AGATE



Minnesota's state rock is the Lake Superior agate--so named because it is found predominantly along the coast of Lake Superior. Agates form in cavities in basalt. As mineral-rich water circulates through the cavities, silica (SiO2), or quartz, is deposited in layers along cavity walls. Eventually, the cavities completely fill with this banded variety of quartz. The color variations are due to slight mineral impurities in the water. Iron, for example, causes much of the red and orange color seen in Lake Superior agates.

Although agates originated in the basaltic rocks along the North Shore, some of the best places to hunt for agates are in gravel pits scattered across the state. Specifically, agates are likely to be found where operators are mining glacial sand and gravel deposits associated with glaciers that advanced into Minnesota from the northeast, bringing agate-bearing gravel into the central and southern parts of the state.