Argentina is a country of immense and imposing beauty and known for it’s beef, wine, oil, mineral and dinosaur fossil wealth. The Capillitas mine is famous worldwide for it’s vivid pink stalactitic rhodochrosite specimens. The mine is 700 airline miles northwest of Buenos Aires in the Puna region of high altitude deserts and volcanic terrain. The Capillitas mine occurs in a complex gold and copper bearing deposit with a human history dating back to the days of the Inca Indians and Spanish conquistadors. The author will share the human history, geology and mineralogy of what some call, ” the South American enigma.” 150 mineral species have been documented at Capillitas, including rhodochrosite. Author acquired photos of the subsurface mine workings along with his and other Argentine collectors photos will be presented. The Argentine ” Day of Infamy” on the destruction of the largest known rhodochrosite cave in 1987 will be discussed.
For more than 45 years, David has worked as a geologist up to vice president of exploration, in both domestic U.S. and international oil and gas operations. He grew up and was educated in the northeast U.S. and then Texas. During the last twenty years he has traveled to over 30 countries and has lived and worked in a number of long term ( 3-4 year), foreign expat assignments, including Argentina. He has field collected agates in Patagonia; smoky quartz and champagne-colored topaz, and a placer deposit of aquamarine; along with underground visits to the Capillitas rhodochrosite mine; all in Catamarca Province, Argentina. His collection focus has always been the Chihuahuan / Sonoran desert regions of Mexico and southwestern U.S., especially Bisbee. He currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as an international consultant.