Curious about the world under your feet?

Join with us to explore

the earth's 4000+ minerals and how they came to be!


Mission of the Mineralogical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC)

  • To learn together and further knowledge about mineralogy and earth sciences
  • To share the pleasure of collecting minerals
  • To welcome you to explore these interests with us

Who We Are

  • We're rockhounds, professional mineral scientists, mineral collectors and enthusiasts, and people with new interests in minerals and earth sciences.
  • We're from DC, the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and points beyond.
  • You're always welcome!

What we do:

  • Since 1942, we've met at the Smithsonian Institution to discuss all facets of earth sciences and hear  from experts in many related fields.
  • We sponsor or join with other local clubs for field trips.
  • Our monthly newsletters offer diverse articles at all knowledge levels.
  • We support mineral sciences by volunteering at the Smithsonian and elsewhere and by finding other ways to expand interest and knowledge.

When and Where

  • 1st Wednesday of every month except July and August.
  • At the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC.
  • 7:30 p.m. in the Constitution Avenue lobby. A security officer leads us to our meeting room, so please be on time.
  • December time and place may vary.

Next meeting – everyone welcome! Wed., March 1, 2017: Copper Silicates of Arizona

We are excited to welcome back our presenter for March, Michael Pabst.  Michael made a previous presentation to MSDC on photomicrography techniques and wowed us with photographs of various micro-minerals in his collection.

For many years, Michael studied and collected microminerals while working as a professor of biochemistry and immunology at the medical centers of the University of Colorado in Denver and the University of Tennessee in Memphis.  He is now retired and continues to pursue his passion for photomicrography.  Over the past several years, he has been researching and photographing various uranium minerals and has produced a number of articles featuring photographs along with descriptive information about their localities.

In 2014, Michael won First Place in the Adult Articles competition of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) for his article "Fourmarierite" in The Mineral Mite for September 2013.  Also in 2014, Michael won the "Trophy" award (highest award) from the Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Societies (EFMLS) for his original educational article "Becquerelite and Kasolite" in The Mineral Mite for November 2013. These Mineral Mite articles are available on the MNCA website: , under the Newsletter tab.  Most issues of the Mineral Mite since September 2013 include an article by Michael Pabst.

Michael’s March 1st presentation will be on "Copper Silicates of Arizona".  This talk is an extension of an article, "Rare Silicates from the Christmas Mine, Banner District, Gila Co., Arizona", that appeared in the August 2016 edition of The Mineral Mite.

According to Mindat, there are 7 copper silicates found at the Christmas Mine, but there are 18 copper silicates found in Arizona, and 39 copper silicates found in the whole world.  Copper silicates are some of the most aesthetic of minerals, featuring attractive crystals in wonderful blues and greens.  Michael’s presentation promises to be a feast for the eyes and an opportunity to learn more about the formation and habits of copper silicates. 

(You can view more of Michael's photographs via the Shenandoah Valley Rock Club and on his Mindat Homepage.)

Please join us in taking Michael and his wife Karen to dinner on March 1st before the club meeting.  We will be meeting at 6:00 pm at Elephant & Castle Restaurant, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC, about 2 blocks from the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) where our club meeting is held.  If you cannot make it to dinner, we will meet in the NMNH lobby at 7:30 pm (Constitution Avenue-side lobby) from which a security officer will lead us upstairs for Michael’s presentation.

Want to know more about any of this?


  • Email us at thompson01 at erols dot com. We’re happy to answer your questions.

  • Check the MSDC newsletter.

  • Visit a meeting any time!