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September 26, 2009  Standard Mineral,  RT Vanderbilt Company

This field trip was held by MAGMA.  It is the best club on the east coast as far as I am concerned.  Joe and I arrived at the pyrophyllite mine
 where collectors seek both pyrite cubes and fluorite.  The miners are only concerned with the pyrophyllite.  The pyrophyllite is ground down and sold  under the trade
name PYRAX.  PYRAX is then used in ceramics and other industrial products.  

The weather was cool and damp this day as it sprinkled on and off the entire day.  It didn't sprinkle hard enough to soak us through, so in my opinion it was great digging weather.
The parking lot was already full when we arrived for the dig.  Our spirits were high and we were eager to find some nice specimens.
Rick Jacquot head of MAGMA and Lee Fleming greeted those that arrived and collected signatures for sign-in.
Detecters and dollies  were ever present -- two very important tools at this mine.  With a metal detector you can locate large cubes of pyrite just under the surface.  Allthough pyrite
would normally be considered a trash metal to a sophisticated detector, turning a detector on "all metal mode" allows you to detect the pyrite without squelching it out.  The dollies
allow for a much easier time carrying  heavy equipment up and down the rugged terrain of this mine.  It can really come in handy if you fill your bucket with a metalic mineral. 
It became apparent that the majority of the people seemed to be lined up from the top of this ridge to the ridge in the background. This was where the pyrite cubes were being found.
This line of people defined the zone where the pyrite cubes were most present.
Dave H. and Dave L. were digging hard and inspecting the surface for signs of pyrite.
Tim found a big one.  And now he's wondering how to get it out without breaking it.  Pyrite is very brittle and it is very difficult to extract the pyrite from this matrix without breaking it.
Even the vibration of the chisel on the matrix an inch away from the specimen can cause fractures and even break the pyrite specimen  in two. The best way to extract them is to move
out at least 3 or more inches from the specimen and extract the matrix around it.  In this way less vibration and stress is transferred into the specimen.
After several minutes of chiseling Tim finally works the pyrite free.
Austin works on a wall  where shiny well preserved and larger specimens are found.  The price however is that the matrix if much harder here than other places and the chiseling
and pounding are much harder on the hands and wrists.
Austin work payed off as he scores with a find of a nice cluster of pyrite cubes.
After many long minutes of careful chipping he extracts a very nice cube.
.Here is one I located with my metal detector.
Toward the end of the day Dave Hart located a nice spot where many cubes were coming out.  I asked if I could dig next to him and he graciously obliged.  Thanks to Dave I was able
to dig out some smaller but well preserved twinned and single cubes.
Here are some of my finds. Thanks MAGMA for putting on another great fieldtrip.
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