Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The GemHunter State


Since Idaho is known as the Gem State, shouldn't Wyoming be referred to as the Mineral & Rock State, Gemstone State, Rockhound State, GemHunter State, and/or Prospector State? After all, once we began to take a close look at the geology in Wyoming from 1977 to 2007, hundreds of gemstone discoveries, gold anomalies, mineral discoveries and unique rock discoveries were made, providing this once, homogeneous, Cowboy State and Jade State with a long list of minerals, rocks and gems that were mostly unknown prior to 1977. 

So what happened to change things? The answer is, someone decided to look. Yep, that's all it took. And over 30 years, literally hundreds of new discoveries were made statewide, many in the middle of nowhere (which is just about any place in Wyoming), others were found along dirt roads, state highways, and even along the Interstate system. It's amazing what one can find when they actually take a look. And after discovering potentially a king's ransom in gemstones, I was in demand all over the continent for talks. 

Industrial and gem-quality macro-diamonds collected from
Wyoming kimberlites along Highway 287 south of Laramie.
This larger diamonds were extracted from kimberlite a about
5 years after the first micro diamonds were found in the area.
Starting in the 1970s, diamonds were accidentally discovered in kimberlite (a very rare igneous rock on the earth's surface) in Wyoming, after rock samples from a kimberlite were collected in Wyoming by Dr. M.E. McCallum and Chuck Mabarak from CSU in the Colorado-Wyoming State Line district. These were tested by the US Geological Survey in Denver. 

The samples of garnet peridotite nodules (another rare rock type) were trapped in the kimberlite magma as it rose from the upper mantle of the earth. The peridotite, enclosed in kimberlite yielded several, tiny micro diamonds from sample concentrates. Not sure why it took so long to find these since a prospector in Colorado - Frank Yaussi, was actually recovering diamonds (and gold) from a creek in Colorado adjacent to a quarry of serpentinized rock on the Sloan Ranch (Frank Yaussi, personal communication). It turns out that the rock mined from the quarry later proved to be kimberlite by McCallum and Mabarak.

Later, mining companies, recovered many gem-quality (and some industrial) diamonds from a group of kimberlites extending 2.5 miles north into Wyoming and about 10 miles south into Colorado.  All within a short district of US Highway 287 running from Laramie to Ft. Collins. Hard to imagine that all of those kimberlite volcanoes, with the diamonds and many other gems and unique rocks, remained hidden and untouched for so long. Part of the reason was possibly due to the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872, where people including civil war generals and even a US Senator, lost investments on a diamond scam that occurred west of this area. 

Kimberlite specimens containing hidden diamonds along with
visible chromian diopside and pyrope-almandine garnet gem
megacrysts. Sloan Ranch kimberlite, Colorado. Kimberlite is
considered to be one of the rarest rock types on the earth's
Did we find all of the kimberlite volcanoes and diamonds? Nope! Barely touched the surface, so to speak. Based on research by the Wyoming Geological Survey, hundreds of kimberlitic indicator mineral anomalies were identified in the region indicating the presence of hidden, eroding, kimberlite pipes all over the place. Some research by the Wyoming Geological Survey and later by DiamonEx Ltd, found more than 300 cryptovolcanic structures with characteristics similar to kimberlite pipes - only one of these was ever drilled! And there have even been some geophysical anomalies detected that are interpreted as buried pipe-like structures sitting adjacent to known diamondiferous kimberlite pipes. So, yes, there is still a lot of possibilities. Then there is the extensive diamond indicator mineral anomaly (along with a couple of diamond-bearing lamprophyres) found in a region of the Greater Green River basin extending from Green River and Rock springs, south to the Utah-Wyoming border, and extending into the Uinta Mountains in Utah north of Skinwalker Ranch. These are described in a number of reports by Tom McCandless, Bill Nash, Dan Hausel and others. 

