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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gemstone Occurrences in Connecticut

Almandine garnet, Connecticut's state stone.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Connecticut is amply endowed with gemstones ranging from andalusite to zircons.  The stones found in Connecticut are found in a variety of terranes although the primary one is pegmatites, but they are also found in the trap ridges of the Connecticut River Valley.  Even more are found as glacial float if you want to use that method of finding gems.

Just in the town where I live, Barkhamsted there are several different verities of gemstones including almandine garnets, beryl, corundum, kyanite, quartz, soapstone, zircon and the usual rock forming minerals.

Connecticut is blessed with many gem bearing pegmatites one series starts in Glastonbury and Crosses the Connecticut River at Middletown and extends almost to the coast of Long Island Sound.  The other belt of pegmatites extends diagonally across the western portion of the state from Hartland to Ridgefield.  Both of these belts contain many of the gemstones found in LCT type pegmatites.  Many of them are Dana localities and one of them, the Maryall Mine is considered to be one of the most important gemstone mines in the United States.  This mine is famous worldwide for its crystals of aquamarine and golden beryl.  It also contains some bright red garnets that can weigh up to several pounds.

Beryl crystals on Feldspar.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

The trap ridges of the Connecticut River Valley and in Woodbury contain specimens of amethyst, datolite and prehnite that are found in vugs in the trap rock.  Some of these occurrences are also Dana localities. Many of them are also world famous.  Connecticut has over 600 recognized mines that are now abandoned scattered mainly across the western half of the state, but there is still plenty of gems to be found in eastern Connecticut.

Microlite-Elbalite and Lepidolite found in the pegmatites of Connecticut.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky
The beaches in eastern Connecticut are littered with moonstones that have eroded from the granite eastern Connecticut is known for.  Another stop you should make is the Connecticut Mining Museum that is part of the Sloan-Stanley Museum in Kent where many of the minerals found in Connecticut are displayed along with lots of information about the mining industry that used to be found in the state.  According to many authorities modern mining was developed in Connecticut then spread out all over the world.

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