Mar 23-06

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2006: March: Mar 23-06
Rock collection    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Nate Alwine
More rocks    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Nate Alwine
Iridescence    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Nate Alwine

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 07:37 am:

Michigan Tech University, in Houghton, is home to a collection of precious gems, crystals, and metals such as gold and silver. With the famous Dana mineralogical classification system, this gem of the Keweenaw is touted as one of the world's finest galleries of mineral collections. Nate Alwine shares a few photos with us from inside the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum, including one with some glowing specimens. I can tell you what a crystal is and even if it's an agate, but don't ask me what the rest of them are.

By Jeff Brookins (15temporalacres) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:12 am:

Could I have a first post?

In accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, the 'Early Bird' award is granted only on the What'sUP page.

By Jeff Brookins (15temporalacres) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:15 am:

I guess so, I had heard of gold found in the copper mines of white pine where grandpa worked and always wondered about striking it rich, usually we would walk on the beach looking for agates, old childhood memories replaced by adulthood.

By JanieT (Bobbysgirl) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:19 am:

ooooh! those are neat! I wish I could find some of those to add to my rock garden I'm building this spring!

By Nate (Nalwine) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:34 am:

I've heard of (but never found) places in the U.P. where surface copper can still be found. If you stop by the general store in Rockland, MI you'll see all sorts of specimens for sale. I enquired from the owner of the the store where she found them, but she only said in the woods. I've been all over and have found some silver and a ton of fools gold but never surface copper like they sell at that little general store. Does anyone out here know any good places to look? (I suppose if you do maybe its best not to tell :) )

By Lorelei (Lorelei) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:36 am:

Rock On Everyone.

By JOHN AND ANNE KENTUCKY (Username) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:52 am:

This is one of our favorite places to go the UP. We spend hours there.Last time we were there somebody told us that the museum will be moving to a building they are renovating by the Quincy mine.Does anybody know about this?

By Mr. Bill (Mrbill) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:05 am:

I don't know about gold at the White Pine, but I have spent an afternoon talking with a miner from the White Pine, discussing silver. He related that there was a layer of silver rich rock that they deemed their "rainy day ore".

As all gold and silver at the time had to be sold to the US goverment, at below world market prices, he stated that they shipped it in 55 gallon drums to a broker in Milwaukee, for export and sale to the far east somewhere.

He also stated that the OT was so good that he paid off a full house full of new furniture from Kirkish, in two paychecks.

By dan belo (Djbelo) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:16 am:


By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:32 am:

"... somebody told us that the [A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum] will be moving to a building they are renovating by the Quincy mine.Does anybody know about this?"

Go to the (click ®) A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum web site. When there, click on the links on the left as read Future Museum, and News

By Nate (Nalwine) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:33 am:

One time canoeing on the north shore of Lake Superior my father and I became windbound in a very remote location for several days. We couldn't go anywhere so we started exploring the area and ended up finding a small canyon streaked with gold. When we first saw it we thought we'd struck it rich and grabbed a few samples and brought them home. We never had the samples tested because we're positive its just fools gold, but the sensation of finding the canyon was so fun.

By James Ludos (Homesick) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:30 am:

Nate, when my wife and myself lived in Eagle River in the 70's & 80's we use to go up on the tailings and hunt for copper with a metal detector and found many pieces, some that were just copper with out any type of stone or rock mixed in. I remember my father-in-law, Bob Pike, use to have a real good time exploring the old copper mines when he use to visit. I still have my copper pieces an have them on display in our house.

By P&G,TN (Gormfrog) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:34 am:

All gold is fool's gold

By James Ludos (Homesick) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:40 am:

Nate: This is from "Mine Shafts of Michigan" on the Mich. Tech mining engineering page.

Mining History: Mine Headframes and Structures of Michigan
Michigan has four major metallic mining ranges, the "Copper Country" Mining District of Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon counties (and some explorations in Gogebic), the Marquette Iron Range of Marquette and Baraga counties, the Menominee Iron Range of Dickinson and Iron counties, and the Gogebic Iron Range of Gogebic county (extending into Wisconsin). In addition there were gold mines (and copper and other metallic explorations) in Marquette county and gold exploring in Gogebic county. Silver explorations also operated in Ontonagon and Baraga counties.
In the past 150 years Michigan's Copper and Iron Mining Ranges have produced over a billion tons of iron ore and several billion pounds of refined copper.

