Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A "New Old" Baltimore County Locality

Call it "new" because there's little evidence that many people know about it. Call it "old" because my friend Harold Levey collected kyanite and staurolite here sixty years ago. The locality is on a hillside with extensive outcrops along the south bank of the Gunpowder River immediately east of the Paper Mill Road Bridge(s).

I can't think of another locality where garnets (var. almandine) are more prevalent than in the biotite muscovite plaglioclase-quartz schist that comprises these outcrops. Closer to industrial than gem quality and often quite weathered, garnets up to about an inch in diameter are everywhere.

Quartz that frequently intrudes into the schist, is what Harold recalls as the most likely matrix for kyanite. Typically bladed, he remembers finding it in loose rocks fetched from the ground. The season had been summer, and those rocks were not so hidden as they were today by a late November canopy of leaves. Otherwise, I suspect we'd have found some kyanite. However, we did come up with some staurolite.

This is probably he same locality that The Natural History Society of Maryland's 1940 publication, Minerals of Maryland , by Charles W. Ostrander and Walter E. Price, referred to as "At Ashland." The only other printed words were "In schist-kyanite, staurolite, and garnets."

We found the staurolite in the same schist that yielded all the garnets. The crystal bore the same almost gemmy luster as the ones Bob Simonoff encountered this past spring near Rockland. The fact that Minerals of Maryland listed no other Maryalnd localities for staurolite would lend further support that this was Ostrander and Price's "Ashland."

Very appealing about the locality is that by all indications, it appears to be collector friendly, so long as not swarmed en masse as a field trip destination, of which it should hardly prove worthy. Currently, parking for one car is available at a small pull-off immediately south of the bridge. When fishing season resumes, the space likely will be taken, or worse a no parking sign could be screwed to a metal post as one probably was at some point in the past. There are two slightly larger places to park not far down the road on the other side of the bridge.

The northern bank of the Gunpowder is similarly rocky. Harold recalls having prospected here as well, albeit to little or no avail.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations ... Congratulations on the blog posts. A hug right here in Brazil.
    Carlos Peixoto.