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Geology to take center stage at annual gem and mineral show

  • Gemstones are displayed at the 2017 mineral and fossil show at Greenfield Community College. This year’s show will be held on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. STAFF File PHOTO/SHELBY ASHLINE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 6:43:23 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 6:43:12 PM

GREENFIELD — Many locals don’t realize it, professor emeritus Richard Little says, but there can be a lot to learn about geology in Franklin County. He invites residents to see why at Greenfield Community College’s yearly gem and mineral show on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The show is a fair for collectors and sellers of geologically interesting items — gems, minerals, crystals, fossils, meteorites, dinosaur footprints and so on — and also a chance for anyone else to learn about the unique geological characteristics of this area of the Connecticut River valley, and about geology in general.

Admission is free, both for the show and for the two special presentations.

At 11 a.m. Peter Scherff, a meteorite collector who has traveled around the world for specimens, will talk about the history of meteorites and the lore and mystique of them, plus share some stories from his own travels.

At 1 p.m., Little, who is a geology professor emeritus at GCC, will talk about famous geological formations in Scotland, then lead a walk outside on GCC’s geology path.

“(Franklin County) is the best place in the world to study geology,” said Little, who is also the manager of the gem and mineral show. Route 2, in its geological formations, is “more extensive than the Grand Canyon,” and way more accessible.

This area also has an extremely rare feature called “armored mud balls,” which Little has written about in academic journals.

They date to the Jurassic period, when the single original continent, Pangea, was splitting apart. When the fault line from Keene, N.H., to New Haven, Conn., that is now the Connecticut River valley was developing, Little explained, blocks of mud fell in and tumbled down like snowballs. Pebbles that were picked up became embedded on the outside.

Geologically, armored mud balls aren’t that important, Little said. But they are very rare. Here, they can only be found in the area between Greenfield, Turners Falls and northeastern Deerfield. Beyond that, there are maybe 10 other places in the world that have them.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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