By Rowdy (Roudymi) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:34 am:

2 Billion pounds of copper would make a 1/8 inch dia wire approximately 685,920 miles long. Thats over 2 times to the moon. Maybe we could establish 2 way communications.

By Jeff Kalember (Jeffkal) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:53 am:

I never thought rocks and geology were interesting till I visited the Seaman Museum. Great stuff, cool displays. My father and grandfather both worked at White Pine Copper mine too!! Large employer for many years. The town of White Pine used to boast a beautiful, state of the art school WITH a pool !! Not many UP schools have that.

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 12:29 pm:

Neat pics of the different rocks. I have always loved rocks...and found them to be so interesting. Seems that whenever I walk along the beaches, I always come away with a pocket or two filled with interesting rocks.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 01:06 pm:

It will be really nice when the mineral museum is moved to the Quincy Mine location; it will be much more conveniently accessable to the general public as well as a major tourist attraction for our area.

By Seismic Pirate (Marc) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 01:20 pm:

I have alot of great memories of the mineral musuem!! I'v spent so much time pouring over the samples. Everyone should stop there at least once and the kids love the "glow in the dark" cave:)

Surface, or "float" copper can be found all over, West of the Keweenaw Fault. Its out there but very rare. If your just after a couple of pieces, try the tailings piles-thats where I get the small pieces for my artwork.

I might add that the copper in the Keweenaw is associated with the closing of the Midcontinent Rift System (and the reveral of the Keweenaw Fault). That makes it about 1.1 billion yrs old.

Lastly, Silver can be found to the East, near Baraga and gold further East than that. Nickel exists as well. Nickel is important as it is now economical to mine and for those of you that aren't familiar with metallic sulfide mining-you should be as it is coming soon to a stream near you!!!

By Mel, Kansas (Mehollop) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 01:48 pm:

I've had pretty good like finding bits of copper during spring melt - just look along the roads that have been sanded with slag sand all winter! I found two pieces in the alley next to our apartment, another small bit on a gravel road around Winona, and a large (~3" long) piece along the Delaware Mine stage of the LSPR. Since most of the processing of the copper was mechanical, they missed quite a bit. As others have said, you can find pieces in the tailing piles, or you can let the County do the digging for you, and just pick them up off the street.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 02:03 pm:

Nice to finally see the museum gets its place on the pastycam and for people to share comments about it. Now, where do I start?!?!?

First off, it's fluorescence, not iridescence, that makes the rock glow green. Sorry Mary ;-)
Mary says: No need to apologize Capt., I stand corrected and by an expert, no less! :->

I have heard tales of "real" gold found in White Pine, but they were few and just microscopic specks in the nonesuch shale, so I don't believe anyone will strike it rich, sorry. The best place for gold in the UP is in the Ishpeming area (Ropes, Michigan, etc...)

It seems that the best place to find float copper is in the Mass/Rockland areas and to the south, although I would suppose anywhere south of the Keweenaw Fault could be a good spot since it was the glaciers that ripped the copper loose and spread it all over the midwest.

There are some fantastic specimens of silver, both mass and crystalline, from the White Pine. I have a couple of crystalline pieces from there and one that has copper, silver, and chalcocite all in one specimen; a neat find indeed.

In total, there was approx. 11 billion lbs. of refined copper taken from the Keweenaw, both from underground and from the reclamation activities in Torch Lake, plus a lot of tailings. To put it in perspective, when I worked at Quincy doing the tours I got bored one day (sorry Ed ;-) and figured out how much material was removed from just Quincy. We came up with enough material to fill about 450 shafthouses where the hoist sits; that's a lot of rock!! I too would love to see the Museum moved on top of the hill, and from what I hear that day might not be far off...

While copper is related to the Midcontinent Rift System, the deposition of copper is most likely after the reversal of the Keweenaw Fault. As well as copper and silver, there are also some copper sulfide minerals on the Peninsula, much like those at White Pine and Flambeau. There is no nickel on the Keweenaw Peninsula itself, and the Yellow Dog nickel/copper/zinc sulfide minerals have nothing to do with the Midcontinent Rift; those minerals were deposited MUCH earlier in time.

