Rock Discoveries

UV Light Rockhounding: Uncovering the Hidden Beauty of Fluorescent Minerals

UV Light Rockhounding: Bringing the Beauty of Fluorescent Minerals to Light

Have you ever wondered why some rocks glow under UV light? Or have you ever been curious about how to identify fluorescent minerals?

Perhaps you’ve already taken a keen interest in the world of rockhounding and are looking to take it to the next level with UV lights. Regardless of your background knowledge, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to UV light rockhounding.

We’ll explore the science behind fluorescence, showcase some of the best UV lights to use for rockhounding in 2021, discuss safety considerations, and highlight some of the best locations in the world to find glowing rocks.

Why Rocks Glow Under UV Light

Have you ever shone a UV light on a white t-shirt and noticed it glows blue or purple? The same phenomenon occurs with certain minerals found in rocks.

When UV light (which is a type of electromagnetic radiation) interacts with the electrons within a crystal matrix, it can cause those electrons to jump up to higher energy levels. When those electrons return to their original energy level, they emit light at a wavelength within the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, resulting in fluorescence.

The specific colors emitted by different minerals depend on the specific types of electrons jumping energy levels.

How to Identify Fluorescent Minerals

Identifying fluorescent minerals relies heavily on the use of a portable UV light. When using this tool, it’s best to first find a location with low light pollution.

Set up a black plastic tarp to create a dark environment, and switch on the UV light. There are two types of UV lights commonly used for rockhounding: shortwave and longwave UV.

Shortwave UV lights are best for charging up minerals with very bright fluorescence, while longwave UV lights are better for weakly-fluorescent minerals. Mid-wave UV lights are also available for those that want the best of both worlds.

It’s important to use a powerful filter on any UV light to prevent damage to the eyes. With your UV light turned on, begin ‘night hunting’ by walking around and shining the light on rocks that look promising.

Certain minerals have a specific color of fluorescence, such as calcite, which fluoresces blue or red. Others have more complex colors, such as willemite, which emits a yellow-green color.

Remember to mark any rocks with fluorescent plastic tape so that you can go back and collect them during daylight hours.

Minerals That Fluoresce

Fluorescent minerals are available in a variety of colors, from bright reds to deep blues. Some of the most common fluorescent rocks you may come across during a nighttime rockhounding expedition include:

– Andalusite: reddish or green fluorescent colours

– Calcite: blue, green, red, and orange

– Eucryptite: orange

– Fluorite: green and blue

– Gypsum: light blue

– Hyalite: bright green

– Scapolite: yellow

– Scheelite: blue and white

– Sodalite: orange

– Willemite: yellow-green

Best UV Lights for Rockhounding in 2021

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to have the right type of UV light when embarking on a nighttime rockhounding expedition. Convoy 8+ is considered one of the best shortwave UV lights available in 2021, while LED UV blacklights are a great option for those on a budget.

Having a mid-range UV light is also helpful when searching for minerals that don’t conform to the usual fluorescence patterns.

Equipment Needed for UV Light Rockhounding

To conduct a successful rockhounding expedition, some equipment is necessary. The following items should be on your list:

– Portable UV light: shortwave or longwave UV depending on the type of minerals you’re looking for

– Batteries: rechargeable and back-up batteries

– Flashlight: for general use and for backlighting minerals

– Geology pick: for breaking apart rocks

– Safety glasses: to protect your eyes from potential harm

– Gloves: to protect your hands from sharp objects

– Black plastic tarp: creates a controlled environment to enhance fluorescence

– Fluorescent plastic tape: marks rocks with fluorescence for easy identification

– Backpack: to keep equipment organized for easy transport

– Hiking shoes: to ensure safety while navigating rocks and rough terrain

How to Take Rockhounding to the Next Level with UV Lights

Using a UV light can add an extra dimension to traditional rockhounding. It enables you to identify minerals and appreciate their beauty in a different way.

UV lights can also be used to crack open rocks while outdoors, revealing fluorescent minerals inside. Bringing the UV light indoors allows you to inspect the fluorescence in rocks in the comfort of your own home, away from distractions and light pollution.

Additionally, using rechargeable batteries can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Outdoor Usage of UV Lights

When searching for the perfect hunting spots, keep in mind the geological characteristics of the area. Look for rocks that appear crystal-like or already have a shine to them, as these tend to fluoresce the best.

It’s best to have safety precautions in place, such as using fluorescent plastic tape to mark off the area you’ll be hunting in and wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. Some good locations to hunt for glow rocks include the Buckwheat Dump in Franklin, New Jersey, and Arizona mines.

Indoor Usage of UV Light

UV lights can be used to inspect fluorescent minerals in rocks at home. Turn off the lights and set up your UV light in a darkened room.

This will enhance the fluorescence, and you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of these minerals in a whole new way.

Safety Considerations When Using UV Light

UV light is considered harmful to the human body in excess. It’s recommended that you wear UV protection and keep safety matters in mind.

Supervision is essential when children are involved, and it’s best to avoid handling radioactive minerals. As with any outdoor activity, always be aware of terrain safety you will be on when rockhounding, and take necessary precautions when on public lands.

Best Locations in the World to Find Glowing Rocks

Perhaps you’re looking for a unique trip to add to your rockhounding bucket list. In that case, there are plenty of locations in the world where you can find glowing rocks.

One of the best-known locations is the Ilimaussaq Complex in Greenland, which boasts orange and red fluorescent minerals. Langban mine dumps, located in Lapland, have become a famous destination for fluorescent rock collectors due to their abundance of willemite and calcite.

Lastly, local geology clubs often have outings to specialized locales that are prime hunting grounds for fluorescent minerals. In conclusion, UV light rockhounding is a fascinating and visually-stunning activity that enables you to discover new minerals that you might have otherwise overlooked.

It provides an excellent way to connect with nature, and it offers opportunities for learning and discovery. With this guide, you should have a better understanding of what to expect when you embark on a UV light rockhounding adventure, and how to make the most of your experience.

Happy hunting!

In conclusion, UV light rockhounding is a unique and exciting activity that can unlock a world of fluorescent minerals that you might have otherwise missed. By understanding the science behind fluorescence, investing in the right equipment, and taking necessary safety precautions, you can have a safe and rewarding experience.

Whether you’re planning to take your rockhounding to the next level or just looking for a new hobby, UV light rockhounding is a fun and rewarding experience. Happy hunting!


– Is UV light dangerous for my eyes?

Answer: UV light can be harmful to your eyes, so it’s important to use UV protection such as safety glasses or sunglasses that block UV radiation. – Are all minerals fluorescent?

Answer: No, only certain minerals are fluorescent, and it’s important to use a UV light to identify them. – Where are some good locations to go UV light rockhounding?

Answer: The Buckwheat Dump in Franklin, New Jersey, and mines in Arizona are great spots for rockhounding, but check local regulations to make sure it is allowed. – Do I need specialized equipment for UV light rockhounding?

Answer: Yes, you will need a portable UV light, batteries, a flashlight, geology pick, safety glasses, gloves, black plastic tarp, fluorescent plastic tape, and a backpack with hiking shoes. – What are some common fluorescent rock minerals?

Answer: Some common fluorescent rock minerals include andalusite, calcite, eucryptite, fluorite, gypsum, hyalite, scapolite, scheelite, sodalite, and willemite.

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