April 23rd-24th, 2022, Saddle Mtn / Fir Road Field Trip Report

For April we did a 2-day trip to Central and SE WA. We were really blessed with gorgeous weather both days. On Sat April 23rd we went to Saddle Mtn for petrified wood. We met in Mattawa for the trek up the bumpy Saddle Mtn road. 11 vehicles and 20 people. There was another group on the ridge where we went, but it’s such a wide area with lots of pits so it wasn’t a problem. Within the first 15 minutes of digging, I found the nicest piece of petrified wood I’ve ever uncovered there. The rest of the day I found a few nice smaller pieces, and everyone was finding nice material.  Afterwards, a few of us went to the diatom pits at Beverly for opal. Found some beautiful pieces there and a renewed curiosity for how they formed.
I had to refresh my memory on the differences between agate and opal, because some of the petrified wood is agatized and some is opalized, and the diatom pit opal can be as nice as agate in appearance. So here’s a quick study.  Numbers vary slightly depending on the source of information.
Agate/Jasper/Quartz are a structure of tiny crystals with a Moh’s hardness of 7-7.5 and a specific gravity (density) of about 2.6. Opal is a structure of tiny spheres with a Moh’s hardness of 5.5-6 and a specific gravity of about 2-2.25. Opal also has more water content. Both are formed from mineral rich water (silica + other minerals) seeping into the ground or bedrock and settling in cracks or pockets. Variations in climate, heat, pressure, rainfall, mineral content, etc., add to the variations found in the rocks we collect. That’s a condensed version of what I read today.
Attendees: Peggy S. and Paul, Kamera M., Kelly and Tim B., Olga A. and family, Nik B., Mike B. Loren M., Ashley E. and family (guests), John and Dave C., Sara (guest), and me.

Part 2 of our April weekend was at Fir Road north of Pasco on April 24th. I’ve been watching social media posts of Carnelian being found there and I wanted to check it out. Due to the distance, I thought it would be good to combine it with the Saddle Mtn. trip. We stayed at various hotels and campgrounds in the Tri-Cities area. Fir Road is about 18 miles north of Pasco and contains an immense wall of river rock next to the Columbia River. I’m guessing related to the glacial floods that impacted central WA. Our experience was that Carnelian was hard to come by, though a few pieces were found by the group. But there is a lot of quartz and quartzite type rocks that will tumble and polish nicely. Many having well defined layered lines, similar to agates, but I think it’s a grey area. I suspect sedimentary and metamorphism. Agates and jasper should be microcrystalline and very glass like, but most of these when broken open have visible crystal structures (quartz and quartzite). I wouldn’t recommend a special trip over just for this site, but I think it’s a good spot if you’re in the area and desire tumbling material. Pasco is 225 miles from Kent/Renton. We certainly had fun and enjoyed the weather.
Attendees: Peggy S. and Paul, Kate T. and family, Kamera M., Phillip T., Kelly and Tim B., Olga A. and family, Nik B., Joye E. and family (new member from the Tri-Cities), Mike B. Robert M. and family, John and Dave C., and me.

Submitted by Roger Danneman Field Trip Guide (roger.danneman@gmail.com)
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Updated: May 23, 2022 — 8:03 am

Presidents Message

  • Sorry for the late update on the website. Due to Covid and the flu, our family has been sick. I would also like to note, that we have lost our videographer. Until we find a replacement volunteer, our meetings will not be on YouTube. From the Top of the Rock Pile  Our Cascade Gem & Mineral Show is coming up. We will be about 2 weeks from show time when you read this! Our August meeting will be a recap of what’s going on at our Cascade Gem Show. It will also be our last call for volunteers. Then Jim

Meeting Announcements

  • Topic: This is our last meeting before our Cascade Gem and Mineral Show. There will be a rundown of our show and what you can expect to happen. It will also be our last call for volunteers. It is imperative that we get more volunteers. As Roger, our Field Trip Guides, says “Many hands make light work.” You don’t have to wait until this meeting to volunteer for the show. Just click on the website front page link to volunteer. Unforeseen change in the meeting agenda. Bring or ugliest or most unusual rock, fossil, or mineral. Be prepared to tell us what it is and where you found or got it.  

  •   Topic: A recap on how our Cascade Gem and Mineral Show went. Financial analysis and a critique of the show. What went great, and where do we need to improve next year. Then we are going to try something new. A sticky note timeline chart. We are going to have a yearly timeline chart from 1935 to 2022. We are going to ask you to put 3 sticky notes on the timeline with your name on each and then 1st Note first time you went rockhounding and your age 2nd Note the most memorable rock hobby event in your life and your age 3rd Note another memorable rock hobby event in your life and your age Then place each of your sticky notes on the timeline. Just before Show ‘N Tell, we will take a look at the chart. Then during Show ‘N Tell you can come up and look at the chart and discuss it with each other. Show’N Tell: A rock, mineral, or fossil that means a lot to you.  

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