By Alex J. Tiensivu (Ajtiensivu) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 02:56 pm:

These rocks are just beautiful. I remember my cousin giving me a box of small polished rocks decades ago. I still have them! Nothing like the above, of course. These on today's page are just beautiful though.

I really appreciate the wonderful pix each day. (Now if I could only win the bologna ring in the contest!!!!!) (Grin)

By Seismic Pirate (Marc) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 02:57 pm:

Capt and Doctor,
If I remember corectly, the geology to the East of the peninsula is something like 2.7 billion?? Or is that just the Jacobsville?

By Mary Lou Curtin (Marylou) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 03:50 pm:

About 20 yrs ago my small grandson was swimming at our cottage at Bootjack. He showed me a rock he found and liked. I used the rock as a door stop until my son suggested it be shown to Stan Dyl, at the museum. Stan described it as a band of agate in a besalt matrix. He estimated it's age as from the volcanic action of the Keewenaw range which was 2.5 billion yrs ago. Apparently, the rock rolled around Portage Lake since that time and developed the band of agate. They requested that we let them keep the rock. Last summer I talked to Dr Robinson at the Seaman and he said the rock was 1.5 billion yrs apparently they are narrowing the time frame of the volcanic action of the Keewenaw range.

By Mary Lou Curtin (Marylou) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 05:03 pm:

PS:..OOPS!!...ment Keweenaw..(sp)

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 05:11 pm:

Considering the UP was the consolation prize for loosing the War with Ohio over Toledo, Michigan made out pretty good. The copper and iron mines of the UP proved to be worth more than any and all of the Western gold and silver mines. The territory of Wisconsin lost the most during those deals in Washington DC which divided the Northwest Territories. The UP went to Michigan and Illinois got the Galena lead/zinc district and that village in the swamp called Chicago. However, any Badger worthy of the name, does not begrudge the loss of Chicago to the slightly senior State to the South!

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 05:11 pm:

The Jacobsville came in after the rifting/compression event of the area, so it is younger than the basalt flows. I believe the actual age is right at 1.0 GA or slightly younger. The rocks that are 2.7GA are closer to Marquette/Baraga and are associated with the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone events, which is another topic in of itself ;-)

The age of the Portage Lake Volcanics is dated to be around 1.1 billion years old. Your agate most likely formed from much the same process as the copper; hot fluids flowing through the basalt and precipitating out in this case silica in the gas vesicles within the basalt.

By Gordon Jelsma (Gordomich) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 05:19 pm:

My son, a MTU grad, spent the last two summers working for a company in western Airzna mining Nickel. They used the metallic sulfide mining process Seismic Priate spoke about above. Truly an incredeble process with a good envrionmental record - according to my son.

By Mary Lou Curtin (Marylou) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 06:09 pm:

Capt. Paul and Dr. Nate.....Thank you for helping me better understand how the agate developed. The rock is quite large and the band of agate is about and inch wide directly in the middle....the rock seems to nearly be cracked by the agate, yet it is stable. I never look at Superior or Portage rocks without being in awe of the history of the area.......incidently, my great-grandfather and grandfather were a stonemasons for Quincy mine coming there in 1884...(from Germany & Switzerland)..I think they are incorperating the old masonry in the museum so I like to think their work continues into the future of the area..

By Seismic Pirate (Marc) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 06:52 pm:

As a Geologist I would love to be able to say that he is correct(I would rather work in a UP mine than God knows where in the world away from my family) and I hate to disagree with a father's son, so I won't. I'll just list a few things to look into.

Metallic sulfide mines release two by-products-sulfuric acid and dissolved metals into surrounding surface waters. I won't detail what they do.

Here's a few pictures of Sudbury Ontario:

Click on "Breaking Ground", on the left, then on "Tailings", also on the left. Finally, check out the beautiful pictures of the orange rivers...

There are three water quality stations on the Salmon-Trout and Yellow Dog Rivers. Watch what happens to their readings over the next year. The real-time data can be viewed at:

I helped get them installed and they will track what actually happens at the Kennecott mine.
I now step down off my soap-box and bow my head. Appologies.