A 24,150-carat iolite rough gemstone from Grizzly Creek. This giant, is actually tiny, when compared
to some of the larger iolites sitting in outcrop that are estimated to weigh more than one million

Possibly, the greatest gemstone discovery in Wyoming occurred in 1995, and led to similar discoveries in 2004 and 2005. In 1995, the author went looking for the source of a rock collected by Wyoming Geological Survey Industrial Minerals Geologist, Ray Harris (RIP). Garnet was misidentified in the sample, but instead, these red gems had characteristic crystal habits of corundum. After getting the location of the sample site from Harris, the author examined the Palmer Canyon locality in the Laramie Mountains for ruby and sapphire. Sure enough, some high-quality specimens of ruby and sapphire (both varieties of corundum) were recovered from the vermiculite schist. And while searching the area for other outcrops of corundum, gem-quality kyanite, and also gem-quality iolite (cordierite, also referred to as water sapphire) was found including a large, 1,714-carat, fist-sized rough gemstone of the highest quality! Palmer Canyon was a poly-gem deposit. 

A 1,720-carat iolite gemstone rough collected at Palmer Canyon
This incredible discovery lead to the identification of several varieties of iolite gems, along with ruby, sapphire and kyanite. After developing some concepts for an exploration model for iolite, the author began searching for other localities and nearly a decade later, predicted to location of iolite at Grizzly Creek, and found evidence of a potential world class deposit in the Sherman Mountains area of the Laramie Range. The Grizzly Creek deposit contained giant iolite gemstones, some likely weighing millions of carats that still remain in situ, because they were not possible to recover from the outcrop because of size. 

Grizzly Creek outcrop containing 
hundreds of thousands of carats of iolite.
he discovery of ruby and sapphire at Palmer Canyon led the author to search other reported sites of vermiculite schist in Wyoming and six of these contained ruby and/or sapphire. Thus, geological models often provide a means to find similar deposits in similar geological environments!

In 1997, I decided to get out of the office again and go search for possible evidence of diamondiferous lamproite similar to what had been found at Argyle and Ellendale, Australia a decade earlier. One of these, the Argyle, had extremely rich grades for a diamond deposit. Well, Wyoming has one of the largest known fields of lamproites, so I figured I would go have a closer look at the rock types. In particular, I was searching for olivine (also referred to as peridot) because the Aussies had determined this was the identifying mineral in lamproites that separated diamond-bearing lamproites from barren lamproites. 

One of the first olivine grains faceted showing 
excellent transparency. Leucite Hills, Wyoming

After a little searching and some mapping in Wyoming's lamproite volcanic field near Rock Springs, known as the Leucite Hills, sure enough, not far from Black Butte lamproite, I came across two green anthills. Wow, I was excited, here were two anthills that had so many specimens of olivine, that they were green - I examined the olivine with my 10x hand lens, and whazzooo!!! They were mostly gem quality! This was amazing! Since the late 19th century, geologists visiting the field had reported some olivine, but never in concentrations like this, and also, not one had even mentioned these minerals were gem-quality. Talk about wearing blinders when going to the field. So, I collected the two anthills, these were later processed in our laboratory, and more than 1,300 carats of gem-quality peridot were recovered. Why, thank you ants! But, didn't find any diamonds, but at the same time, to find diamonds, typically large bulk samples must be taken with a bulldozer - not the kind of money that we had for research. But a couple of chromites  recovered from a couple of lamproites had favorable chemistry for diamonds. So, Wyoming just needs to get someone interested in digging diamonds near Rock Springs. 
A group of raw and faceted olivine (peridot) collected from anthills in the Leucite Hills, Wyoming
discovery by the author.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Gemstone Book

Is there a giant, unrecognized, opal and agate deposit near Douglas Wyoming? Opals
and banded chalcedony occur in southeastern Arizona that are mostly untouched.
A large peridot deposit sits south of Las Cruces New Mexico near the Mexican border,
and there are likely dozens of unrecognized diamond deposits all over Colorado,
Kansas, Montana and Wyoming. These are a few of the interesting subjects 
in my latest book on "Finding Gemstones ....".
Not long ago, I searched Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Kansas and California for gold, sapphire and/or diamonds when a couple of companies contracted me to find them a mineral deposit. So, with a company credit card, keys to a 4WD truck, and a couple of dollars in my pocket, I was off to the hills looking at some rocks. Found interesting targets that they never followed up on: one  favorite targets was later found to contain diamonds. Strange how some mining companies operate.

Another company sent me to Alaska. Six other geologists and I found one of the largest gold deposits in the 20th century, and three of us were independent cusses from Wyoming. Everyone talks about teamwork, but it doesn't work well in exploration as you need people who are recluses and different. Exploration successes are mostly a result of independently minded prospectors and geologists. People who can get the job done by themselves in the middle of nowhere, and their only friend is a large gun used for bear repellent.

