MINERAL OF THE MONTH: March 2008 Lake Superior Agate

It has been quite some time since I designated the Lake Superior Agate as the mineral of the month. In honor of the museum founder, I am featuring his 5.5 agate as the mineral of the month. He found this agate at the base of Grand Sable Dunes in 1958. He had it for many years before he gathered up the courage to cut a slice off the end. I am glad he made that decision, so that I didn’t have to. I have always wondered when he cut the agate. While preparing this month’s webpage update, I noticed for the first time the date in the article that appeared in the Oscoda County News article about Axel and his big agate. The article was published in October of 1979 and appears to showing the agate before it was cut. Since Axel left Grand Marais in around 1984 to be closer to medical facilities for his ailing wife, he must have cut the agate sometime between 1979 and 1984. If this is true, he had the agate for over 20 years before he cut off the end. If any of you remember anything more about when he cut the agate, please give me a call at 906-494-2590 or send me an email at karen @ agatelady.com.

The first photo shows the carnelian eye pocket that Axel spotted from what he claimed was 50 feet away. The next photo shows that whole side, which is the opposite side from where Axel took the slice off the end. The third photo shows the conchoidal fractures on the top of the specimen. Although you certainly can tell that it is agate, you would not have expected the banding quality that was exposed with the cut, shown in the fourth photo.

The last photo shows the agate face that resulted when Axel sliced off the end. Before it was cut, the agate weighed 5.5 pounds. Just for perspective, the cut face is 6” wide and 3” tall. The agate is also 4” deep. Over the last 10 years since opening the museum I have seen a lot of agates come off the beach. All in all, though, I still have not seen one that beats Axel’s 1958 wonder.

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