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Messages - darttrev68

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Fossicking Locations / Re: Places to find radioactive rocks?
« on: October 06, 2019, 02:29:07 PM »
An update on some of the South Australian locations.

Davidite is found at Radium Hill and other locations throughout the Olary District. On Plumbago Station there are two locations where crystals of Davidite can be found - Billeroo and Mount Victoria. Also on Plumbago Station is Absite (Thorian Brannerite) at Crocker Well and Samarskite can be found near Mount Victoria.

Radium Hill is no longer able to be visited, only members of the Radium Hill Historical Society have permission and this is restricted. Plumbago Station can be visited via special arrangement with the Pastoral Company who own it.

The other location for uranium minerals is Arkaroola - Mount Gee. Torbernite is found at the Number 6 Workings. Fossicking is not allowed on Arkaroola any more, however if the samples are for scientific research there may be a chance to collect a few small pieces. Access to the workings is via a 6km hike in from Echo Camp.

Tips and Gadgets / Re: cleaning rocks
« on: February 25, 2019, 12:23:54 AM »
Hi Malachi, the chemical you need is Sodium dithionite. It will remove the iron staining and is not acidic. It also works in cold water and you will see results within an hour. Getting your hands on it is another issue. Some chemical companies may sell it to you, while others require a purchase permit. You could try your local High School science lab or contact the geology dept of one of the Universities.

General Discussion / Re: Dangerous minerals
« on: February 24, 2019, 11:00:54 PM »
I've got a few of those in my collection too. Hot rocks such as Davidite, Torbernite and Thorian Brannerite. Then there are mercury and arsenic minerals. I've got crocidolite asbestos as well as actinolite and tremolite. But being from Broken Hill, the huge amount of lead I've got includes two shelves of cerussite, lots of galena, big pyromorphite samples and a couple of native lead samples. As I grew up in Broken Hill, I've already got lead in the blood... the "toxic" samples never worry me as they are all looked after appropriately and care is taken when they are handled.

Ask a "Silly" Question / Re: Oxenford jasper
« on: April 11, 2018, 09:59:48 PM »
Hi Jerry. The locals take no notice of the small fence around the big red chair. We all sit on it and think about being kids again. Unfortunately, common sense and taking responsibility for your own actions have gone out the window. Too many sooks thinking they can sue someone for their own inadequacies have shut far too many places down.

General Discussion / Re: First specimen
« on: March 12, 2018, 09:29:45 PM »
My first specimen was given to me buy my father. He gave me a few different samples from the North Mine, where he worked. The best piece in this small collection was a rhodonite and 40 years later I still have it.

Tips, Gadgets & Brag Board. / Re: Rocks from Newman, WA. First Post
« on: November 25, 2017, 10:39:29 AM »
Hydrochloric is good for removing calcite and calcrete from samples. If there are other carbonates present it will also eat those. Diluted hydrochloric can be used to clean copper carbonates such as malachite and azurite, however it is only a very quick dip, fizz, then under running water. Can be bought at the hardware store in the pool chemical section. 32% concentration is the strongest. Warning - releases chlorine gas, so use in a ventilated area.
Sulfuric acid does much the same as hydrochloric, however it will leave soluble sulfate residues that are easier to remove than some residual chlorides from the hydrochloric. Diluted sulfuric is good for cleaning copper and other native metals.
Oxalic acid is used for cleaning iron oxide coatings off the samples. It must be kept under water or iron/calcium oxalate crystallises, which is next to impossible to remove. Care needs to be taken as it is poisonous. As it reacts with iron, use plastic containers and utensils. Oxalic is slow to act when cold, but will speed up the reaction if heated to around 80 degrees. Porcelain slow cookers are a good way to use the oxalic acid. Again this must be done in a ventilated area.

Gemstone Discussions / Re: Beenak specimen id???
« on: October 07, 2017, 03:49:03 PM »
The weight is the key. Very heavy - it could be cassiterite. Medium weight - probably ironstone: goethite, hematite. Relatively light - schorl tourmaline. The lustre and striated faces leads me towards tourmaline. Depends on what the geology is like around Beenak, any sign of pegmatites or granites?

