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.

Excellent speaker and program on Wednesday, June 6! Everyone welcome!

June 6, 2018 – The History of the James Madison University Mineral Museum


Our June presentation will be made by Dr. Lance E. Kearns, Emeritus Professor, Mineral Museum Curator, James Madison University (JMU).  His presentation, appropriately enough, will be “The History of the James Madison University Mineral Museum.”


Most of us know Dr. Kearns from his generous yearly hosting of our club’s visits to the JMU Mineral Sciences labs where he helped us identify our unknown minerals and led us through the remarkable collection of minerals he has assembled at JMU Mineral Museum.  Another highlight of the trip was his providing a selection of mineral specimens and books that were donated to JMU for us to peruse and from which we could choose favorites and provide donations to support student participation in non‑campus mineralogical events such as the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium.


Dr. Kearns received his B.S. in Geology from Waynesburg College in 1971, his

M.S. in Coastal and Marine Processes from the University of Delaware in 1973, and his PhD. in Mineralogy from the University of Delaware in 1977.  His professional interests include minerals of the Franklin Marble, Orange Co., New York; minerals and mineral chemistry of the Morefield Pegmatite, Amelia, Virginia; mineralogy of the Buck Hill, Augusta Co., Virginia syenite; mineral and mineral chemistry study of other Augusta Co., Virginia syenites; and other Virginia mineral localities


Dr Kearns provided the following information in response to a request for his personal information:


“My initial interest in minerals came when I was 5 years old.   A gentleman friend of the family gave me a collection of five mineral samples.  I still have these to this day.  I started seriously collecting, displaying, and studying minerals when I was 12 years old.  By the time I was 14 years old I had a sizable mineral collection and display, and was giving mineralogy lectures to local clubs and organizations.  I was very fortunate that I had parents that would use summer vacation to take me anywhere I wanted to go to collect minerals.  Up until the time I moved to Virginia to serve as the new Mineralogist at James Madison University (then Madison College), my major mineralogical interests were with Franklin – Sterling Hill, New Jersey minerals.  My PhD research topic was the Mineralogy of the Franklin Marble, Orange County, New York.  While working on my PhD, financial concerns necessitated taking a year off to work for DuPont’s Coastal Titanium Exploration Team, in search of titanium deposits (rutile, ilmenite, etc.) in the Delaware, New Jersey coastal plain sediments.  I have recently (September, 2017) retired from James Madison University after 41 years of service.  I am presently Emeritus Professor, and Curator of the JMU Mineral Museum.” 


Regarding his presentation, Dr. Kearns provided the following:


“Many of you are familiar with the JMU Mineral Museum.  The collection is presently arranged by chemical classes for the non-silicates and structural subclasses for the silicates, with some extra cases specializing in minerals from Virginia, Elmwood, Tennessee, and Franklin/Ogdensburg florescent minerals. Two other wall cases present a large number of miniature specimens.  My presentation will not be specifically about individual minerals.  It will be about the determination, the luck, the resources, and the trust of many people and organizations that brought this facility into existence.  It was about fulfilling a 40‑year dream.  I have some good stories to tell, and I will lead you through the past, present, and bright future of the JMU Mineral Museum.”


Dr. Kearns is a true friend to our mineralogical hobby and I am happy to report that his wife, Cindy, another good friend to the hobby, will be joining us as well.  Cindy recently completed her PhD (Congratulations!), so it will be two Dr. Kearns for the price of one. 


Please join us in taking Lance and Cindy to dinner on June 6th 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 plan to come to dinner, please send an e-mail to davidhennessey at comcast dot net so we can try to get the number right for the reservation - but do not hesitate to come to dinner if you forget to e-mail.  We can always make room for more around the table.  If you cannot make it to dinner, we will meet in the NMNH lobby at 7:30 pm and head up to the meeting room for Lance’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!