Montana Agate - Semi Precious Gemstone
"Montana Moss Agate, a name given to the beautiful chalcedony found, most abundantly, in the alluvial gravels of the Yellowstone River, would probably be better named Yellowstone Agate, because its genesis was centered in the Yellowstone Park area. The actual tremendous volcanic activity that produced the conditions necessary for the formation of agate, spanned hundreds of miles and millions of years.
Although its genesis centered in the Yellowstone Park area of Montana and Wyoming, this volcanic activity ranged from the eastern Rocky Mountain front in south-central Wyoming to the western front of the Black Hills and north across eastern Montana and into Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada."
"Eastern Montana was mostly a shallow inland ocean, almost a swamp with huge forests lining its shores and islands of volcanoes spewing forth lava to entomb parts of the forest in lava and ash. The bowels of Yellowstone bulged and roared and flowed mountains of lava that decimated thousands of acres of mighty redwoods and sequoias for hundreds of miles. This decimation continued for hundreds of years with layer upon layer of forests growing up and being driven down under the ponderous weight of all the megatons of lava and ash. The hot lava devoured most of the wood in its rush to cover the trees, but some of the shape and ingredients of the limbs remained trapped in the cooling lava. When the time of the volcanoes and lava was subdued and the rains came, mineral laden silica-water flowed into the cavities and pockets left by the dying trees and bubbling lava. As flow after flow slowly filled the pockets with liquefied silica, Montana Moss Agate was born." (The River Runs North by Tom Harmon).
Montana Moss Agate is found on the river banks and sandbars of the Yellowstone River between Sidney and Forsyth, Montana. People have been agate hunting for years and have made it a family outing for young and old. Some take a boat down the Yellowstone River in the early spring and stop along the banks and sandbars just to hunt for that special rock.
Montana Moss Agate can be found in many colors from dark (almost black) to brown to orange or green to clear. Once in a while a white opaic color is found which is called "iris". This piece displays faint rainbow colors throughout the white when held up to the light.
The Montana Moss Agate is known for the dendrite (pictures of trees or moss) and ribbon effect (sometimes called Sergeant stripes) in a rock. Also, pepper rock is found that looks like sprinkles of pepper.
Jewelry is made when the rock is cut into slabs, trimmed and polished. Most people prefer to make Jewelry from Cabochons. This is a sliced portion of the rock that has been trimmed into a flat (usually domed) oval shape and then polished. The Cabochon is then fit into a setting which could be a ring, brooch, belt buckle, bolo, necklace or whatever the imagination designs. People have made lamps from agate, as well as table tops.
I have decided to turn the rock collected into beads. I usually have 2mm - 12mm beads cut. Then the beads are strung onto 16" cord that looks like heavy fishing line. The remaining small rock is polished and holes are drilled for chip beads. They are then made into the beautiful Jewelry."
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