Alexander Pryor collection

Alexander (Alec) Pryor is a local mineral collector. Some of our collection has been purchased from Mr. Pryor in the past, such as the spectacular calcite crystal which graces us with its presence in the main foyer of our Earth Sciences Museum.

Large crystal of calcite mineral with angular shape and lighting from above

Spectacular calcite crystal

laths of pink porphyry

Laths of Pink Porphyry

pink feldspar porphyry, grey with pink spots

Pink Feldspar Porphyry

Mountain leather

Pend Oreille Mine, USA

Palygorskite, otherwise known as attapulgite, fuller’s earth, or Mountain Leather, is a rare magnesium aluminum phyllosilicate with the mineral formula (Mg,Al)2Si4O10(OH)•4(H2O). It occurs in a type of clay soil common to the Southeastern United States, as well as in other areas of the world.

Palygorskite is a very soft mineral with a hardness of only 2-2.5. It can be white, gray, or pale lavender in colour. It is classified as a clay mineral because it is present in some soils and it behaves like many other clay minerals. Although it can grow in well-formed crystals, it commonly forms as flexible clay sheets which resemble woven cloths.


  • Ancient Uses: It was a key constituent of the pigment called “Maya Blue”, which was used notably by the pre-Cambrian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica on ceramics, sculptures, murals and Maya textiles. It was also used as a curative for certain illnesses.
  • Modern Uses: Palygorskite is used widely in medicine as it physically binds to acids and toxic substances in the stomach and digestive tract, as well, it is used as an anti-diarrheal as it can absorb the bacteria or germ which causes diarrhea; for absorbent granules and powders, mostly for pet litter markets and general industrial absorbents; animal feeds; drilling mud; clarifying agent; as a pesticide carrier; suspending agent for liquid fertiliser; and as a thickener in water and organic-based systems.
  • Future Uses: Palygorskite is currently being studied as a substitute for asbestos. Environmental clean-up, waste management, and catalysts productions are other new markets.

The Pink Porphyry is from near Cue in the Murchison Province of Western Australia. Approximately 400 miles North of the capital of Perth. The age is 2.7 billion years. It is a Dolerite with plagioclase phenocrysts.