Like most other western states, there are a large variety of gems and minerals that can be found in Utah. Additionally, there are countless areas where fossils can be found across the Utah desert. Below are some of the most popular gems, minerals, and fossils that you can locate within the state.
Topaz crystals in a variety of colors can be found in Utah. It is most commonly amber colored to colorless, and some of the gemstones can be rather large in some locations.
The best known areas to find topaz are in the Topaz Mountains of Juab County, a very popular area for rock hounds and prospectors due to being situated on public lands.
Clear topaz crystals can be located on the surface of the ground in some areas by looking for the glitter of the gems under sunlight. Topaz lightens when it is exposed to sunlight, but when rich pockets are dug under the surface they will often show an amber color to the stone which is very valuable and sought after by collectors.
The Thomas Range is another location famous for topaz deposits. Crystals form in association with rhyolite.
Other location where topaz has been found in Utah is in Beaver and Tooele counties.
Red beryl which is one of the most extraordinary and rare gemstone, and is currently found only at three places in the world and two of them are in the state of Utah.
The rareness of the mineral is attributable to the exceptional geological conditions under which the gemstone is formed. The molten lava flowing from the volcanic rocks gets mixed with ground water and after the lava is cooled down forms fractures in the rocks. This allows the gases from the lava to mix and seep in to the cracks and form the rare crystals of red beryl.
The most precious variety of the red beryl is found in the Wah Wah Mountains situated in Beaver County of western Utah. The mine for the rare mineral is situated in the Wah Wah Mountains at a distance of about 25 miles west of Milford. The mine is known as the Ruby Violet Mine.
The beryl found here is of very superior quality, consists of relatively large crystals and is in deep red color. The mineral is embedded in the white igneous rocks present in the mountains.
The Topaz Mountains of the Thomas Range located in the Juab County is another site where the red beryl is found. The range is located about 40 miles from Delta. The crystals found here are slightly smaller in size as compared to the ones at Wah Wah Mountains.
The various shapes in which the crystals are found here are flat, elongated as well as hexagonal. The hues of the gem range from light pink to dark shades of red and are present among other minerals in the white and grey igneous rocks.
The mining operation of the production of the gem is currently at a small scale.
Within the Topaz Mountains, the site where the red beryl is found is at the area called as The Cove. The gem is found attached to other minerals such as garnet, hematite and topaz.
Red beryl is also found near Wildhorse Springs located towards the northwestern section of the Thomas Range. The crystals found here are large and of gemstone quality which can be used for making jewelry.
The Dugway Geode Beds are one of the most popular mineral hunting areas in Utah. Here you can dig for large geodes that most often contain clear quartz, amethyst, or rose quartz crystals.
These geodes formed when hot gasses bubbled up and were trapped inside a bubble, creating beautiful crystal formations. Sometimes the contents of Dugway geodes are solid quartz, and other times they are hollow with small crystalline formations.
Pieces of broken geodes can be found on the surface in many areas at the geode beds, but the best specimens will be found by digging. Look for areas where previous digging has occurred. Look for rounded rocks with bubbly appearances on the outside, break them open and see whatís inside!
The small town of Enterprise in Washington County is famous for the strikingly beautiful Indian Blanket Jasper found there. The name of the stone has been derived from the similarity of the colors and designs it shares with the local American Indian fabrics of this region. The colors usually found are shades of black, gold, beige, brown, purple and red.
The Indian Blanket Jasper is still mined here though in limited quantities.
Near Delta in Millard County are the Topaz Mountains. Close to this is a hill named by some rock hounding enthusiasts as the Butterscotch Hill. On this hill one can find a dug up hollow with jasper pebbles. The pebbles are brown and tan in color and appear like butterscotch chips.
Jasper has also been reportedly found in the Hellís Backbone Road area between the towns of Escalante and Boulder.
The portion of the Colorado Plateau that lies in southern Utah is composed of ultramafic Moses Rock formation. This rock formation is covered with berccia with a small amount of peridot nodules.
The Robberís Roost lamproite situated in the Colorado Plateau in the small town of Hanksville is also known to have some peridot samples.
The town of Kamas which is west of Salt Lake City has a dense peridot deposit. The fault zones on the north side of the Uinta Mountains that lie in the northeastern Utah are also known for olivine concentration. However the olivine crystals found here are not confirmed if it is gem quality peridot.
Azurite has been found in prismatic, tabular and elongated crystal form as well in concretion form in ball like structures in the La Sal area of San Juan County of Utah. Some other notable mines have also known to have produced azurite in Utah State. Among these are Blue Jay Claim of La Sal in Juan County, The Big Indian Mine, La Sal San Juan County, Grotto Prospect in La Sal District of San Juan County, Lower Posey Mine in Red Canyon District in San Juan County and Nevada Lode in La Sal District San Juan County.
Besides San Juan County, azurite has been found in other counties as well. Examples are, the O.K. Mine in Beaver County, and Apex Mine situated in Tutsagubet District in Washington County.
A few mines in Utah State have been known to have malachite deposits. Amongst these are the Big Indian Mine located in La Sal District of San Juan County and Apex Mines in the Beaver Dam Mountains on Jarvis Peak of Washington County. The mineral has also been reportedly found in the Mammoth and Silver City areas of the Tintic Mining District of Juab County.
Though no other known sites for malachite are well documented in Utah, there exists a possibility of finding malachite in and around areas wherever copper ore is mined or found.
There are an abundance of fossils that are found all throughout Utah. Laws associated with collecting fossils vary depending on the ownership of the land and the type of fossil.
Vertebrate fossils such as dinosaur bones, mammoth tusks, fish, reptile, and other mammals are found in many areas. Even more common are invertebrate fossils. These are a variety of mussels, clams, snails, coral, trilobites, and other creatures that lived in Utah during the time when much of the state was covered with large freshwater lakes.
A large number of dinosaur fossils of the Jurassic period have been found in the dinosaur quarry in Cleveland-Lloyd of the San Rafael Swell in Utah. Another site in Utah which is situated close to the Green River has large deposits of dinosaur bones which are embedded in a steep rock wall. This site is known as the Dinosaur National Monument.
There are literally hundreds of sites where you can find fossils throughout Utah, but be aware of strict laws against collecting vertebrate fossils 0n federal lands. Do your research and make sure you are searching legally.
The Tecoma Mine situated in the Lucin District of Box Elder County in Utah is said to have produced paper thin crystals of wulfenite of yellow color.
The Harrington-Hickory Mine located in the Star and North Star districts in Beaver County of Utah has been known to have produced orange colored wulfenite crystals.
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