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Collecting crystals and minerals at road-cuts
Diopside in Shortwave Ultra-violet light
Why a one hour trip takes four hours?
If you are a rock hound you will understand this heading.I am often driving along somewhere and notice a road-cut and just have to stop and check it out.What's a road-cut you ask?You know those cliff faces you see along the highway where the rock was blasted away to make way for the road.They had to "cut"through the mountain or hill to make the highway.Well that is a road-cut.Road-cuts can be a great place to find minerals and crystals.I will give you three stories about my collecting at road-cuts.
On my way to the Gilsum NH rock swap I had to travel through Keene NH on Rt9.I saw that Rt9 had some recent road construction completed.I came to the top of a hill and saw that the road-cut had been widened.Fresh new rocks exposed WOW! I need to check this out.I pulled the car over and started looking for signs of crystals and mineral specimens.I noticed some small dendrites and small quartz crystals right away.This inspired me to search some more.I came upon an area with some weathering and this was a vein which cut right up through the whole road-cut top to bottom.I noticed some small quartz crystals loose on the ground.They had weathered out of the rock face.So I started digging in the loose weathered rock.I was soon rewarded with small double terminated quart crystals.I collected about ten nice pieces in the loose weathered rock.I went back there several times before the area was depleted.
During the summer I was going on a Sunday drive.Traveling on a highway about 15 miles from my home.To my surprise the road had been widened and the road-cut was was being made wider also.The construction was still in progress and rock was being blasted.There were piles of rock from the blasting and rocks lined the whole side of the road for about 1/4 of a mile.I pulled over and started hunting for crystals.I found some quartz crystals,pyrite masses and some aragonite crystals that day.I knew I would be back.The next time I had my portable UV lamp with me.I started to search for fluorescent minerals in the road-cut.Well what I found knocked my socks off!The brightest sky blue diopside I had ever seen!I will never forget that day.
While driving through the great state of Vermont I came to a large road-cut.I had to stop and check this out.This road-cut turned out to be a favorite stop for me.There are some great garnet crystals in the rocks here.Whenever I am going through that part of Vermont I stop to find a few of those nice garnet crystals.The crystals are not gem quality but they do have good form and show nice crystal faces.
So as you can see the possibilities are there waiting to be discovered.And if you take the time to do some exploring you may be surprised by what you find.
Check out that road-cut down the road,you may be surprised what you will find.
Norbergite,diopside and graphite mineral specimen
Tools for the road
If you are going to collect at roadcuts you may want to keep some basic tools in the car.I carry a rock hammer,chisel and gloves.On long trips I add a bucket extra rock hammer,small sledge hammer and some chisels as well as paper to wrap specimens in.Special note,when I say rock hammer,I personally use a brick hammer.The head is tempered and the chisel shaped cutting edge works better then the point on a geology hammer.