Weekend fossicking
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Author:  Lefty [ Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Yes, this is at Lowmead. The current site is right beside Clarke's road but there seem to be pockets of it dotted about the area. Our club president found quite a bit there about 30 years ago but says it was at a different spot a few miles away. My niece found a good-sized lilac-toned crystal at the off-road vehicle park up the road and I've met a few property owners who say they've found it on their place as well (but none have invited me back to dig there :) )

Nothing to write home about today. I followed the quartz chunk filled pipe we found the cache of smoky crystals in down as far as I could go but that's all it was, just pieces of quartz without crystals. There might have been more crystals deeper down - the pipe just kept going - but it was getting hard to keep going deeper in the increasingly wet and puggy ground. Fossicking partner found another amethyst crystal about twice the size of the one in the photo above but it was badly cracked. As always, there was a multitude of small smoky crystal points in the sieve but nothing more exciting than that today.

Author:  Lefty [ Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

I was wrong about there being two facetable pieces in the amethyst crystal on the previous page - there was one nice, clean piece but when I examined the other, it was full of spiderweb cracks. I went ahead and cabbed it anyway, it looks nice enough as a cab.

I finished the facetable piece last night. I took it out into the natural light this morning - this would have to be one of the nicest stones I have faceted so far. It's around 5 carats and approx. 11mm across in Jeff Graham's "Lighthouse". Very simple design but so very effective, I modified it a little and eliminated the strip of small facets up the middle and replaced them with a proper - though small - table.

A beautiful vivid purple stone, as soon as I cleaned it up and looked at it I wished it were mine. I entertained the idea of asking fossicking partner if he wanted to swap it for something else :) but I doubt he would, he found it himself so it's a bit more special.

I doubt I'll be able to take a photo that would even remotely do it justice.

Author:  Lefty [ Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

In strong incandescent light....


Looks deeper (but not dark) purple in natural light.

Author:  wilsonintexas [ Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Lefty wrote:
Hey Wilson, did you find that cluster yourself? I only just saw the photo now, a lot of this forum's photos don't come through on the system where I work for some reason.

There's a long story behind highway ended up with it but the short version is when down to one of the him Crystal places in Arkansas and bought it.

Hold at home on a trailer and got all kinds of honks and it's been a favorite around the neighborhood

It's also easy is a house marker he can say look for the house with a big set of crystals

Author:  Lefty [ Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

You could cut a slot in it and use it as your mailbox :)

I've toyed with the idea of a mineral specimen mailbox but I'd be worried it would get stolen or vandalized.

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Gotten permission to fossick on another cattle run, this time in the general vicinity of the old amethyst dig near Lowmead. I'm really itching to have a go for something else now but it isn't safe to go trudging about the bush alone and of my three fossicking partners, dad's arthritis is playing up too much at present, number two has been busy weekends of late and number three is currently without a drivers lisence.

Fossicking partner number three lives near there so I met him there Saturday morning and we found the place without difficulty. We walked down to the lush, rainforest-lined creek and scanned the sand and gravel banks without finding much so we jumped back in the Patrol and headed further into the property. We stopped at a set of old cattleyards and walked down to a smaller creek that flowed down into the main creek. As we stepped into the steep, rocky creekbed (no flowing water, just small pools) fossicking partner put his foot straight on a waterworn smoky crystal. Ok, stuff was definately here. We found a number of stream-worn quartz crystals including a couple of amethysts. I found a well-formed (but not transparent) crystal about half the size of a coffee mug.

After a while we were going to head back over to the old original dig site but decided to walk up the vehicle track to the crest of a hill. Near the crest, the ground was littered with broken quartz and milky crystal pieces. I diverted off the track and headed up a steep hill. The crest of the hill was a mass of weathering granite domes poking through the ground. I spied a fallen tree and wandered over to see what the tearing up of the roots might have exposed. There were some tiny broken crystal pieces on the surface at the base so I started scraping with the little hand pick - and up popped a small pale amethyst crystal.

