The Nittany Lion looks out from a 
Central Pennsylvania doubly terminated quartz crystal.  Artwork © John Passaneau.
Nittany Mineralogical Society, Inc.
State College, Pennsylvania

Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Societies logo

American Federation of Mineralogical Societies logo
Your local non-profit mineral, gem and rock club
generally meets the third Wednesday of each month, August through May.
For early 2023, we are meeting at Boal Hall
(Boalsburg Fire Hall, 113 East Pine St., Boalsburg PA 16827).
Google Map:
All are welcome to attend our meetings!
Parents must provide supervision of minors.

Mineral collectors and rockhounds, earth scientists and dinosaur lovers will all enjoy our activities.

Site Search Site Search
Field Trips Junior Rockhounds Meetings Minerals Junior Education Day
Watch for news on Junior Rockhounds meetings on this main page and here.

January 18th regular meeting:
Organic Molecules on Mars - Recent Progress on an Old Problem
by Dr. Chris House, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State

ON ZOOM OR IN PERSON at Boal Hall (Boalsburg Fire Hall),
113 East Pine St, Boalsburg PA 16827

Google Map:

   7:15 to 7:45 p.m.: Social “hour.” We will serve some refreshments - snacks and a few beverages - or feel free to bring your own non-alcoholic beverage.
   7:45 to 8:00 p.m.: Announcements, door prizes, sales
   about 8:00 p.m.: featured program

The event has free admission, free refreshments and free parking (lot just east of Fire Hall along East Pine St.), and is open to all; parents/guardians must provide supervision of minors.
Bring your friends and share an interesting evening.

We hope you will join us in person, but if you can’t, the Zoom link will be e-mailed to all paid members who receive our e-mails. Others are welcome to request it by e-mailing the webmaster. We expect to record the presentation for later posting to our web site. -Editor

For the past 65 years, there have been searches for organic material starting with telescopic searches for chlorophyll and including the 1976 Viking Landers. Presently, the two active rovers on Mars have found multiple examples of indigenous organic material. Also, there are several examples of carbon isotopic measurements of carbon on Mars. Obtaining carbon isotopic data from sedimentary organic matter from other worlds, including Mars, has long been a goal of astrobiology. Isotopic ratios from Mars can potentially elucidate the origin of indigenous organics and reveal aspects of the cycling of carbon on past Mars. Extended exploration by the MSL Curiosity rover of the fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary system at Gale crater includes samples collected from a variety of locations within a known stratigraphic context. Carbon isotopic values have been obtained by the Curiosity Rover for CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 released during pyrolysis of powders, CO2 released during combustion of powders, and methane released during pyrolysis. The results suggest a carbon cycle unlike that of the Earth. The results from the combustion experiment are the first quantification of bulk organic carbon in Mars surface sedimentary rocks. About 1,000 µg C/g was released at low temperatures representing a minimum of 431 µg C/g indigenous organic and inorganic Martian carbon components (Stern et al., 2022). Carbon isotopic values of the methane released during pyrolysis of 24 powder samples at Gale crater, Mars demonstrate a wide range as measured by the tunable laser spectrometer (House et al., 2022). There are multiple plausible explanations for the results. Three possible explanations are the photolysis of biological methane released from the subsurface, photoreduction of atmospheric CO2 (e.g., 5), and deposition of cosmic dust during passage through a galactic molecular cloud. All three of these scenarios are unconventional, unlike processes common on Earth.

Some online presentations of interest:
From NMS:

Flintknapping 101 (video)
Ken Burton's presentation:
NMS September 2022

Show and Tell (video)
presentation by NMS members and guests:
NMS August 2022

Pennsylvania Caves: A Geological Overview (video)
Dr. William B. White's presentation:
NMS May 2022

Land and Geology of Pennsylvania, "A Portrait of our Commonwealth" (video)
Dr. Robert Altamura's presentation:
NMS April 2022

Applied Paleontology (video)
Dr. Charles E. Miller, Jr.'s presentation:
NMS February 2022

The Seven Metals of Antiquity That Forged the Modern World (video)
Paul Fagley's presentation:
NMS January 2022

Iris Agates and Cantor Dusts: The Textural Complexity of Agates (video)
Dr. Peter Heaney's presentation
NMS September 2021

Show and Tell (video)
presented by the members
NMS August 2021

"Evolution" of a Fossil – Arthrophycus alleghaniensis: The story of the "Jointed Seaweed" (video)
Paul Fagley's presentation: NMS May 2021
Also see photo: variety of diameters of Arthrophycus

