Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WYOMING - The Gemstone State

Idaho known as the Gem State, Delaware the Diamond State, Arizona the Copper State, Montana the Treasure State and Nevada the Silver State:  but what did these states do to earn these titles? Where are the diamonds in Delaware?

This designation of the 'diamond state' for Delaware was presented by Thomas Jefferson, arguably one of the greatest men in history. He described Delaware as the ‘Jewel’ among states because of its favorable location. But have diamonds been found in Delaware? Last time we checked, Zales Jewelers in Delaware still had diamonds in their inventory. But does this count?
Fancy diamonds in the Raw. Some fancy diamonds were
found in the Colorado-Wyoming state line district.

Arkansas has the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro where a person can dig diamonds for $7/day. When I asked most people about Arkansas, the first thing that came to mind was either Razorbacks or digging for diamonds. So, Arkansas, which is known as the Natural State, should up date its designation and call itself the ‘Razorback Diamond State’, 'Digging for Diamonds', or something similar. Maybe they should negotiate with Delaware. By the way, I did not find a single person who referred to Arkansas as the Natural State and most thought I was kidding when I told them.

Now the first thing that pops into mind for most people when they think of Arizona is the Grand Canyon, too hot, snowbirds (people who spend winters in Arizona), illegal immigrants, Sheriff Joe, pink underwear (the underwear color that Sheriff Joe requires his prisoners to wear) and Copper. So, we agree Arizona should remain the Copper State: it has many copper mines and is much more aesthetically pleasing than the Pink Underwear state.

Nevada the ‘Silver State’?  Well this is OK, except the state produces more gold than silver. Montana, the Treasure State? Well, this was OK at one time. Montana was named the Treasure State because of mining. If you've been to Butte, you will get the idea. But mining fell to disfavor during the Clinton Administration which nationalized a gold property owned by a Canadian gold company because it was located within a hundred miles of Yellowstone. Prior to this, only third world countries nationalized private property. So, mining, which at one time was as big as Montana, is no longer important. So maybe Montana’s trademark should be the ‘Nationalized State’.

Idaho, the Gem State? Well, it’s really no fault of Idaho. Instead Congress, which seldom gets anything right (unless you ask them), designated this 1863 US territory as the Idaho Territory, using a word from the Shoshone vocabulary. In Shoshone, ‘Idaho’ is supposed to mean ‘Gem of the Mountains’ implying that the state has some of the more scenic mountain ranges. But this was misunderstood, and sometime during the past, it became known as the Gem State even though it has no gems to speak of.
Gem kyanite found in eastern Wyoming by Professor Hausel.
Hausel reported finding several deposits of this overlooked
gemstone including two untapped deposits with billions of
This leads us to Wyoming. Wyoming is known as the Equality State? Should it instead be renamed the Windy State?  The Coal state? 

Prior to 1975, only jade and a few agates were known in Wyoming. But within a few decades, Wyoming became the gem capital of North America with the most diverse collection of documented gems of any state in the US.  The collection includes agate, jasper; common opal, fire opal, precious opal, onyx, gold nuggets, platinum nuggets, palladium nuggets, pyrope garnet, spessartine garnet, chrome diopside, enstatite, kyanite, iolite, ruby, sapphire, peridot, diamond, specularite, apatite, minyulite, amethyst, aquamarine, jade, almandine, chalcedony, silicified banded iron formation, jasperoid, labradorite, grunerite, amber, chrysocolla, heliodor, varisite, specularite & others.

How did this come about?

Well, due to the efforts of two professors, this land of wind and cow was discovered to have more. In 1975, Wyoming was known for some oil, gas, coal and uranium, and rare earths, but then something extraordinary happened. Dr. M.E. McCallum and C.D. Mabarak, from Colorado State University were poking around line north of Fort Collins in Wyoming when they discovered diamonds south of Laramie.

