October Speaker: Silver, Born of Cataclysmic Events and Brought to us by Improbable Happenings, by Patrick Rowe

by Cindy Schmidtlein, MSDC Vice President

Patrick Rowe, MSDC's Speaker for October 2022.

For almost 8,000 years, man has had a coveted relationship with Silver. Silver is born of cosmic cataclysmic events and brought to us by a series of improbable happenings. Patrick's presentation will discuss human history with silver; the modern demand and uses of silver; how it was formed in the heavens; and the improbable geologic happenings that brought silver from the mantel to the crust (through plate tectonics), a process that makes earth unique within our solar system.

Silver was traded throughout the Mediterranean area and formed a durable basis or standard of trade that led directly into coinage around 600 BC. Silver played a significant role in the rise of the Greek and Austro-Hungarian Empires and helped finance Columbus’ voyage of discovery. However, no other single event in silver’s history rivals the discovery in the Americas following Columbus’ landing in the New World in 1492. The events that unfolded in the following years changed the face of silver and the world forever.

There are 191 (Strunz-mindat, August 2022) valid species of minerals containing silver (compared to 39 valid species containing gold; and 752 valid species containing copper). Silver has a higher thermal and electrical conductivity than either gold or copper. Silver is very malleable and can be hammered so thin that 100,000 sheets would stand only ~1 inch high. Its reflectivity in the visible wavelengths exceeds that of copper, gold, and aluminum.