Friday, April 4, 2014


 Last summer we took a long road trip back to the Midwest. On our travels through Montana, we stopped for a day at Gem Mountain outside of Philipsburg, a commercial sapphire mine. Well, not really a mine because the company scoops placer deposits from a quarry and bags the mud and brings it to the facility. Then you can buy 5-gallon pails of gravel and sift through them looking for sapphires.
Sam sifting through her bucket of gravel
We bought a bucket of gravel for each of us, and spent a nice morning looking through the gravel. In the end we found about 100 Carats of rough sapphires. Although the rough sapphires have some color to them, they did not have the vibrant blue color. 
Rough Sapphires
In order to bring out the color, the sapphires need to be heat treated by heating them to 500C for several hours. For a small fee, Gem Mountain will send your sapphires away for treatment. We did send some stones away for heat treatment and cutting, and we finally got them back today. Here are the two biggest stones, each ~2/3 carat.
Sapphires, treated and cut.
We only sent a couple of stones out for treatment  and cutting, so I still have ~100 smaller stones that I would like to see if I can treat myself. I tried to heat treat some of our sapphires at home, but I couldn't get them hot enough so next I am going to see if putting them in a kiln will work (as soon as I find someone who will let me use their kiln.) 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mt. Hood

Had to take a trip down the Gorge a few weeks ago. Got this nice view of Mt Hood and the lenticular cloud above it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Smoke in the Air

Fires near Chelen, Yakima, and Wenatchee, WA and Sisters, OR, have made our air downright ugly. I took this picture this morning at 8:00am. 

Compare the photo with the banner photo (the right 1/3) and you have images from approximately the same perspective. Visibility is down to 2-3 miles at best, and the mountains 10 miles distant haven't been seen in days.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cascade Volcanoes in Spring

We haven't had a lot of time to do geology lately, Sam has been busy playing softball, and in general we have had a typical rainy spring. 

However last weekend we had a gorgeous two days, and as luck would have it, Sam's team played a tournament in central OR. On the trip down Friday night, we had clear shots of Mt. Hood in Silhouette above the Gorge,

Looking west at Mt. Hood down the Columbia George at about sunset

Sunday, I got up early to enjoy a little walk along the Deschutes River Canyon, and I was treated to show as the sun rose, casting its light on Mt. Jefferson.
Mt. Jefferson from near Cline Falls State Park
It was a gorgeous weekend, and Sam's team won the tournament.