Volume 53 - Issue 9 - November 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 9,

November 2020

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


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President’s Message

Hello Everyone,

I was a bit nervous about switching to virtual meetings, however October’s Zoom meeting was a success. It was fantastic to see some of you again! Colleen Thomson’s presentation on the Greenlaws mining project in the UK was quite interesting. Fluorite being my favorite, I really enjoyed a peek into what it takes to retrieve some of these specimens. I am looking forward to our next meeting and our virtual show and tell. I will have to pull out the specimen that I have from Greenlaws and maybe a few other of my favorite fluorites. I am curious to see what specimens everyone brings to show and tell. Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding the virtual meetings.

Stay Warm and Safe, Johanna


Important Notice

The Monongahela Rockhounds will hold our November meeting this Saturday, November 7th as once more a ZOOM meeting at 7 pm instead of an in person meeting. Details are included below. This month’s topic will be an extended show-and-tell. The theme could be “what is your favorite mineral, fossil, gemstone, technique and why”. Limit it to a maximum of 5 minutes for each person that wants to talk.


Next Zoom Meeting…

The next meeting will be on November 7, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT via Zoom Video Conference. No presentation. We will host an extended Show-and-Tell.

Show-and-Tell’s "Mineral of the Month" can be Beryl (left from April’s original theme) or member's choice!

If you'd like to participate...

  • Prepare a few photos/videos on your device for "screen sharing"

  • Tutorial videos are available on the Zoom and Zoom Details webpages

  • Or submit photos to the webmaster to compile for collective screen sharing

  • MonongahelaRockhounds@gmail.com

  • Or keep your minerals close by to show live on webcam when ready

  • Understand webcams optimize resolution for streaming, not quality, although we know seeing stones virtually won’t replicate in person identification and observation

  • Limit it to a max of 5 minutes

  • Explain / Answer

  • What is your favorite mineral / fossil / gemstone / technique?

  • Why?

If there’s time and those in attendance would like, we can also hold an Open Forum for December’s Holiday Zoom activity plans or test current game ideas with the Zoom features—ideas from club members are also welcome since Zoom is still new to most of us.

We forgot to select a volunteer for “Article of the Month.” If anyone would like to volunteer articles for future newsletters, please email our editor, Frank (editor@monongahelarockhounds.org). If that email becomes temporarily unavailable through the domain transfer processing, send it to the general club email (MonongahelaRockhounds@gmail.com).​


November 2020 Meeting

• Activities include Show-and-Tell & Open Forum

• "Rock of the Month" is Member's Choice (or Beryl from the April newsletter)

• Zoom Host(s) are Club Officers


Nov 7, 2020, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST


Zoom Video Conference


Meeting Minutes

17 October 2020

by Emmalyn Ilagan


  • Around 20 members attended

  • Brief introduction to zoom with Emmalyn

  • Welcome new members, Linda and Angelo!

  • Member introductions and catch-up

  • Presentation by Colleen Thomson on the Greenlaws Mining Project

  • Now available to watch on the website (towards the end of the password-protected Zoom Details page) for those who missed it!

  • Passcode will be the same as the November Zoom Meeting’s Passcode (see the November Zoom e-mail sent separately from the newsletter)

  • https://monongahelarockhou.wixsite.com/mysite/zoom-details

Club Updates

  • (Impromptu) Show-and-Tell

  • Brad M. did a “show and ask” of his findings

  • Johanna B. showed hemimorphite

  • Bret H. showed various specimens

  • John W. showed faceting rough of various gemstones

  • Tony O. showed an azurite malachite specimen

  • Emmalyn I. showed a labradorite slab

Executive Board Reports

  • Upcoming Schedule

  • Walworth Collection Trip was cancelled

  • 2020 Annual Show is now cancelled

  • Meetings will return to the first Saturday, monthly

  • Holiday Party changing to Holiday Zoom

  • Junior member extras still in discussion

  • Geo-caching minerals for members was suggested as a possible activity (essentially treasure hunts with GPS to be done in your own time or with friends and family)

  • Membership cards arrived for 2019-2020 members

  • Website member options

  • Transferring the domain soon to (www.MonongahelaRockhounds.org) which will officiate the pending website and change any links beginning with (http://monrockhounds.wixsite.com/mysite/)

  • Log-in for online Newsletter Archive, now open for early access!

