Mineral Symposium

Bureau of Geology Mineral Museum

Socorro has a treasure chest at the corner of Bullock Avenue and Leroy Place, but it's not filled with the likes of pearls, jewels or gold coins. The chest is, instead, a large room at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology, and the treasure is one of the most unique collections of rocks and minerals in the United States. So rare is the collection it was given the honorary title "Coronado's Treasure Chest" by the New Mexico Cuarto-Centennial Commission in 1939.

The 40th Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium at the Bureau is this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 8-10.

The Symposium provides a forum for both professionals and amateurs interested in mineralogy. The meeting allows all to share their cumulative knowledge of mineral occurrences and provides a stimulus for mineralogical studies and new mineral discoveries. Also, the informal atmosphere encourages intimate discussions among all interested in mineralogy and associated fields.

This year's Symposium will consist of a day and a half of formal papers presented in 30-minute time blocks. Papers will focus on mineral occurrences from New Mexico and adjacent states, as well as Mexico. A few selected papers may be presented from other parts of the world.

This year's Symposium will again consist of a day and a half of formal papers presented in 30-minute time blocks. Papers will focus on mineral occurrences from New Mexico and adjacent states, as well as Mexico.

The speakers "run the gamut from research mineralogists to the newest amateurs, and the talks represent that," Mineral Museum Director Virgil Lueth said.

The featured speaker at this year’s Symposium is Brad L. Cross, whose talk is entitled “An Overview of the Agates of northern Mexico and southern New Mexico.”

Cross's mineral interest is primarily focused on the agates of northern Mexico, where he has traveled extensively, studying, and collecting from the various deposits in Chihuahua, Sonora, and Durango. As a young teenager, it was his collecting of agates in southern New Mexico that spurred a life-long devotion to the colorful agates of New Mexico and its sister states across the border in Mexico. His extensive collection of agates has been featured in various gem and mineral shows throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Cross received his geological sciences degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and is currently a Supervising Hydrogeologist with WSP in Austin, Texas.

The weekend begins a Friends of the Mineral Museum reception on Friday from 5-7 p.m. An informal tailgating session will be held at local motels starting on Friday and will last through the weekend. Anyone can join the “Friends” group at the reception with a donation of $25 or more.

The Mineral Symposium this weekend will offer a forum for both professionals and amateurs interested in mineralogy.

“The meetings allow all to share their cumulative knowledge of mineral occurrences and provides a stimulus for mineralogical studies and new mineral discoveries," Lueth said.

In addition, the informal atmosphere allows for intimate discussions among all interested in mineralogy and associated fields.

On Saturday at 6:30 p.m., a silent auction and dinner will be followed by a voice auction to benefit the New Mexico Mineral Symposium.

A silent auction will also take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the lower lobby of Macey Center on Sunday. The sale is sponsored by the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club for the benefit of the Mineral Museum.

The general registration fee for the Symposium is $40, and the price for students is $20.

Besides the New Mexico Bureau of Geology Mineral Museum, participating sponsors include the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club, Chaparral Rockhounds, Los Alamos Geological Society, New Mexico Geological Society Foundation, Grant County Rolling Stones, Friends of Mineralogy, Friends of Mineralogy-Colorado Chapter, and the City of Socorro.

The Bureau's rock collection began in 1889 and was initially housed in Old Main, Tech's first building.  After its establishment, the museum soon grew into one of the finest in the world, winning gold medals at the St. Louis World's Fair 1904 and the Panama-California exhibition of 1915. Unfortunately, this first collection was lost in a fire in 1928.

In the last 130 years, the collection has steadily evolved to an assemblage of over 15,000 pieces today.  

Mineral and rock specimens from the Las Cruces, Silver City, Bingham, Magdalena, Golden, Dixon, and Grants areas, are presented in thematic displays illustrating the mineral wealth of each locality. Other specimens from around New Mexico are highlighted.