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How to ID a real agate

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  • How to ID a real agate

    Last year was my first year rockhunting while dipnetting Kenai beach. Fun stuff.

    Luckily I was with a group that had been doing so for years and could tell an agate from a wannabe agate. Finally I brought one up and said this HAS to be one, right? And right I was. About one inch square.

    Not sure I'll run into my agate experts again this year, so I thought I'd ask if anyone had a web site or two to help the unexperienced see an agate from a wannabe. I googled the heck out of it and came up with virtually nothing except stones that were already polished, or cut - no help there.

  • #2
    Try a google image search or ebay search on rough or raw agate; you may find some helpful photos. Rockhounds like agates because they take a polish and can be made into jewelry. Agates are made of quartz (chalcedony) which is a mineral; and commonly has internal coloring or banding that appeals to the eye; plus generally they may be transluscent. It's hard to describe and takes just a little time in the field to get your eye in tune. It always helps to wet the sample; kind of shows what it would look like polished. Look for color change and not a rock composition change.
    Nonetheless, enjoy the hunt and get a rock polisher....wish I could describe it better...I tried.

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    • #3
      If you really want to find agates, you need to go further north. Around mile marker 20? of the Kenai Spur Hwy there's a beach access road on the left just past the Conoco Phillips plant. Salamantof (sp), this beach is called agate beach by the locals. Plenty of agates there, but you might want that rock polisher before you go.
      Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,
      Teach a man to fish and he'll also learn to drink, lie, and avoid the honey do list.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by FamilyMan View Post
        Last year was my first year rockhunting while dipnetting Kenai beach. Fun stuff.

        Luckily I was with a group that had been doing so for years and could tell an agate from a wannabe agate. Finally I brought one up and said this HAS to be one, right? And right I was. About one inch square.

        Not sure I'll run into my agate experts again this year, so I thought I'd ask if anyone had a web site or two to help the unexperienced see an agate from a wannabe. I googled the heck out of it and came up with virtually nothing except stones that were already polished, or cut - no help there.
        Agates form in the vesicles(voids in the cooled lava caused by gas bubbles) of Basalt lava flows. When silica rich ground water enter the vesicles it starts depositing silica on the egdes. Gradually the the rock grows in which causes concentric banding. This concentric banding is the key to Identifying agates.

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        • #5
          How to ID a real agate

          Any forum member pics of raw Alaska agates?

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          • #6
            Saw this post and felt the calling to resurrect it since there were no pictures. I'll do one better and post a video and explanation for those of you new to rock hounding. Most of these agates were found on caribou creek or the Kenai Peninsula beaches. They are not the best of my collection, but will offer real examples of what you can expect to find.

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            • #7
              well done, thanks

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              • #8
                Here is a picture of agate in bedrock. The agates below were not picked at that location but another close by. Different locals offer different color. All these were picked by my wife and I in less than a hour. The beaches were very remote and loaded with agate. I have found agate all over the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and BC. I am not an expert just like beach combing. Agates like mentioned are smooth to the touch and feel almost plastic. Quartz has sparkle to it and looks sugary thus the name sugar agate. I have the best luck walking with the sun in front of me shining through the rock to illuminate the agates. Wet or dry is a preference in my opinion. It is more the contrast between the rock and agate that makes them stand out without sunlight. They are not everywhere and can be extremely abundant in remote locations. I have been on beaches that had literally buckets and buckets of agate. It is a great hobby.

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                • #9
                  These images did not make it in the previous post. This is agate in bed rock. The bottom two images are not seeded for the photo. That is what the beach looked like with agates laying all over.



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                  • #10
                    Don't confuse calcite (soapy) with chalcedony. Also the darker chalcedony is called "jasper", the lighter "agate"....must be in the translucent to opaque range to qualify. Forms in voids from silica-rich solutions. Can be but doesn't have to be lava or volcanic. Geodes are the most banded, fire agates maybe the most valuable...

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