OK, so the gorgeous yellow-orange Fairburn was the highlight of my rockhounding trip this weekend, but it certainly wasn’t the only “find”. Here’s a selection of some of the other agates, jaspers, etc. What amazes me about this location on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands is the seeming infinite variety of what you can find, all within one very small area. All of these were collected within a one-square mile area.
A collection of Prairie Agates, something you find relatively often on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, but they’re so pretty and so variable that I can’t help but collect more.
This one was SO striking when I saw it lying there that I couldn’t help but collect it. I admit however that I have no idea what this is…any ideas?
A gorgeous prairie agate (or what I’d call a prairie agate), with some very intricate banding and patterns. The green is a bit of lichen I have yet to clean off.
Bubblegum agates! I actually have a somewhat difficult time finding many of these, but always pick them up when I do. Of all the stones out here, it’s the bubblegum agates that really “shine” (ha) when I put them through the polisher. Once you start to wear down those nodules, there are often some truly incredible patterns and banding underneath.
Stones like this make me want to take a hammer and break every stone open. I don’t have a rock saw or anything, but I imagine there are SO many hidden treasures like this on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, pieces where you don’t see the beauty unless you slice them open.
A prairie agate. The orangish ones are probably the most common, but there are some pretty red tones in many of them as well.
While many agates have the banding patterns shown on this post, there are some other cool patterns you find as well. Love the pink “druzy” crystalline area that forms the heart of this agate, with some banding and other patterns around it.
A jasper, of which there are many on the grasslands.
One more agate (at least that’s what I’d call it), with some interesting fine banding.
Been stressful at work lately so I took off Friday and did something I’ve only done one other time this summer…head out to the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and go rockhounding. It wasn’t the most pleasant of days! The forecast called for 75 and cloudy, but when I got about 60 miles away, the fog started getting thicker and thicker, and soon it was accompanied by a light drizzle. Much to my chagrin, things were exactly the same at my favorite rockhounding spot southwest of Kadoka. I ended up rockhounding from about 8 AM to 2 pm, and the temperature never got higher than 60, with the drizzle falling most of that time.
I found plenty of “good” material. As many prairie agates as I could want, as always. Bubblegum agates. Quartz. Petrified Wood. Jaspers. Adventurine. But the “prize” for people searching out there is a Fairburn agate. Since we started doing this last summer, we’ve probably been out there about 8 times, and have found a Fairburn about half the time, and that’s with a good, hard days’ search each time.
As the drizzle was just thick enough to make you a bit miserable Friday, I was contemplating leaving. But as I paused for a second to assess my situation, I saw a bright yellowish-orange stone ahead of me, one that really stood out from the others around it in terms of the color. Much to my delight, as I approached I saw some fine parallel banding…Fairburn! And a pretty good sized one, at over 2 inches in length. I did continue rockhounding for awhile before returning to the car and getting a good look at the banding.
A find that made a miserable weather day a whole lot brighter.
I think my favorite part of tumble polishing stones…taking them out from the first time they enter a rough polishing phase. Many at that stage are odd shapes, dirty, or where I collect them, are covered with a blackish or grayish layer after being exposed to the elements. It’s when you get them out of the tumbler after the first rough polish that you start to see the hidden beauty underneath.
Here’s part of a batch fresh out of the tumbler! Woo-hoo…some WONDERFUL surprise October presents! These all were collected in the same 1-square mile area on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Yes…you find this incredible variety of agates and other stones, all in one spot! Rockhounding nirvana.
A couple of pictures. The first shows what they look like wet, and gives a hint of their final glory. The second shows them in their dry, current stage.
This is what the agates and jaspers look like wet, after the first tumbling stage. When wet you get a good idea of what they’ll look like when they finish polishing.
Part of a batch of South Dakota agates and jaspers, just out of the first tumbling stage. In this stage, the point is to try to shape them, get off the sharp edges, etc. They don’t even start to show any hint of that glorious, shiny luster they’ll eventually have, but even at this stage…they’re gorgeous!