Sunday, November 3, 2013

Glowing Geology!

If you haven't made a trip out to the Franklin Mineral Museum to view it's amazing rock collections, you're missing out. The museum houses thousands of rock and mineral samples from all over the world. The local room has 4,000 samples just from the Franklin area. The area's rich zinc deposits have produced over 360 different mineral species. The museum also has a fossil collection, Native American artifacts, a Mine replica and more.

A highlight for me is the Florescent Room. Franklin is known as "the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World," and is an excellent place to explore these amazing geologic wonders. Fluorescent minerals are able to absorb a small amount of light of specific wavelengths (such as UV) and then release it immediately as another wavelength. This temporary change in the wavelength causes a change in color, which we can see under the right conditions. It's great science, and everyone love to see the amazing glowing colors. Beautiful!

Twice a year, the museum allows hobbyists to participate in a night dig on the Buckwheat Dump, a 3.5 acre mine dump that continues to yield exciting finds. With sturdy boots, goggles, a UV light and rock pick, my daughters and I set out to find our own fluorescent samples. I highly recommend the experience! It was a real adventure.

In addition to the excitement of climbing over the piles of rocks hunting for samples, at night, every time you shine your light at the piles they glow with purples, greens, yellows, oranges and reds! How cool is that? It's a magical experience. Better yet, you can take the fun home, because the museum allows you to keep your samples, for a small fee.

We came home with a few pounds of minerals for our collection. Now we need to get them all identified, which will be a fun upcoming project. I can't wait for my copy of Collecting Flourescent Minerals to arrive! Once we've got them all sorted, I'll be sure to let you know what we discovered!

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