2005 Idaho Heulandite Dig

This year I ventured into the depths of Idaho
to pursue pink heulandite at the Rats Nest Mine, Custer County.  
Meeting John Cornish at the mine, my departure was delayed due to bad weather and I arrived with only a single day left in which he had the trackhoe at his claim.  The evening I got into camp, the weather was cold, rainy and windy.  By the time I left, 5 days later, it felt like we were in a
microwave oven!   Here now are pictures of the 2005 dig-

At the crack of dawn we began what would be the last day of mining with the excavator.  
The result of a week of digging lay along side the trench-
A vigorous morning of mining and recovering pink heulandite specimens.  We worked at
a furious pace and it was difficult for me to find time to take pictures-

A typical mordenite pocket, with some heulandite.  These vugs average about 10 to 15cm across, but can reach over 1 meter-
Here is a giant pocket zone of
weathered mordenite-

A nice find; Rich in-situ zone
with 10 to 15cm pink heulandite pockets.  Pocket zones like these come and go, with up to
several days between finds, even with an excavator.  I was fortunate
to be there on a very good day!
A 20cm heulandite pocket
in the wall.  The pile of white mordenite hairs on the bottom of the vug, which resembles a nest, show why the claim has its name-
Rat's Nest Mine

In the middle of my first day at
the mine, I discovered a group of unusually fine pink heulandite pockets to 15cm.  Also observed
were a series of black holes going into the wall...
With part of the "false wall" carefully removed, a spectacular 30x30x45cm pocket is uncovered!!  John says that it rates among the finest gem heulandite pockets he has ever seen from his mine!

A 30cm-wide (one foot) closeup of this amazing pocket!  Pristine white sprays of mordenite to 6cm and gem amber calcites to 4cm were also present.  It was very exciting to discover, document and collect!

WOW!!!   A 25cm-wide closeup
of gem pink heulandites to 4cm,
white sprays of mordenite and amber calcites! 

Click on pictures for super-sized images


The front base "false wall" 20cm+
cabinet specimen of pink heulandite from the big pocket 
A box of mordenite & heulandite specimens, some of which are from the big pocket

A 17cm cabinet piece of hair-like mordenite with light pink heulandite.  John says that this is one of the first years he has been able to preserve these ultra fragile specimens
Another box of combos, many of which are from the big pocket.  Specimens range from 8 to 20cm+

A large cabinet specimen
with a 7cm heulandite rosette
at the center-
Other specimens all from
a single pocket-

With commercial mining finished for the year, It was time for John to do a whole lot of trimming.   And, after 5 days on the mountain, it was time for me to go home!

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