Prior to this, some people knew that Wyoming had a few agates and some of the highest quality jade in the world and jade was even named the state gemstone. But other gemstones? There were none! At least that's what nearly everyone figured.
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Wyoming diamonds. The discovery of diamonds by Professor McCallum
and Mabarak started the interest in a search for diamonds in Colorado, Kansas
Montana, Wyoming and other areas in the US. More than 130,000 diamonds
were mined in the Colorado-Wyoming State Line district and processed from
4 different diamond mills, but all were poorly designed and likely lost as many
diamonds as they recovered. In one case at the Kelsey Lake diamond mine,
the first sample of mine tailings yielded diamonds including a more than 6 ct
diamond dumped in the waste. SO, are there commercial diamond deposits in
this area? Most likely.
This diamond discovery did not develop into much, although it could have. Over the next few years, more than 40 diamond pipes and dikes were discovered – half in Wyoming and half in Colorado. A few properties were mined diamonds; notable was George Creek, Sloan, and Kelsey Lake all a stone's throw in Colorado. Over 130,000 diamonds were mined including gemstones larger than 28 carats. A 6.5 carat diamond was also found in Wyoming along the northern edge of the Kelsey Lake mine and diamonds of 14 and 28 carats were mined in Colorado.

It looked like a possible diamond rush in the US. Companies tripped over one another, but none had expertise to run a mill and all threw more diamonds away then they recovered. Then came the vultures. Lawyers, environmentalists, and ranchers buried this field in greed. Professor McCallum also made a mark on platinum and palladium in the New Rambler district in Wyoming - yes, Wyoming had the materials to make rings for the gemstones and McCallum was right there working on this unique deposit.
Large Cape Emerald (chromian diopside) in kimberlite rock
from Sloan, Colorado. This diamond-rich rock also has many
other gemstones that were thrown away by the early diamond
miners in the State Line district. However, Professor Hausel
recognized these as extraordinary gemstones.
Another professor began researching for diamonds about this time. Dan Hausel had just been hired by the Wyoming Geological Survey at the University of Wyoming. He mapped the diamond district and found a group of diamond pipes and later discovered a few hundred features he termed cryptovolcanic structuresChugwater, he found diamond deposits and diamond backs.

Professor Hausel spent the next few decades developing exploration ideas on how to find gemstones and gold. From 1977 to 2007 he found as many mineral deposits as anyone in history. We couldn’t find compilations of discoveries per person in history, but Professor Hausel has to be sitting at the top.
Group of gemstones missed by all other geologists. Professor
Hausel saw the value in these. Included are peridot (light green)
Cape Ruby (pyrope garnets red and purple) and Cape Emerald
(chromian diopside and chromian enstatite).

In 1981, Wyoming was essentially unknown for gold even though all of the surrounding states had considerable gold. He was able to show that Wyoming should have anywhere between 50 to 200 times as much gold as has been mined in the past based on gold production in the surrounding states. Gold was discovered in Wyoming in 1842, but nothing much was done.

More than 100 years later, significant things began to happen in Wyoming after Hausel arrived. Significant gold was found in the Seminoe Mountains in 1981. The Rawlins Times reported that a gold rush filled all of the motels in Rawlins, Saratoga, Sinclair and even Laramie with geologists wanting a piece of the pie. It was Timberline Minerals from Dubois who tied up the property. The company president, John Wells indicated they were drilling Hausel's discovery site at Bradley Peak and picked up samples of quartz and iron formation with visible gold. But nothing much happened to this property even though it could still be a producer.

When Hausel started looking for gold, he found it everywhere in Wyoming.
Gold in the Laramie City Dump and in nearly every mountain range in Wyoming.
Hausel found a giant new gold district in the Rattlesnake Hills of Wyoming
(another Cripple Creek) was part of a discovery team that found the Donlin Creek
deposit in Alaska that has nearly 4 times as much gold ever produced from the
 Klondike. In a recent book (2011), he describes several hundred gold deposits
many that he found. The above 7.5 ounce nugget was discovered at South Pass
in old placer mine tailings.
Another gold discovery made by Hausel was the the Rattlesnake Hills in 1981. This discovery should put Wyoming on the map!

As the story goes, the Chemical Engineering Department at University of Wyoming was looking to tap into grants from the US Bureau of Mines to study methods for beneficiating low grade gold deposits, which were starting to be of interest in the US because of deposits in Nevada and in Utah, such as Mercur. But the department needed a gold deposit before it could get grants. To give you some idea of how much they trusted Professor Hausel, they skipped the Department of Geology and Geophysics and instead went to a source they could rely on. And just like that, Hausel went out and made the greatest gold discovery in the history of Wyoming: the Rattlesnake Hills. The Chemical Engineering realized this project was beyond their abilities – they would have to drill the property, mine it, hire a landman, set up leach pads, stake claims, so they dropped the idea. Even so, Hausel discovered several other gold anomalies and a whole new gold district in a short time and mapped the district for the state.

