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Monday, April 18, 2011

Nancy Twinkie sees Green and finds Platinum

After a few prospecting and rock hounding trips it was apparent that Nancy Twinkie was going to become a seasoned prospector and it wasn't just for gold. On the road from Chester Massachusetts to Middlefield you drive by a long stretch of serpentinite along the road where the builders had blasted the road out of the side of a mountain. The serpentine that came off that mountain during the 19th century was used as ship’s ballast by an enterprising ship captain that originally came from Chester.

This is a piece of uncut jade that resembles the serpentine found in Chester, Massachusetts.

In a previous voyage he had taken some of the serpentine to China, and the Chinese jade carvers fell in love with the stuff because it looked just like jade and was easier to car because it was softer. For it while there was a brisk trade in the serpentine, and several shiploads found their way to China where it was carved then exported back to the United States and the rest of the Western world as Soochow jade.

Just about in the center of this exposure of serpentine a small stream came down off the mountain, and although at different times I had stopped alongside this road cut to pick up some samples of serpentine myself, and quickly discovered that it was fine cutting material for making cabochons that were greenish incolor and displayed some interesting patterns.

A platinum nugget of the same color of what we found in our gold pans.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

On one of our rock hounding trips into the Berkshires Nancy Twinkie and me stopped at this small stream to see if it contained any gold. Because serpentine is derived from metamorphosed oceanic crust that in some places is called greenstone there was a pretty good probability that we may find some gold. We didn't, but what we did find were some very small flakes of silvery metal that although we never tested these flakes to see what they really were there is a good possibility that they were platinum. Serpentine is what they call an ultra-mafic rock in which platinum is known to occur; so there is a good possibility that was what we found that day.

Gold associated with belts and greenstone in many places in the world where they produce gold; one of these so called greenstone belts is the Abitibi gold belt in Qu├ębec and Ontario is one of the great gold producing areas on earth. You might say that Nancy Twinkie saw the greenstone, serpentine, and probably found platinum.

2 comments:

  1. John, I had a nugget that looked very much like that photograph-- I found mine in Northern Ontario and kept it as a curiosity for years. Different shape, but same metal, same colour. Amazing ! Thanks for that information!

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  2. Thanks for the information..You have given the explanation of all the kinds of metals that are used for ornaments..
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