By dan belo (Djbelo) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:34 pm:

Do you believe all this stuff on here?The louder & repeating they are, the more I dont believe it.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 08:42 pm:

In all my travels around the continent, I have seen many, many mining operations that have excellent track records in both worker safety and protecting the environment. Unfortunitely, it seems to be only the "bad" companies people want to remember and focus on and oppose. I have seen first-hand what sulfide mining can do to an area and I admit, it's not a pretty sight. However, with the rules and regulations mining companies have to follow these days, companies have had to clean up their act since the old days.....

Ok, there's my two-cents for todays discussion :-)

By Nate (Nalwine) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:28 pm:

Capt Paul and Dr Nat,

One of the big concerns I have with this mine is that we have no experience with Sulfide Mines and I hope the DEQ who just wrote the laws governing sulfide mining in michigan did a good job.

But beyond DEQ concerns it bothers me that most of the jobs related to this mine will go to people from out of state and they will only be in the area for 5 years until the process is done. Then the mine will be shut down, the impact on the local economy will go from boom to bust, the value of any houses built in the area will go down like in White Pine, the metal extracted will not be used in the United States, but 3rd world countries and the tax dollars collected by the state of Michigan will be controlled by downstate, and most of that money will probably be used downstate.

Time will tell, but I think this will not benefit the U.P. economy as much as most hope. On top of that we are still shipping the ore to Sudbury to be smelted which is having a negative affect on people and the environment in that area. And we will constantly run the risk of that sulfiric acid draining into the Yellow Dog, Salmon Trout, and Lake Superior.

I really hope this ends up a very good thing for the U.P. Time will tell

By Seismic Pirate (Marc) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 09:51 pm:

To discount someone because of their passion, ignores the possiblity that they have a valid reason for being passionate, like it happened to be my JOB to know the subject in question, but forget that-

I sincerely hope I am wrong for my children's sake and like Nate, I hope in the end, its good for the UP.

Sorry to get worked up here-its the wrong forum and I do appologize. Mary's gonna scold me again, or worse:(

Mary says: OK, kiddies (not just you, Seismic Pirate :->), let's agree to disagree, since we all know that a heated discussion here, isn't going to change anything...THANKS!

By dave sou (Davesou) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:57 pm:

the streets in Chassell used to be full of copper. When we were kids we would grab a screwdriver and hammer ...walk along, and you would see the copper shine...dig them out and some pieces were large..3-4 inches. We would fill a coffee can in a couple of hours.

I took my son on one of those searches about 5 years ago...guess what? The copper was still in the streets.

Tar and gravel from those tailing piles cover the streets all over the CC ... start your search :)

By Beverly, San Jose (Beverly) on Friday, March 24, 2006 - 05:34 am:

I wandered into a little Rock Shop here in Campbell, CA. and while looking at all the specimens I found some copper from the Keweenaw. Kind of made me smile.

By Capt. Paul & Dr. Nat in Texas (Eclogite) on Friday, March 24, 2006 - 03:38 pm:

Tis true Mary, tis true.

I do offer to anyone that has questions about UP geology in general, mining topics/history, regs, etc... to email me with your questions ( and I'll be happy to answer them, or at least attempt to :-)

By james f. haven (Technoido) on Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 02:03 am:

Float copper can be found just about anywhere 'downstream' of
where the glaciers ripped it loose. And in any amount of
poundage, of course the bigger the rarer, and at any depth
above bedrock. Wait until you find a combo agate/thompsonite/
copper specimen, you'll never forget the experience. Finding
surface silver is real tricky. I won't ever even tell in which county
I found the kilogram piece I have. Copper embedded in the
streets is real common, there used to be a piece right in front of
the Calumet Opera House.
Poor rock piles and old railroad grades are the easiest place for a
tyro w/ a metal detector to start. Walking the woods is very time
consuming, but it is possible to find a surfaced vein. Course if
you make a big deal of talking about it, or worse using dynamite
to get at more of it (yes this actually happens), the company will
come and cover it up w/ many tons of rock. How about the guys
not too many years ago who pulled a rumored $18,000 of silver
from a hole (greyhound bus sized) they dug at night. Traded
under the table for a Caddy.
The Red Metal Convention has field trips to freshly turned over
rock piles each year. The people who go jump around like happy
grasshoppers, they're so excited. And I don't blame them. Very
few places do you actually get to get right down in it. Insurance
regs, ya know.

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