Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tennessee Paint Rocks

While doing research for the Online Rockhounding Adventures, I came across a web site about Tennessee Paint Rocks.  I've seen these microcrystalline quartz specimens before, but the ones I saw looked more like jasper than agate.  This is not true for the specimens pictured on this web site.  The web page was compiled by Will Smith at http://www.tnagate.com/More than 20 years ago he saw his first Tennessee Paint Rock Agate at a Gem & Mineral Show in Murfreesboro Tennessee -- he has been collecting ever since.

Most of the Tennessee Paint Rock agate deposits are located at at the 1200' to 1600' level on the west side of the Cumberland Plateau. The matrix is generally at the 1600' level with deposits down the mountain due to erosion and surface slides.  Much of the surface material has already been collected but some adventurous collectors are having luck digging down as much as eight feet.  Occasionally more agate continues to erode off the plateau, but you have to be in the right place at the right time to find specimens.  Notice in the photos below how this sedimentary rock agate looks similar to some of the Teepee Canyon agate found in South Dakota.

Will does sell specimens as well as bola ties and some jewelry.  He has contact info on his web page.

There are different names of the agate for the different locations.  First, Dripping Spring agate...

This next variety requires a 3.5 mile hike to get to the collecting location.  Greasy Cove Agate....
Greenhaw is a site which had some wonderful Tennessee agate. It produced a lot of large agates for a short time, but is now picked over and also posted as private property.

The Tennessee Paint Rock agate gets it's name from the poor quality of agate found at this site: heartbreak agate. It has beautiful color, but also has numerous fractures. The major reason for these fractures is that most of the specimens found on the surface are exposed to heating/cooling over time that has caused cracks.
Saw Mill agate...
Below are photos Will posted of rough specimens.

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