Treasure Hunting For Fluorescent Minerals

By: David Cowley

Have you ever seen a rock that seems to glow in the dark?? Maybe only when you've been at a museum or science center, but in reality fluorescent minerals can be readily found in many places and make for an amazing and eye-catching hobby.? But for those who have such a collection it's important to understand how to care for and display it properly so that you experience the full effects of such beautiful items.

Not every rock or piece of sediment can actually be classified as a fluorescent mineral; there are only certain elements contained in the rocks that make them so.? Scientifically speaking, the rocks need to have a molecular absorption of a particular photon that triggers the emission of another photon with a longer wavelength, thus giving off what looks like light from the rock itself.? This is a bit technical for many, but rocks that look as if they are glowing or emitting tiny bits of light are probably classified as fluorescent minerals.

While you can find them readily in some places, keeping, storing, and displaying them properly is more of a challenge than many people realize.? Exposing the fluorescent minerals to improper lighting damages the fluorescent elements they contain which in turn then diminishes their "glow."? This problem is especially magnified when you try to photograph your thunder eggs and the flash from the camera cancels out the fluorescence, or it doesn't show up at all in the picture.? Most find that a black background is best, and that it's advisable to use no flash in order to really pick up the details in your collection.

When storing any type of fluorescent minerals it's important to keep them from ambient light sources.? Only an ultraviolet (UV) source can cause that particular glow.? This can be difficult for some collectors who want to proudly display their collection in the living room or someplace else as obvious.? However there are many places where you can purchase a very affordable UV lamp for the home so that you can trigger the glow from your collection.

If you're on the hunt for fluorescent minerals you may have a difficult time finding mines that are open for the pubic to hunt.? Franklin, New Jersey, was once known as the "fluorescent mineral capital of the world" but today the mine itself is closed and is only a museum.? Areas of Texas and Mexico are also great places to find fluorescent mineral but there is some danger in hunting these down in the caves and mines where they can be found.? It's typically best to partner with an organization that coordinates hunts so that you can be sure your safety is cared for.

Other area where fluorescent mineral have been found is Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and the Geode State Park in Henry County, Iowa.

Rock Hound State Park in Deming New Mexico is open to the public for Rock Hounds of all ages.? It is known for its wide variety of mineral specimens due to ancient volcanic activity in the area.? Geodes can be found littering the valley floor.? Fluorescent mineral are also found in the rocky crags of the desert walls.? Watch out for snakes and scorpions when reaching into any rocky outcropping.

Happy Treasure Hunting.

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