2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 111-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


CRAMER, Jennifer M, USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest, 33 Kancamagus Hwy, Conway, NH 03818, jencramer17@gmail.com

In 1988 a well-known mineral collector, Peter Samuelson, found a large cavity full of smokey quartz crystals. Large enough to stand in, Peter’s Pocket produced the longest smokey quartz crystal ever found on the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) at 1.2 m long. Interest in “rockhounding” grew and many mineral clubs expressed their desire to excavate these pockets. Years passed with steady mineral collecting until 2013 when a TV show featuring miners trying to strike it rich called “Prospectors” premiered on the Weather Channel and there was an explosion of rockhounds.

The White Mountains of New Hampshire are the result of Jurassic age volcanism and magmatism associated with the rifting of the supercontinent Pangaea. Collapsed calderas filled with volcanic rock, syenite ring dikes, and granitic plutons can be found within the White Mountain National Forest. The interaction of these units during formation along with the nature of the magma allowed for the abundance of semi-precious and gem quality crystals such as smokey quartz, amazonite, and topaz. Many of these areas are within the WMNF, prompting the designation of free collection sites for visitors. Rules are in place to prevent the degradation of land and ensure the safety of all who visit the Forest; however, some mineral collectors are ignoring these standards and guidelines to the extent that they can go beyond recreation and into commercial operation. The result is significant resource damage not only within the designated sites but across the Forest.

The Moat Mountain collecting area has experienced some of the most extensive resource damage within the WMNF. In order to assess the growth of the disturbed areas over time, past and present GPS data are compared using ArcGIS maps. This information will be used to aid in the development of a plan for the future of the Moat collecting area. In the immediate future the plan is to put a permit system in place that will spell out the standards and guidelines for non-commercial mineral collecting that everyone will be required to sign off on once entering the area. Hopefully, this planning “model“ will help contain the resource damage while serving as a template for other Forests that are having the same issues with rockhounding.