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After Nearly A Century, Wisconsin's Minerals Indexed

November 20, 1998

By Mary Sandelands
UW-RF News Bureau

Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial year is being celebrated in a manner that hasn't been undertaken in nearly a century: a census of her mineral resources.

In honor of Wisconsin's 150th birthday, University of Wisconsin-River Falls geology Professor William Cordua has compiled an index of Wisconsin minerals by county, which has been published in the scholarly periodical Rocks & Minerals.

It will be particularly appealing to amateur rock collectors, listing 256 minerals from Wisconsin's 3-billion-year-old geological history.

The 22-page Wisconsin mineral index by county is contained in the November/December 1998 issue of Rocks & Minerals, which sells for $3. It is available in libraries, some geology stores, and through the publisher, Heldreff Publications of Washington, D.C. The company can be reached at 202/296-6267.

Cordua also has constructed a Web site that is indexed alphabetically by minerals, which list the counties where they are located. Cordua says he soon will add an idex to all minerals by county.

The Web site can be found at According to Cordua, he initiated the Wisconsin inventory in response to a non-profit organization called 'Friends of Mineralogy' that suggested compiling lists of the minerals found in each state.

Two years ago Cordua began the sites indexing task in earnest to coincide with the Sesquicentennial, following formal research of nearly 150 sources that took 10 years to complete. Informally, Cordua had been gathering data since he arrived in Wisconsin 25 years ago. The last index of this kind was completed about 1900 and was much less formal.

Cordua's research included extensive library work, attending mineral collection shows, and field work. He was also granted access to the state's geological survey, an unpublished document.

"I am not getting rich on this stuff, but it's a lot of fun," says Cordua.

Cordua explains that it was a way for the University to do something special for Wisconsin during its birthday year.

The index in Rocks & Minerals is organized by location, and is particularly geared to amateur rock collecters. The index also may help aid teachers and researchers educationally and recreationally. He also notes that there has been a resurgence of rock collecting, and Cordua hopes the listing will help bring more tourists to Wisconsin.

Cordua adds there are several cautions about the list: some of the sites are inaccessible to the public and some no longer exist. Despite this, the locality index enables the reader to see some of the minerals and learn about their locations. As an example, one of the closed sites is the Flambeau copper mine in Rusk County, "It is what you might call a mineralology rain forest," said Cordua. The Flambeau copper mine is home to one of the rarest minerals: Kolbeckite. "It holds a lot of rare minerals in a small area," said Cordua.

For more information, contact Cordua at 715/425-3139.

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