Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wyoming - the TOP GEMSTONE state in US

Author, gem hunter, geologist, consultant,
Hausel prepares to go underground at the
Inspiration mine, at Superior, Arizona
Wyoming is the Equality State, the Windy State, the Coal state? It is now the Gemstone State! How did this happen?

Prior to 1975, only jade and a few agates were known in Wyoming. But within a few decades, Wyoming became the gem capital of North America with the most diverse collection of documented gems of any state in the US. A collection that includes agate, jasper; common opal, fire opal, precious opal, onyx, gold nuggets, pyrope garnet, spessartine garnet, chrome diopside, enstatite, kyanite, iolite, ruby, sapphire, peridot, diamond, specularite, apatite, minyulite, amethyst, aquamarine, jade, almandine, chalcedony, silicified banded iron formation, jasperoid, labradorite, grunerite, amber, chrysocolla, heliodor, varisite, specularite & others.

Emerald jade with quartz inclusions, Granite Mountains area,
Wyoming is filled with diamonds, gemstones, gold, platinum, coal, oil, gas, rare earths, platinum, palladium and copper (and probably some other things we haven't thought of). So we are renaming it the ‘GEMSTONE STATE’.

Chalcopyrite in breccia, Kurtz-Chatterton mine, Encampment
Prior to 1975, a few people knew the state had a few agates and some of the highest quality jade in the world. Jade was even named the state gemstone. Most people figured no other gemstones would be found.

Over the next few years, more than 40 diamond pipes and dikes were discovered – half in Wyoming and half in Colorado. Several properties were mined for diamonds including George Creek, Sloan, and Kelsey Lake. Over 130,000 diamonds were mined including gemstones larger than 28 carats. A 6.5 carat diamond was found in Wyoming and diamonds of 14 and 28 carats were mined from Colorado.

specularite with chalcopyrite from Wyoming
Later, a geologist from Laramie discovered a large group of diamond pipes and a few hundred features termed cryptovolcanic structures that look like diamond pipes from the air. These all could be diamond pipes, they just need to be drilled and include areas known as Lost Lake, Happy Jack, Indian Guide, Medicine Bow, Twin Mountain Lakes! While mapping the Iron Mountain diamond district near Chugwater, many diamond deposits and diamond backs.

Rosasite with quartz, Jelm Mountain, Wyoming
In 1981, Wyoming was unknown for gold even though all of the surrounding states had considerable gold. Gold had been discovered in Wyoming in 1842, but nothing much was ever done. Significant gold was found in the Seminoe Mountains in 1981 by a geologist from Laramie named Dan Hausel. The Rawlins Times reported a gold rush filled all of the motels in Rawlins, Saratoga, Sinclair and even Laramie with people wanting a piece of the pie. It was Timberline Minerals from Dubois who tied up the property. The company president, John Wells indicated they drilled the discovery site at Bradley Peak and picked up samples of quartz and iron formation with visible gold.

Kimberlitic indicator minerals (pyrope garnet, almandine garnet, chromian
diopside and chromian enstatite recovered from anthills.
Another gold discovery made by Hausel will likely result in one or more major gold mines in central Wyoming: gold in the Rattlesnake Hills .

Hausel identified targets associated with breccias, stockworks and veins. Years later Newmont Gold, Canyon Resources and Evolving Gold found a giant gold deposit sitting under a breccia adjacent to an alkalic intrusive named Sandy Mountain. Evolving Gold, started exploring this property and it is now thought to be equivalent to Cripple Creek gold deposits in Colorado. Hausel went on to discover another major gold deposit in Alaska with 6 other geologists – a deposit that has $60 billion in gold and is one of the largest in North America.

For most people, discoveries would have ended here. In 2005, Professor Hausel sat on the cover of ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal. He had just found and mapped some of the largest gemstones and gemstone deposits in the world.

Kyanite eclogite nodule from the Aultman 2 kimberlite, Wyoming State Line district. Specimen contains gem kyanite,
chromian diopside and garnet.
Over the years, he found a variety of agates including the long sought after source beds of the Sweetwater agate – a beautiful dendritic agate. He discovered and documented jasper deposits including boulders as large as a pick-up truck. He found a variety of banded agates in one of the largest opal fields in the world and started an opal rush! So many people headed to the hills to make their fortunes in opal, that they were tripping over one another to get to the best spots.

