Delaware may not be the first state that comes to mind when you imagine hunting for gems and fossils but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the visit. In fact, there are a few main stones that are known to be found throughout the state.
The common reference of “The Diamond State,” may have you dreaming of hitting it big but you should know that there are unfortunately no diamonds to be found in Delaware. Instead you can try your hand at finding many of its other minerals, fossils, and petrified wood.
One of the prettier minerals to be found in Delaware is the Piedmont garnet. These garnets are primarily almandine which means they are a dark red from their high iron content. While you may find larger garnets here the majority are 12 sided crystals that can be anywhere from microscopic to more than an inch across. The unfortunate side is that most of the stones found here are not high quality and therefore are unsuited for jewelry.
Perhaps not the most exciting of the minerals found worldwide but it is and interesting stone to research nonetheless. The Sillimanite mineral has been Delaware’s official state mineral since 1975. Due to the changes in kyanite and andalusite in Sillimanite it can be found in a variety of colors that range from clear to grayish white with glassy crystals or even found as a fibrous form that has what is often referred to as a silk-like sheen.
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding this mineral in Delaware as it is quite widespread, but the most prolific areas are around the schists of Appalachian Piedmont and in the boulders found at Brandywine Springs State Park.
If you’ve never heard of Belamnite Fossils you are not alone. Perhaps not the most famous of the fossils, it is still the Delaware official state fossil which means you’ll have plenty of luck unearthing it for yourself. The left over fossils look a little bit like bullet points but are in fact the fossilized remains of what was once a squid-like creature.
The Belamnite are long extinct but belonged to the phylum Mollusca species which also includes clams, snails, and octopus. The best places to find these fossils are found in the dredged up earth that is left from the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Poke around and you’re certain to find a few of these fossils.
One of the richest sites for Miocene Fossils is the Pollack Farm Site. You can find the farm in Kent County. There are arthropods, small insects, and even larger vertebrates including sharks. You can thank the Delaware Geological Survey for unearthing this incredible site in 1991 during highway construction. They are aware of four main phylum found here. Other locations for Miocene fossils include areas around Felton in central Delaware. Check around the Coursey and the Killen Ponds.
Near Dagsboro you can find younger fossils from the Pleistocene Epoch. Not as old as many fossil locations but the fossils still look just as cool when you dig them up.
The Pleistocene Epoch covers fossils that are less than 2 million years old and in this location you will mostly find marine fossils. If plant impressions are more your cup of tea, you can continue over to the sand and gravel pit found south of Middletown, off Route 896. Here you can dig through the piles to find plant based fossils from the same time period.