I'm excited about Saturday -going with a group of rock collectors to the world's largest kyanite mine at Willis Mountain, near the small Virginia town of Dillwyn. I'm taking out a loan so I can cover the gas for the 5-hour trip. (Okay, that was a joke.)
So what do we do? Clamber over giant rock outcroppings for hours with heavy hammers and chisels, looking for good specimens for our collections. (Crazy hobby, I know.) We get really sweaty, and sometimes covered in mud. Fun.
Kyanite is a (usually) blue crystal with remarkable qualities. When heated above 1450 degrees centrigrade, it expands to almost twice its size, making it natural for refractories. (It compensates for shrinkage of other composite materials in foundry applications.) When used in countertops, it adds a unique visual appeal b/c of its exotic appearance. Some specimens can be cut as gemstones.