Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society
See  Flyer  for dates and times
The Mud Field Trip
The Mud Pile
Digging the Mud                The Mud Crystals

From a distance, the mud piles looks rather small, but more than 150 tons are made available for your collecting pleasure. Here, you can see several piles just before they are spread on the Friday afternoon before the show. 

Here's another view of the mud piles. Only here the mud piles have been spread by the backhoe.  The mud is spread on Friday afternoon with the field trip Saturday morning.  This keeps the mud from drying into hard masses in our warm, dry desert air.  This makes your collecting easier as well as cleaning of your crystals easier. 

Part of the fun of this trip is having permission to get dirty, and some visitors REALLY DO!  But so you don't get the inside of your car dirty, SVMC sets up a large tank truck filled with slightly salty water next to the collecting site.  With this you can wash off as much mud as possible from your clothes, hands and feet.  Just don't wash your crystals in this water, they will dissolve.  AND THIS IS NOT DRINKING WATER.

Some visitors only go for the big clusters like this large complex cluster of halite, hanksite and bladed trona. But how does he know what's inside all that mud?

Well, the SLG&MS has thought of that too.  At the mud collecting site SVMC makes available long troughs filled with brine.  This allows you to start the process of removing the mud from your find, at least enough to know whether or not you have a "Keeper".  Eventually, the mud must be completely removed to have a display quality specimen.  The main problem with washing is that the crystals are soluble in water so you can't just use a garden hose at home to wash off the mud - that would also dissolve the crystals.  But, the SLG&MS has thought of a way to solve your problem - they sell 2 liter bottles of brine in the show building for you to take home.  This brine is the perfect fluid for washing your crystals. 

This shows you what your specimen might look like before the cleaning process.  Notice how all the crevices are still filled with mud.  This is what you will want to wash away. Here's that same huge chunk we saw that guy with the wiskers holding up earlier. But now you can see the many large tablular Hanksite crystals . 

This is a popular trip -- as you can see. Usually, there are 600 to 800 people digging through the mud.
When collecting on this trip you will almost certainly get muddy, and most of the mud is very black and very sticky.  So, please, before getting into your car and before entering the show building, wash off with water (a tank truck with multiple faucets will be available at the collecting site for this purpose), put down something to sit on, and please change your shoes, especially before entering our show building.

Collecting for this trip is more complicated than the blow hole.  Some of the clusters can be quite large - 100+ pounds is not uncommon.  So transport can be a problem (get help, not hurt).  You will likely want some small tools, such as a small shovel or trowel, to dig deep enough in the pile to find what someone else may have missed.  Gloves are useful since the mud is wet with a brine that can take the oils out of your skin.  A vegetable brush and an old toothbrush will be necessary to scrub your specimens in the brine troughs to find if your specimen is a keeper.  You may also want an old piece of carpet to sit on to keep from getting so muddy.  Gloves, trowels, vegetable brushes and pieces of carpet are all sold by the SLG&MS in their General Store in the east wing of the show building.  Also in the General Store you can purchase bottles of brine to take home to finish the cleaning process for your specimens.

Go to  Digging the Mud
Go to  The Mud Crystals
Go to  Gem-O-Rama Site Map

Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society
P. O. Box 966
Trona, CA 93592-0966
Phone (760) 372-5356

Home Page  Site Map  | Revised 04/24/2004

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