Today I will be writing about a slightly different topic... one that is still quite nerdy, but one that is also near and dear to my heart- agates; Lake Superior's treasure! My Grandfather first introduced me to agates when I was a little girl. He shared his passion for the hobby with me and my interest in them has grown ever since. Keep reading to find out more about these beautiful gemstones.
What is an Agate?
An agate is actually a variety of the mineral quartz. Specifically, an agate is made up out of layers of chalcedony (kal-SED-oh-nee); a very hard material. These layers build up in gas bubbles (aka vesicles) within rocks. These layers create the banding pattern that agates are famous for.
So how exactly does one find an agate? There are a number of clues that can signify that you've found an agate; aside from their popular banding, which may or may not be visible.
Agates initially formed along the shores of Lake Superior. Since that time, they have been carried throughout the region by glaciers and rivers. Since your best chances of finding the gemstones are in areas where the earth/soil has been moved, the Lake's shoreline, riverbanks and beds, as well as gravel pits all make great locations for finding them. Please note that most pits are privately owned and can be dangerous, so ask for permission first and exercise caution when traversing.
This post only begins to scratch the surface of agates. There's a lot more information out there about Lake Superior agates including more detailed info on where to find them (Moose Lake, MN has an annual agate festival each year), the types of agates and their rarities (eye agates are one of my favorites), how you can display and use agates (jewelery is a common use), as well as how to polish them (not all agates should be polished according to the experts); just to name a few topic categories.
Superior Trails (website)
Agate Lady (website)
Lake Superior Rock Picker's Guide (book)
Lake Superior Agates Field Guide (book)
Agate Hunting Made Easy: How to Really Find Lake Superior Agates (book)
Keep in mind that different agates are located all around the world. Research your area to see what treasures may be around for finding!