Alabama Fluorescent Minerals

Since this site doesn't seem to contain very many photos of mineral specimens from Alabama, I thought I would contribute a few of my own. I have omitted those that contain common activators (e.g., divalent manganese and uranyl ion) in situations where better examples of the pertinent mineral/activator combination are available from elsewhere. I have been field-collecting local fluorescent minerals here in Alabama for several decades. Unfortunately, the opportunities for collecting them are no longer what they used to be.

Bill Fowler


1. Petrified wood, Marion Co., AL, abandoned coal mine near Brilliant, AL -- This petrified wood specimen bears a coating of fine, druzy quartz crystals that fluoresce a butter-yellow color under either LW or SW UV. Oddly, I have other specimens of this material that exhibit both fluorescing and nonfluorescing zones of quartz crystals on the same specimen. Shown here is the view under SW UV and in ordinary room light. Specimen mass = 107 g. Approximate dimensions = 9x6x2 cm.


2. Fluorite and strontianite on limestone, City of Huntsville, Madison Co, AL -- From a now-closed construction site in Huntsville, this piece of limestone contains an amber-colored fluorite that fluoresces an attractive yellow-white color and strontianite that fluoresces in bluish-white. Both minerals fluoresce about equally well under either LW or SW UV, and both are moderately phosphorescent, especially under SW UV. The views under SW UV and under room light are presented here. This specimen also displays some purple fluorite, whose fluorescence is seen to be much weaker than that of the amber fluorite. Specimen mass = 144 g. Approximate dimensions = 8x5x3 cm.


3. Calcite, AL Highway 75 road cut, Blount Co., AL -- This piece fluoresces strongly enough under either LW or SW UV to hold its own in displays that contain my brightest fluorescers from around the world. Note that the array of colors produced is slightly different under LW versus SW UV. Note also that both fluorescent and nonfluorescent zones are evident in the specimen and that some of the fluorescence appears to follow certain linear seams or fracture planes within the crystals. These characteristics are typical of organically activated calcites, which are widely abundant in limestone deposits in roughly the northern half of Alabama. I enjoyed several trips to this location until I was ultimately evicted by a state trooper. Specimen mass = 140 g. Approximate dimensions = 7x6x3 cm.


4. Barite, Bibb Co., AL, near Six-Mile Creek -- This specimen was collected near an abandoned barite mine that is located on the banks of Six-Mile Creek in an area that locals refer to as "The Sinks" .Interestingly, the abundant barite that is still to be found at the mine site exhibits little or no fluorescence. But I found the occasional barite specimen eroding out of the drainage ditches along the lengthy trail leading into the mine area. Those specimens turned out to be by far the brightest-fluorescing barites that I have ever seen from anywhere. One of them is depicted here under SW UV and under ordinary room light, but it fluoresces equally well under LW UV as well. These barites show up nicely in any fluorescent display. Specimen mass = 238 g. Approximate dimensions = 7x6x5 cm.