MINERAL OF THE MONTH
June 2008: Ocean Jasper
At the request of a customer, I am going to again feature Ocean Jasper as the Mineral of the Month. Ocean Jasper made an appearance on the original web page several years ago, but it deserves to come back.
Until I completed an Internet search about Ocean Jasper while preparing this web page update, I wasn’t sure exactly when I first saw Ocean Jasper. Now I realize that it was at the Denver Show in 2000. I remember that I was visiting the exhibits housed in motel rooms. As I walked down the corridor, I passed a room that had a slab of Ocean Jasper that was six foot tall! It stopped me in my tracks! Although their high prices were appropriate given that it was a brand new mineral, I thought I would be smart and check out the Ebay prices when I returned home. I was successful in purchasing some of the magnificent mineral, but I paid for it. I bought the two specimens below from a couple in Great Britain. I paid $150 for the round slab and $75 for the egg. However, they are still two of my favorite pieces of Ocean Jasper. Notice the chrysoprase band in the round specimen and the agate pockets in the pink egg-like specimen.
I also must correct the historical information about this mineral that I have been presenting at the museum. I was told years ago that it was discovered eight years ago by two guys who were rock-climbing on the northern coast of Madagascar. Instead, it appears that the mineral had been discovered at the early part of last century. An article appeared about the unusual mineral in 1922. Then, the mineral was basically lost to the world for over 70 years. In 1997, the Mineralogical Encyclopedia (GRUND Publisher) reproduced a picture of the mysterious jasper showing the orbicular structures. The caption for the photo said that the source of the mineral was unknown. This picture excited rockhounds, including the field explorers for Madagascar Minerals who launched an expedition to locate the source. Their first attempt failed, so they regrouped and decided to methodically search the entire northern coastline of Madagascar. They spent 45 days navigating the coast, stopping in villages to ask locals if they were familiar with the mineral. Finally, they found the 50 x 30 yard deposit in shallow water in a remote area, It could only be seen and mined during low tide. The company had to work from boats, since the isolated region is not near a town and has no road access.
It is rare for new minerals to be discovered in this well-traveled world. Usually, new materials brought to market are usually just new deposits of already known minerals. However, Ocean Jasper is an exception.
It is thought that Ocean Jasper formed as a rhyolitic igneous rock, rich in silica. As the lava cooled, the silica precipitated out of the magma, forming little spherical balls. Later, the entire formation converted to pure silica made up of a combination of microcrystaline agate and jasper, as well as macrocrystaline quartz. The small deposit contains a wide array of color including white, green, red, yellow, and pink. There are also botryoidal and druzy quartz formations throughout the matrix. The genesis of the orbs in this beautiful rock is not known. However, research is being conducted at the University of California at Berkley to try to uncover the mystery.
The mineral is also known as Orbicular Jasper and Fish Eye Jasper. Similar, but less dramatic jaspers are found elsewhere in the world including Poppy Jasper from Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County in California and Rain Forest Jasper from Australia.
The metaphysical properties of Ocean Jasper are thought to: enhance one’s joy, help you better connect in loving relationships, improve cooperation, and help you focus on the positive aspects of life.
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Gitche Gumee Museum.
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