This has been a really weird year for agate hunting in Grand Marais. Since there was moving ice on Lake Superior last winter that brought new rock to our shore and dredged up other rock that was laying just off shore – rock hunting in the early spring was terrific. Since then we have had periodic storms on Lake Superior that have not been cooperative. These November-like gales now happen any month of the year and serve to undertow rocks back out into the lake or cover those at the high water mark with sand. There have been days when beaches that historically have been covered with rock have had none. In early August, even the beach in front of Woodland Park right in Grand Marais basically had no rock.
The chaotic condition of the shoreline has continuously moved rock up and down the beach as well as down shore. Successful agate hunters have had to be patient and spread their search sites out to find the beaches that do have rock. This has not been easy since the location of beaches with rock seems to change on a daily basis. But thankfully, many great agates have been found this year including at least two that are over four pounds. One of these I did not get a chance to see. The other one I did not see originally when it was found in September by a beginning agate hunter, but I did get to see it the other night. It was found by Alesia Joki from Appleton, WI. She was up with Gary Darling, who has been giving her agate hunting tips. This 4.5 beauty shown below does not have many intricate bands, but does have awesome white floater bands as well as extremely complex agate formation transition zones and cool botryoidal formations in the center fill. It was found just off shore in two feet of water in front of Woodland Park. It was sitting by itself on “smiling” up at Alesia.
Allison from Charlevoix, MI found this intricate beauty and brought it into the museum the end of August.
Regular agate hunters Brian and Regina stopped by my booth at the Muskellunge Lake State Park show in September. I did not get close up photos of the agates.
Char Kramer from Zeeland, MI also stopped by my booth at the Muskellunge show. She showed off this Lake Superior eye agate that she found in the Grand Marais area and then tumbled.
But then Char asked me to identify the specimen shown below that she found in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Apparently she showed this specimen to several dealers. Half of us said it is thomsonite. The other half said it is prehnite. I guess in some ways we were all right. Most of the prehnite found in the Keweenaw has a characteristic pale-green to white color, but some specimens are mottled in pink and green. The pink prehnite superficially resembles thomsonite with a radiating fibrous habit that appears to have occasional “eyes.” The pink color of the prehnite is due to internal reflections from finely disseminated native copper inclusions, and the color intensity is related to the distribution, abundance, and grain size of the inclusions. In some cases this pink prehnite is referred to as “U.P. thomsonite.”
Although Claudia lives in southeast Michigan during the winter, she and her husband spend most of the summer camping in Woodland Park. Most days Claudia can be seen scouring the beach in front of Woodland Park. Here are some of her agates…..
Debra Spatrisan from St. Johns, MI, found this intricate shadow agate in Grand Marais in August.
Eric from Grand Haven, MI found this agate in Grand Marais in September. The center fill of this agate has some amethyst.
Several people either sent me photos or came into the museum with agates that they found down state. Greg found the agates shown below in Osceola County. The red one certainly looks like a Lake Superior agate that perhaps was dragged south by the glaciers. The other specimen looks more like an agate that formed in sedimentary matrix rock.
Oftentimes I hear about agates before they are brought into the museum. That is the case for this nice 12 ounce beach-worn agate found by Dirk and Heidi Hughes from Holland, MI. They found it near the mouth of the Two Hearted river.
Now that my friend, Jill, and her husband have bought property in Grand Marais, she gets to spend a lot more time agate hunting. Here are a few of her treasures…..
John Buffone from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario spends time agate hunting all along the Lake Superior shoreline, both in Canada and in the U.S. He has found some whole nodules and rescued them from their basaltic matrix. He also acquired some old stock specimens that were taken out of the matrix basalt on Michipocoten Island (located in the northeastern part of Lake Superior) many decades ago.
Katrina Smalley found this lacey paintstone agate in early September. She is from Columbiaville, MI.
Marilynn comes to Grand Marais agate hunting multiple times during the year. Here is an interesting tube agate that she found toward the end of the summer.
Sally in Claudia’s sister-in-law. Believe it or not, they are married to identical twin brothers. Sally and Claudia are quite the pair and enjoy agate hunting together. Here is “mother-child” pair of agates that Sally found east of Grand Marais.
Unfortunately the photo I took of the eye agate shown below is not quite in focus. But I do not want to slight Sue Hoholik from Manistique, who found this agate in Grand Marais during the middle of August.