Betts Manganese Mine Trip - August 17, 2019

The group met up at the Old Creamery in Cummington. While we were waiting for later arrivals, everyone introduced themselves. Paul and Melenie showed us some samples of rocks they found in Nevada and Utah, including some variscite and colorful agates.

We caravanned to the Betts Mine on the Earthdance property in Plainfield. Rick Cernak, manager of the property, met us there and gave us a tour of the mine area and told some of the history.

Nice samples of “pinks” were found by several in the group. The pink in the samples can be rhodonite, a manganese silicate, or rhodochrosite, a manganese carbonate, or some of each. Rick explained that you needed to distinguish them by texture rather than by color. One reason to differentiate between them: rhodochrosite samples shouldn’t be cleaned with Iron Out as it will destroy them.

A lot of the rocks at Betts contain garnet and some interesting pieces were found, crystals from miniscule size to a quarter inch or so in diameter. Pyrite and pyrrotite finds were common. (Pyrrotite is the mineral that you don’t want in your concrete, as some homeowners recently found out.) Kara found an intact milk bottle buried where she was digging. She turned it over to Rick to include in the mine artifacts collection.

Barbara and Rick, with help from Diane, Peter, and Linda, demolished a boulder that had sulfur minerals crusted through it, blebs of pyrite, chalcopyrite, pyrrotite, and marcasite. They shared out nice specimens from the boulder among the group and are bringing the rest to the next CVMC meeting.

Most of the group stayed until the 4:00 close of the day, sweaty, dirty, mostly happy, packed up their gear, and drove off with visions of ice cream and beer.

- Submitted by Linda Shaughnessy and photos