I tell some of prospecting stories, but mostly I describe what to look for in gemstones, how to recognize them, and give the reader dozens of locations of gemstone deposits and possible deposits they can follow up on to see if they can find treasure in the Earth. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Finding Diamonds, Gemstones and Gold

The Schaffer 15 diamondiferous kimberlite in foreground with exposed blue-ground in badger hole diggings. The entire open (treeless) park is underlain by

“Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” - Mark Twain

In 1977, I was privileged to map the State Line diamond district south of Laramie. I could never thank Dr. Dan Miller (RIP) enough for that opportunity. Dr. Miller was an outstanding person and director of the Wyoming Geological Survey located at UW in Laramie, and he decided I was the best candidate for the position of minerals research geologist, even though I didn't have much experience and just barely started shaving. 

As a young geologist who specialized in igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks, and mineral deposits, this was a dream come true. Diamond deposits are rare and found primarily associated with a host rock known as kimberlite. Such a rare igneous rock filled with diamonds, other gems such as chromian-diopside and -enstatite, with pyrope-, spessartine-, and almandine-garnet, other rare minerals and some of the rarest mantle and crustal nodules along with unusual chemistry and weird emplacement mechanics - such rocks were a geologist's dream with my background. For example, picture a geologist jumping up and down, hopping from rock to rock while singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Yep, the ranchers thought I had lost my mind, but I was happy.

General map showing locations of the State Line and Iron Mountain kimberlite districts and nearby
kimberlites, lamproites and diamond-indicator mineral anomalies.

While mapping during the fall of 1977 and summer of 1978, I was able to add to the number of diamond deposits that had been previously discovered in the district by David Eggler, Chuck Mabarak and Mac McCallum - all excellent geologists. I was an amateur among giants running around cattle pastures watching out for ticks, unfriendly ranchers, and badgers who loved to dig in the soft, weathered, blue-ground kimberlite when not trying to eat geologists. Luckily, I did not see any rattlesnakes in this area - not like the hundreds that harassed me daily at the Iron Mountain kimberlite district I mapped years later.

Schaffer 3, elongated diamondiferous kimberlite pipe in the Colorado-Wyoming State Line district.
Where? This is one of the more obvious pipes (actually, this should be called a 'blow', or
an elongated kimberlite along a narrower dike. Such pipes usually are circular, but start to narrow 
down in the earth to linear blows until reaching a feeder dike at 3 thousand feet deep. So, based on
morphology of this pipe and texture of the rock under the soil, this pipe probably lost about
half of its upper structure during erosion over the past 400 million years. Just think, half
of its diamond content was freed from the rock and carried down-slope and down stream.
The geography suggests there must be a cache of detrital diamonds in the adjacent drainages in
Wyoming continuing down into Colorado. Oh yea, the pipe is the open park (treeless) with a
visible grassy vegetation anomaly.

I really enjoyed mapping the State Line district while educating myself on characteristics of diamond deposits. My work, education, mistakes and successes provided a foundation for future work on other diamond and colored gemstone deposits while working in research at the Wyoming Geological Survey at UW, as a consultant for mining companies, and VP of US Exploration for DiamonEx Ltd. For me, I was living a dream job.

While mapping, I would walk along elongated kimberlite pipes. The pipes followed distinct trends, so, I simply followed the known kimberlite elongations based on the presence of a thick (for Wyoming) stands of blue grass in carbonate-rich soil (these magmas erupt with considerable release of CO2 gas  into the atmosphere - so much so that it is believed the gaseous eruption temperature of the expanding gas is zero degrees centigrade). So, if you personally witnessed the eruption of a kimberlite volcano, your eyebrows likely would fall off because of frostbite. So, for those who love global warming - just think of all of the nasty CO2 being released into our atmosphere to assist in growth and health of trees.

Thus, while walking along trends, I would search for any kind of anomaly, such as high grass, light-blue to gray soil (known as blue-ground), diamond indicator minerals, mantle nodules brought up by the kimberlite, rounded cobbles polished by kimberlite magma, and rarely actual kimberlite rock. To help find kimberlite, diamond exploration geologists carry loupes around their neck so they can examine minerals, rocks and soil with 10x to 15x magnifiers, and a small plastic bottle of dilute hydrochloric acid to squirt on suspicious soil to see if it reacts with acid. The reaction produces a lot of CO2 (same stuff you find in soda pop). 

