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Betts Manganese Mine, Plainfield, MA, CVMC Field Trip July, 26, 2014

 

The Betts Manganese Mine in Plainfield, MA was host to the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club (CVMC) field trip on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The mineral collecting area, having been expanded this year to include the densely wooded areas of the previously closed south mine dumps, now covers over 5 acres of tailings piles. The blue skies, bright sun,and temps in the lower 80s made for a perfect day to be digging for rocks in the shade at the Betts Mine.

The unique variety of Betts Mine manganese carbonates, silicates, oxides, and sulfides provided many rock hounds the opportunity to collect minerals they had never found before. Of the 23 CVMC members participating, most spent the entire time in the south tailings area. After a quick tour of the collecting areas, members immediately started turning up rhodonite, rhodochrosite, spessartine garnets, tephroite, kutnahorite, pyrite (crystals as large as 2 cm), chalcopyrite, and other associated minerals.

One of the members dug in and methodically dug upmore than a dozen deep pink rhodonite rocks, some larger than bricks. Rhodonite is the mineral for which the Betts Mine is famous. Designated the Massachusetts state gemstone in 1979, the rhodonite from the Betts Mine can still be collected inquantity and quality found nowhere else in New England. Some of the rhodonite found on the fieldtrip is mottled with a particularly nice black manganese oxide mix; a very desirable quality for highly-sought-after gem rhodonite.

The members of CVMC are grateful to the property owners, Earthdance, and the staff for the opportunity to collect minerals at this legendary locality. We are advised that the Betts Mine is accessible only by prior arrangement by sending an email request to: Earthdanceminerals@gmail.com . Walk-ins are no longer accepted and will be turned away! Although the collecting fees have increased (fees are being donated to Earthdance), the added acreage has effectively doubled the collecting area; revitalizing the prospects of finding excellent specimens and hard-to-find semi-precious gem material. The heavily wooded collecting areas make the Betts Mine among the most pleasant shaded localities in New England for an outstanding summer mineral collecting experience.

Trip Leader: Rick Cernak

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