General Discussion / Re: radioactive minerals
« on: August 06, 2017, 09:47:02 PM »
If you are fossicking and you find radioactive minerals, yes you can keep them. The law in NSW is about mining uranium, which is not allowed. You are allowed to explore for uranium deposits, but not mine them - go figure NSW govt.

Anyway, as plutonium said, there are very few places in NSW to find radioactive minerals. Plenty of locations over the border in SA and up north.

Gem of the Month / Re: Sunstone
« on: August 06, 2017, 09:33:22 PM »
I went looking for anything around the Kong Bore area. We walked up the creek towards the valley and followed the directions in the 1986 book. Couldn't see any sign of sunstone in the 3km round trip we had. We had other directions given to us by Sonny Mason's widow and she said it was not easy to locate. We knew we had the right creek as there was a black polypipe at the entrance. In the end we probably walked past the sunstone spot without realising it.

As far as the rainbow lattice sunstone location goes, it is not at Kong Bore. Darren's lease is further west, closer to Gemtree. I was shown the location and it is off the road leading into the garnet spots. This is the location found by Sonny Mason (and Darren was with him the day he found it) who pegged the original lease. Darren apparently tried to take over the lease once Sonny died and now he is claiming that it has gone through. When I spoke with Steve on Mount Riddock, he had not heard from the NT mines dept to confirm the lease is active. He personally doesn't want it and has objected as a land holder. That was a month ago.

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 18, 2017, 09:45:40 PM »
Added some photos to the gallery including these Mud Tank Zircons

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 17, 2017, 08:45:18 AM »
Day 10 - Our second day at Mud Tank and our last day of the fossicking trip. We headed from Gemtree to the zircon field, continued to dig out our hole and process the wash. The morning sun showed up the zircons really well and we managed to continue to find a number of small crystals. 

The area where our hole was located - at the western end of "The Flats", closer to "Specimen Hill" - is where nicely formed crystals are known to exist. As a result, a number of the samples found had natural faces on them. At one point I removed a 3 cm crystal straight out of the wall of the hole, then a second 3 cm crystal fell out while I was digging. This was really good as it meant that both myself and my fossicking partner had a good one to take home.

We washed another 12 buckets of oversize and as the sun passed 3 o'clock the angle made it harder to pick the zircons out of the wash. We also noticed that our wash water was getting too muddy to properly clean the zircons and as a result we probably missed some of the smaller pieces when picking through the sieves. This is a lesson to be learnt when fossicking at Mud Tank, replace the wash water regularly, otherwise the zircons are too easily missed.

The good thing about staying at Gemtree - apart from the showers - is that there is water available for washing. Remember to bring the following if you ever decide to go to Mud Tank - 15L buckets x 6, washing tubs x 2, white topped table (or a sheet of flat iron), 20L water drums x 3, sieves - for both screening and washing.

The soil is hard clay and needs a good pick and shovel to get to the zircon layer. After that a small sharp pick and a scoop to fill the buckets with dirt is needed. Claw tools are also handy when digging.

The last tool needed is a magnet. This is used to identify the magnetite from the zircon, as when they are both covered in mud they are easily confused. Both are distinctly heavier than the quartz, but the zircon is not affected by the magnet.

As the sun headed down, we washed our last bucket of oversize and then went back to camp. The final pack up was done in readiness for our departure back to home in the morning... and so ends the fossicking trip to the Harts Ranges.

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 16, 2017, 09:32:57 PM »
Day 9 - Headed over the zircon field at Mud Tank for some digging. We were given the OK from a fellow camper at Gemtree to use their sorting table (a piece of white painted steel on a 44 gallon drum) and wash buckets, so we set it up and went digging. The whole process involves digging through to the layer where the zircons are found then dry sieving to remove the fines. The next process is to wash the mud off the oversize and turn it out on the white sheet. The zircons have a distinctive glint as the sun passes through and are easily picked from the rest of the rock.

We washed several buckets of oversize and found on average five small zircons in each sieve. Among the zircons were some well formed crystals and waterworn rounded zircons with clarity.

