Helenite is not rare. Anyone with a heat source can create it.
February 6, 2019 1:22 PM   Subscribe

After the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state [Rare Historical Photos], timber company employees noticed that the intense heat from the acetylene torches they were using to clear dust and debris was melting the nearby volcanic ash and rock and turning it a greenish color. Jewelry companies also noticed, and crafted an exciting story about discovered gems [Stauer promotional video, YT], even though there are trillions of cubic tons of this volcanic ash and mud available, and a five gallon bucket full of ash will make many thousands of carats of this so-called gem [snarky comments from GeologyIn.com]

If you're looking for "unbranded" green or red manufactured obsidian made from that special mix of Mount St. Helens minerals [Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry], you can also look for Mount St. Helens obsidian, emerald obsidianite, or gaia stone [Sciencing], in addition to the its trade name [Geology.com] of Helenite [Wikipedia].
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm noticing a lot of words in common between the Wikipedia article and the GeologyIn link. Which one came first? If I added the GeologyIn link as a reference to Wikipedia, could I participate in my first case of citogenesis?
posted by clawsoon at 1:30 PM on February 6


For my pilot friends, I could use some Ejafjalajotkulite (sp?)
posted by ocschwar at 1:31 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


way to ruin my next pejazzling sesh, flt 😒😭
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:35 PM on February 6


ocschwar, thanks for the reminder. I had to go find the QI question about Icelandic volcanoes that include Brian Blessed trying to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull.
posted by hanov3r at 1:38 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I’ve hiked to the top twice and never knew there was UNTOLD WEALTH under my feet the entire time.
posted by not_the_water at 1:40 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Expressions "rare historical photos" is a bit of a pet peeve for me. Since they are available on the Web, they are certainly not rare anymore, certainly not "rare" enough not to be available for posting on the site. Seldom seen, or rarely seen, strike me as a better descriptor. Anyway, back to our regular programming ...
posted by bluefrog at 1:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Curses, hanov3r, for that excellent video that just had me giggling at my desk!
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 1:45 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The Helenite is beautiful, and all the more so for not being rare.
posted by jb at 1:45 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Expressions "rare historical photos" is a bit of a pet peeve for me. Since they are available on the Web, they are certainly not rare anymore, certainly not "rare" enough not to be available for posting on the site. Seldom seen, or rarely seen, strike me as a better descriptor. Anyway, back to our regular programming ...

I think it's fine if this turns into a

(•_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

venting thread.

[I did it! I did that internet thing!]

Anyway, I was initially inspired to find out more from this over-the-top ad:
Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect on Women
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, sending a column of ash and smoke 80,000 feet into the atmosphere. From that chaos, something beautiful emerged --- our spectacular Spirit Lake Helenite Ring.
I wanted to then find out more about "Helenite." I did not expect to find a snarky geology article about the un-rare material. But I am sad that there are no good videos of ash being turned into a green stone, at least as far as I could find. Here's a low quality VHS copy of a local news spot on glass blowing with Mt. St. Helen's ash, except there's only a hint of green in the final product.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:53 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Hmmm.... I wonder if I could make counter-tops or back-splashes out of it by using a home smelter, casting ingots and then suspending them in epoxy resin.
posted by carmicha at 2:51 PM on February 6


Jewelry companies also noticed, and crafted an exiting story about discovered jems ..even though ...a five gallon bucket full of ash will make many thousands of carets of this so-called gem.

So what you're saying is these jems are truly outrageous.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:03 PM on February 6 [19 favorites]


Ahh, Stauer. I have a couple of nice watches they used to sell. They mostly stopped selling nice watches, in favor of a whole lot of jewelry made with sortaprecious stones and way-overpriced meh watches. Too bad.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


So, fundamentally, this is glass.

It just happens to be glass made from volcanic ash, instead of more common sand.

And like regular glass, mineral inclusions give it colors.

That said, it’s beautiful glass! More jewelry should be made of such pretty glass, imho.
posted by darkstar at 3:35 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Bullseye Glass (recently in the news for contaminating a chunk of SE Portland with heavy metals, but that's another story) made and still sells Mt. St. Helens ashtrays made from ash that dumped on Portland a few days after the main eruption, and has this green color.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:55 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I've used Mt. St. Helen's ash as a frit in a cone ten pottery glaze. By itself, it has a similar color to melted coke bottles (anyone else of the right age to remember getting those at the county fair?). I ended up using it with tin oxide and fire clay to make an opaque white glaze similar to Bristol Slip. I seem to recall the ash was like ten bucks for a twenty-five pound bag from my pottery supplier, and most of that price was probably shipping from the west coast. I got more milage per customer patter per pound from that stuff than any of the more expensive and exotic compounds I used to use. People love to hear about volcanoes, especially on coffee mugs.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:45 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


This is really cool! Previously the only thing I knew about the Mt St Helens eruption was that it was what woke up The Ark/Auntie/The Autobots in the Marvel G1 comics timeline.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:17 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Trillions of cubic tons.
Trillions of CUBIC tons.
posted by heatherlogan at 6:35 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


If you look at old footage, the hucksterism of pre-eruption Mt St Helens is undeniable.

The appearance of 'Helenite' marked the return of yet another trophic level as the ecosystems of the mountain continue to recover.
posted by jamjam at 7:35 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


So, Helenite was created when geologic subluxations were adjusted via tectonic applications of mantle chiropractics?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:54 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


The big question is, will it kill dragons? Asking for a khaleesifriend.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:34 AM on February 7


The big question is, will it kill dragons?

Don't be silly. Helenite is for launching ships. Just don't steal it, or you might start a war.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:06 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


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