Rocks, Minerals and Prospecting

Road Trip for True Rockhounds


Field Tools for the Rockhound

Appropriate tools will make your rockhounding trips easier and safer. You will not, however, need all the tools we list! Pick the ones you need for your particular expedition.

Formation of Geodes

Plain rock on the outside, crystalline cavern on the inside: geologists don’t entirely agree on how geodes are formed, but here’s what we do know.

How To Clean Geodes

You’ve bought or found your geode, but is it clear? Dusty? Here’s how to get it sparkling.

How To Pan for Gold

Panning for gold can be a lucrative hobby, or a great family activity. It's a relaxing (or exciting!) way to spend some time outside and get in touch with nature. To be really successful, perseverance and patience are necessary, but the thrill of finding even the tiniest flake of gold is worth the effort!

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Members of the Gold Prospectors Association of New Mexico show you the basics of finding those precious little flakes of gold using a gold pan.

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Learn how to set up and use this affordable and very efficient gold panning machine.

Rock and Mineral Identification

Field identification of rocks and minerals can be an approximate, best-guess sort of business. If you have a good field guide in hand, however, noting a few basics about a specimen will get you started in the right direction.

Rocks and Minerals Compared

The terms "rocks" and "minerals" are often linked, and are nearly as often confused with each other. The difference between the two is easy to learn, though identifying them is harder!

UV Light and Fluorescent Minerals

See a glow—and identify your minerals—with UV lights!

Where to Find Gold in the United States

You don’t have to trek west to prospect for gold… you can find it right at home!

Iron Pyrite: "Fools Gold"

Learn about the mineralogical characteristics of iron pyrite, and how to distinguish it from gold.

Gold, by Paul Hlava

Paul Hlava explains the properties and the poetry of gold.

Garnets, by Paul Hlava

Paul Hlava discusses the chemistry and colors of January’s birthstone.

Play of Colors in Minerals, by Paul Hlava

Paul Hlava demonstrates that optics isn’t just for astronomy: it’s for understanding why minerals iridesce, too!

The Colors of Quartz, by Paul Hlava

Did you know that most minerals are naturally colorless, and the colors in them are caused by impurities? Learn about how this works with quartz.

Pseudomorphs, by Paul Hlava

The name pseudomorph means "false form" and it is applied to material that retains the external form of a previous crystal. Here’s how pseudomorphs are made.

Safe Collecting, by Paul Hlava

A guide to staying safe while you’re rockhounding.

New Species of Garnet is Discovered

A University of Maine graduate student is credited with discovering a significant new species of garnet, named menzerite-Y in honor of the German crystallographer Georg Menzer.

About Amethyst

Learn about the mythology, mineralogy, and decorative and metahphysical uses of this beautiful purple crystal.

About Celestite

Learn about the history and metaphysical uses—as well as the interesting and unusual mineralogical characteristics—of this sky blue, ethereal crystal.

About Galena

Learn about the history, mineralogical characteristics, and varied uses of this ore of lead and silver, one of the heaviest minerals on Earth.

About Hematite

Learn about the mineralogical characteristics, history, and physical / metaphysical uses of this iron-rich mineral.

About Malachite

Learn about the fascinating history and mineralogical characteristics of this most distinctive of the green minerals.

About Rose Quartz

Learn about the interesting and unusual mineralogical characteristics, as well as metaphysical uses, of this very attractive form of quartz.

About Vanadinite

Learn about the mineralogical characteristics and practical / metaphysical uses of this fiery orange to red colored, six-sided crystalline mineral.

Geology Q&A

Learn more about basic terminology, interesting facts and the science of geology and mineralogy.

Take a Turquoise Tour to Mount Chalchihuitl

If you're in New Mexico (or planning to be) and you'd like to see a historic turquoise mine, be sure to schedule a tour of the Mount Chalchihuitl site.

Rockhounding Trip to Pueblo Park Campground New Mexico

If you are in New Mexico and looking for a great weekend rock-hounding getaway, the Gila and Apache National Forests in the southwestern corner of New Mexico offer a variety of opportunities.

Tips for Spotting Fake Turquoise

It is difficult to tell the difference between a good fake and the real thing. However, I have learned a few tricks in my years of dealing with rocks and minerals; here are some tips...