Friday, November 5, 2010

Mineral Symposium Coming To Tech

By John Larson

SOCORRO - The 13th Annual Mineral Symposium will be held in Socorro the weekend of November 13-14 at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.
Geophysics scientist and Director of the Mineral Museum and, Virgil Lueth, said the purpose of the symposium is to promote an interest in mineralogy among scientists as well as amateurs.
“The symposium gives everyone a chance to share their overall knowledge of minerals, and their latest discovers,” Lueth said.
This year’s symposium will consist of the presentation of formal papers in 30-minute time blocks. Papers will focus on mineral occurrences from New Mexico and adjacent states, as well as Mexico.
“Besides the presentations, there is an opportunity for casual discussions between attendees,” the said. “Modern day amateur rock hunters can get a wealth of information and inspiration over the two days.
“One of the highlights will be a silent auction on Sunday afternoon from one to three p.m., which is open to the public. It’s sponsored by the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club and benefits the Mineral Museum.” Lueth said.
An informal pre-symposium social and tailgating session will be held at local motels beginning on Friday and will last through the weekend.
“The night before the symposium some of the people from out of town staying in the hotels will be offering samples for sale,” Lueth said.
He said 280 – from as far away as Canada and New York - have registered for the symposium.
“There is large contingent coming from Colorado and Arizona,” Lueth said.
Lueth is the current President of the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals, and its Collections Commission Chairman.
He said he believes the New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum has the most extensive collection of any education institution in the United States, with specimens dating back to the 1880s.
“We’re adding to the collections constantly. We currently display 3,000 specimens, but have 17,000 in the entire collection,” Lueth said. “We regularly loan specimens to researchers around the world.”
The Museum also conducts workshops and tours to area schools.
“Classes come here often, and we try to keep the exhibits broad, for students’ varying interests. For school kids, the UV light minerals display is one of the most memorable. I’ve heard that some kids remember it for years,” he said.
As for locally found minerals, the Museum has a large piece of Trinitite from White Sands Missile Range, and Smithsonite from Magdalena.
Lueth said out of the 15,000 people who visit the Museum each year, there is no single exhibit that can be described as the most popular.
“There are people who love the aesthetic beauty of the minerals, and others who are attracted to the rarest,” he said.
Lueth will also be part of the Festival of the Cranes schedule, presenting a slide show of New Mexico’s collecting sites at the Museum’s Open House Friday, Nov. 19 from 5-7 p.m.

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