Red coral Ne New Mexico

I had a new customer reach out to me 2 weeks ago from New Mexico. He found me on the internet. From my IGS business listing . Thank you IGS. 3rd new customer for the last 2 months.

My customer wrote to me and attached a few photos …
He found an Obsidian stone about 34 years ago while hunting for deer with his father, around a Volcano in NE New Mexico called, Capulin Volcano. This Volcano is extinct, its last known eruption happened 55,000 to 62,000 years ago. He wondered , could this stone be that old? He did some searching on the internet, he couldn’t seem to find this stones color anywhere.

I think I know why. He said he would be ok sending it in to me for testing if needed.

But after some quick overview this morning. I believe this is red coral.

It weighs roughly 56 grams total.

Capulin’s eruption taking place between 56,000 and 62,000 years ago.

As far back as 30,000 years ago, Stone Age peoples used coral to decorate sepulchers, or burial vaults, and the ancient Egyptians used it. However, Blood Coral comes mostly from the Mediterranean Sea. I believe this piece was found in the area of this extinct volcano because it was possibly dropped by a native American, some one of the Spanish decent, or indengenous European. .who had it in their possession during travel on the trail or their voluntary and involuntary travels thru Europe. .Millions of Native Americans would die from exposure of disease and battles. Mildly put. Also. Put mildly because this could lead back to stoneage. This is the very interesting part of gemstones and geology. Especially when something like this is found out of its formation territory

Do yall see red coral as well .

Conchoidal fracture is a clear indicator this is NOT coral!

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So , then it very well could be red Obsidian. It looks like the most common jet black type. Given it was found at base , then it would be just a guess. It could possibly be red obsidian. Which obsidian is created by rapid cooling of vicious rapid cooling…

Thanks again Jeff for pointing out what you did.

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I can confirm with good confidence that is red obsidian. Mr. Bergman’s observation is on par. Subsequently, the locale of collection provides evidence for its identification.

Although Capulin is a good source for this material, it is more commonly found further southwest in the Jemez Springs / Bandelier Tuff formations, near the Valles Caldera.

Fun Fact: Valles Caldera is the metric establishing the scale for classifying a Super Volcano. Valles Caldera National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service).

New Mexico was my stomping ground for 20+ years. The state offers quite a few geologically diverse terrains and many distractions (ummm… I mean attractions) for rockhounds of all ages.


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I know the area also… definitely not coral for reasons stated. red obsidian is the most likely. The Anasazi and their descendants, the Pueblo did not traditionally use coral in their jewelry. Shells and parrot feathers yes… archeological finds at Chaco Canyon indicates trade routes going into Mexico… red coral hasn’t been found in Mexican sites either.
Navajo silversmiths adopted the use of red coral in modern times.
The Jemez Caldera is NOT related to the Cabezon volcanics… these are related to Mesa Chivato basalts and to Mount Taylor. Mount Taylor is the eroded remnant of a large stratovolcano which is older than the rest of the volcanics in the area. S type rhyolites at Grant’s ridge have gas pockets containing garnet, topaz, cistrobalite…There are numerous volcanic necks in the Cabezon area that are alkali basalts with lithospheric mantle xenoliths. I can’t find references to the geochemistry of the basalts which would indicate their origin at depth… But they are not related to lamprophyric rocks that make up isolated volcanic necks on the colorado plateau such as shiprock.
Valles Grande is the second explosive eruption occurring 600Ka ago… the remnants of the earlier Toledo Cladera are on the northside of Valles Grande, with a prior eruption of the same magnitude 1.2Ma ago. The tectonic setting for Vallegrande is where the Jemez lineament crosses the RIo Grande Rift. It’s relation to the Rio Grande rift spreading zone is not well understood. New Mexico volcanism is highly complex… it encompasses a full cycle of crustal compression followed by relaxation and crustal extension, the latest of which is bein concentrated within the Rio Grande rift valley.

NM was my stomping ground also… the geology of the state is extremely complicated… within 100 miles of Albuquerque, everything is a geological wonderland. Trying to untangle it petrologically and geochemically for igneous rocks is still a work in progress. I like the alkalic monzonitic intrusives that form a north south line east of the sandias… this line of alkalic intrusives marks the border of the western US and the high plains. It extends from the Mexican border into South Dakota, where I am currently living but I am in the process of moving back to NM. These alkalic rocks are mineralized… the turquoise mines and ore deposits at Los Ceriilios have more potential for rare earth exploration… rare earths and especially neodymium are in short supply. The monzonitic intrusion in Lincoln county are especially a center of attention.