back up the other side. We decided to drive down the road and see if Kevin had realized that he had missed the turn-off and either back-tracked on the trail or made it over to the road. These excited electrons temporarily jump up to a higher orbital within the mineral's atomic structure. The other trouble spot is farther up the trail, where the streambed has completely washed over the pathway. We also decided not to do a side trip to the King Ainsworth Mine the next day to conserve our energy, especially Ken’s, for the Miller Canyon hike.
The weather remained cool and overcast, perfect for lamping fluorescent rocks under a barbecue cover.
As I walked, I said prayers that Kevin would show up soon and that no harm would come to him.
When we were on the highway leaving Sierra Vista, it was raining so hard at times the windshield wipers couldn’t even keep up.
When those electrons fall back down to their original orbital a small amount of energy is released in the form of light.
The 4-inch water supply line to Tombstone, AZ was also laid along the ground there in 2011 when the line was replaced. We drove back to the parking lot and the sky was getting more ominous and the thunder louder.
Then I heard a vehicle come up the road and arrive in the parking lot, and the slam of a vehicle door.
With all of the erosion each summer, the line is now almost a handrail as 3 to 4 feet of sand, dirt, and rocks that made up the path have been swept away.
A rescue mission in the rain could have been a disaster as the arroyos could have been flooded and the path could have become a river in spots. Coming down you need to scramble up and around boulders with the weight of your packs filled with rocks. When he finally brought one that was strong enough, Ken tried a few steps and with the aid of the stick he was able to put some weight on his right leg, which had swollen considerably in the meantime. The worst two areas to traverse were the deep arroyos; Chris assisted Ken from below and I was above to stabilize him for the mile and a half back down to Chris’s truck.



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