It was already getting a bit late in the day but we opened up a couple of small holes from which we dug quite a number of mostly broken amethyst crystals at a depth of about one foot. Mostly light purple, a few mid purple but none of the deep royal purple. However, I found a few chips of deep purple lying on the surface about 30 yards away but I was too shattered to dig more holes by that time, after rolling boulders in the creek, climbing steep hills and swinging a pick most of the day.

I'm faceting a couple of stones for the property owner's granddaughter as a thank you, hopefully we will be allowed back. I'm not sure there's anything there more than coloured quartz crystals but you never know. The owner told his grandaughter that he found some crystals over a foot long years ago, there might be some very nice specimen material hiding there, as well as some good faceting amethyst.

The distribution of the crystals seems the same as the old dig site a number of miles away - there is like a horizontal band of quartz pieces and crystals, all perfectly sharp-edged and crystals with faces so shiny they look as though they just came off a polishing lap. There's not the slightest bit of abraded wear on them (apart from many being broken) so I don't think they've tumbled any distance. It must be like a big horizontal seam that they formed in.

At a little over a foot the sand was becoming orange in colour, just like the old dig site and I feel that there will be pockets and pipes full of crystals a little deeper down. I think digging around the base of the granite outcroppings themselves might be interesting as well. The old dig site is on low-lying ground with no rock outcroppings exposed so it will be interesting to see ift here's any difference.

Author:  Icehut [ Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Sounds like a collector's paradise!

Best thing for iron-stained quartz is Super Iron Out.

Oxalic is fine but you have to soak before and after or risk nasty staining.

Keep us posted on your finds!

Author:  Lefty [ Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Cheers Icehut.

I've been back to the same place about half a dozen times now and I've almost filled a 2-gallon bucket with crystals.....but there are very few good ones. Some interesting specimens - sceptres, cathedral quartz crystals etc - but faceting material has not really been turning up. I've found a reasonable number of crystals of a nice deep purple shade but they are nearly always too cracked to contain anything but a tiny stone.

Like the old site a few miles down the road - now largely dug out - it seems to be a primary deposit, not alluvial. The crystals are sharp-edged and very shiny, they have clearly never been tumbled along a stream bed. In the old place, the crystals varied dramatically over short distances - I'm talking as little as about a hundred feet. On one side of the vehicle track there were mostly pale ametrine-looking crystals (never found a good faceting one) and if you moved to the other side of the track the crystals were much deeper purple, often with smoky tints. The good material was concentrated in a small patch beside the main road and as you moved away the quality diminished until by the time you had gone a few hundred yards, all you dug up was big chunks of translucent quartz, no crystals.

In the new place I was initially finding only partly-formed crystals until I moved about 50 yards around the slope, then I started finding crystals that were fully-formed - but still not faceting grade. Here's a typical example of the ones that didn't properly form...




You can see how one side formed proper crystal faces while the other did not. And the whole thing is shattered anyway.

The ones I'm finding now are complete crystals and some of them are of a really intense colour but they are still too cracked unfortunately.

However, there are still hundreds of acres on the property that I have yet to stick a shovel into - the eternal optimism of the prospector tells me that better stuff is there somewhere :)

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Foiled by the weather :(

Looked a bit ominous when I got up yesterday morning but I waited for Dave to give me a call saying we should give it a miss - no phone call or text, Dave turns up at my place at 6:00 am as he said he would and we head on down there. A few light spits of rain on the windshield, we were hoping it would not turn any heavier.

Didn't even bother putting in the ice vest - it wasn't even warm let alone hot. By the time we got there light rain had set in. But intending to hammer down into the decomposing granite to hopefully find a vug or seam of undamaged crystals, we set about making a clear path to get the car up the slope and close to the hole. We've been dragging all the digging gear 100 yards up a hill since we found the place because the slope is so thick with vegetation and fallen timber that there was no way up.

