January 02, 2005
Most people are familiar with mineral crystals, which are usually small enough to be easily held in one’s hand. The massive crystal pictured above, showing the mineral beryl, was photographed during a collecting trip to the Palermo Mine pegmatite in North Groton, New Hampshire. Pegmatites are igneous rock deposits that often contain unusual minerals and large crystals. On this visit to Palermo, some aquamarine was also collected. Aquamarine is one of the gem forms of beryl, but the huge crystal shown here is not a gem stone and was definitely not collected! Beryl forms six-sided crystals. It's made of six-sided rings of the silicate tetrahedron, with each tetrahedron containing one silicon and four oxygen atoms.
Palermo was opened as a mica mine in the late 1800s; in addition, feldspar, lithium, and beryllium were also produced. Active mining ceased in the 1960s, and since that time, Palermo has been one of the top mineral collecting sites in the eastern United States. Approximately 150 different minerals have been found at this mine, including a large number of phosphate minerals.Related Links: