Volume 53 - Issue 7 - September 2020

Updated: May 6, 2021

Monongahela Rockhounds

A Pittsburgh Area Mineral, Fossil, & Lapidary Club


The Monongahela Rockhound News is a Monthly Publication of the

Monongahela Rockhounds,

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Volume 53, Issue 7,

September 2020

Visit us on the Web at: www.monongahelarockhounds.org


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Editor’s Message

Hello Everyone,

Hope everyone is well. I am finally getting out the September newsletter, over a week later than planned. That seems to characterize the last 6 months in society, where little goes as planned.

First for the required information. There will be no September meeting of the Monongahela Rockhounds. So, if you were wondering if it was going to be September 5th or 12th, it well be neither. Due to Covid 19 concerns that many people have, it was decided by board members to cancel the meeting. We will provide information ahead of the October meeting, if that will occur, as well if the alternative date for the Monongahela Rock club sale/show will take place.

There has been a lot of change since we last met in person. All of us have dealt with the present Pandemic, changing social issues, health concerns and isolation differently. I know people who have socially isolated, quite happily for 6 months, with seeing no one in that time. Others, after the first month went back to their pre-Covid life completely except for the occasional mask. We each need to decide what is best for us. What I am comfortable with will never be the same as you. This though brings up the question about what do we want the Monongahela Rock Club to be for us, until “normal” returns this fall or who knows, maybe next fall.

Johanna had suggested in the June Newsletter we could consider a Zoom on-line meeting in place of our in person meeting. There was little response positive or negative. When it was suggested for the September meeting to several people there were a couple of negative responses and no positive. I understand that as an electronic presentation on your computer, with no personal interaction, no auction, no giveaways for the kids and no refreshments (especially Rich’s famous cheesecake), just does not meet what we are used to.

NOW, what do you, our members want? If we continue with no meetings in person or electronic, limited communication etc, until we can meet in person, the club may loose relevance. Most organizations have tried to reinvent themselves, some successfully. This month I have added extra content to the newsletter to see if anyone would like that. If we want more in the newsletters though we need more people submitting articles, contests etc. Remember a successful article may interest only a few people or many. For myself it is more interesting, to read something that triggers a thought, or makes me laugh, than to read the new bestselling novel. Is anyone interested in a Zoom on-line meeting? At our regular Saturday meeting time, or another time? Show your latest creation? Demonstrate something in your workshop? Something not possible at the Munhall building. Tell us about a trip related to our hobby either on Zoom or in writing. Other ideas? Many of our members have joined in the last couple of years and have not had the chance to share. You may have felt you are not the experts that Don or Bret or Tony or Deb are, so you sit quietly. Now is the time to speak up. Please email back to me any ideas we could consider.





Editor’s Note

I am presently trying to find as many of our old newsletters as possible and create .PDF files for a historical base of the club. Possibly putting them up on our new website once it is complete. I think I have everything back as far as January 2006, but nothing older. Do any of you have any of the older newsletters, ideally electronic form but I can work with paper copies as well? Thanks,



September 2020 Meeting

CANCELLED to comply with the state mandates for COVID-19. If all goes well, we look forward to seeing everyone happy and healthy at the October meeting! Take care and stay safe, everyone.


Sep 12, 2020, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT


Munhall Borough Building, 1900 West St, Munhall, PA 15120, USA


Meeting Minutes

6 June 2020

  • There was no meeting due to Covid-19 restrictions on group gatherings.


General Information

Monongahela Rockhounds PO Box 18063 Pittsburgh, PA 15236 www.monongahelarockhounds.orgMission Statement

  • To promote, among its members and the general public, an interest in collection of minerals, fossils, and associated items.

  • To promote their use in lapidary work.

  • To promote the study and classification of minerals, gem stones and other items of such nature.


  • Member: Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Societies, Inc.

  • Member: American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.

Meeting Location Munhall Borough Building 20th Ave. & West Street Munhall, PA 15120


​Club Officers

President Johanna Burnett ​ 1st Vice-President Bret Howard ​ 2nd Vice-President Debbie Braddock ​ Treasurer Tony Orzano ​ Record Secretary Debbie Thompson ​ Silent Auction Debbie Braddock ​ Board of Directors June Epp Donald Laufer Frank DeWinter Webmaster Emmalyn Ilagan webmaster@monongahelarockhounds.orgNewsletter Editor Frank DeWinter editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


We normally meet the first Saturday of every month from September through June at 7:30 pm, in the Munhall Borough Building for a presentation, business meeting and a chance to socialize. There is a major focus on the younger members of our club with portions of the meeting specifically for school aged children.CANCELLED: Our next meeting will NOT be on Saturday, June 6, 2020. The September meeting will be on the 12th (should conditions allow).


Monongahela Rockhound News is the official newsletter of the Monongahela Rockhounds.

Disclaimer & Release: To the best of our knowledge, all articles and information presented in this newsletter are true, accurate and free of copyright infringement. The Monongahela Rockhounds is not responsible for the usage of the information contained in the newsletter. The Monongahela Rockhounds hereby grants other non-profit organizations the right to republish articles in this newsletter for non-commercial usage as long as complete source credit is given, unless noted otherwise.

Deadline: The editor welcomes any and all contributions to the newsletter. Please provide articles and any other submissions for publication at least 2 weeks prior to the upcoming meeting to be considered for inclusion in that month’s issue.

