Skip to main content

About the Quartz

Conglomerate is composed of quartz sand, quartz pebbles and iron hematite

    I've noticed over the years that many silver mine hunters connect, and rightly so I believe, quartz deposits along with silver and gold bearing rocks. This is one of the indicators of finding mineral deposits. In igneous rock types these are most always associated. Anyone traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota can find quartz bearing rocks which also produced gold in the late nineteenth century. But here in Kentucky many claim that the abundant amount of quartz pebbles found in the conglomerate sandstones found around the state are sure fire indicators of the possibility of silver.
    The conglomerates, sandstones, shales, and lime stones of Kentucky are all sedimentary rocks.  That is they were  deposited over eons of time gently falling to the bottom lakes, rivers, swamps and seas to form layers of sediments, thus sedimentary rocks. Some rocks, geologist surmise resulted from being deposit in vast rivers and  streams much the way gravel bars and sand bars are found along rivers and streams today. Specifically, the conglomerate quartz pebbles are rounded. They do not occur in igneous rocks rounded. This smooth round shape is achieved by the action of rolling, tumbling and generally being abraded into the smooth stone. They started out somewhere else in the ancient Appalachian Mountains when they were much younger. But through unfathomable time and geological circumstances eroded away being tumbled and polished and once again deposited  in a sediment only to become the rock we know to day. These quartz pebbles were not formed here, they just arrived here, the same as they are arriving today in the Gulf of Mexico from all the rivers in the Eastern US.
In a few rare instances the rock pieces are broken and fragmented after being deposited in channel fills or ancient stream beds that now are exposed at the surface. These materials can be different and if erosion of silver ore was occurring then the material could be found deposited in these ancient stream beds

    I have visited some sites with serious minded silver hunters only to be led to outcrops of conglomerate with heavy concentrations of iron hematite. As I have said before, to find a silver mine one will have to either find an outcrop of igneous rock containing the element or placer deposits in ancient channel fills. Silver could have eroded in with the quartz rock and some likely did arrive and is embedded in the rock. But just to assume that quartz pebbles are the marker for finding the mines is a path that many searches have taken only to be disappointed.
Many fossils found in the Mississippian lime stones are formed from  chert. This one comes from the Cave Run area
  Quartz in Kentucky is abundant and comes in many forms. The largest mass of rock composed of quartz grains is the sandstone and conglomerates that compose the majority of the formations of the Red River Gorge and all the way across Kentucky into Tennessee. Much of it is small grains of quartz cemented together by other minerals but primarily iron ore. The sandstone that contains the large number of rounded and smooth quartz pebbles is referred to as conglomerate. But there are other quartz rocks found associated with lime stone and other rock strata. For example, the many fossils found embedded in various rock are in many cases fossilized  with pure quartz but in a micro-crystalline form. Flint or chert is another example of micro-crystalline quartz. Of course, these materials were used for thousands of years by humans to make all kinds of stone tools. We fancy the arrowheads, spears and flint knives for their beautiful handiwork. This material is suited to be chipped and shaped into something durable and sharp because of its micro-crystalline structure.
Chert or flint is quartz in a certain form and is formed throughout the lime stones of the state. This type is called Paoli,  Chert sometimes called Carter Caves Flint 
    Quartz makes is appearance often in geodes and simply large blocks in some areas. Geodes contain an infinite variety of colors and shapes inside and in many cases the true natural quartz crystal is formed inside geodes. These are particularly abundant in south central Kentucky. But the rare and most beautiful Kentucky quartz rocks are the famous and rare Kentucky Agates that are found in only about four counties in the central part of the state. These beauties formed like geodes but instead of just quartz crystals, agate (banded micro-crystalline quartz), jasper and other colored forms are found. Some are so rare that in the stone collecting world fetch thousands of dollars for a single rock!
Typical arrow/spear points found throughout the state. The material of most  arrowheads can now be traced back to the source of the flint.
    Arrowheads and many other stone tools of prehistoric peoples were fashioned from flint or chert which is the cryptocrystalline form of quartz. Quartz in this form has the ability to be shaped and sharpened due to the  dense crystal structure. Flakes can be chipped off and controlled in their removal. This is just a variation of the same material.
Geode agates are found in a few locations in Kentucky and are prized around the world for their beautiful colors.The colors vary because of various minerals deposited with the silica during the formation of the agate
This agate has quartz crystals in the center surrounded by agates and reminds me of an artistic shape of Kentucky

     The rock formation that provides us with the breathtaking views of the Red River Gorge along with countless natural arch formations basically is made of quartz sand, quartz pebbles and iron hematite. These main ingredients along with a few other minerals in minor amounts after millions of years in the making we end up with this amazing rock that is mostly quartz. The pebbles and sand can be found mixed together in unlimited variations. Some places will only be sand and others will be densely concentrated with quartz pebbles.