Trenching the Aultman 1 diamondiferous kimberlite, Colorado-Wyoming state line district. Blue-
ground exposed in backhoe trench after starting in the reddish brown granitic soil.

Later, after receiving a grant from the US Bureau of Mines to search for kimberlite, I purchased badly needed geophysical equipment for the Wyoming Geological Survey including electromagnetic, magnetic, resistivity and seismic units and with these, myself and my contract geologists further detected hidden kimberlites and dikes in the district.  

At about the same time the geophysical  surveys were completed, Cominco-American was granted a special permit to explore the property in Wyoming for diamonds. They set up a diamond extraction mill at a sand and gravel pit along the northern edge of Ft. Collins, Colorado adjacent to highway 287, and hauled the diamondiferous material from the pipes along the state line to Ft. Collins for processing. Several diamonds were recovered, but there were reports of problems with the bulk sampling mill. Unfortunately, not enough diamonds were recovered, and after a time, the operation ceased. This was pre-Biden, a time of peace, little inflation, reasonable gas prices, fewer criminals in Congress, and  lower diamond values. The calculated ore grades from minimal sampling suggested that these kimberlites were likely not commercial; however, kimberlites at Kelsey Lake and the Sloan ranch in Colorado, had much better grades and highly quality diamonds.

After this project, mineral discoveries became an annual event. Predicted in a book, co-authored with  Wayne Sutherland, we suggested a significant iolite gem deposit was likely to occur in the Grizzly Creek area to the north, in the Central Laramie Mountains based on similar geology to the Palmer Canyon deposit. And then, more and more gems were found over the years giving Wyoming the distinction of have the greatest number of known gem deposits of any state in the US, and the most diversified variety of gemstones (Hausel, 2014).

I would still be in Wyoming finding new gem and gold deposits, but it was not in the stars. The new director of the Survey ethically-challenged with an innate hatred for all productive, free-thinking, independent employees who hated the 1st amendment of the constitution. With no place for independence, creativity, free speech it was sadly time for me to move on and leave my home of more than 30 years. 

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” - Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New GOLD Book Published

Our new book by my son and myself describes nearly every gold deposit in Wyoming is now available at Amazon. If you would like your own gold deposit, this book tells you exactly where they are. All you need to do is learn to use a topographic map. 

Wyoming is the most under-explored state in the West for gold (exclusive of Alaska), and should have produced 50 to 200 times more gold than it has - this means there are some major gold deposits that remain to be discovered.

A nearly 7.5 ounce nugget was recovered from old dredge tailings near Rock Creek at South Pass by a prospector with a metal detector. How many other large nuggets were missed and how much gold continues further downstream from the old mine tailings? The Rock Creek mine was closed by the War Production Board in 1942 because all mining was ordered to provide war support. The mine never started up again after World War II ended. After I did some consulting for a group on Rock Creek to check out the gold content of the gravels, tailings, etc, I was impressed by all of the gold that likely still remains in Rock Creek. Lots of virgin ground and where the tailings were dumped, considerable gold was lost with the tailings as the mill for the operation was not well designed. AND they also rejected any and all large nuggets to save money on processing.

It appears from field examination that the Rock Creek operation left considerable virgin ground that is completely unmined. In the above photo of the ET Fisher mill on Rock Creek. The mill is located on unmined ground. But even the tailings carry considerable gold. I met one prospector who had accumulated more than 100 gold nuggets from the mined tailings using a metal detector.

A 34- ounce nugget found on Rock Creek downstream from Atlantic City. A similar gold placer exists on Willow Creek south of Rock Creek. Willow Creek has less gravel, but its placer was partially derived from the rich Carissa mine lode at South Pass City. This placer likely is very rich at depth, but has been withdrawn from the public as has the Carissa mine. The Carissa lode is likely a multi-million ounce gold deposit taken from the public by the State Government.
There are many gold prospects waiting to be explored and developed in Wyoming and the adjacent states. While searching for gold, always keep an eye out for diamonds, diamond indicator minerals, rubies, sapphires, platinum, palladium and any gemstones of interest. In this photo above, the gold has one tiny garnet that proved to be a pyrope garnet, or diamond indicator mineral. Placer diamonds were found upstream from this locality, but the diamond lode remains to be found. So, keep your eye peeled for any interesting minerals and rocks when you search for gold. There are many gemstone deposits yet to be discovered in Wyoming.

