Opal butte oregon rockhounding

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Where to Find Opals in Oregon?

Tracking gemstones in the Pacific Northwest

Where to Find Opals in Oregon?

If someone mentions Oregon, you are likely to think of the foggy coast or weird, cool Portland, not fiery gemstones created after volcanic fire centuries ago. But it's okay to use Oregon and opals in the same sentence. These gorgeous gems have been found in the Beaver State.

To see a change of color

Opals are magically beautiful, with intense, dramatic color. The word "opal" comes from the Roman word opalus meaning "to see a change of color." In gem-quality opal, one single stone can flash every color of the spectrum, offering an unrivaled intensity and quality of color. Precious opal flashes iridescent colors when viewed from different angles, described as play-of-color. Common opals don't have play-of-color characteristics.

One way opals are formed is from water carrying a mineral called silica that seeps into volcanic lava. Lava has air bubbles that, as they cool, become receptacles for the liquid deposits. This is why Oregon is opal territory. From its position at the edge of the North American crustal plate, Oregon has played host to many volcanoes. If the conditions are right, the seeping silica forms opals within the volcanic air bubbles.

Oregon's opals

Oregon's Morrow County is the site of a large opal mining operation in an area called Opal Butte. Although these deposits were identified in the 1800s, they were not mined until 1988 when West Coast Gemstones, Inc. began work there. They have located and sold exquisite gems as large as 315 carats.

The Opal Butte opals are found in rhyolite geodes, also called thundereggs. Thundereggs can look like regular rocks on the outside but, broken open, can reveal agates or opals on the inside. Only about 10 percent of the total geodes mined at Opal Butte contain gem-quality opal, and only about 1 percent contain gem-quality opal with play of color. The remaining geodes contain agate, quartz crystals or common opal.

Opal Butte is not the only opal mining area in Oregon. The Last Chance Mine operates near La Pine in the Bend/Fort Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest, and a few others have mining claims in the area.

Fee-dig mining

Miners at Juniper Ridge Opal Mine in southeastern Oregon have found red, orange and golden yellow fire opals there. While for a time Juniper Ridge allowed "fee dig" mining, in which the public could come in and, for a fee, dig for opals, they no longer offer this possibility.

It appears that there are no other fee-dig opal mines in Oregon. Those looking for a fee dig mine near Oregon can try the Royal Peacock Opal Mine in Denio, Nev. It's about 100 miles from Lakeview Oregon and offers fee digging to the public between May 15 and October 15 each year. You can do bank digging for $190 per person per day. Expect to bring your pwn tools (like ice-picks and rock chisels) and work hard. Alternatively, you can "mine the tailings," sifting through loose rock in already mined areas searching for the opal the original miners missed. That costs $75 per day.

Sours: https://getaway.10best.com/13579191/where-to-find-opals-in-oregon
Exceptional and very rare Oregon opals with precious color play.

Opals are made out of rhyolite, basalt, sandstone, marl and rhyolite. A common source of opals are rhyolite geodes. The rocks, which means they have no properties of crystals, are known as mineraloids. It’s a silicon dioxide crystal-like product that is placed in cracks and cracks in rock at a somewhat low temperature.

Opals are also a gel high in a liquid content ranging from 3 to 30 percent water, but the opal gel acts as a solid. They’re essentially a silica spray! They can be quite cool and fragile, making it hard to hold them for jewelry after mounting.

Types of opals include: common and precious opals. Oregon opals include the types, rainbow, ryalite, contra luz, hydrophane, crystal, fire, blue, and dendritic.

Where to Find Opals in Oregon?

Baker County
Conner Creek Mining District “Baker Co.”
Swayze Creek “Baker Co.”

Clackamas County
Clackamas River localities “Clackamas Co.”
Oak Grove Fork “Clackamas Co.”

Columbia County
Neer Road, Goble “Columbia Co.”

Crook County
Howard Mining District (Ochoco Mining District; Bolivar Mining District) “Crook Co.”

Deschutes County
Newberry Caldera, East Lake “Deschutes Co.”

Harney County
Pueblo Mining District (Denio Mining District) “Harney Co.”

Hood River County
Pucci drillhole “Hood River Co.”

Jackson County
Ashland Mining District “Jackson Co.”
Butte Creek Mining District “Jackson Co.”
Evans Creek Mining District “Jackson Co.”
Meadows Mining District “Jackson Co.”

Jefferson County
Richardson Ranch (Priday Ranch), Madras “Jefferson Co.”

Klamath County
Oregon Technical Institute Occurrence “Klamath Co.”
Summit Rock “Klamath Co.”

Lake County
Christmas Valley pit, Christmas Valley “Lake Co.”
Hart Mountain “Lake Co.”
Juniper Ridge Opal Mine “Lake Co.”
Oregon Sunstone public collection area, Plush “Lake Co.”
Spectrum Mine, Plush “Lake Co.”
Madera Occurrence, Quartz Mountain “Lake Co.”
Quartz Mountain Gold Deposit (Fremont; Quartz Mountain Property), Quartz Mountain “Lake Co.”
School Creek Prospect “Lake Co.”

Malheur County
Brandon Occurrence (Quartz Mtn.; Glassy Butte) “Malheur Co.”
Owyhee Dam, Lake Owyhee State Park “Malheur Co.”
Aurora Uranium Prospect, Opalite District (McDermitt District) “Malheur Co.”
Rome Zeolite Occurrence “Malheur Co.”
Sheaville Zeolite Occurrence “Malheur Co.”
Succor Creek “Malheur Co.”