Rough diamonds 
He found some onyx deposits - onyx was unknown in the state at this time. While mapping South Pass – a known gold district from the 1800s, he expanded our knowledge of the deposits while mapping major gold anomalies at the Carissa, Wolf, Duncan, Tabor Grand and other mines and identifying more than 200 gold anomalies. Then there was significant gold veins found at Mineral Hill and at Purgatory Gulch. He identified a large gold anomaly at the Kurtz-Chatterton deposit along Copper Creek in the Sierra Madre.

Then he started looking for colored gemstones, it was incredible. Other than jade, the state was not known for gemstones prior to 1977. Hausel found some diamond deposits after McCallum made his mark, discovered at least six ruby and sapphire deposits including two of the largest rubies in the world. Billions of carats of gem-quality kyanite - this gemstone was everywhere and no one had even recognized it although we were all walking on these deposits in the field.

Faceted iolite and ruby from Palmer Canyon, Wyoming
Hausel found at least four iolite deposits including the two largest in the world (one with possibly more than two trillion carats of the gem). He found the two largest iolites in the world – one weighed more than 24,000 carats. Here were fabulous gemstone deposits including the largest gemstones in the world, the largest deposits in the world, completely new discoveries, and this gemstone looked just like sapphire or similar to Tanzanite. Estimates suggested the combined worth of these deposits could be more than our national debt.

Before he was done, the Professor discovered gem-quality apatite, specularite, peridot, pyrope, spessartine, chrome diopside, chrome enstatite, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, Mexican opal, precious opal, common opal, the largest opals in the world (some weighing more than 75,000 carats), aquamarine, helidor, zoisite, epidote, Mexican onyx, onyx, hematite, diamonds, platinum, palladium, hundreds of gold deposits and anomalies, nickel, rare jade pseudomorphs after quartz, and identified the first reported ilsemannite and berthierite in Wyoming. And these discoveries sparked discoveries made by others of jade, tourmaline, labradorite, minyulite and varisite.

Geologist reflected in Wyoming Jade (nephrite).
The opal was fascinating. One of the largest opal and agate deposits in the world was exposed in the Cedar Rim oil field south of Riverton. Boulders of the opal sat in cuts of service roads to the field, and the deposit was scattered over 16 square miles and even had some opal exposed in the US Highway south of Riverton. You would think someone would have gotten out of their car and looked to see what these boulders were made of - some boulders of opal, weighing more than 100,000 carats were recently found in this deposit. The Bureau of Land Management was so upset by this discovery, they wanted to withdraw the property before they knew where in Wyoming it was located!

Fluorite in limonite from Bear Lodge Mountains (low-value
The peridot discovery was also interesting. Peridot is gem-quality olivine. For more than 100 years, olivine was known in the Leucite Hills of Wyoming. Some very famous geologists looked at the peridot, briefly mentioned it in passing, but not one realized that it was gem-quality. Then in 1997, the professor was in the Leucite Hills looking for diamonds when he spotted two anthills that were green in color. He collected these anthills: no diamonds, but instead 13,000 carats of cuttable peridot were collected by these ants adjacent to an access road! By the way, he found minerals in nearby rocks that indicated some of the Leucite Hills were similar to the diamond rich deposits at Ellendale and Argyle in Australia and predicted diamonds would be found here. Yet, no one has looked for diamonds in this area. But, if all goes the way of his other discoveries, you can bet that diamonds will be found there in the future.
Faceted Wyoming peridot surrounded by peridot rough, Leucite Hills

Want to know how to recognize gemstones in the hills, where to look and where to find
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to find your own treasure using this book.

Revised and REPRINTED with permission from Planet News

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Ruby encased in zoisite reaction rim, Granite Mountains, Wyoming

1 comment:

Kim_Burns said...

Now, I would like to visit Wyoming! Makes me more excited to find something like that. My sister resides in Cheyenne and I think it will be fun if I visit her this year with my diamond buyer friend.