Micro Smoky Quartz Pocket

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I was able to head up to the hills again, twice in one weekend (albeit a long weekend) for about 4 hours on my way home from a camping trip, decided to prospect a little in a new area.  I found some ground that looked promising, and out came some nice peg.  I dug the peg for a while with no luck at all, but was persistent because it was too late to prospect out new ground for the day.

The smoky quartz crystals I found over about 45 minutes of carefully digging through the pegmatite.
The smoky quartz crystals I found over about 45 minutes of carefully digging through the pegmatite.

Right before I gave up for the day I hit into a half baked clear quartz crystal; with no point and completely fractured; but with the flat sides and about 3 inch length I got renewed interest in this peg.  I have found that clear quartz when digging for smokies sometimes is a sign that smoky quartz is nearby.  I carefully dug for about 10 minutes more and a small gemmy smoky quartz crystal popped out.

Another gemmy smoky quartz
Gemmy smoky quartz that started my renewed interest in this peg

It has been a while since I hit a small pocket, I actually like harvesting small crystals as it presents a challenge of being careful and clean in the hole.  Many prospectors have no interest in anything of this size, but to me a crystal is a crystal regardless of size.  🙂  It is easy for the small crystals to be covered in dirt and swept away, so I had fun for the next 45 minutes or so meticulously pulling out tiny smoky quartz crystals!

I love how this crystal is irradiated only for part of the crystal, the rest is clear!
I love how this crystal is irradiated only for part of the crystal, the rest is clear!

In one section of the peg there was some nice micro plates of quartz with crystals, but it finished as soon as it started and was tough digging as it was surrounded by very hard peg (I had to use a chisel and hammer and attack it around the pocket). I was able to pull out many gemmy smoky quartz before calling it a day.  The peg continued on, so I suspect I can go back another day and continue to collect ultra small crystals.  Some of these crystals were the smallest I’ve ever dug; so I was very happy with the day!

Neat tabby that was totally gemmy!
Neat tabby that was totally gemmy!
This one was odd; neat growth at the bottom of the tiny pocket!
This one was odd; neat growth at the bottom of the tiny pocket!
The smallest plate of smoky quartz I have ever found.  Way smaller than the tip of my pinkie finger.
The smallest plate of smoky quartz I have ever found. Way smaller than the tip of my pinkie finger.
Microcline and Smoky Quartz
A piece of microcline crystal with a small seam of tiny smoky quartz

3 Comments

  1. I love these small crystals! They have great color and are quite gemmy. I bet some would look great if they were cut into gemstones. I haven’t gone out very much yet this year but did make two club trips, one to the Bonanza mining district with a lot of neat dumps where I found my first rhodochrosite. The other was to the Book Cliffs near Grand Junction where I found some gemmy barite crystals followed with a trip to Yellow Cat Utah about 70 miles away. I collected colorful petrified wood, barite nodules and some quite hot radioactive minerals there.

    I would recommend the Book Cliffs when you have the chance on a club trip. Massive calcite is common and there is always a chance you could open a pocket with those large gemmy barite crystals.

    With the cooler weather on the way I plan to collect more at my claims especially the topaz claim since I saw a very nice one that someone had collected in the Tarryalls.

    James

  2. James, thanks for the tips on other rockhound places. I have always wanted to go out to Book Cliffs; but never made it yet. Cool you found some Rhodochrosite! Was it more pink or red? I really like barite and calcite so I’ll have to check those locations out! I still need to hit Red Feather Lakes again before the snow flies; and of course hit a good pocket at Devil’s Head or Lake George area. 🙂

  3. The rhodochrosite that I found was more of a nice solid pale pearly pink color, think of the typical rhodochrosite found at Butte and that was pretty close to that shade. It was in a small vug about 1/4 inch in diameter and shows a cluster of crystal shapes. Rhodochrosite is not a common find at the specific mine dump I collected at. The typical ore minerals were mostly micro sized and I hope to see if splitting the large rock with the rhodochrosite vug will show some more vugs. We mainly collected at three mine dumps in the district.

    Another place you will want to collect at when you have the chance with a club is Wagon Wheel Gap. Plenty of nice barite and fluorite there. I collected some very gemmy fluorite crystals that had cute tiny barite crystals perched on the tips. A lot of the fluorite is a bit frosted due to exposure to the elements.

    The main problem with collecting at the Book Cliffs are the lack of precise directions to good collecting spots which is why I recommend a first visit to the area with a club. I certainly plan to spend more time there next chance I get as I barely really got started digging.

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