Marion County
Breitenbush Hot Springs Cinnabar Occurrence, Santiam District (Elkhorn District) “Marion Co.”

Morrow County
Opal Butte “Morrow Co.”

Opals are found nearly everywhere in the world, but how are we going to get to Oregon and find those deep wonders? The Juniper Ridge Opal mine is the site of a major opal discovery and development that has been going on for 30 years before being abandoned. After spending two years discovering and taking over the abandoned claim in 1998, a father and son team, Ken and Chuck Oldham, formed a group of lapidaries and miners. They opened it for a form of mining called “fee dig” mining after mining the claim for years.

Fee Dig mining is simple! Pay a small fee, get a little training and a spot to mine, and take away whatever you find!

Opal Butte is a mountain top close to Hepner City in Morrow County, Oregon. There is a working mine in operation since 1988, but it has been known since the 1800s, when opals were not regarded as important. There is a mine in the West Coast Mining Company, marketing opals through its outlets.

Klamath County, Oregon hosts Opal Creekand Klamath Falls, where opals have been found. The Favell museum in Klamath falls actually boasts an arrowhead made of fire opal!


 

Geology Page

Sours: https://www.geologypage.com/2020/01/opals-in-oregon-where-to-find-opals-in-oregon.html
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Opals in Oregon

Find Opals in Oregon
 Rough Opal From Opal Butte, Oregon

While Australia produces over 97% of the worlds supply of opal today, Recent mining at Opal Butte in northeastern Oregon has produced a wide variety of large flawless opals.

The most common gem-quality varieties are hyalite and rainbow opal, but the less common play-of-color varieties contra luz, hydrophane, and crystal opal are economically more important. Opals are formed in rhyolite, basalt, sandstone, marl and rhyolite. Rhyolite geodes are a common source of opals. They are classified as mineraloids, meaning that they do not have the characteristics of crystals. It is a crystal like product of silicon dioxide which is deposited under somewhat low temperature and forms in fissures and cracks of rocks.

One way opals are formed is from water carrying a mineral called silica that seeps into volcanic lava. Lava has air bubbles that, as they cool, become receptacles for the liquid deposits. This is why Oregon is opal territory. From its position at the edge of the North American crustal plate, Oregon has played host to many volcanoes. If the conditions are right, the seeping silica forms opals within the volcanic air bubbles.

Find Opals in Oregon
The Oregon Opal with the Ocean inside
Credit: Mckenna Praetorius

Oregon's opals

Oregon's Morrow County is the site of a large opal mining operation in an area called Opal Butte. Although these deposits were identified in the 1800s, they were not mined until 1988 when West Coast Gemstones, Inc. began work there. They have located and sold exquisite gems as large as 315 carats.

The Opal Butte opals are found in rhyolite geodes, also called thundereggs. Thundereggs can look like regular rocks on the outside but, broken open, can reveal agates or opals on the inside. Only about 10 percent of the total geodes mined at Opal Butte contain gem-quality opal, and only about 1 percent contain gem-quality opal with play of color. The remaining geodes contain agate, quartz crystals or common opal.

Opal Butte is not the only opal mining area in Oregon. The Last Chance Mine operates near La Pine in the Bend/Fort Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest, and a few others have mining claims in the area.



It appears that there are no other fee-dig opal mines in Oregon. Those looking for a fee dig mine near Oregon can try to Dig Your Own Unique Opals From Nevada.

Find Opals in Oregon
Oregon opal with visual effect of being underwater when held to light.obtained at Opal Butte Mine. Oregon, USA.
Photo: Inna Gem
 
Find Opals in Oregon
Contra Luz Opal - 2,290 Carats Opal Butte, Morrow Co., Oregon, USA

See also: 

Part I: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US

Part II: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US

What is Lake Superior Agate, and Where Can You Find It?

What is Petoskey stone, and Where Can You Find It?

Where to Find Gold in the United States

Sours: https://www.geologyin.com/2017/06/where-to-find-opals-in-oregon.html

Opal Butte, Morrow Co., Oregon, USAi
Regional Level Types
Opal ButteTable/Butte
Morrow Co.County
OregonState
USACountry

ⓘOpal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
Reference: Extra Lapis - English No. 10 Opal
ⓘOpal var. Contra Luz Opal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
Reference: Extra Lapis - English No. 10 Opal
ⓘOpal var. Crystal Opal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
ⓘOpal var. Fire Opal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
Reference: Extra Lapis - English No. 10 Opal
ⓘOpal var. Hydrophane
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
ⓘOpal var. Jelly Opal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
ⓘOpal var. Opal-AN
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
ⓘOpal var. Precious Opal
Formula: SiO2 · nH2O
Reference: Extra Lapis - English No. 10 Opal
ⓘQuartz
Reference: MacFall, P.M. (1951) Gem Hunter's Guide (1st ed.). Science and Mathematics Publishing Company, 187 pages.
ⓘQuartz var. Chalcedony
Reference: MacFall, P.M. (1951) Gem Hunter's Guide (1st ed.). Science and Mathematics Publishing Company, 187 pages.
Sours: https://www.mindat.org/loc-4068.html

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