Start to Finish: The Process of Mining to Selling New Mexico Thundereggs (video)
Lori Lytle Coleman's presentation: NMS April 2021
Some related links:

Gembone: Gem Dino Bone (video)
Daniel Bontempo's presentation: NMS March 2021

Caves and Karst: The Crossroads of the Geosciences (video)
Dr. George Veni's presentation: NMS February 2021
Some related links:
IYCK website,
National Cave and Karst Research Institute website,
Karst Information Portal,
International Union of Speleology website,
UIS Facebook page,
UIS Twitter account,
and/or the new
UIS Instagram page.

Dinosaurs of Pennsylvania: What we know about them and their neighbors (video)
Dr. Steven E. Jasinski's presentation: NMS January 2021

Spherical Structures in Rhyolite (video)
Daniel Bontempo's presentation: NMS December 2020

Making the Case for Celestine as the Pennsylvania State Mineral (video)
Dr. Peter Heaney's presentation: NMS November 2020

Jeri Jones' Zoom Rock Room: Weekly Zoom geology presentations, mostly related to Pennsylvania. Go to and click on 'Zoom Rock Room' at top of right-hand column, where you can regsiter to be included.

The staff of the Penn State Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery is actively adding interesting material to their Facebook page while the museum is closed. Several posts were added for Earth Science Week (October 11 - 17) and National Fossil Day. They also have several videos on their YouTube channel:
The Obelisk:
Pyrite disease:

National Fossil Day October 14, 2020
Earth Science Week October 11-17
The National Park Service's National Fossil Day was Wednesday, October 14. National Fossil Day was right in the middle of Earth Science Week, October 11 - 17, 2020, celebrating the theme "Earth Materials in Our Lives." Educational materials are available.

As of December, the EFMLS web site has a video of a Bob Jones presentation, Wulfenite - My Favorite Mineral. Go to and scroll down a couple of screens to find it.

Watch a professionally recorded story of dinosaur fossil excavation in Colorado.

As of October, videos of the 2020 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium are still available by following the links at

We have a new online video presentation for summer 2020, thanks to Dr. Andrew Sicree:

Nicolaus Steno, the most important scientist you've never heard of (the father of mineralogy, crystallography, geology, and paleontology).
It is in two parts on YouTube (improved audio clarity in this presentation); to view it, use each of the following links:
Part 1 Part 2

Our May 2020 program by Dr. Sicree is still available:
Fluorite: The Fourth Mineral
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Weekly Junior Rockhounds Meetings have been postponed. We continue to monitor the situation. Watch this web site for any updates.

With thanks for many of these to AFMS April 2020 Newsletter and Three Rivers Gem & Mineral Society of Fort Wayne Indiana's The Strata Data newsletter.
Smithsonian Scroll down to see the tips before starting a tour.
Yale - Peabody Museum of Natural History Via Rock & Gem magazine web site (thanks go to them); scroll down to find the image that links to the tour.
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology - Mosasaur at Museum of Geology Scroll down to 'YouTube Playlist"
Houston Museum of Natural Science Dinosaurs!
Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals
Society of Mineral Museum Professionals (SMMP) Curator's Pick Gallery Curators choose their favorite specimens. Hosted by Mindat.
SMMP Wulfenite Gallery
Geology of the National Parks Penn State GEOSC 10 virtual field trips
American Southwest Virtual Museum
Virtual Museum of Minerals and Molecules Click on Displays at upper right
Davidson Institute of Science Education, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, has links to several more museum virtual tours worldwide, including natural history museums.
Podcast of GEOL-101 type lectures (podcasts #1 to 28). Videos linked from the web site also; all by Nick Zentner of Central Washington University.

For additional current news see our NMS Bulletin (link at top of sidebar at left).

T-shirts in Galapagos Blue and Texas Orange
NMS has in stock T-shirts in Galapagos blue, Texas orange (both shown here) and royal blue.

A station at our Minerals Junior Education Day
A station at our Minerals Junior Education Day

Celestine crystal cluster 2020: CELESTINE: Pennsylvania State Mineral?
See also Nov. 2020 Bulletin.

Collecting in a quarry
Collecting crystals in a quarry

Five different posters
We have NMS posters for sale!

©2023 Nittany Mineralogical Society, Inc.      Main page last modified 11 Jan 2023      webmaster