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October 9, 2010 R.T. Vanderbilt Co., Inc.  This fieldtrip headed up by MAGMA was on a beautiful sunny
Saturday in Glendon, NC.  Pyrophillite is what the miners want but it's what's in the pyrophillite that we wanted -- Pyrite.  
owners of the mine recently blasted to loosen up more material for processing.  
  It had been a long time since this had been
done prior to a visit by a club so I was fortunate and privileged to be here today.
120 people is the maximum allowed in the mine for a club dig for safety reasons.  These slots are filled completely usually within
one day of the initial post for this dig.  This demonstrates the popularity of this location and the appeal for the beautiful golden
cubes found here.
It is quickly obvious where the pile of newly blasted material was.  Everyone had coalesced on a large pile of broken pyrophillite.
This was the matrix in which the pyrite cubes are found.  The sound of clinging hammers and chisels echoing across the open
mine had an oddly soothing effect on me. 
Here I'm holding a very nice multiply twinned pyrite specimen that was found by Laurie Adams (in the background).
This is one of the exposed walls at the mine with cubes of pyrite poking through the layers of pyrophillite.
The best way to minimize damaging the cubes is to split the layers of the pyrophillite matrix with a chisel.  In this way the layers
will lift up and away from the pyrite as opposed to damaging the delicate corners and edges of the cubes.  It is nearly impossible
to find a large cube without any damage as many of them have inherent damage from the blasting or weathering because of their
large surface areas.  But, smaller perfect cubes of pyrite can be found quite easily.
Metal detectors can be used to find big cubes as they will pick up the iron present inside a larger mass of pyrite.
Lizzie and Laurie inspect the surface for signs of pyrite.
Fluorite is the other mineral that collectors look for here in the quartz veins that cut through the mine.  The quartz needs to be
broken apart to search for vugs that contain the fluorite.  This specimen found by Bob Crocker contained several .5 cm cubes
of fluorite growing on quartz crystals.
The dark purple outline around the more translucent fluorite interior gives these cubes a very aesthetic touch.
There was a darker greenish matrix that contained more pristine pyrite cubes. When this was
discovered Joe and I searched the blast pile for more of this type of matrix to break apart.
Joe and I found more of this material along with the better quality pyrite cubes.  The matrix was distinctly more
solid and much harder to break apart.  But I believe its tough characteristic helped preserve the cubes better.
Thanks to MAGMA and the owners of the mine and the  R.T. Vanderbilt Company
many people had a great time on a beautiful day. 
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