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Abstracts of the 27th annual FM-MSA-TGMS Tucson Mineralogical Symposium: Canada!


Robert B. Cook

Symposium Chairman

The 27th Annual Mineralogical Symposium, sponsored by the Mineralogical Society of America, the Friends of Mineralogy, and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2006, at the Tucson Convention Center. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. The symposium coincides with the 52nd Tucson Gem and Mineral show, the theme of which is, of course, Canadian Minerals and Gems.


The list of Canada's superlative specimen-producing localities is long and reflects the geologically diverse nature of the country. When one includes significant gemstone localities, the list grows longer and even more geological environments must be considered. There is something for every collector, regardless of specialization. Perhaps such a list would begin with what is Canada's most famous mineralized area, the Monteregian Hills province of Quebec, home to the extraordinary minerals of Mont Saint-Hilaire (Mineralogical Record v. 21, n.4), the Saint-Amable sill (v.29, n.2) and the Francon quarry (v.37, n.1), with their incredible array of intrusive-related species. Close on its heels must come a variety of occurrences including garnet and vesuvianite from the Jeffrey mine at Asbestos, Quebec (v.10, n.2; v.35, n.2); the Rapid Creek, Yukon phosphates (v.23, n.4); silver species from Galena Hill-Keno Hill, Yukon Territory; silver and related cobalt and nickel species from Cobalt and Gowganda, Ontario; apatite, titanite, and uranium and thorium minerals from a variety of Ontario localities; zeolites from Nova Scotia; gold from the famous Timmons, Kirkland Lake and Red Lake, Ontario, mining camps; barite and fluorite from the Rock Candy mine, British Columbia (v.12, n.2); calcite and pyrite from the Nanisivik mine on Baffin Island, Nunavut (v.21, n.6); and the many Thunder Bay, Ontario amethyst localities (v.13, n.2).

Clearly Canada is a country rooted in its mineral heritage. However, unlike many other mineral-rich nations, Canada's resources continue to emerge, yielding to modern exploration techniques, changing economies, and the relentless exploration of its northern reaches by an adventuresome breed of men likely not equaled elsewhere. A decade ago few would have dreamed that a significant percentage of the world's diamonds would come from Canada's Northwest Territories, yet with Canadian exploration ingenuity, and the foresight and deep pockets of one of the world's largest mining companies, one can now only guess at what Canada's ultimate position in the world diamond marketplace will be. Similarly, only a few years ago one would have laughed at the idea that the world's highest-grade active gold mine would be discovered in the shadow of one of Ontario's other dominant gold mines, the Campbell mine at Red Lake, and yet it was; again by innovative exploration concepts and dogged determination. This time, however, there was a bonus for collectors--a management that realized the value and importance of the specimen gold and related species its property was producing. There is a great deal more happening, particularly with the price of metals continuing to rise, that will likely impact specimen availability and diversity. There is a new nickel orebody being developed at Voisey Bay, Labrador, and there are new, deep discoveries at Sudbury. Gold and rare metals are hot items and uranium is coming back. Colored gemstones are being developed in the Yukon Territory and on Baffin Island. Provincial governments that were formerly unfriendly to mining have relaxed their anti-mining stances, and exploration and development are taking place like never before. Consequently, one could only predict that the list of exceptional mineral occurrences in the previous paragraph will be considerably longer when Canadian minerals and gems are again the featured topic of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show some years in the future.

The papers in this year's symposium emphasize the place of Canada not only with respect to its historical mineral and gemstone production, but also its emerging related industries, such as diamond mining in the Northwest Territories and colored gem production in the Yukon Territory and Nunavut. Also on the program is a review of the history of gold mining and gold specimen localities, a discussion of the Keno Hill district, Yukon Territory, and a detailed study of the provenance of a wonderful Canadian gold specimen in the Harvard collection. Speakers range from university professors and museum curators to commercial gem and mineral dealers. Each talk will be illustrated with locality and specimen photographs, many of which have not been shown in previous publications or talks. There is much to be learned from the presentations at this year's symposium, and we encourage audience interaction during the question-and-answer sessions between papers.


Colored Gemstones from Canada; a Well-Kept Secret

Bradley S. Wilson

Coast-to-Coast Rarestones International

P.O. Box 352

Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 4W2

Canada is home to a wide array of colored gemstones from a diverse range of geological environments. From amethyst to zircon, and emerald to sapphire, Canada has it all. Yet, for most of its history, Canada has been regarded as a nation devoid of gemstones. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of the major gem species, Canada lacks only alexandrite and tanzanite.

