Montville, Morris County, New Jersey

This locality is an old one, and well known to mineralogists. It is outside of the limits prescribed in introducing this series of paper, but by only a few miles, and being such an interesting locality, I have included it in the granular limestone, which occurs in a small isolated ridge in the gneiss within a space of ten acres, about two miles north of the railroad station of Montville, on the Boonton Branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and is reached by a road running north from about a mile east of the railroad station. This road branches into two at the limestone kilns, about a mile from the railroad track, and the left hand branch is taken, which leads more directly to the quarry, which is on the right hand, about a mile further on, and quite conspicuous by the loose rock lying in front of the quarry. It is on the property of a Mr. John J. Gordon, and produces a very fine limestone for use in the furnaces and forges in the vicinity, as well as lime for agricultural purposes, it being the only limestone in the vicinity for fifteen miles.

Between it and its walk of gneiss occur veins of the minerals so characteristic of the locality, and for which it has become famous--serpentine, asbestos, phlozopite, gurhofite pyrites, biotite, aragonite, dolomite, tremolite, and possibly others in lesser quantity.


All the varieties of this species, and of every color from nearly white to black, is profusely distributed through the limestone in the lower or main quarry in veins and pockets. It is generally soft, translucent, and to be found in masses from a pea to a cubic foot in size. Much of it is of a pure oil green color, rich and translucent, making a very fine and attractive looking mineral specimen. No difficulty need be experienced in producing all the varieties of this mineral, as much has been removed and may be found in the vicinity of the quarry, as it is always carefully separated from the limestone as being useless, and thrown aside, or in some instances, when of peculiar beauty, sold as specimens. The variety of serpentine known as marmolite, which is made up of numberless plates of the mineral packed together similar to mica, but of the green color of the serpentine picolite, or fibrous serpentine, also frequently occurs of a light grass green color, and is a very interesting variety.

In selecting specimens of serpentine, care should be taken to procure that which is the most translucent, and that holding miniature veins of asbestos. These are not so plentiful as those of the pure serpentine alone, but occur in the southern end of the main quarry. The width of these veins of asbestos is seldom over an inch, but those of even much less are highly prized as specimens. These veins of asbestos are, in places, several inches in length, but are generally much broken in removing them, as their fibrous structure, at right angles to their length, makes them very fragile, and pure specimens of asbestos can seldom be found. However, they make much finer specimens when with the serpentine. Frequently these specimens may be obtained with a layer of gurhofite above them, and separated by the serpentine; this assortment is very interesting, revealing to us the manner in which they were formed, which was by a process termed segregation.

This gurhofite, called bone by the quarrymen, occurs in white, dense looking masses, intermingled with the serpentine, especially in the upper end of the quarry, where veins six and eight inches in thickness are abundant, and from which specimens may be readily obtained showing the fibrous structure of the gurhofite and the association with the serpentine, to which it is found attached; it is quite different from the limestone in appearance, and need not be mistaken for it.


In a vein near the lower end of the quarry, near the asbestos locality, occurs large plates of this mineral, which is a variety of mica, and has all of the characteristics of a pure silvery white color, and from one by three inches in area to less. It is easily separable in folia, and cannot be confounded with any of the other minerals. A huge mass of the veinstone holding abundance of this mineral is exposed, whence it may be plentifully obtained in excellent crystals.


White and yellow iron pyrites are abundant in the gneissic rock adjoining the limestone, and frequently very fine, perfect crystals may be found handsomely dressed upon the rock. There is no particular portion of the quarries in which they abound.


This is a variety of mica in small crystals, of a dark brown color, and quite plentiful in the gneiss inclosing the veins of limestone. Up in the older quarries it is more abundant; on the north wall of the vein it is often in very fine specimens, and there even in large number, in a locality, generally a pocket in the gneiss.

Tremolite is quite abundant on a large mass of limestone in the extreme upper quarry, which is a short distance east of the main one, over a small hill. The tremolite occurs in white crystals, about a quarter inch in width and from a half to three inches in length. The crystals are opaque, but very smooth and glistening, lining cavities in this mass of limestone. It is a variety of hornblende, composed of silica, lime, and magnesia, with a little alumina. It probably occurs in places in the vicinity of this block, and in finer specimens, as these are frequently, when near the surface, much weathered and worn. This is a characteristic granular limestone mineral, and a very interesting one. We will again meet it when examining the New York city localities.

Aragonite occurs in very small masses, of a light yellow color and fibrous structure, between layers of serpentine. When they are separated by a small interspace, as it frequently is, the fibers are very large, coarse, and brittle, and thus do not resemble asbestos, although in some instances they might be mistaken for picolite, but, distinguished from it by effervescing on contact with a drop of acid, as it is a carbonate of lime, and also containing a trace of iron. I have never seen any fine specimens of it from this locality, but deeper down in the rock it may occur in greater profusion.