A Matter of Curiosity, Mostly

Good morning readers:

I doubt anyone among the current readers is going to put my speculative assertions about the abundance of platinum of a few days ago to the test.  But someone who finds the blog on a search engine someday might.  It would be a lot simpler and easier today than it was a decade-or-so ago.  Not to mention cheaper.

So, for that potential reader, here’s what I’d suggest as a minor project:

Get one of these – They’re getting cheaper every day.  $100 will probably get you one.

QX5 Microscope – Digital Blue QX5 Digital Microscope

The QX5 Microscope is the upgraded version of the award-winning Intel QX3 computer USB microscope.

Explore the microscopic world with the only USB microscope that connects to a computer. The QX5 USB Microscope includes software that allows you to view, edit, animate and even measure samples, then create slideshows and videos. The QX5 USB Microscope has the mobility to come out of its base for the viewing of larger or possibly live samples in their natural habitats.

Then build one of these:

Build a high resolution spectrograph in 15 minutes

http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/light/spectrograph/spectrograph.html

Find a weathered Quaternary caldera and dig into the inside of the rim, near the top, saving the sample below about an inch deep to a foot deep in a five gallon bucket.  Carefully, carefully, carefully pan down the sample until whatever’s heaviest is all that’s left on the bottom of the pan. 

Then do direct microscopy on the sample, after familiarizing yourself with the appearance of micron platinum.  If you see some prime suspects work the sample down a lot further, but saving the spoils because you’re going to be interested in whatever else is left in the sample, and micron minerals are prone to float on the static surface of the water.

Once you’ve got it separated, use the spectrograph you built to determine whether what you’re seeing is actually platinum, and what else is in there with it.

If you don’t have a Quaternary caldera, but would still like to give it a try, go somewhere with a history of active vulcanism during the Quaternary, find a corrugated culvert 4-5 feet diameter going under a road  downstream, but as far upgrade as possible.  Crawl into the culvert with a whisk-broom and large spoon and take concentrate samples from the bottoms of the corrugations.

Then do your direct microscopy and spectograpy on the concentrates, same as above.

You could do something similar from streambeds in mineral bearing areas, but you’d need to learn to ‘read’ a channel so’s to know where to take your samples.

Old Jules

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4 responses to “A Matter of Curiosity, Mostly

  1. Geographic Designer

    Cool post. New Mexico rocks! Actually, I just finished designing a poster for New Mexico. Check it out: http://50statesdesignproject.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/43-nostalgic-new-mexico/

  2. Very interesting. There’s likely no platinum in my neck of the woods, but this post makes me wish there was. I’d like to give this a try.

  3. I had used the culvert strategy in Colorado high country back in 79 with some good results. The past couple posts have got me thinking again. I’m heading home to northern New Mexico soon, hhmmm.

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