On 18th November at Clair Hall, the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society (SMLS) will put on probably the best one day mineral and fossil show in the country. It is filled with wonderful minerals, crystals and fossils and is perfect for a fascinating family day out or just a quick visit to see some of nature’s finest wonders. The show is put on by the members of SMLS, a local society which meets to discover more about the beautiful world of minerals, fossils and lapidary work. Chairman and local resident Nick Hawes writes more…
By Nick Hawes
The grey limestone cliffs rose above my head, tiered in benches by the quarrymen so that they could quarry safely deeper into the hillside. We were on a Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society (SMLS) field trip to the limestone quarries of South Wales.
I scanned the cliff side and saw a small gash in one of the benches at the bottom of the quarry and went over to investigate. I could see where the latest rock blast had opened up what appeared to be a small hole in the rock and went over to investigate. It was what we call a vug – a space that has opened up in solid rock enabling crystals to form within. In this case the crystals were of calcite, usually a whitish mineral but in this case the crystals were coloured red by a covering of the mineral hematite – an iron mineral. The crystals were in clusters and were in groups up to 10cm across with crystals up to 5cm. They were perfect in every way, not a mark on them – something very important in mineral collecting. I finished cleaning out the cavity, and as I was wrapping the specimens to keep them in good condition, I saw another small hole in the wall of the bench above me and walked to investigate.
I found another small hole in the rock, but this had no crystals showing, however, you could see a bigger cavity within. With trusty sledgehammer and an array of chisels I began to open up the entrance to the cavity. As I did so, the hole within appeared to be bigger and bigger. Eventually I realised I had stumbled upon a whole cave, lined with calcite crystals up to 30cm long. It was an amazing sight. I eventually opened up an entrance big enough to crawl through and was able to retrieve beautiful crystals from the cavity floor where they had been broken off by blasting in the quarry.
Other club members came across, encouraged by my hammering and we had a great time, all gathering as many specimens as we wanted. With rucksacks bulging with our finds, we were eternally grateful for a lift out of the quarry. Thus ended another great day’s collecting with the SMLS.
Sussex Mineral and Fossil Show
Clair Hall, Haywards Heath
18th November 2017, opening at 10am.
The show is, we think, the best one day mineral and fossil show in the UK - and it’s right on your doorstep!
[Full story in October 2017 issue of Lindfield Life]