|Author, gem hunter, geologist & consultant,|
Dan Hausel prepares to go underground at
the Inspiration mine, Superior, Arizona
It took hard work, dedication and a willingness of a couple of geologists who loved to spend time in the field looking for colored gemstones, diamonds, gold, and unique minerals and rocks as well as mapping large regions of the state in search for mineral deposits.
While other geologists wore loafers to work at the Wyoming Geological Survey (WGS), these two wore out many pairs of field boots walking the country side in search of new mineral deposits. And it is important to recognize that before Ray Harris passed away from stress induced in the work place, and Dan Hausel retired to get out of a horrible situation, the two had been working to find other rare mineral deposits and decorative stones. After Wyoming loss both, no new WGS discoveries have been reported in the state even though there likely are many more mineral deposits to be found and many follow-up studies that need to be conducted. Prior to the loss of these two, they were finding a couple to more than a dozen new mineral and decorative stone deposits each year. A discovery rate that few well-financed mining companies could compare to, yet these two had little exploration money.
As an example, the diamond rush in Canada that followed the discovery of the Ekati diamondiferous kimberlites cost $millions for each new kimberlite discovery - and each discovery required teams of geologists with supportive geochemical, geophysical and airborne surveys. And, capitalization for the Ekati mine cost more than $1 billion! Yes, much of the exploration for diamonds was in the Canadian tundra, but Wyoming often has comparable weather producing short field seasons.
|A sample processing unit created at the WGS by Jay Roberts because of|
limited funding. This was created to float micro-diamonds from crushed
samples of kimberlite. In addition to this diamond flotation unit, our lab
technician later found an old Wilfley table, crushers, etc in the dumpster
outside the old NRRI (Natural Resource Research Institute) building on
campus. Our dumpster diver recovered some of these and later we were
able to obtain other second hand equipment and rock crushers no longer
needed by NRRI as that institute closed its doors. The Wilfley Table was
used for heavy mineral extraction and later modified to include a
grease table to extract diamonds. The tables worked, but should have been
placed in a museum with the micro-diamond flotation unit.
Hausel also mapped (geologically) more than 1,000 km2 in Wyoming's mineralized regions and many of its old abandoned gold mines, and provided the Cowboy state with insight into Wyoming's ancient Archean craton and greenstone belts, its diamond districts (he mapped the two largest kimberlite districts in the US [Iron Mountain and State Line] and the largest lamproite field in North America [Leucite Hills]) and other features overlooked by other geologists. Harris introduced many companies to industrial minerals and decorative stones and both presented hundreds of lectures and talks to the general pubic and industry and published hundreds of papers, books and maps bringing Wyoming from its brink of geological dark ages. The largest state budget either had to work with was typically $2,000/year; and in many years this was less. When Hausel made significant gold discoveries in the Seminoe Mountains and Rattlesnake Hills in 1981, he had only $100/year for assays in his budget - enough to pay for about 5 sample analyses. As a result, lab technicians at the WGS had to be very creative in sample processing. Just with raw determination, an insatiable curiosity, field vehicles (that were confiscated from both in 2005-2006 by the Director and assigned to his personal secretary) and gas card, each was able to find and identify previously unknown or unrecognized mineral resources. Few other State geological surveys (let alone countries) could match their accomplishments.
|Emerald jade with quartz inclusions, Granite Mountains area,|
|Chalcopyrite in breccia, Kurtz-Chatterton mine, Encampment|
|Specularite with chalcopyrite from Puzzler Hill, Wyoming|
|Rosasite with quartz, Jelm Mountain, Wyoming|
|Kimberlitic indicator minerals (pyrope garnet, almandine garnet, chromian|
diopside and chromian enstatite recovered from anthills.
Six other geologists and Hausel went on to discover another major gold deposit in Alaska while on leave from the WGS in 1988 – a deposit that has more than 41 million ounces - more than twice the amount of gold mined in the entire mining history of the Klondike and more than 200 times the amount of gold mined in Wyoming throughout its history. The Donlin Creek gold deposit in Alaska is one of the largest ever found in North America and was discovered by seven geologists that included three from Wyoming: Dr. Paul Graff, Mark Bronston, and Dan Hausel. The group was awarded the prestigious 2009 Canadian 'Thayer Lindsley Award for a Major International Discovery', and Hausel was awarded the 2004 Wyoming Geological Association's 'Distinguished Service Award', the only geologist in the history of the Wyoming Geological Survey to receive such top honors and possibly the only government geologist in the USA to receive this distinction. Hausel made the cover of ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal in 2005 after finding and mapping more gemstone deposits that included some of the largest gems in the world. Hausel received awards outside the WGS agency for these discoveries.
|Kyanite eclogite nodule from the Aultman 2 kimberlite, Wyoming State Line district. Specimen contains gem kyanite,|
chromian diopside and garnet.
|Faceted iolite and ruby from Palmer Canyon, Wyoming|
|Highwall of the Kelsey Lake diamond mine on the Colorado-Wyoming|
border. The kimberlite was recognized by Dr. David Eggler and its
potential as a diamond mine was later recognized by Howard Coopersmith
Wyoming should now be referred to as the Gemstone State for all of the occurrences of agate, jasper, chalcedony, common opal, fire opal, precious opal, mexican onyx, gold nuggets, pyrope garnet, spessartine garnet, almandine garnet, rare chlorite pseudomorphs after almandine, chrome diopside, chrome enstatite, kyanite, sillimanite, cordierite, staurolite, iolite, ruby, sapphire, peridot, fluorite, industrial diamond, gem diamond, specularite, apatite, minyulite, amethyst, quartz, milky quartz, rose quartz, beryl, aquamarine, jade, silicified banded iron formation, cuprite, gem-quality schorlite (black tourmaline), jasperoid, labradorite, grunerite, moonstone, amber, chrysocolla, heliodor, varisite, rare jade pseudomorphs after quartz, malachite, argentite, wulfenite & other minerals. This does not even include many of the unusual and rare rock types found in Wyoming including kimberlite, lamproite, lamprophyre, kyanite eclogite, eclogite, diamondiferous eclogite, garnet peridotite, diamondiferous garnet peridotite, pyroxenite, anorthosite and others. In reality, Wyoming is a rock hound's paradise. And if someone examines the Sunlight Basin, Copper Mountain, central Laramie Mountains, Bighorn Basin, Powder River Basin in a search for new minerals and gemstones with the same enthusiasm as Harris and Hausel, this list will continue to grow.
|Geologist reflected in Wyoming Jade (nephrite).|
|Fluorite in limonite from Bear Lodge Mountains (low-value|
So, after all of these discoveries and putting Wyoming in the lime light - Ray Harris and Dan Hausel ran into a political agenda that did not favor Wyoming or them. Harris died, Hausel retired, and the director was appointed head of another agency at the University of Wyoming. Who knows how many other mineral and gemstone deposits would have been found if these two would have been supported by the WGS. At the end of their WGS careers, Harris was still working on finding new decorative stones and Hausel found evidence of another iolite deposit, more ruby deposits, placer diamond deposits, hundreds of possible kimberlites and had developed an exploration model for aluminum and aluminum-silicate gemstones that possibly would have led to discoveries of additional gemstone deposits in central Wyoming. It is rare in history that people like Harris and Hausel come along who see things differently than others. May Ray Harris rest in peace!
Final note - Publication (pdf) downloads from the WGS continue to be modified, so when they again change their links to produce broken links, please contact them at 307-766-2286.
|Faceted Wyoming peridot surrounded by peridot rough, Leucite Hills|
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