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Looking for something a little out of the ordinary to do while visiting Michigan? You could give agate hunting a try. If you’re not quite sure what that is, continue reading to learn more:


What is agate?

Agate is a type of cryptocrystalline silica with characteristics of grains and bright colors. This type of rock develops as secondary deposits in vesicles or hollow cavities of rocks. Even though agate can develop in all types of rocks, they are commonly associated with volcanic and metamorphic rocks. Many agates that exist today came from prehistoric volcanic lava formations.


How to spot agate rocks?

One of the best signs to look for when hunting for agate is their waxy almost polished surface. Most agates are opaque while some are translucent that come in different colors. Iron oxide, a prominent mineral present in agate produces the rust-red and yellow shades in the formations.

However, not all agate have visible bands around them.  Sometimes they bear less of their usual patterns, particularly if there’s no crack or break to see inside. Often, the bands may have been peeled away or broken apart. Since agates fill up holes in lava, look for rounded rocks or dimples on the outer surface. Because of these unique features, agate stands out from other rocks but are easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. 


How to hunt for Agate in Lake Superior

Lake Superior is one of the best places to look for agate rocks. About a billion years ago, volcanic eruptions created distributed these rock formations across the northeastern part of Minnesota and in the northwestern area of Wisconsin. The melting of the Great Ice Age which took place about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago help disperse them through the greater area, including all around Lake Superior.

Hunting agate in beach shores is a fun and fulfilling activity for kids and adults alike. But how do you spot a genuine agate from an ordinary rock? Here are some tips for amateur hunters:

  •    Morning and late afternoon are the best time to look for agate on beach shores. The sun’s rays can help you distinguish their particular rock pattern. Doing so in the middle of the day may not be very helpful as you need to concentrate finding agate with the sun at your back.
  •    Try digging down through layers of sand and rock piles instead of walking for miles along the beach shores. This will help you focus on the same spot, not missing or leaving behind unturned spaces. It’s a good strategy too if there are a lot of people trying to find agate the same time as you do.
  •    Sometimes agate may conceal its true form in a rough brownish and uneven husk. So, don’t just disregard rocks because it doesn’t look like what you see in stores. Try to examine it closer, it might be the precious stone you are looking for.
  •    The chances of finding agate after a big storm and high waves are higher. Start your search first thing in the morning and be the first person on the beach or as early as the weather allows it.
  •    It’s easier to find agate just along the beach shores or just under waves because the water clears out impurities and sand. However, more experienced hunters try to look for sparkle or glint reflection from an agate layer in dry rocks.
  •    Since agate is formed in holes or vesicles in larger rocks, try to look for elongated or uneven shaped ball. An agate usually lies flat and angular in nature but doesn’t have any corners.
  •    Another trick it is to just look for pretty looking rocks since you might not be sure what kind it will be. There is a huge number of collectible rocks littered across the beach, so the more you collect increases your chances of getting an agate.

Most important of all is that it’s best to not overthink things. Patience, luck and good timing are all you really need for successful agate hunting.


Want to show off some bright colors of your own? Check out this Michigan D T-hoodie.