One of the things we enjoy most on our early morning walks, away from our active digging areas, is watching the big quartz chunks that are gradually emerging from the earth. Often, after a good hard rain, a piece that was mostly buried one day will be ready to excavate the next, so we usually try to wait till Mother Nature’s done at least some of the work before we finish digging them out.
There’s one particular big piece of quartz that had us really intrigued, though, because we could see hints of the most extraordinary shade of reddish pink and all kinds of other major sparkles – red and silver and gold, oh my! – as well. A couple of weeks ago, Kay couldn’t hold out any longer, and we began digging. We finished excavating it about an hour later, then headed for home to clean it up and see what it was all about.
This is what it looked like in the late afternoon sun after we had hosed it down a bit at home. The quartz is smooth in some places, and there are crystals visible throughout. Takes your breath away, yes?
So what, exactly, makes this particular chunk of quartz so vibrantly pink, as opposed to the other chunks that we regularly get from Gypsum Moon Mine, which range from clear to milky to pink to yellow to blue-gray? The presence of several other minerals, including:
- Brookite, silvery grey rutile crystals scattered on the outside as well as embedded in the quartz itself.
- Black magnetite which has oxidized to hematite, forming thin black or red crystals visible on the surface.
- Limonite, a mineral mixture which can be found in the vugs and cracks and can be washed away, leaving behind some of the most interesting yellow, pink and clear crystals.
- Lepidocrocite, exquisitely tiny red crystals, almost impossible to see individually without magnification.
They don’t photograph well, but there are also plenty of tiny gold sparkles that can be seen glistening in the light, a beautiful shade of sunlight yellow. Not enough gold to make us rich, but still fun to find. We often think about the biggest gold nugget ever found in NC, which was found from right down the creek from us, over in Cabarrus County, in 1799. If you click here you’ll be able to read a complete history of the North Carolina gold rush – and there’s a timeline, with clickable links, so I really had a complete geek-out when I found it 😉
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CJ & Kay