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Digital Subscriptions > Rock & Gem Magazine > February 2019 > ENTICING MATERIAL WITH A NOTORIOUS REPUTATION

ENTICING MATERIAL WITH A NOTORIOUS REPUTATION

Mercury-bearing and Companion Silicates of Sycamore Creek
This jasper boulder of prodigious proportions resides in the dry streambed of the West Fork of Sycamore Creek. The tan stripes are made up of ferruginous pigmented limestone. Huge jasper and quartz-agate boulders are also quite common in the washes.
Superb examples of cinnabar from the Sunflower Mine are most often associated with quartz. Additionally, significant quantities of opal are mixed in with the quartz.

MERCURY-BEARING AND COMPANION SILICATES OF SYCAMORE CREEK

To be sure, mercury disturbs many rock enthusiasts, and causes many to be squeamish about working with it. Even the most pleoperfect, chromatic gemstone might not be reason sufficient to grind and polish it into a cabochon.

To complicate matters, rockhounds oThen mistakenly believe that all material from abandoned mercury mines and dumps consists of nasty minerals that are detrimental to one’s health. But, sometimes apprehensions are exaggerated or misplaced altogether.

Indeed, many jaspers and agates from old repositories bear only a superficial resemblance to cinnabar and actually harbor no substantial quantity of mercury. Instead, iron, manganese, and chromium serve as coloring agents. Consequently, these cinnabar companions are resplendently elegant rocks, which are more than suitable for even the most discriminating lapidary to shape and polish.

In this article we will identify and describe the mercury-bearing and associated or companion rocks from the Sunflower Mine region of Arizona.

Like many sections in the Mazatzal Range of the Tonto National Forest, there is visible evidence of ancient volcanic activity and marked sedimentary processes, and as is frequently the case, fascinating rocks and minerals abound in this type of environment.

To put it succinctly, the Sunflower Mining District pullulates with colorful stones, and although there are many wonderful choices for the lapidary arts, red cinnabar is undeniably the main draw—conceivably a bi-product of recent geologically thermal spring activity. A dark gray variety of mercury sulfide, metacinnabar, also is present.

Mercury is traditionally classiThed into three forms: elemental or metallic, inorganic, and organic compounds. Historically, elemental mercury was referred to as quicksilver in industry, dentistry, and mining communities. Because of its amalgam property, it was an invaluable commodity for the extraction of gold as it allowed for cost-eThective recovery— especially fine granules mixed in sand.

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About Rock & Gem Magazine

Beckett Rock & Gem February 2019, Collector Corner : Chasing Thunder Eggs & More, Favourable Fossicking : Exploring Australia's Lava Plains, WULFENITE : A Symphony of Color and Contrast, And More.....