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THE  CORUNDUMINIUM

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      Recently, cabochon grade rubies have been found in the vicinity of the Ratlesnake Mountains in southeastern Wyoming.  I had my first encounter with them in 2000, at a gem and mineral show in Billings, Montana.  A dealer had polished slabs and artifacts made form them.  I talked him out of a sawn piece of rough, showing a distinctive lenticular habit (first image below).

     In 2006, I met a man who had been exploring extensively in the same general area, and we agreed to meet in Tucson in  February, 2007.  At that time, I took the picture of the cabochon on the right, which amazed me as it is a natural crystal (not intarsia)!  The photo was taken through the dusty cover of the box it was in, as I was afraid to drop it.
    IIn July, 2007, I traveled with him to several sites in the area.  The second picture above shows an outcrop, under which we dug about a gallon of finger joint sized rubies from the loose dirt.  Some of the specimens are surrounded by a rind of green chromium-rich mica, probably fuchsite (I am indebted to George Rossman of CalTech fir the identification).  The third and fourth pictures show the specimen we call "Owl Eyes" and a detail of the larger crystal.  This striking specimen is currently on display at Montana Tech in Butte.
     The source localities are distributed over a large area more or less surrounding the Rattlesnake Mountains, southwest of Casper.  The rubies seem to have formed along contacts where pegmatites shot through ancient (precambrian) granitic intrusives. 
    Our explorations indicated there are economic deposits here, but commercial levels of extraction will have both technical and bureaucratic problems that will need to be worked out.  At present, there are about half a dozen of us who enjoy digging with hand tools and packing out the finds in buckets.  
   
One of the claim owners found some matrix specimens, from which he carefully etched out the ruby clusters.  A couple appear to the right.

       If you are interested in obtaining some of this material, please contact me at wheierman@corunduminium.com.  I do have some cabochon rough, some of which will probably star.  The areas of concern are covered by unpatented placer and lode claims, so private digging requires permission.  The owners prefer to remain anonymous for now; but iwhen that changes I shall provide a direct link here.  
 
     Here are some more pictures from our exploits on the property.

Sorry Amos,  it's that one!