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February 13, 2010  It was a very peaceful day this frosty Saturday morning.  There was only the sound of the snow whistling and grunting
beneath my feet as I climbed the hill to my favorite spot.  I was eager to begin the search for fissures containing quartz crystals.  It had only
snowed about two inches last night so I knew the snow wasn't going to be a problem. A few shovels and I'd be back in business.  My friend
and rockhound Bob Crocker showed me this place back when I first got serious with this hobby.   I am indebted to him because of the places he
has taken me, not to mention how my collection has grown as a result.  So I dedicate this trip report to Bob Crocker.  Thanks Bob.  
This spot produces tessin habit quartz crystals, sometimes with rutile, schorl or hematite inclusions.  I begin by using my mattock to pull large chunks of
earth away until I reveal quartz or I hear a loud crunch as the mattock finds it way into a fissure.  Obviously I prefer the former case when finding the fissures,
but if I were to be too cautious I might spend hours carefully pecking away at the dirt only to remove a few inches of dirt and then only to find myself at
the days end without a specimen to show for it.  The fissures in this area tend to be around one foot or less in length and only about one to two inches thick.
Fissures larger than that are very rare, and when I do find those I am very happy to say the least.  Once I have located a fissure I will switch to smaller
tools to prevent damage to potential specimens.  As expected my spot was covered with snow (above).  
Only a few minutes and I had cleaned the pit of snow and leaves and was ready to begin my search.  Both of my favorite tools for dirt digging
are in the photo (above).  The mattock finds its way to the fissures quickly and the smaller shovel is used to maticulously extract the goodies.
Since the shovel is metal I am always careful to dig at least a couple inches beyond the edge of the fissure walls such as not to damage any of
the specimens.  
Here is a small section of a fissure running left to right in the above photo.  You can just see the edge of a small goethite pseudomorph after siderite
poking out of the fissure in the center.
This is what they look like after some cleaning.
Here a small quartz crystal was attached to both sides of this vertical fissure.  There was no termination on this one because of the way it grew.
Many of these fissures have roots growing thrrough them.  The fissures are paths of least resistence for roots growth and so it is common to find
them filled with roots -- as can be seen in the photo above.
Here's one of the quartz specimens found in a fissure found later in the day.  Unfortunately, so many of these quartz specimens are damaged
from the mechanical weathering of frost thaw action that many of them fall apart after extracting them from the clay.  And this one did just that.  (above)
Finally, a whole crystal that didn't fall apart.  The funny thing about this one is that I didn't manually extract it from a fissure.  It was laying in the
pile of tailings in the bottom of the pit.  I was just about to scoop it out of the pit before seeing it on the tip of my shovel.  It apparantly fell out of a
fissure at some point.  Although I am pretty meticulous when I dig I am always reminded when this sort of thing happens that it's unreasonable to
think I can possibly catch everything.
Well it was getting late and I was weary with back muscles screaming, and daylight slipping away.  I was a bit discouraged from digging for four
hours with only one quartz crystal to show for it.  So I took a small rest and decided to take just a few more swings with my mattock to the pit walls.
Pulling away the earth revealed this black shape in the clay.  My heart jumped as I immediately recognized it as a crystal face.  Crystals appear black
when they are embedded in the ground because they capture the ambient light and trap it inside.
This was the crystal after extraction.  Now, since the clay has been removed, light can pass through it revealing it as rock crystal, the clear
variety of quartz.
Just before the fissure pinched out it had one last gift to offer.  Words cannot express how it feels to find these things.  But I can
confidently say that it makes the hours of digging and tossing dirt all worth while.
All of the crystals that came from this pocket had a layer of iron oxide on them.  But after a bit of time in acid they cleaned up nicely.
The surfaces of the crystal where the layer of iron oxide was thickest were frosted or etched. This was the crystal in my hand on the
left side of the previous photo.
This was the crystal I am holding on the right side of the previous photo.  This is the opposite side of the crystal
showing what appears to be a contact area that was healed.
This was the first piece that came out of the fissure.  It was a tabular crystal with a nice undamaged termination.
This is the opposite side of the previous photo showing an area of contact.
After close observation of these contact areas it suddenly occured to me they might be contact areas between two crystals.
I realized that the size and shape of contact area on the tabular crystal was very similar to the contact area on the largest crystal
I pulled from the fissure.
A perfect fit.  Now, you might think this should have been an obvious discovery at the moment of extraction, however, these
crystals were separated by inches of clay.  There must have been considerable ground movement after their formation so that
they all lay separate in the fissure bottom.
Well, why stop there?  I began to look at all the other pieces that came out of the fissure.  Sure enough two more pieces fit perfectly together.
And then those pieces fit on the two largers ones making this a four piece crystal puzzle.
The family once again reunited after perhaps 430 to 356 million years ago when subsequent land mass collisions with North America's east coast
were developing the Appalachian mountains during the Acadian and Alleghenian Orogeny.
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