South Dakota Rockhound

Prairie Agates

Prairie agates aren't as famed as South Dakota's Fairburn agates.  They're certainly much more common. However, prairie agates found in the state are incredibly gorgeous, and often have some truly astounding colors and patterns.  It's a little difficult to precisely label many rocks as a specific type of agate. Some are clearly prairie agates, others are agates that defy any easy categorization (at least to me), but have some prairie agate qualities.

 Click on any of the images below for a larger view

Prairie Agates

Much more common than Fairburn agates with more disorganized banding and patterns, but many are really spectacular. Note we have many "tweener" agates that defy easy classification, so some of those are below as well.
"Tiger Stripe" - Prairie Agate Prairie Agate - "Prairie Fort" Prairie Agate 21 - South Dakota Rockhound
"Tiger Stripe" -  Love the contrasting colors on this one, including the black striping.  Often black on a prairie agate is a thin exterior oxidied layer (manganese) that disappears upon tumble polishing, but the black stripes remained on this one. "Prairie Fort" - Typical coloring of many of the prairie agates you find, but with a quite ornate pattern. "Crimson Brilliance" - Not sure you'd call this a prairie agate, but it is one of my favorite agates we've found. The brilliance of the colors and the gorgeous polish make it a piece that sits front and center on my desk. 
Prairie Agate - "Rainbow Prairie" Big Red - Prairie Agate Prairie Agate - "The Mutt"
"Rainbow Prairie" - Showing the variety of colors a prairie agate can have "Big Red" - A favorite. Most prairie agates we find primarily have rusty or creamy tones, but this guy has a gorgeous array of red colors, and some really intricate patterns. "The Mutt" - An agate that doesn't know what it wants to be. Eyes like bubblegum agate, some thin Fairbunish bands, and prairie agate features.
Prairie Agate - "The Classic" Prairie Agate - "Black Prairie" Prairie Agate - "Pink Eye"
"The Classic" - Typical of one of the most common color patterns on Buffalo Gap National Grassland agates "Black Prairie" - Typical prairie agate banding, stained black. Due to manganese presence (believe it's manganese oxide?). We have found sometimes it's just a thin outer veneer of black that disappears when polished a bit. "Pink Eye" - We've found a number of prairie agates with a rosy-pink "eye" such as this.
Pink Cloud - Prairie Agate Prairie Agate - "Fried Egg Sandwich" Prairie Agate - "Almond Cookie"
"Pink Cloud" - Other than the jagged banding on prairie agates, this kind of pattern is one of the most common. Wonderful pinkish-red tones on many stones such as this. "Fried Egg Sandwich"...sprinkled with "paprika". Another agate that's not a classic prairie. "Almond Cookie" - Yummmm...delicious cookie with slivered almonds.
Prairie Agate - "Lil' Giant" Prairie Agate - "Dirty Snow" Prairie Agate - "Jupiter"
"Lil' Giant" - Great things come in small packages. This guy comes in at a shade under 1" wide, butt has some gorgeous patterns. We've learned not to ignore the little agates. "Dirty Snow" - We have a lot of agates with banding and druzy centers in a dark matrix. This one is different in that the main matrix is a very creamy white, with darker inclusions. "Jupiter".  Big red spot, get it? :-)
Crystal Dragon - Prairie Agate Prairie Agate - South Dakota Rockhound Prairie Agate 17 - South Dakota Rockhound 
"Crystal Dragon" - One of my favorites! The "dragon" pattern that was revealed after tumbling was so cool, with crystally neck, eye, and even a little pink tongue.  "Big Prairie" - One of the first, and biggest, finds when we started rockhounding. It's one where I'd love to have the capability to cut a flat face on it and polish it to bring out the unique pattern. "Hot Mess" - Another one of those agate that seems like someone took 5 or 6 different agates, cut off pieces and put them in a blender, and then pressed them back together.
Prairie Agate 19 - South Dakota Rockhound  Little Brown Job - Prairie Agate Prairie Agate - "Purple Druzy" 
"Black Classic" - Another classic prairie agate pattern, with more of the black in the alternating bands.  "Little Brown Job" - I''m a huge birder, and birders often overlook sparrows as being drab and boring, calling them "little brown jobs". With sparrows AND agates though, there's a huge variety, and even the "little brown jobs" can have an amazing pattern and beauty.   "Purple Druzy", large, egg-shaped agate with druzy purplish centers 
Prairie Agate 22 - South Dakota Rockhound Prairie Agate 23 - South Dakota Rockhound  
"Red Stripe" - There are definitely plenty of red bubblegum agates on the Grasslands, but prairies are more often cream and/or dark tones. Nice little piece here.  "Congolmerate" - One of the agates I'd call a prairie, but definitely not the banded kind. A cool conglomerate look with many contrasting bits in close proximity.    
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