After about an hour we had cleared a path and carefully drove all the way up to just a few yards short of the hole and unloaded in the light but cold - incredible at this time of year! - and slowly increasing rain. By the time we had cleared the hole to the hard floor in an area big enough to go down some depth (you must have a decent breadth to a hole or you just can't go very deep because you don't have room to work) the rain was getting heavier and Dave started remarking how cold it was. I have a little more meat and blubber to insulate me than he does :) but it was starting to get to me as well. We decided to call it quits - we were either going to end up sick from exposure or just find that the hole was turning to mud and impossible to work.

Just for the hell of it, I knocked down a bit of the wall of the hole and out tumbled a couple of good-sized, perfectly formed but of course badly cracked crystals. Plus a small one that for some reason was completely flawless, Dave decided he'll facet it. So that was that and we packed everything back in the car and headed home.

But it wasn't a total waste of a day - we made a vehicle access track right to the hole and now we will no longer have to drag heavy equipment up and down that slope. We can get the heavier equipment right to the side of the hole without any effort now. Maybe I'll head down this weekend if I can get someone to come with me, Dave goes back to weekend work for the next month so it will have to be someone else.

I'm keen to try and prove my theory (backed by first hand evidence and observation) that there are high-quality, undamaged crystals a bit deeper down in the hard material. I keep getting scuttled but sooner or later I'll get there.

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

And another reminder for us to be very careful when digging holes - another death on the opal fields :(

It's easy to underestimate just how dangerous a collapsing hole can be, you can be killed in a hole only a few feet deep if you're unlucky.

Author:  Lefty [ Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Went back to Riverslea crossing on Sunday to grab some material from the gravel banks before the weir construction drowns the site. Picked up about 100 pounds of material, most of which is petrified wood.


Some kind of conglomerate just below the gravel banks. It's black, shiny and looks like tar - but it's hard of course. A fair few smaller bits of it lying around. The books mention something called pitchstone in the area, maybe this is it? Sure looks like pitch or tar.



A piece of lava flow maybe? It's not a s obvious in the photo but to the eye it's made up of multiple layers like a layer cake and gives the impression of something that flowed in consecutive waves, picking up bits of other material. It's hard and makes a high-pitched clinking noise like glass when struck.



A small piece of log or large branch. Shame it's been tumbled down the river, probably had more surface detail before that.


Fossilized hollow branch..


Agatized wood...






Author:  Dan&Sally [ Fri Nov 25, 2016 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Nice color almost honey. When you cab that does it lose most of its color? The stuff I pick up here has nice color like that at a 1/2" or larger but thin pieces just don't seem to hold their color

Author:  Lefty [ Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Yeah, unfortunately most of it only has that as a thin skin on the outside and inside it's just boring old translucent white. The occasional piece has the colour right the way through like these couple...


I'd like to think that somewhere in the area there is some nice gem silica of this colour that can be found in greater abundance than the few bits I get at this site. This material is shedding out of one very small lava flow, the general area is a great mass of lavas of different types and ages - very interesting for rockhounds if you can get access since it will be all on private property.

Possibly some other interesting things as well, who can say?

Author:  Lefty [ Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Woohoo, four weeks leave! Time for some serious fossicking.

And the weather forecast for tomorrow and the next few days? Bucketing down! Figures #-o

Author:  Lefty [ Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weekend fossicking

Bugger!! Just came back from giving the generator a run - no go, it has a problem. Next door neighbour is an electrician, he spent an hour going over it and concluded that it's a problem with the carburettor, everything else seems fine. It can be repaired but there will be no punching down through decomposed granite with the jackhammer tomorrow :(

We're still going, we'll try just using a crowbar - after a metre of rain the deco-granite will be about as soft as it ever gets but just how soft that is remains to be seen. There's no doubt we'll find plenty of low-grade crystals and there's miles of ground that's never been investigated yet but I still hold to the theory that most of the shallow crystals are going to be badly beaten up by the elements and veins of better crystals likely lie deeper down.

Anyway, a fossicking outing is never bad so we'll just see what tomorrow brings.

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