  • Digital Membership Application yielding some new members

  • WiX App currently provides

  • Chat

  • Social [Forum]

  • Volunteer [Groups]

  • Gallery

  • Posts


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.Our next meeting will be on

Saturday, November 7, 2021

tentatively via Zoom Video Conference

The January meeting will be on the 2nd,

tentatively via Zoom Video Conference.


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


Asbestos, Quebec, Canada No More...

By Bret Howard ​ Asbestos, Quebec, Canada, the home of the famous (mineral specimens) or infamous? (asbestos production) Jeffrey Mine that we mineral collectors are all familiar with as the source of beautiful grossular garnet and vesuvianite specimens, is no more. Asbestos is the location of what was the world’s largest asbestos mine until it ceased operations in 2011. The approximately 6,000 town residents selected the name Val-des-Sources which means valley of springs via a vote from a set of possibilities that included L'Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix and Trois-Lacs. The decision to change the town’s name came about because of the negative connotations associated with “asbestos” and the hope to improve business and tourism in the area.

The mine was in operation from about 1880 to 2011 when it became inactive due to the collapse of the asbestos market once the link was known between asbestos and cancers like asbestos is and mesothelioma. For an idea of the amount of asbestos produced, annual production in Canada in 1970 was about 1,500,000 metric tons, the majority of which was from the Jeffrey Mine. For the same year, world production was 3,500,000 metric tons. Makes you wonder where it ended up! Until then, asbestos was considered an amazing mineral due to its characteristics of fire resistance and reinforcing properties. It was used in hundreds of products such as fire-resistant fabrics, cements, roofing materials, flooring, and furnace insulation. While writing this article, it crossed my mind how often asbestos has “crossed my path”. Some that I have had direct experience with are the asbestos siding shingles on my grandparent’s house, various chemistry lab products and asbestos filled countertops, all of which ultimately required remediation and proper disposal ($$$). Not long after moving to Pittsburgh I was called for possible jury duty. The case was a class action lawsuit involving asbestos. I wasn’t selected because I actually knew what asbestos was! I even had a summer job as a teenager at a plant that used asbestos as a component in their vinyl flooring. Luckily, I was not in that specific building although we were monitored for lung damage!

The name has yet to be officially approved by area government but that is expected to happen by the end of the year. I guess those of us that have Jeffrey Mine specimens will be updating our labels in 2021!

PICTURE CAPTIONS (see pictures in .PDF):

Asbestos specimen from Canada 16 cm long

Grossular and vesuvianite, Jeffrey Mine, Asbestos, Les Sources RCM, Estrie, Québec, Canada (Peach grossular is 6 cm wide)


Petoskey Stone, Petoskey, Michigan

By Frank DeWinter ​ On our recent 5 week trip that Carol and I made through Canada and the USA, we worked in rockhounding at type locations for certain rocks along the way to visiting family members. When I realized one night that we were within 30 minutes of Petoskey Michigan, on lake Michigan, the trip was modified to include that as a side visit.

Petoskey stone is a coral fossil called hexagonaria percarinata. Hexagonaria percarinata consists of tightly packed, six-sided corallites, which are the skeletons of the once-living coral polyps. The center of each polyp was the mouth and contained tentacles that reached out for food. The hexagon shape of each cell and thin lines radiating out from the dark “eye” in the center are distinguishing features unique to this fossil. It is often seen polished and sometimes in jewelry. I had collected fossilized horn coral (Rugosa) in the past on Lake Huron as well as in the Canadian Rockies and made cabachons, but never Petoskey stone.

We did collect about 10 pounds of reasonably good specimens in a matter of a half hour at a local beach in town, where collecting was allowed, but decided not to spend the extra half day to collect at some the better locations. The small beach where we were at had been picked over a lot so there was more horn coral than Petoskey stone. We do though have enough that I can polish or make a few cabochons to see what I think of the stone for future endeavors. We can though say we collected Petoskey stone in Petoskey Michigan.