“What is this?” Brody asked, pointing to a tiny purple area on the map. It looked almost marbled with greens and blues. There was no other place on the map that looked the same and he did not see it on the key. Emma leaned over the table to see the spot near Brody’s finger.
“That’s Castleton, England,” Mr. M declared, “home of the rare Blue John Fluorite!” He turned, searching the oak cabinets behind him. “Oh!” The old geologist squealed as he opened the heavy mahogany cabinet door and withdrew a glass display case. The cherry wood base was covered with a square of glass that was open at the bottom and sat gently around the specimen inside. Mr. M lifted the lid slowly and set it on the worktable. Perched atop the base, sat a large, colorful mineral sample.
The kids sat motionlessly, their eyes as large as Frisbees and their mouths hung open. Mr. M looked to Brody and then Emma. “Cool, huh?” he asked.
“Whoa!” Brody whispered. He leaned forward onto the table to get a better look at the mineral. “What is that?” he asked. His eyes never left the mineral as he talked. The stone was striped with colors of blue, purple, white and yellow that moved through the rock like a wave.
“That, my dear kiddos, is called a Blue John Fluorite,” Mr. M said, leaning over the crystal. “It is the rarest form of fluorite and is only found in the Blue John and Treak Cliff caverns in Castleton, Derbyshire, England.”
“Why is it so rare?” Emma asked. “I’ve heard of fluorite and it’s pretty common.”
“Most fluorite is common, but not this one,” Mr. M exclaimed. “This fluorite is rare because of the color stripes, the fact that it is only found in those two caverns, plus the caverns have been almost completely mined so there is barely any Blue John Fluorite left.” Mr. M bounced with excitement as he talked making Emma and Brody giggle as they listened to him tell the story of the disappearing rock. “The Blue John Fluorite was discovered in England around 1750 and quickly became popular for the rich people of the land. The mineral was extremely rare, extremely expensive, and extremely beautiful. Only the richest people were able to buy a vase or a piece of jewelry made from the fluorite. Rumors were told of vicious guards who stood at the cavern entrances, keeping people away if they didn’t work there. No one was allowed to take a piece of the stone home, either. The guards watched everyone day and night and they searched the workers as they left to go home.”
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