Gold from South Pass. This gold was produced by two placer miners in the 1980s in a gulch overlooked by everyone. They were experienced miners and used a small backhoe and trommel and recovered about 20 ounces of gold/week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Thank you Planet News for recognizing the significance of our accomplishments over the many years. Please visit their blog to see what I'm talking about.

Fist-size almandine garnet from Tie Siding with
translucent zones.
Until the start of this century, Wyoming was thought to be an energy rich state, but very poor in gold and gemstones. However, research over a span of 30 years showed Wyoming to be one of the richest terrains in the US for gemstones, gold, as well as copper and other base and precious metals. Wyoming has many undiscovered diamond deposits based on work I completed for DiamonEx Ltd as well as for myself.

Sloan 5 Diamondiferous kimberlite,
Colorado. This is one of the better exposed
cryptovolcanic structures in the region and
it is underlain by diamondiferous kimberlite
We found dozens and dozens of cryptovolcanic structures with features characteristic of kimberlite pipes: distinct depressions along linear fractures, open parks with rounded boulders, some with wet or dry lake beds in the Precambrian terrain surrounded by calcium carbonate-rich soil (the Precambrian terrain in this region is very calcium carbonate poor). Several of these were verified as having considerable calcium carbonate and blue ground typical of kimberlite. Are these kimberlites? Several likely are, as many were found within known diamondiferous kimberlite districts and others are surrounded by kimberlitic indicator mineral anomalies.

We found more than 300 kimberlitic indicator mineral anomalies and more than 400 cryptovolcanic depressions. I think it is safe to say that Wyoming is underlain by a major diamond province that has been totally and completely ignored by the State. Would you like to create several thousand jobs in this region - get your local politicians to open their eyes (when they are not stealing us blind) and work on promoting these resources.

Gem-quality peridot from Leucite Hills.
In addition to diamonds, there are world-class colored gemstone deposits in Wyoming. Before I left the WGS, I was working on two of the largest colored gemstone deposits on earth - Grizzly Creek and Sherman Mountains. The Sherman Mountains deposit is very intriguing. When I first examined a very small part of this deposit on a county road in 2005, I found several, very high-quality iolite gemstones but much of the deposit remained untouched as far as gemstones. So what is the story on this incredible gemstone find?

Around world war II, The Sherman Mountains deposit was examined and trenched by two geologists from Wyoming who were researching the area for possible magnesium mineral resources for the War effort. The geologists reported this one deposit to have massive zones of cordierite (they missed the fact that it contained high-quality gem material). The cordierite was estimated at the surface to include 500,000 tonnes of cordierite. Now if we convert that to carats, we have a WORLD-CLASS gemstone deposit that is unmatched! This many tonnes converts to about 2.5 trillion carats at the surface. Now get this, there is NO information about the subsurface - how deep does this go? One could imagine that every 10 feet deep or so, we could potentially add another 2.5 trillion carats of this gemstone.  Now if only 50% of this cordierite is gem-quality iolite, we have a deposit that potentially has much more than $10 trillion in gemstones.

After I made this discovery and discovered the Grizzly Creek deposit, the State Geologist with full support of the Governor's office took away my field vehicle and gave it to his secretary. Four of the most incompetent geologists on staff were then promoted to management, and all of my field gear and samples were dumped by these whimps. My travel and research budget was also confiscated making it impossible for me to stay at the WGS. So, why all of the concern by these politicians? Was this a conspiracy, or just corrupt politicians with egos larger than the Cheyenne city dump? Personally, I would pick the latter. A conspiracy would suggest there was some form intelligence involved.