We moved around a cubic metre of dirt from the hole for the day and washed 12 buckets of oversize to get about half a kg of zircons. Among the the samples was an 80 carat stone with a large proportion of cuttable material. There were several good sized crystals and a number of small rounded zircons that were cutters.

Back at Gemtree, a good nights sleep was in order ready for another day's digging...

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 16, 2017, 08:23:24 PM »
Tracks are a bit rough past the Spotted Tiger campsite going into Mount Palmer. Entia Valley was good. The tracks were sandy in places but easy to follow. Some parts on the sections into the epidote and into Shaws were overgrown with high grass, but the wheel tracks were still able to be be seen. Didn't get down to the Spriggs's Bore area, so can't comment. The main road - Plenty Highway - has been upgraded and is really good near the Mount Riddock homestead. The section from there to the Harts Range Police Station is getting ready for sealing as well and could be done before you get there Gemster.

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 15, 2017, 11:31:00 AM »
Day 8 - Woke up to yet another magnificent sunrise, this time over the Mulga trees at Gemtree Caravan Park.

Headed out to Castle Rock - a distinctive small rocky hill, around 17 km east from Gemtree. The garnet diggings are found by following the track another 1 km to the southwest of Castle Rock and a second set of diggings occurs another 600 metres further on.

The garnets are found shedding out of a schist and by sieving the topsoil, some nice dodecahedrons can be found. We chose a likely spot and dug. Soon small dodecs rolled out and a number of nice crystals were collected. The largest, found by my fossicking colleague was the size of a golf ball.

This was my first chance to try out the "dartomatic" shaker table and it worked a treat.

After lunch we had acquired enough garnet samples, so we headed back towards Gemtree. We turned into Mud Tank and inspected the Zircon Field. After discussions with the resident fossickers, we decided that we would reserve a hole and try our luck tomorrow. As for the rest of our afternoon, we searched around the base of Specimen Hill for sharp magnetite crystals. Many of these are a result of cleavage of larger samples, but a lot are individual crystals. Some very nice, sharp crystals were found by following a black magnetite outcrop on the southern flank of the hill. In association with the magnetite is apatite. At Mud Tank, the apatite is yellow / green and forms rounded masses, some with pseudo-hexagonal shape. Several large barrels of apatite were found among the magnetite horizon.

We headed back over to an area called "the flats" where several zircon pits were being worked. We found an abandoned hole, placed a "reserved" bucket inside it and headed back to Gemtree. After collecting some firewood we settled into camp for the night, with discussions about "how to" fossicking techniques in readiness for the hunt tomorrow...

Trip Talk / Re: Heading to the Harts Ranges
« on: July 15, 2017, 11:02:49 AM »
Without offending anyone, but your idea Kim is SO WRONG... As I went past the Spotted Tiger campsite, I noticed how un-maintained it was. This is in the control of the local Atitjere community and it is not being looked after. The idea to set it up was good, but fossickers are not a priority for the community nor the NT Government.

It would be a bad idea to give it over the Atitjere community and I have seen elsewhere, when control is given over, far too many great fossicking locations get locked up and access is denied. Once it is governed by the local aboriginal tribes, areas become men only or women only and some become strictly off limits. There is already a land rights claim underway for the whole Harts Range. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the fossicking areas will not be closed.

The government would be better to negotiate with the landholders for access to particular areas and set rules - as was applied by the fossicking permit - that all fossickers must follow. This allows the fossickers back in and the landholders know what will be expected when they visit. The permit does not have to be imposed, but a registration that you are in the area should be.

Bush camping should still be allowed and if the government want to help (which they don't), they need to maintain some of the access roads - even if it is a dozer run over the tracks every so often to keep them passable.

The other problem is that many of the access tracks are not gazetted roads, but private station tracks. This means that a breakdown of a vehicle and the cost of retrieval and fixing the ensuing road issues, falls on the landowner. This is one of the reasons Mount Riddock wants to close off Old Station Well. Unless the government does something about this, then many more areas will become off limits.

The NT government's priorities do not include fossickers. They have closed their office in Alice Springs and even though there are government signposts for fossicking areas, these are out of date and not being fixed anytime soon. 

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