Please e-mail any newsletter articles to the editor's e-mail: editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


Diaspore: Boring Mineral and Exotic Gemstone

By Bret Howard ​ Diaspore is a simple aluminum compound with the chemical formula AlO(OH). It is in the orthorhombic crystal system with the same structure as goethite. Its hardness is 6.5 to 7 with a perfect {010} cleavage and a conchoidal fracture. When pure it is colorless but substitutions of small amounts of Fe3+, Mn3+ and Cr3+ for Al as well as inclusions and defects lead to a variety of colors such as brown, gray, yellow, green, purple and pink. Substitution of Cr3+ results in the desirable lilac to dark purple coloration. It can also exhibit pleochroism. It is dimorphous with boehmite meaning it has the same chemical formula but a different crystal structure. The mineral has been known since the early 1800’s. According to Mindat.org, the type locality is Mramorskii Zavod (Mramorsk Zavod), Kosoi Brod Village, Polevskoy, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Diaspore is quite common and is found in hundreds of localities around the world. It has been found on every continent including Antarctica. By volume, the primary occurrence of diaspore is as a component of bauxite therefore its primary industrial use is in aluminum production. Diaspore occurs at higher concentrations in bauxite deposits that have been metamorphosed. These altered bauxites are referred to as diasporites due to their diaspore content. It is also often associated with emery deposits which are a mixture of primarily corundum and magnetite. It is found in some clay deposits. However, the diaspore generally occurs in these deposits as small to microscopic crystals which are of no interest to mineral collectors. Large, well-formed crystals of diaspore are relatively rare. They are usually formed by the hydrothermal alteration of a bauxite deposit. Perusing the 200+ diaspore photos on Mindat.org quickly shows that showy, collector specimens are found at only a few locations worldwide. These include the mines in the Muğla Province, Turkey, the Chester Emery Mines, Chester, Hampden Co., Massachusetts, and the recent find at Möng Hsu, Loilen District, Shan State, Myanmar. Very nice miniature to micro specimens are found at many other locations around the world. Diaspore crystals over 3 cm long with some being gem quality have been found in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Diaspore was not often seen as an attractive collector mineral or gemstone until the relatively recent finds in the Muğla Province of Turkey which is part of the Menderes Massif in western and southwestern Turkey. This region was subjected to medium- and high-grade metamorphism. The area contains many diasporite and emery deposits. Some of these deposits were mined as ore for aluminum production. In the late 1970s, one deposit was found that contained hydrothermally mineralized fracture zones in the metabauxite ore body and adjacent marble. Within these zones, diaspore crystals were formed. This exceptional diaspore occurrence is at Ilbir Mountain. Mining there has yielded by far the world’s best diaspore mineral specimens (at least so far). These have been coming out since the 1980s. The crystal colors range from tan through green and pink depending on the light source (an alexandrite-like color change). Many of these crystals are V-twins and some very large specimens have been recovered – up to several kilograms. Unfortunately, the deposit is primarily being mined for gem rough so preserving specimens is not a high priority. Very recently, diaspore was found in Goshta, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. This material is being mined as gemstone rough and has a pronounced purple-pink color similar to rhodolite garnet (see figure). It is also strongly pleochroic showing pink in one direction and yellow in the perpendicular direction. Very little information is available about this occurrence so far. ​ With the find of a significant quantity of gem quality diaspore in Turkey the late 70s and, now, some production of gem rough from Afghanistan, there is a sufficient amount of material available to allow diaspore to move from a rare collector gem to the main stream gem market. Diaspore’s reasonable hardness of 6.5 to 7, good refractive index of 1.70 – 1.75 (similar to garnet), attractive colors, and color change characteristics have made it a desirable gem. It is, however, a challenge to facet due to its perfect cleavage plane. The mine owners of the Turkish source decided that the name “diaspore” was not a good marketing name for this gem so in the mid-2000s they coined the name “Zultanite®” for their marketing efforts. More recently, the partners in the mining and marketing of the gemstone dissolved their business association so the current mine owner created a new marketing name, “CsariteTM”. Enough faceted stones have been produced since mining and marketing of diaspore began that it is readily available in the gemstone marketplace.


https://www.mindat.org/min-1285.html (Diaspore) Hatipoglu, Murat and Chamberlain, Steven C. “A Gem Diaspore Occurrence near Pinarcik, Mugla, Turkey”, Rocks & Minerals, 2011, 86: 3, 242-249. Wendell E. Wilson & Thomas P. Moore (2020) “The Diaspore Mines near Pinarcik in the Ilbir Mountains, Mugla Province, Turkey”, Mineralogical Record, 2020, Vol. 51, 541-554. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/short-history-diaspore-trade-names-zultanite-csarite/


(Please Download the September 2020 Newsletter to Read:)

Reprinted Articles

"Grape" Amethyst var. Chalcedony

By Colleen Thomson and Joel Ivy [ Reprint arranged courtesy Johanna Burnett ]

Dinos in PA?

By Marian Atkins [ Reprinted from our own "Monongahela Rockhound News" Vol.39, Issue #5 - May 2006 ]

Petrified Wood Take Your Pick of Parks for Specimens in their Natural Settings

By Linda Kohn [ Reprinted with permission from the August 2020, “The Dopstick”, THE NEWSLETTER OF THE GEM, LAPIDARY, AND MINERAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON, DC, VOL LXX, ISSUE 8 ]


You Know You’re a Rockhound When...

  • You go to a romantic resort with your wife, and the first thing you do upon entering the hotel is open the phone book's yellow pages to rock shops.

  • You justify your mineral expenditures to your spouse as a sound investment for "our" future.

  • You have the greatest spouse in the world, but after ten years they say, "If you bring one more rock home, you both go."

  • The rockpile in your garage is over your head.

  • You call ahead to discover whose rates are lower for small, heavy boxes: UPS or the Postal Service. (UPS is generally cheaper for 4lb and up. :-)

  • The bookshelves in your home hold more rocks than books; and the books that are there are about rocks. And, you use books as doorstops.

  • The first thing you pack for your vacation is a chisel and a hammer.

  • When friends say they're going to Tucson, you assume it'll be in February.