Some gem localities, such as the amethyst occurrences in Nova Scotia and Ontario, have been known for centuries, although most were discovered much more recently. In the past, there was little, if any, direct exploration for colored gemstones. Until fairly recently most localities were discovered accidentally. Direct exploration for colored gemstones by mining companies and prospectors is a relatively new phenomenon and is responsible for many recent finds. Some of the significant colored gemstones unearthed from Canadian soil include:

(1) Blue, yellow and colorless sapphire from Nunavut (flawless stones up to 2.59 carats).

(2) Emerald from the Yukon (gems up to 2.39 carats).

(3) Demantoid garnet from Quebec (clean, lively gems up to 2.72 carats).

(4) Hessonite garnet from Quebec (lively gems up to 23.94 carats or more).

(5) Amethyst from Ontario (rich purple gems up to 22 carats).

(6) Peridot from British Columbia (bright, lively gems up to 4.52 carats).

(7) Tsavorite garnet from Quebec (bright, lively gems up to 0.76 carats).

(8) Aquamarine from Ontario (flawed stones, with great color, up to 23.91 carats and clean gems possible up to 10 carats).

Although Canada has yet to produce large quantities of transparent colored gemstones, many gem localities are found throughout the country, and new discoveries are constantly being made. Rumors of new gemstone occurrences are coming from every comer of this vast country. Gemstone localities discovered to date probably represent only the tip of an iceberg, with many more waiting to be found. If recent history is any indication, the future of colored gemstones in Canada is bright indeed.

This talk will document some of Canada's finest colored gemstones and the localities from which they come. The focus will be on localities from which transparent faceted gemstones important to the jewelry trade have been recovered.

Recent Gem Discoveries in Canada

Lee A. Groat

Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences

University of British Columbia

6339 Stores Road

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4

Emerald was discovered at Tsa Da Glisza in the Yukon Territory in 1998. The mineralization there is associated with quartztourmaline veins and aplite dikes which intrude metavolcanic rocks. Beryl crystals up to 4 cm in length occur in 12 mineralized zones within a 200-300 X 1000-meter area to a depth of 200-300 meters. Chromium is the predominant chromophore in the emerald. Some of the smaller crystals and sections of larger crystals are gem-quality, and a number of small gems have been fashioned from Tsa Da Glisa crystals.

Gem beryl was discovered at the True Blue property in the Yukon Territory in 2003. The crystals occur in a swarm of quartz-siderite-fluorite-allanite veins that fill tension gashes 5 mm to 20 cm thick in a syenite intrusive body. Over 200 occurrences have been found within an approximately 600-meter radius. Although much of the beryl is dark blue in color, pale blue, green, and even yellow crystals have been found.

In 2002 sapphire was discovered near Kimmirut on Baffin Island, Nunavut. The sapphires are deep blue to yellow in color and range in size up to 2.1 cm. They occur with clinopyroxene, mica, plagioclase, scapolite, nepheline and calcite; petrographic studies suggest that these minerals record a diverse, largely retrograde, progression of assemblages. The sapphires occur near a major terrane boundary within the Paleoproterozoic Trans-Hudson Orogen. The continental collisional setting is analogous to gem provinces within the India-Asia collision zone, such as the Mogok Stone Tract in Burma (Myanmar).

Diamond in Canada

Andrew Locock

Royal Ontario Museum

100 Queen's Park

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2C6

The report in 1991 of diamond-bearing kimberlite at Point Lake in the Northwest Territories sparked the largest staking rush in Canadian history. Although this was not the first discovery of diamond in Canada, or the first report of primary diamond source-rock in North America, it was the first discovery of an economic diamond deposit. Two diamond mines have already opened in Canada, with more on the way. Canada is poised to become the world's third largest producer of diamonds (ahead of South Africa, but behind Russia and Botswana), producing almost 15% of the world's diamonds by value. The future for "ice" in Canada is bright indeed.

