Imperial Barite Mine

Blythe area, Imperial County, California

In May, 2010, FMS member Dave Stuck directed our fluorescent search to a very small Barite mine location in the remote Colorado desert south of Blythe in Imperial County, California. I'm unaware that the mine has any name so I'll call it "Imperial Barite Mine" in recognition of both the county and "imperial purple", the high-value purple dye used in antiquity. There are endless combinations of fluorescent Barite and Fluorite along with different shades of fluorescent red, green, white. The Barite fluoresces a pale yellow-cream color but seems to be mixed in Fluorite. We haven't figured exactly what all of the pieces are but they're beautiful and unusual. The red may be Calcite but it does all kinds of surprising things . . . . more about that later when I get more UV pics.

The image above is the view looking east from the mine after sunset towards the Palo Verde Mountains. Beyond them is the Colorado River and Arizona, only 11 miles away. Mysterious desert geo-glyphs of a giant man and an animal just like Peru's Nazca lines were discovered north of Blythe near the river. The human figure is 167 feet across and can only be seen from the sky. Why did the ancient inhabitants build it? It's something to ponder when you're at the Imperial Barite Mine at night under the stars!

Fluorescent Safari 2010 - DAY 1

 

We passed this rugged scenery on our way to the mine. I think that may be called Thumb Peak. The road that leads to the Hauser Geode Beds begins near where I took this picture. The temperature was very hot even though it was only May. 

 

First collecting location of Fluorescent Safari 2010

Blythe expedition leader Dave Stuck successfully located the small Barite mine. That pile of light-colored material just to the left of Dave is the mine dump and consists of Barite chunks. The collecting was ridiculously easy but we didn't appreciate how good the fluorescents were until after we left.

These desert hills don't look exciting but there's several small Barite mines in this picture, including the Imperial Barite Mine. They're more like large diggings or pits than actual mines.

 

"Wow, it's hot! How can anything live out here?

Maybe by wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirt and pants and remaining absolutely still . .

There was another big adventure to the South that same afternoon and into the evening. We braved miles of treacherous sandy road conditions, close proximity to the Mexican border, an encounter with the Border Patrol and lots of exposure to the elements and then it didn't quite pay off. Or did it? We think we found Willemite which is very rare in California. That part of the story may be told someday but not just yet.

April, 2012 Solo Field Trip Report Videos

by Corby Waste, FMS

Imperial Barite Mine

 

More Barite-Fluorite UV pics will be added but here are some of the best specimens and pics so far. But there's a mystery . . . . . .

 Barites that are "out of this world"?

I'm not a geologist or scientist but to me all these pieces look like Barite in daylight. They're heavy and solid-looking. I picked them up from the mine dump of Barite chunks. But they mostly fluoresce a wonderful deep shade of purple-blue like Fluorite. Are they a mix of some kind? For example, look at "Barite-Fluorite H" below. That's a very typical piece. It's supposed to be Barite. But where's the pale cream fluorescence? Maybe they should be called "Bluorite" or "Flairite". The black non-fluoescent bands are found are many of these pieces. If you like the color scheme of the above title with deep purple and black you will love these pieces.

 

 

 

Barite-Fluorite H

Barite-Fluorite A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barite-Fluorite D

Barite-Fluorite G

 

 

Barite-Fluorite F

Barite-Fluorite G

 

 

Barite-Fluorite I

Barite-Fluorite E

 

 

Fluorescent Safari 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Copyright 2012 by Corby Waste