Monday, April 7, 2014

Garnets In Paradise

Whoa! Has it really been since the end of February that I last posted anything? Time sure has its way of slipping quickly past us, doesn’t it? Happily, though, I have been out and about, geologizing myself and my friends into a fiendish frenzy while finding fascinating stuff. It has just taken me a while to write anything up.

Ben and Cindy, in a place unofficially named "Garnet Hill"
During my years at Southern Utah University studying geology we embarked upon many fun field trip adventures. On one of our trips across state lines into the Virgin Mountains of Arizona and Nevada, our professor (I’ll call him “Mark” because that’s his name) wanted to stop at a certain hillside to spend an hour or so climbing around to look for garnets. Since we were studying metamorphic rocks at the time, this was a perfect learning experience. It was also like being a kid in a candy store. We had found ourselves in garnet paradise. Those crumbly, blood red minerals were everywhere! When it was finally time to leave, our pockets and packs were so packed to overflowing with all sizes and shapes of garnet schists that it was all we could do not to stumble ass–over–teakettle back down the hillside to the van.

I had been blathering on and on about this site for years, so finally one day one of my geology buds (I’ll call him “Ben” because that’s his name) blurted out “Well, I’ve never been there. Let’s go rock hounding!” 

So last month I went back to that hillside for the first time in eight years. I’ll never know why it took me so long to return, because I was still that kid in that garnet candy store.

Garnet schist.  All those red spots are garnets! Hammer for scale (duh).

We didn’t even need a rock hammer, there were so many easily accessible rocks containing so many easily accessible garnets. We moseyed around the hillside and just picked them out of the gravel.
Gravelly blood red garnets easily weather out of the schist.

For some reason I thought this spot looked appealing so I walked over to investigate…
There was a gem of a surprise awaiting to be discovered, just beyond the big white rock.

…and waltzed right up to the mineral discovery of my life! 

My garnet beauty is near the tip of the hammer. Every single other red spot is a garnet, too.

This mineral specimen is a beauty, without a doubt the best I have ever found in the field. It is maybe the size of half of a ping–pong ball. Moreover, although it isn’t a completely intact garnet but appears to be sliced along a center plane, its dodecahedron shape is obvious (or perhaps it’s trapezohedral? I never was very good with shapes), its crystal faces clearly visible. 


Now, these garnets are by no means gem quality. They barely fit into the category “of interest to collectors” because the specimens are so totally chewed up and spit out. Wouldn’t you look a bit ragged, too, if you were nearly two billion years old? 

Well…they certainly interest me and my geologizing friends, that’s for sure! When it was finally time to go, once more our pockets and packs were packed to overflowing as we stumbled gleefully down the hillside and back to the car. 

This schist is chock full of blood red garnets.

Watching for garnets on Garnet Hill.


  1. Thank you for posting, I was having withdrawal symptoms from no posts for so long!

  2. Hey Sue!

    But it sure was worth the wait, wasn't it?

    What else do you have to do in Duluth, anyway?