I found evidence for other iolite deposits north of Palmer Canyon.  Prior to finding the gem-quality iolite at Sherman Mountains, I made a discovery of gem-quality iolite at Palmer Canyon, several miles north of the Sherman Mountains discovery. This was what I thought was the first discovery of iolite in Wyoming (it turns out that someone else may have recognized iolite somewhere in this region because John Sinkankas mentions a gem-quality iolite deposit in his book that he visited in Wyoming, possibly in the 1950s. Just before he passed away, I had talked to him on the phone and he could not remember any details as to the location). Palmer Canyon contained many gem-quality iolites, some rubies and sapphires, a large number of gem-quality kyanite gemstones, and a few of the largest gemstone iolites ever found. One gemstone, I named the Palmer Canyon Blue Star, weighed 1,720 carats - a world record gemstone!

While conducting research at Palmer Canyon, I developed a model to assist in locating other similar deposits. In 2000, my field assistant and I published a book on Gemstones in Wyoming in which I predicted another iolite deposit would be found at Grizzly Creek based on favorable geology and that some ruby and sapphre deposits would be found elsewhere in the state. When we finally got access to Palmer Canyon, wow! My model was right!

The largest iolite ever found on earth from
Grizzly Creek
Iolite gemstones that were enormous. I took out the largest ioliteiolite found as replacements in place in the outcrop. Some were likely several hundred thousand carats and others would likely be measured in the million+ carats (for one single gemstone). Along with these, I found billions of carats of gem-quality kyanite. A king's ransom of gemstones.

Wayne Sutherland poses against
large outcrop of iolite. Much of
the rock behind him is massive 
Would I get an award for these discoveries? Special recognition by the legislature, governor or state geologist?  An honorary PhD from the University of Wyoming? Nope! My reward was confiscation of my field vehicle and budget and I could no longer travel to present lectures or field trips to the public - and then it got real bad. But at least I got out with my life, not something that two of my productive colleagues could claim. Robert Lyman and Ray Harris died that year at the Survey and we only had a staff of 25. At least 6 people wore heart monitors. What was going on? Would someone investigate this? Are you kidding, this was Wyoming - we didn't have enough money to buy our politicians.
Gem-quality pyrope and spessartine
garnet and gem-quality chromian
diopside and enstatite from
Green River Basin.

Ruby and Sapphire deposits seem to be in many localities in Wyoming. I discovered at least six deposits based on geological models and was working on others including one potentially significant deposit near the southern tip of the Wind River Mountains. After I recognized the connection between ruby and glimmerite, this open the door to find many more deposits.

The possibility of many other gemstone deposits in Wyoming is likely - one that remains of interest is that of emerald. I also found billions of carats of very high quality kyanite gemstones. Well, how about gold. Wyoming has been missed as a gold target. It should have produced about 200 times more gold than it did in the past. And not many were looking, but I was finding gold everywhere - including the Laramie City Dump and I found a whole new gold district near Casper. 

And there are many more large million ounce gold deposits in the State - they are just being ignored or they are being withdrawn or have already been withdrawn by the worse examples of bureaucrats. People who are only interested in their personal self-wealth and self-importance. Wyoming has two of the largest (possible more) copper provinces in the nation. These include the Absaroka Volcanic plateau to the east of Yellowstone and the volcanogenic massive sulfide province in the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre Mountains. These provinces (along with major platinum-group metal anomalies) were all withdrawn, piece by piece by the Federal Government, State Government, and government in general. We can thank the US Forest Service and US Bureau of Land MisManagement for taking our public lands and making them government lands. From 1977 to 2007 I watched as deposit after deposit was withdrawn using primitive, wilderness, roadless, too many mice, etc withdrawals to keep mining companies out. Everytime there was a significant discovery, it was quickly withdrawn by the Green Machine known as the Forest Service. This and the BLM should be eliminated as agencies to save our resources and federal budget.

As an example of how things got so out of control, after I had announced discovery of a major opal and agate deposit in central Wyoming in 2003, the BLM was very frustrated as they actually wanted to withdraw the area to protect other resources - but they had NO IDEA where it was located, because I would not tell them.
This large, rough, pink sapphire was found in
Palmer Canyon with several thousand carats of other
sapphires and rubies.
Cut and polished kyanite gemstones from Palmer Canyon.
Billions of carats of labradiorite gemstones remain
untouched in the central Laramie Range.
Faceted ruby and iolite from Palmer Canyon
Note the high-quality transparent pink, orange and red pyropes
as well as the transparent green chrome diopsides from the
Green River Basin. These are tiny, but all are actually cuttable.
One of many fancy diamonds found in Wyoming.
Fancy Wyoming diamond with a slight green hint.
A 7.5 ounce nugget found near Rock Creek by prospector at South
Pass, Wyoming. Another treasure that is not suppose to be found
in Wyoming
A 34-ounce nugget recovered from Rock Creek at South Pass. It is likely
that several major gold deposits were missed in Wyoming. Based on
geological models, Wyoming should have produced about 200 times
more gold than history records. Where is the gold? 