Minerals of the Silver Trail, Yukon Territory, Canada

Mark Mauthner

Houston Museum of Natural Science

1 Hermann Circle Drive

Houston, Texas 77030

Placer gold was discovered in the Galena Hill-Keno Hill camp area of the Yukon in 1895, a year before the Carmacks party made their famous discovery on Bonanza Creek in the Klondike. However, despite the presence of gold in payable quantities, the Galena Hill-Keno Hill camp became much better known for its silver mines. The first recorded Ag-Pb-Zn find was that of the Silver King vein on Galena Hill in 1903, a deposit that was worked ten to 12 years later. Prospectors and mining companies took the camp much more seriously after the 1920 establishment of Keno Hill Ltd., a subsidiary of the Yukon Gold Company Ltd., to mine the recently discovered No. 9 vein on Keno Hill. A staking rush ensued, and ultimately the area became one of the major silver producers of the 20th century (over 209 million ounces of silver by December 1986) and Canada's second largest silver camp after Cobalt, Ontario.

More than 65 Ag-Pb-Zn deposits or prospects are known in the camp and about three-quarters of them ended up under the control of United Keno Hill Mines. Several of the mines produced some fine collector-quality mineral specimens, especially silver sulfosalts. Among the best known are the iridescent polybasite and stephanite specimens produced mostly in the 1960's to 1980's, most notably from the Husky mine. Other collectible species include: native silver, pyrargyrite, argentiferous tetrahedrite, freibergite, sphalerite, galena, quartz, siderite, pyrite, marcasite, boulangerite, jamesonite, acanthite, cerussite, hawleyite (type locality), barite and anglesite. The camp is also the type locality for gunningite.

Gold in Canada

David K. Joyce

David K. Joyce Minerals

P.O. Box 95551

Newmarket, Ontario, Canada L3Y 8J8

The story of gold mining in Canada is also a study of the recent history of this relatively young country. Although Canada was discovered by Europeans over 500 years ago and exploited immediately for her vast natural resources of fish, timber and game, mining in Canada has been a relatively new activity. Commercial quantities of gold have been mined in Canada only since the mid 1800's and development was modest until the late 1800's. At that time, fabulous deposits of gold were found, first in the Yukon, and then at scattered locations from coast to coast. Three hundred and thirteen million troy ounces of gold, worth around $147 billion (in present-day U.S. dollars), have been extracted from the placer deposits and hard rock mines of Canada in the past 100 years. New deposits, including some of the richest yet discovered, continue to be found and mined.

This presentation will cover the geographical and historical evolution of transportation (foot-canoe-airplane) that affected gold exploration and development; the geological processes and environments (Canadian Shield, placer deposits) that have resulted in and host Canada's gold deposits; and some of the colorful characters (McIntyre, Hollinger, Preston, Oakes, Wright) that seem to be ever-present around gold. Interesting historical anecdotes will be related, particularly the processes of discovery. The important areas and localities that have produced interesting gold specimens and associated minerals, including the Porcupine, Kirkland Lake, Red Lake, Val D'Or and Yellowknife gold camps, will be discussed.

Chasing Gold Crystals from British Columbia

Mark Mauthner

Houston Museum of Natural Science

1 Hermann Circle Drive

Houston, Texas 77030

Carl Francis

Harvard Mineralogical Museum

24 Oxford Street

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Much is made of the term "connoisseur" in collecting these days, and all too often only with the implication of "having good taste." The word comes from the French for a "person who knows" ... someone with an exceptionally well-developed knowledge on a particular subject. The connoisseur is devoted not only to accumulating fine objects for a collection, but also to building knowledge related to those objects.


One of the "gems" of the A.C. Burrage gold collection at the Harvard Mineralogical Museum is a specimen with only the vague locality designation of "British Columbia." In an effort to learn more of the specimen's origin, the authors studied known specimens of crystallized British Columbian gold as well as the chronology of certain gold mining operations. Eighteen localities that have produced well-formed gold crystals have been identified, and although the research is inconclusive regarding the Burrage specimen, the list of possible localities of origin for it has been narrowed. More importantly for the collector community, the beginnings of a useful body of knowledge regarding crystallized gold from the province of British Columbia has been established.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tucson Convention Center
10:00 a.m.  Introductory remarks
            Symposium Chairman Robert B. Cook
10:05       Colored Gemstones from Canada;
            a Well-Kept Secret
            Bradley S. Wilson
10:25       Recent Gem Discoveries in Canada
            Lee A. Groat
10:45       Diamond in Canada
            Andrew Locock
11:05       Minerals of the Silver Trail,
            Yukon Territory, Canada
            Mark Mauthner
11:25       Gold in Canada
            David K. Joyce
11:45 a.m.  Chasing Gold Crystals from British Columbia
            Mark Mauthner & Carl Francis
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Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Famous mineral localities: the Francon quarry, Montreal, Quebec.
Next Article:Springfield show 2005.

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