    Now that the conglomerate rock (conglomeration of sand, pebbles and iron ore) is exposed then the extremes of the environment begin to break the rock back down. Sand is eroded a grain at a time year after year, every day as water, ice, and wind continually attack the exposed rock. Sand, pebbles are broken away and washed down the streams to the rivers and eventual to the seas. This process never, ever stops.

Erosion continues to move quartz sand and every other material constantly

    This is the majority of the type of rock that dominates the past search areas for veins of silver. While there likely are some trace silver in some of the rock strata, especially in the broken and fragmented channel fills, no great discoveries have yet been made. Geologist generally conclude that it is unlikely and they have found no evidence to date that indicates any silver deposits with the rock formations of Kentucky. But perhaps the millions of years of weathering and erosion are just now reaching a strata that contains silver that was eroded somewhere else and deposited deep within the current rock formations millions of years ago. Speculation, maybe even exaggeration on my part. But there are those who search and  follow the clues of the quartz and who knows, maybe they will surprise us someday!

    Please take a few moments and visit my web site for more information about my book Swift.

And stop off and visit my Swift page on Facebook. Leave your comments and join my page!


Popular posts from this blog

Flint Types of Eastern Kentucky

For those folks interested in archaeology and/or geology you no doubt have considered the flint (called chert by geologists) that all those arrowheads you've seen or in your collection are made from.  The colors, textures and behavior of the amazing substance various greatly and for many years, in fact up until the early 70's only the major identified primitive quarries type of flint were recognized in archaeological research. Little effort or attention was paid toward the raw material of those beautiful and finely crafted tools. Geologist performed little better simply noting in their field work that some beds of lime stones contained chert though sometimes the chert was described in detail.
    That all changed in the early 70's as the result of pioneering work on flint classification for sources found in the eastern part of Kentucky. This undertaking was done by Larry Meadows, Garland Dever and Ed Henson. Yes, yours truly was fortunate enough to know these two very …

The High Rock Petroglyph

What do you think the strange symbols carved on this sandstone boulder represent? The High Rock Carving is certainly one of the most mysterious antiquity found in the Red River Gorge country.  We did a previous post  about this strange rock in August, 2012. Discovered underneath a small rock shelter near the High Rock fire tower, the carvings were discovered on one loose boulder in the shelter. In the late 70's the boulder was removed from the rock shelter by the Red River Museum and Historical Society placed at the museum in Clay City, Kentucky. It was felt that vandals and artifact collectors would soon end up destroying the unusual carved stone. In fact some of the surface appears to have been chipped away, perhaps portions already removed by vandals.    The carvings have many varied, curved shapes including concentric circles and shapes that may represent animals. Additionally, there are numerous holes and other features. Some of the rock has been lost likely by the weathering …

Broke Leg Falls

For sure one old landmark in eastern Menifee County Kentucky is Broke Leg Falls. The Falls has been a tourist stop along US Hwy 460 since the 1940's and before. It was a place for picnics and adventures into the rough rocky terrain the likes of the Red River Gorge. It's location on once a major highway along with the pristine beauty of the box canyon that the stream formed no doubt contributed to the popularity of the Falls.
    The Falls is about 80 feet in height but much of the year has a small water flow. But over eons of time the Falls and stream have carved out a magnificent canyon retreating nearly to the crest of the ridge.
    Located in Menifee County Kentucky, Broke Leg Falls has been a popular tourist spot for travelers of the US Highway which is located only a few yards from the falls. A popular landmark since the 1940's, the Falls was privately owned. Visitors could pay a dime and get to hike the short distance down into the box canyon to view the Falls…