Why are Fluorescent Minerals important?

mine_tailings_lgWhy are fluorescent minerals important to humanity?  Despite the cool pretty colors what important reasons should we care about fluorescent minerals and what can they do for us?  Many people would never consider collecting or using fluorescent minerals because they never had the right UV lamp.  A blacklight is what most adults and kids grow up with but when you have the right shortwave UV lamp those colors become so much more.  In terms of commercial applications the Franklin mine and the Sterling Hill Mine where two locations where the fact that their ore zinc glowed green helped them mine the ore.  Picking tables were created under shortwave UV lamps and workers would pick the green rocks in one pile and the orange rocks in another.  The green rocks had high concentrations of zinc and zinc is one of the most important minerals in the world.  Without zinc our tires would wear out very quickly and thats just one of the many applications of zinc.

Fluorescent minerals also help prospectors find precious minerals.   Examples of such are gold, silver, zinc, copper, and diamonds.  Many mineral deposits associate themselves with fluorescent minerals.  When miners follow a vein the fluorescent minerals in the mine help guide them as they pull out the precious metals and diamonds.  The fact that we can use fluorescent minerals to help us be more productive in mining is a key reason why the study and use of fluorescent minerals should increase.  Advances in oil drilling also use the fluorescent response in the oil/dirt to help determine if a location is worth mining to extract the oil from the earth.  Needless to say oil in todays society is our number one resource that we consume today. 

Geologists today really heavily on fluorescent minerals and the study of them is still being done.  While a lot of research has been done we still continue to learn why minerals are fluorescent and how they help us in our everyday lives. 

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