A 12-carat transparent pink sapphire found at Hausel's discovery site of the
Palmer Canyon iolite deposit, Wyoming. Sample collected by Vic Norris.
I remember walking to Professor Hausel’s office after the discovery. I was working for a company out of Yellowknife, Canada and was sitting outside his office waiting to talk to him since he was speaking to another geologist - the exploration manager for an American mining company. At that time, we all knew each other in this industry. I over-heard them talking about the Rattlesnake Hills, but didn’t know where it was located.

Another geologist walked up to stand in line in front of the professor's office. It was an old friend, the exploration manager for Burrlington Northern mining – Ray Harris who would later work for the Geological Survey, die in office, and the state appeared to cover this up with no investigation. This and the death of another geologist at essentially the same time at the Geological Survey would normally have attracted national attention. Anyway, Ray and I talked about gold properties when two more geologists, Art Meyer and Tom Sharps with Rocky Mountain Energy Company came up to the second floor – we were there to talk about gold and diamonds.  It was a class reunion of sorts, a geologists class reunion, and this was typical meeting in front of of the Professor's office every time I visited the university.
Flawless Cape Ruby (pyrope garnet) found by Hausel in the
Green River Basin Wyoming. The specimen was facet in
Sri Lanka.

Thus large parts of the Rattlesnake Hills were staked and more discoveries made by drilling. Hausel thought the best targets were associated with breccias and stockworks related to alkalic volcanic rocks that intruded the greenstone belt. Years later Newmont Gold, Canyon Resources and Evolving Gold found a giant gold deposit sitting under the breccia adjacent to an alkalic intrusive named Sandy Mountain by the Professor. Evolving Gold, started exploring this property just a few years ago and it is now thought to be an equivalent to Cripple Creek gold deposits in Colorado - in other words, it is likely a multi-million ounce gold deposit.

Labradorite specimen found in dirt road (Albany
County 12) near Sybille Canyon by Norma Beers.
When developed, it will make Evolving Gold and the State of Wyoming rich. The one person who deserves credit for this discovery gets nothing. Hausel went on to discover another major gold deposit in Alaska with 6 other geologists - one that has $60 billion in gold!  One of the largest in North America. Again, he received nothing other than a paycheck. But still, there are only a handful of geologists in the world who have made two world-class mineral discoveries - Hausel is one - but he was not done.

For most people, discoveries would have ended here. Wyoming had one of the best prospecting geologists in the world. In 2005, Professor Hausel was posed on the cover of ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal. He had just found and mapped some of the largest gemstone and gemstone deposits in the world. He was presented awards by fellow geologists at AAPG, WGA, CMA and inducted into the 2001 Rock Hound Hall of Fame. Wyoming gave him a 25-year pin (anyone got this same pin who survived its bureaucracy). He pointed out that it had two tiny rubies: when examined under the microscope, he noted they were synthetic and likely cost the State about $0.50.

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Sweetwater agates
Anyway, over 3 decades (1975 to 2005) the Equality State became known as having the most diversified assemblage of minerals, gemstones and rocks of any state in the US as well as some of the largest gemstones found in the world. Thousands of people now travel to Wyoming each year just to rock hound and prospect for gemstones and gold, following up on Hausel's work. He published more than 1000 papers, books, maps and abstracts! 

Flawless peridot discovered by Hausel in the Leucite Hills,
Over the years, he found a variety of agates including the long sought after source beds of the Sweetwater agate – a beautiful dendritic agate. He discovered and documented jasper deposits including boulders as large as a pick-up truck. He found a variety of banded agates in one of the largest opal fields in the world and started an opal rush! So many people headed to the hills to make their fortunes in opal, that they were tripping over one another to get to the best spots.

Blue iolite and red ruby, Wyoming. While searching
the Mountains for gemstones, Hausel found four iolite deposits
and six ruby deposits. A few of these could have several $billion
in gemstones and one could have more than a $trillion in gemstones.
The professor also recovered the largest iolite gemstones ever found
on earth in the Laramie Mountains.
He found onyx deposits. While mapping South Pass – a known gold district from the 1800s, he expanded our knowledge of the gold deposits while mapping major gold anomalies at the Carissa, Wolf, Duncan, Tabor Grand and other mines and identifying more than 200 gold anomalies. Then there was significant gold veins found at Mineral Hill and at Purgatory Gulch. He identified a large gold anomaly at the Kurtz-Chatterton deposit along Copper Creek in the Sierra Madre.

