AUGUSTA, Maine – One of the finest tourmaline specimens ever found at one of Maine’s premier mine sites will be featured this weekend at the 22nd annual Maine Mineral Symposium, according to organizers.
The unique crystal, representative of Maine’s state gemstone, will be part of a presentation on recent mineral discoveries at Mt. Mica in Paris Hill, according Woodrow Thompson, symposium organizer and Maine Geological Survey physical geologist.
The three-day educational event is held in Augusta and organized by the Maine Geological Survey (MGS), under the Maine Department of Conservation, and a volunteer committee. This year’s symposium will honor one of Maine’s most foremost gem miners, Frank Perham of West Paris, who has been called “a legendary Maine pegmatite miner.”
“The symposium always is a mix of interesting talks, exhibits, vendor displays and field trips,” Thompson said. “And there have been some good things found in the past year or two. There will be some fantastic material on display and to talk about.”
“This is a great opportunity to see Maine minerals and learn more about them,” said Dr. Robert Marvinney, Maine state geologist and MGS director.
The symposium is Friday-Sunday, May 13-May 15 at the Senator Inn, Western Avenue, Augusta, Friday, 3 p.m. until late; Saturday, 8 a.m. until late; Sunday, collecting field trips to two locations to be announced; registration, $20 per person.
The annual symposium is not a commercial rock show, but rather an educational forum, Thompson stressed. Participants enjoy high-quality talks on Maine and international mineralogical experiences, view exhibits by gem and mineral dealers from around New England, and take part in collecting field trips to noted Maine sites, he said.
On Saturday, mine owner and operator Gary Freeman, in conjunction with the Maine State Museum, will discuss the recent discoveries made at Mt. Mica, “the most prolific tourmaline-producing mine in Maine,” Thompson said.
The famous Mt. Mica locality was discovered nearly 200 years ago, yet it continues through Freeman’s efforts “to yield an abundance of superb mineral specimens and gem tourmalines,” Thompson said. The mine owner’s recent finds include multicolored tourmalines, including “a big gemmy crystal perched on quartz crystal,” one of the best examples of Maine tourmaline to be found recently, the geologist said.
Perham, who comes from a noted Maine family of miners and collectors, will be honored on Saturday afternoon with a tribute and retrospective. Pegmatite is a coarse-grained, igneous rock in which such gems as tourmaline are found. As a successful pegmatite miner, Perham has made many special mineral discoveries, Thompson explained. The tribute will focus on Perham’s contributions to the field of mineralogy.
Another talk on Saturday morning will focus on the Mt. Marie Quarries in Paris and feature their history, geology, and the finds made there, Thompson said. Dennis Durgin, who is mining the site, is expected to discuss some of the rare minerals he has found, including unique, sapphire blue-colored tourmaline.
“In the opinion of many people who have seen it, this stuff is as good as blue tourmaline gets,” Thompson said.
Several talks will be on international topics, including Thompson’s own experience visiting mines and mineral collections in Cornwall, England, and a talk on pegmatites in Argentina by Karen Webber from the University of New Orleans. Well-known mineralogical author Van King will talk about his new book, “Nature’s Garden of Crystals,” which focuses on internationally famous mineral collections.
The symposium also will feature its popular silent auction. On Sunday, participants will be able to go on collecting field trips to locations that will be announced at the symposium.
For more information about the 22nd Maine Mineral Symposium, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/minerals/symposium.htm
For more information about the Maine Geological Survey, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/mgs.htm