The author (several years ago) mapping copper-zinc-silver
deposits in Wyoming - other commodities that are not suppose
to be in the State. Yet the known deposits and geology
support Wyoming has at least two major copper-zinc-silver-
gold provinces that were withdrawn by the US Forest Service as
soon as they realized the public might want to explore their
public lands. Little did we know, it was really Forest Service

Sky-blue gem-quality kyanite - billions of carats of this gem
still remain in place in the Laramie Range of Wyoming.

Beautiful several carat faceted chromian diopside from a Wyoming
kimberlite. I had several of these gems that were perfectly transparent
stolen from my office before I could get them cut. But it shows the potential
ignored by the state.

Cabbed jasperoid from Hartville.

One of the largest rubies found on earth - discovered at
the Red Dwarf ruby deposit. Some of the preserved ruby
has the highest quality pigeon's blood color for ruby.

Sweetwater Opal - one of the largest deposits in North America includes
a giant resource of gem-quality Mexican Fire Opal that is untouched.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wyoming Gems, Rocks & Minerals

Minerals book - available on Amazon.
As my son Eric and I finished our book - Gold: Field Guide for Prospectors and Geologists focusing on gold deposits and mines in Wyoming, I am reminded that there are many, many gold deposits out there and all one needs is some luck, less government, and use sof cientific principals to find these.

This book, and a following book (Gold in Arizona) will work well with my 2009 book on Gems, Minerals and Rocks of Wyoming which is designed to help the reader find minerals and identify them.  The books are designed to help you find a gold deposit.

I found a few hundred gold anomalies over the years, now I'm telling you where all of these are located.

Prior to 1975, only jade and a few agates were known in Wyoming. Central Wyoming was scoured by rockhounds searching for jade in the vicinity of Crooks Gap where impressive cobbles and boulders of very high-quality nephrite jade were found. But why were there no other gemstones in this state? The answer was simple: few rock hounds searched for other gems other than jade and agate, and geologists simply could not conceive of the idea that other gems were present. Even so, Dr. J.D. Love identified a few low quality corundum deposits that hinted at the possibility for ruby and sapphire in the state, and a specimen of high-quality precious opal from the Yellowstone region provided evidence for gemstones in that volcanic terrain. The nearby Absaroka volcanic mountains also provided geological evidence that both Yellowstone and the Absarokas likely contained significant gold, silver and copper deposits.

Within a few decades, Wyoming became known as the gem capital of North America. Many new rocks, gems and minerals were discovered by several rock hounds, prospectors and myself. Wyoming has an impressive list of gemstones and has the most diverse collection of documented gems of any state in the US or of any province in Canada.

Some of the gems that have been identified since 1977 are considered world-class deposits and have yielded some of the largest gemstones in the world. The collection of gems in Wyoming now include agate, jasper, common opal, fire opal, precious opal, onyx, gold nuggets, platinum and palladium nuggets, Cape Ruby (pyrope garnet), chrysocolla, malachite, azurite, covellite, enargite, cuprite, spessartine garnet, Cape Emerald (chrome diopside), chrome enstatite, kyanite, iolite, ruby, sapphire, peridot, diamond, specularite, apatite, minyulite, amethyst, aquamarine, jade, almandine garnet, chalcedony, silicified banded iron formation, jasperoid, labradorite, grunerite, amber, heliodor, varisite, jade pseudomorphs after quartz, quartz and others (Hausel, 2008c; Hausel and Sutherland, 2000, 2006). And based on geology, it is likely other gems will be found, such as emerald, sillimanite, andalusite, a variety of feldspars and spodumene.