Then he started looking for gemstones, it was incredible. Hausel found diamond deposits after McCallum had made his mark. Hausel discovered at least six ruby and sapphire deposits including two of the largest rubies in the world. Billions of carats of gem-quality kyanite - this gemstone was everywhere and no one had even recognized it although we were all walking on these deposits in the field.

Common opals including some that weigh more than 70,000
carats! Common opal, a few precious opals, and one of the
largest fire opal deposits in North America were found by
south of Riverton Wyoming by Hausel.
He found at least four iolite deposits including the two largest in the world (one with possibly more than two trillion carats of the gem). He found the two largest iolites in the world – one weighed more than 24,000 carats (worth more than $1 million and sitting right on the first floor of the Geological Survey Building at the University in Laramie)! Here were fabulous gemstone deposits including the largest gemstones in the world, the largest deposits in the world, completely new discoveries, and the gemstone looked just like sapphire and Tanzanite. Estimates suggested the combined worth of these deposits could be more than our national debt.

Before he was done, the Professor discovered gem-quality apatite, specularite, peridot, pyrope, spessartine, chrome diopside, chrome enstatiteruby, sapphireamethyst, Mexican opal, precious opal, common opal, the largest opals in the world (some weighing more than 75,000 carats), aquamarine, helidorzoisiteepidote, Mexican onyx, onyx, hematite, diamonds, platinum, palladium, hundreds of gold deposits and anomalies, nickel, rare jade pseudomorphs after quartz, and identified the first reported ilsemannite and berthierite in Wyoming. And these discoveries sparked discoveries made by others of jade, tourmaline, labradoriteminyulite and varisite.

Once known as the Jade State, Wyoming had many jade hunters. But after 1975
Professor Dan Hausel found so many new gemstone, gold and minerals in
Wyoming that it is only appropriate to call it the Gemstone State. How could
one person find so many mineral deposits? He simply looked for them while
others speculated why they could not find gemstones.
The opal was fascinating. One of the largest opal and agate deposits in the world was exposed in the Cedar Rim oil field south of Riverton. Boulders of the opal sat in cuts of service roads to the field, and the deposit was scattered over 16 square miles and even had some opal exposed in the US Highway south of Riverton. You would think someone would have gotten out of their car and looked to see what these boulders were made of - some boulders of opal, weighing more than 100,000 carats were recently found in this deposit. The Bureau of Land Management was so upset by this discovery, they wanted to withdraw the property before they knew where in Wyoming it was located!

Thousands of tons of agate, jasper, jasperoid,
and onyx were described by Hausel. A rock
hound's paradise. This along with the gemstones,
precious metals, and publications would have
put any other state or country on the map. But
things in Wyoming are slow. So slow that one has
to wonder when the state will come out of hibernation?

The Rattlesnake Hills gold deposit was discovered in
1981 and is now only being developed. How long will
it take to develop the other deposits found by professor
Hausel and the other prospectors who followed him
to the field?
The peridot discovery was interesting. Peridot is gem-quality olivine. For more than 100 years, olivine was known in the Leucite Hills of Wyoming. Some very famous geologists looked at the peridot, briefly mentioned it in passing, but not one realized that it was gem-quality. Then in 1997, the professor was in the Leucite Hills looking for diamonds when he spotted two anthills that were green in color. He collected these anthills: no diamonds, but instead 13,000 carats of cuttable peridot were collected by these ants adjacent to an access road! By the way, he found minerals in nearby rocks that indicated some of the Leucite Hills were similar to the diamond rich deposits at Ellendale and Argyle in Australia and predicted diamonds would be found here. Yet, no one has looked for diamonds in this area. But, if all goes the way of his other discoveries, you can bet that diamonds will be found there in the future.

So, now you know why WYOMING is the GEMSTONE STATE.

Sure, I made my own discoveries, but these would pale in comparison to the accomplishments of Dr. McCallum and Professor Hausel. If it wasn't for Professor McCallum and Professor Hausel, it would just be the Windy State.

What did Wyoming do to Professor Hausel and Colorado do to Professor McCallum for such extraordinary accomplishments of historical proportions? They gave them the boot. Its no wonder why people of our times hate government. It was apparent that some bureaucrat found these two to be threat to their 'little' kingdom. Screw the government - all of us who have to work for a living would all like to congratulate two of the better geologists in the history of the West! Without their work, Colorado and Wyoming would simply be two windy and gemless states.

PlanetNews would like to thank Professor Hausel for allowing us to use his photos.