rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

A Small But Growing Collection of Radioactive Rocks and Minerals

“You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things. But nobody talks about that.” Donald Trump

Well, actually, some very good things are done with uranium. It’s radioactive isotopes help diagnose disease, kill cancer cells, sterilize food products, take X-rays, and carbon date archeological remains. But, of course, when most people think of uranium they think of The Bomb, either atomic or hydrogen. And nuclear power.

My fascination with this mysterious metal began recently, as I researched articles for Rock&Gem magazine. Every old rock and prospecting book of a certain age seemed to mention uranium and its related radioactive friends, minerals that would trip a Geiger counter and, in addition, sometimes fluoresce. I wanted to know more and I began a collection. Here’s a short video showing what I possess. The text below adds more information.

1) Thorite. Red in color. Locality is listed as Trench #1 Mount Rosa, El Paso County, CO. Two specimens.

2) Vandenbrandeite. Location is listed as Musinoi, Kolwezi, Katanga, Zaire (Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997) Appears to be rare. Musinoi is the mine, other names are districts. Can be looked up at

“Named by Alfred Schoep in 1932 in honour of Pierre Van den Brande (born Brussels April 11 th 1896 and died December 10th 1957 near Kabombwe, DRCongo, after an attack by elephants), Belgian geologist, Geological Survey of Katanga, who discovered the deposit at Kalongwe.”

3) Uranium ore with carnotite from Moab, Utah. Closed mine. Brick size specimen, probably two or three pounds.

4) Coffinite. Mt. Taylor and McKinley County New Mexico. The collector is listed as Michael D. Cline. I have two specimens. Small rocks, anonymous looking. Named after a guy named Coffin. Very active rocks.

And here’s a reading of the Coffinite (large image), producing as much energy as the two pound rock of uranium ore.

For a fascinating look at another man who has a radioactive hobby, check out this story from the BBC. (external link)

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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