For over 30 years, while working as a research geologist and geological consultant I hunted Wyoming in search of mineral deposits and became the most successful geologist in the history of the Wyoming Geological Survey following hundreds of discoveries. I documented essentially all of the discoveries in hundreds of articles. Many of the discoveries were made while mapping most of the State's historic mining districts. I felt blessed that no one else had the ambition or apparent interest to search and map the old districts in the state. For this, I was presented the Wyoming Geological Association's highest honor in 2004 - the Distinguished Service Award. In 2001, I was inducted into the National Rock Hound & Lapidary Hall of Fame thanks to the efforts of Norma Beers and many other rock hounds and collectors in Wyoming. In 2009, 5 other geologists, Paul Graff from Casper and myself were awarded the Thayer Lindsley Award of Economic Geology for discovery of a major international mineral discovery - the Donlin Creek, Alaska gold deposit containing more than $45 billion in gold! The deposit was described as the largest undeveloped gold deposit in North America by the Northern Miner. I was inducted into several Who's Who compendiums & received many more national & international honors for my work. Overall, I was presented >100 regional, national, and international awards for my work, but my supervisor at the Wyoming Geological Survey told me that I could be terminated if I was not careful: I was making the rest of the staff look bad.  So, below is a sketch of one of the many staff meetings I missed. I'm sure you can pick out the Director, Division Heads and even the visiting Governor. 
Staff meeting - sketch by 
W. Dan Hausel

To decipher Wyoming's complex geology, >1,000 km2 of complex geological terrain had to be mapped. Most geologists avoided these areas because of complexity. However, during the mapping of many of the old Proterozoic and Archean crystalline terrains, many gold deposits were identified, an entirely new gold district was found that may rival Cripple Creek, Colorado, and geological and geochemical clues providing trails to several gemstone deposits overlooked by most everyone else who had worked in the state. It was stated by a couple of researchers at the University of Wyoming that much of what is known of the Precambrian geology in Wyoming was due to my work (Art Snoke and Carol Frost, personal communication, 2006). It was a honor to be recognized as so.

I love to write, so I published >650 professional and general interest papers 
& geological maps & contributed to 30 books. I'm not even sure how many abstracts I submitted to professional and rock hound groups, but was a few hundred that were published in journals and newsletters - I just never kept track of these. Now, after 30 years of discovery, I decided to describe theses gems, minerals and rocks in Wyoming, where to find them, and provide insight on how to identify diamond deposits. Personally, I believe that one of the largest diamond fields on earth is found in the Colorado-Montana-Wyoming region and is awaiting prospectors & geologists to follow-up on these discoveries. I also found the largest iolite deposits on earth in Wyoming - and evidence for others. I found a half-dozen ruby deposits and evidence for many more. 

I found minerals fascinating & identified several mineral species in Wyoming that had previously been unknown in the State. 
Garnet from anthill in Green
River Basin.

I discovered hundreds of mineral deposits during mapping projects & reconnaissance that included hundreds of gold anomalies, a whole new gold district (Rattlesnake Hills), palladium, nickel, diamonds, iolite, cordierite, ruby, sapphire, kyanite gems, peridot, opal & more.

After mapping the two largest diamondiferous kimberlite districts in the US, the largest lamproite field in North America & investigating a group of diamondiferous lamprophyres, I identified a few hundred cryptovolcanic structures that are likely undiscovered diamond deposits in Colorado, Kansas, Montana and Wyoming, as well as in Canada and Africa. I was elated when I found the largest iolite gemstones on earth including stones >24,000 carats while leaving others in the outcrop that could top a million carats.

The first parcel of gem-quality peridot to be faceted from Wyoming. Many geologists samples these
rocks and many walked away thinking there was no value. After the author visited this site searching
for diamonds, he found indications of favorable chemistry and also noted that the olivine was nearly
all gem-quality from the Leucite Hills,

This led to the discovery of two of the largest colored gemstone deposits on the planet: Grizzly Creek and Sherman Mountains. I found giant opals weighing more than 70,000 carats & mapped what could be the largest opal deposit in North America due to a lead from a Riverton rock hound that covers parts of >14 sections of land. I found other gemstones and previously unrecognized minerals and rocks in Wyoming. Basically, these deposits potentially contain several hundred $billion (pre-Biden prices) in gemstones. All I did is I kept an open mind, used geology and geochemistry to find more deposits.

Diamond indicator minerals collected from the Sloan Ranch, Colorado. This 
same variety of gemstones is also found in kimberlites in Wyoming.