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Calico Jasper Previous

Castle Butte Petrified Palm

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Type of material found

Petrified Palm Fiber and Wood
Chapinite
Jasper

Description of material

Petrified Palm. The palm fiber is gray, brown and red in color, the most desirable being the red. The red palm fiber is less plentiful, but it can be found. The palm root is usually gray and brown, sometimes with reddish streaks. The palm is found as float on the slopes of the hills. It takes a sharp eye to distinguish the palm from the other rocks, as they all have the same exterior stains.

Look for the bark grains on the unbroken exterior surfaces and round "eyes" and fibrous structure on broken parts of the palm fiber. There is a lot of material here which closely resembles the fiber, but the "fibrous grains" show at all angles on the "fake palm." A side view of the palm fiber will show the long fibers and a break at right angles to the fibers shows the eyes. The palm root shows shorter, fibrous root structure and endwise eyes at all angles in agate. This palm is excellent for specimens and polishing.

When we first visited this area, it didn't look very promising, but we stuck to it and soon started finding tiny white-coated chips of palm fiber which, of course, gave us incentive to continue.

On our first trip, a "chip" we bent down to pick up proved to be the corner of a nice sized piece of palm fiber which was almost completely covered with dirt. Since then, we have had many enjoyable hours roaming the area, and each time have come home with several fine specimens.

Also of interest, is a vein of palm root in tuff located about halfway up the hill to the right of the road about 50 yard (see map). This material makes good specimens when slabbed.

Chapinite. Colors range from white, red, yellow and green. Chapinite is a brecciated jasp-agate idenified by angular pices of jasper interspered in the agate. Very colorful material, good for polishing. The Chapinite is not too plentiful, however, if you keep chipping the varicolored jaspers (some with chalky white coating) you will have a good chance of finding it. Chapinite was named for Dr. Roy Chapin who discovered the first deposit of the material on Camp Irwin.

Jasper.Yellow, red, green, brown.

Equipment needed

Rock pick. Heavy digging tools if you plan to did the palm root in the vein.

How to get there

To reach this area, take Highway 58 east from Mojave toward Boron, past the southern entrance to California City. Soon you see the entrance to Edwards Air Force Base. At 2.3 miles east of entrance to Edwards, turn left on Clay Mine Road toward North Edwards. Continue on paved road 6.3 miles to cultivated fields. In the springtime, the lush green fields are a good example of what water can do to the dry desert. Turn left on dirt road, pass the fields and proceed due west 4 miles on well-traveled washboard road. Shortly after you pass under the high tension lines, turn right on good dirt road and go .7 mile, jog right .1 mile and then left again onto wide dirt road. Go 1.0 mile to sharp right turn. (Note: Palm wood and Chapinite can be found by following main road due east .2 mile and then hunting on either side of the road on low rise. Refer to map for details on this alternate area.) Veer left off main road and follow good dirt tracks north 2.2 miles to collecting area. Collect on slopes of hill on both sides of road.

Keep your eyes open and you may catch sight of a desert tortoise as there are many in this area. These are interesting desert creatures, but remember the law prohibits taking them. (Note: Since the original writing, a virus nearly wiped out the desert tortoises. Further, the law prohibits touching or even interfering with their normal activities. If you are lucky enough to see one of these now rare creatures it's best to look but don't get close.) There is also a profusion of lizards and horned toads which can give one a start as they dart away when you walk up on them.

Page content reproduced on High Desert Insider by permission from: Glenn Olson
Original Page Created: 25 Dec 97