RockHoundBlog

Agates From Argentina – Rockhounding

Filed under: regular postings — Gary September 15, 2010 @ 10:50 am

I bumped into some really interesting people on Facebook and they told me they wanted to tell their story.  Mining agates in Argentina, very cool!

During the past several years, we have been looking for agates in our country, Argentina. The main sources are located in the following three regions:
1- Cuyo Region (commercially known as “Condor” agates);
2- Patagonia Region (Patagonian agates – this region is separated from the rest of the regions in Argentina by the Rio Colorado or in English, the Red River).
3- Mesopotamia Region (where “Entre Rios“ agates are found).

The climates, wildlife and landscapes are completely different in each of these regions

CUYEAN REGION

CUYEAN

CUYEAN

The above picture shows a source of agate near San Rafael City, Mendoza Province, about 30 kilometers from the main road. No cell Phones work here. The landscape is not very “friendly”; it has thorny bushes and precipices so that it is advisable to watch your step. I slipped twice here with my back-pack and slid on my back for about 3 meters . That hurt! There are no dangerous animals here. Although there are tons of agates here, it is not easy to find really good ones.

Mining agates

Agate that we had to dig because there were no more agates on the surface.

Same agate wet.

Same agate wet.

Agates found by the end of the day . They looked fine, but were disappointing after they were cut.

Agates found by the end of the day . They looked fine, but were disappointing after they were cut.

Good example of a Cuyean agate.

Good example of a Cuyean agate.

PATAGONIA REGION

PATAGONIA REGION

PATAGONIA AGATES

PATAGONIA AGATES

PATAGONIA AGATES 2

PATAGONIA AGATES

This is our favorite place to hunt for agates.

The landscape is beautiful, horizon is endless, no one around, just animal traces of foxes, Guanacos (like a Llama), and ostridges. It is a very lonely place where no sounds of motors, people (even airplanes) are heard. Of course once you are there, you are on your own. There is no dangerous wildlife here. Although during March, we found a poisonous snake (really unusual) and some Black Widow Spiders that are more common. We travel more often to this area than to other sources in Argentina. The distance from our home in Buenos Aires to one of the sources is of approximately 2400 kilometers. We often drive about 6,000 kilometers for an entire trip.

One of the sources in the Patagonia Region

One of the sources in the Patagonia Region



Patagonia Agate source during Summer

Patagonia Agate source during Summer

Patagonia Agate source during Winter

Patagonia Agate source during Winter

Rios Province

Inside a Natural Reserve near the agate sources. Entre Rios Province is about 400 kilometers from Buenos Aires. Agates here are abundant, but quality agates are very scarce with less 2% being “collector grade”.

Uruguay river

Uruguay River, natural border between Uruguay and Argentina. There is a dangerous and poisonous snake here called the Yarará (Bothrops alternatus)that attacks on sight. Fortunately they can be easily seen because of their bright colors. mountain of agates

The following shows a mountain of agates in an agate mill . These agates are now being grinded up to build a very long highway to Brazil.

Rios Agate

Some of the agates look very similar to Brazilian Agates. Sometimes, and after cutting several hundreds of kilos of “Entre Rios” Agates, something unusual might appear.

Rios_Agate_slice

The following pictures are of slices in our new “experiment”.

Hand_polished_agate

The following pictures are hand Polished agates from Entre Rios Province - this is also a new “experiment”.

When traveling Northwards towards the Brazilian Border, agates get bigger and quality gets lower. Brazilian agates are dyed for ornamental purposes, but the obtained colors are not found in Nature.
As during the last five years , we will be exhibiting our new agates in Tucson Mineral and Fossil Show 2011 at the INN SUITES HOTEL , Room 223 (Behind the Grape-Fruit tree)

Ricardo & Claudia Birnie
AgatesFromArgentina.com


Topaz Mountain, Utah

Filed under: Rockhound Travel,Video — Gary September 8, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

Rockhounding UTAH…

Topaz Mountain is the Southern most portion of Thomas Range. It is characterized by light gray to white rhyolite. The south eastern most point is Topaz Mountain Amphitheater (also know as Topaz Valley or the cove). This is the main and easiest accessible collecting area of the range. Topaz Valley was set aside by the B.L.M. Department of the Interior as a rockhound area. Despite the rumors of it being completely picked over, with hard work and a lot of patience you are often rewarded with some fine clear or sherry colored topaz.

The topaz of topaz mountain fades to colorless when exposed to heat and radiation (the Sun). So, to find the prized sherry colored topaz you have to resort to hard labor. I suggest for the casual collector to bring a 1/4″ screen, rock hammer, and screwdriver. Screen any dirt in washes and around any vegetation. You could easily screen hundreds of clear topaz and some sherry in a days work. Also find any clear topaz on the surface and pry them out with a screwdriver or rock hammer.

If your an avid collector that likes to break up rock and get down to business, I suggest that you bring the following: a heavy hammer (3 lbs +), rock hammer, large chisels (3/4″+),screwdriver, and rock bag.. Attack the mountain by finding soft spots in the rock and hoping to find any cavities. Be aware of signs that may help you. Such as Vegetation in Rhyolite, fracture seams, or open cavities are all good signs you are in a promising area. Be sure to follow the fracture seam, usually sparked off by brownish colored altered hematite. Plugs and frothy rock (both very mineralized Rhyolite) are very good signs your in a cavity. If you follow the signs and be very patient you should be rewarded with many fine sherry colored topaz, and other beautiful minerals.

Connecticut Rockhounding

Filed under: Club Rollcall (hello's),Coming Events — Gary @ 7:53 pm

Danbury Mineralogical Society

Connecticut_Rockhound

Connecticut_Rockhound

Connecticut_Rockhound

Connecticut_Rockhound

Meetings:  First Thursday of every month (except July, August, September, and January), at the Broadview Middle School, Danbury, CT, at 7:30PM.  All are welcome.  Please check back before the meeting to make sure of the date and location.  There may be more changes…..

Directions

From the West:
I-84 East to Exit 5

Straight ahead through 4 lights.

Turn right at 5th light (entrance to North Street Shopping Center) onto Hayestown Ave.

Turn right at next light onto Tamarack Ave.

Turn left at next light onto Hospital Ave.

Broadview will be on your right.

——————————————

From the East:
I-84 East to Exit 6

Turn right at exit.

Turn right at next light (entrance to North Street Shopping Center) onto Hayestown Ave.

Turn right at next light onto Tamarack Ave.

Turn left at next light onto Hospital Ave.

Broadview will be on your right.