Specimens from the Rock Candy Mine
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral on Earth, occurring in many different types of rocks. Although usually clear or milky white in colour, quartz can be found in a variety of colours because of impurities in the crystal structure. Pure quartz is made up of silicon and oxygen only, but atoms of other elements, like iron or titanium, often make their way into the quartz crystal structure. Some varieties of quartz, like purple amethyst, are considered to be semi-precious gemstones and have been used since ancient times to make jewellery and decorative objects.
This sample of quartz is from the Rock Candy mine about 27 km north of Grand Forks, BC. The mine is known for several impressive specimens of quartz, fluorite and barite that were found there.
The sample is a good example of a kind of quartz called ‘drusy’ quartz on pale green fluorite. Drusy quartz is made up of thousands of tiny individual quartz crystals that coat a rock surface, often filling a cavity, giving the surface a sparkling look.
Early prospectors mistook the Rock Candy mine’s green fluorite for copper mineralization, which is also often green at the Earth’s surface. They staked the ground the mine is on in 1916 but were soon disappointed when they realized they hadn’t actually found a copper deposit. The Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of Canada Ltd took over the claims in 1918 and operated the mine intermittently up until 1942. During that time, 36,760 tonnes of fluorite and 1,700 tonnes silica were produced.
Today visitors can pay to collect their own samples from the site.
Store: Pacific Museum of the Earth, University of British Columbia
Collection: UBC Collection
Accession #: 22764
Primary Mineral: Quartz
Secondary Mineral: –
Site Locality: Rock Candy Mine
Location: Grand Forks, British Columbia
Special Features: n/a