Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Visit to a Garnet Mine

As we drove up to Hampton Creek for our hike, we saw these mining remains near the trailhead. The old mill was used to process garnets.

Garnets are often dark red minerals (they also come in other colors) that are used as the January birthstone. In addition, they have several uses such as industrial abrasives. The word garnet comes from the Latin word granatus, which means “like a grain.” 

The Hampton Creek mines processed garnets and sold them for some years with test shipments made in the 1960s. A few mining remnants remain.

Here's one of the metal structures. I'm always surprised by how many mines are located so far away from civilization. We live in the middle of nowhere and we had to drive about an hour into even more nowhere to get to the mine.

This is a water tank that provided water for the operation. Apparently it wasn't worth it to move it to a new location.

The garnets found in Hampton Creek are the hardest and most common garnet type called Almandite with a chemical formula of Fe3Al2Si3O12. 

Not sure what you should be looking at in this photo? See those roundish little black specks? Those are the garnets! They weren't quite what I was expecting either. Under the right light conditions they sparkle, making them easy to find, but on this particular day I had to really look for them. Once you know what you're looking for, they are easy to find, albeit small. These were in the road cut at the parking area for the Hampton Creek trail. At some locations garnets are found within rock, but here they are in an alluvial deposit.

The garnets are fun to pick up and sort of pretty. These certainly wouldn't make valuable jewelry, but they do meet neat mementos.

2 comments:

The Incredible Woody said...

I would sooo be picking those things up. I'm a collector of crap - sharks teeth, beach glass. Those garnets would fit right in.

stephanie said...

this is my birthstone I would be grabbing these to make jewelry or some recycled art

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