Georgia is a good state for rockhounding. Non-rockhounders often are surprised to know that America’s first major gold rush did not occur in California … or Alaska … or Montana … rather, it occurred in Georgia. That state is well known for its granite deposits. The state has a variety of fossils and minerals. In addition, at least two dozen meteorites have been found in the state.
State Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, Fossils, & Dinosaurs
Rockhounding Tip: Knowing state rocks, gemstones, minerals, fossils, and dinosaurs often can be very useful information for rockhounders. Ordinarily, states with significant mineral deposits, valuable gemstones, fossils, or unusual or significant rock occurrences will designate an official state mineral, rock/stone, gemstone, fossil, or dinosaur to promote interest in the state’s natural resources, history, tourism, etc. Accordingly, such state symbols often are a valuable clue as to potential worthwhile rockhounding opportunities.
State Gemstone: Quartz (1976)
Georgia designated quartz as its official state gem in 1976. Quartz is common in Georgia and found in a wide variety of colors. The resolution making quartz the state gem cited two particular forms: the amethyst, which is mostly used in jewelry, and the clear quartz, which, when faceted, resembles the diamond.
State Mineral: Staurolite (1976)
Georgia designated staurolite as its official state mineral in 1976. Staurolite is a common metamorphic mineral that is useful to geologists to determine the degree of metamorphism. Staurolite is famous for its twinned crystals that form into the shape of a cross. The twin is a classic penetration twin where it appears as if two crystals grew into and out of each other. It actually forms two twin types; one that is nearly 90 degrees and one that is nearly 60 degrees. The 60 degree type is more common but the 90 degree type is the most sought after. The name staurolite comes from the Greek word stauros, which refers to the common cruciform twinning of staurolite crystals called ‘fairy crosses’ or 'fairy stones.' The crystals are particularly abundant in north Georgia and have been collected for generations as good luck charms.
State Fossil: Shark Tooth (1976)
Georgia designated the shark tooth as its official state fossil in 1976. The shark tooth is a relatively common fossil in the Georgia coastal plain. Sharks have skeletons composed of cartilage rather than bone, so usually the only fossilized remains they leave are their teeth. These teeth are produced and continually shed in a conveyor-belt fashion, and an individual shark may produce 10,000 teeth during its lifetime. Many types of sharks lived in prehistoric Georgia, ranging from small Cretaceous forms to large, fierce Miocene species. Sharks as a group appeared during the Ordovician, but the earliest teeth found in Georgia date from the Late Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago. Fossilized shark teeth are found in a range of colors from the more common blacks and grays to whites, browns, blues, and reddish browns.
State-specific rockhounding books (including the books listed here as well as other books), regional rockhounding site guides, and other helpful rockhounding resources are identified - by category - in the Books & Gear section of Gator Girl Rocks with a link to the Gator Girl Rocks Amazon Store where you may easily browse selected resources and securely place an order. Your order will benefit Charity Rocks!
of Natural Resources
Georgia abolished its Geologic Survey in 2004. Some of the Geologic Survey’s work now is within the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
Association of Georgia
A fabulous website.
- Allan W. Eckert, Earth Treasures Vol. 2 - Southeastern Quadrant (1985; reprint in 2000).
- James Martin Monaco & Jeannette Hathway Monaco, Fee Mining & Mineral Adventures in the Eastern U.S. (2d ed. 2010).
- Kathy J. Rygle & Stephen F. Pedersen, Southeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide (4th ed. 2008).
Museums of Interest to Rockhounders
The Museum features a Fossil Gallery and the Weinman Mineral Gallery. This may be the finest mineral museum in the southeastern U.S.
Georgia Museum of
University of Georgia - Athens, Georgia
The Museum's Geology Collections include the Allard Collection for Economic Geology, the Mineralogy Collection and the Paleontology Collection. The Allard Collection for Economic Geology represents a lifetime of collecting by Dr. Gilles Allard in ore deposits and mines on every continent, and contains over 20,000 specimens. The collection is online and can be searched by mineralogy, mining district, deposit type, or mine locality. The Mineralogy Collection is comprised of over 1,500 specimens from around the world. The Paleontology Collection consists of over 12,000 fossils and casts, including trace fossils from the Robert W. Frey Collection, modern mollusks from southeastern marine systems, and Paleozoic fossils from southeastern localities.
Courthouse Gold Museum
This museum highlights America's first major gold rush - twenty years before the California gold rush - the 1829 gold rush in northern Georgia. In addition, it tells the story of the Dahlonega Mint. Accordingly, the museum has collections of native Georgian gold and Dahlonega Mint coins, mining equipment, and photographs.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
The museum’s exhibits include the ‘Giants of the Mesozoic,’ which includes a 123-foot long Argentinosaurus (the largest classified dinosaur) as well as a Giganotosaurus. The museum’s ‘A Walk Through Time In Georgia’ exhibit tells the two-fold story of Georgia's natural history and the development of the planet. In addition, the museum’s floors are made of 40,000 limestone tiles, each containing fossil remains of animals that lived in a shallow reef more than 150 million years ago.
Fernbank Science Center
The science center’s Exhibit Hall includes a meteorite collection as well as a collection of several Georgia tektites ("Georgiaites"). The center also exhibits rocks and minerals.
Georgia Southern University Museum
Georgia Southern University – Statesboro, Georgia
The museum exhibits local rocks, minerals, and fossils. In addition to a variety of Pliocene fossils from southeastern Georgia, the museum’s ‘Hall of Natural History’ exhibits the 78 million year old Mosasaur and 40 million year old Vogtle whale.
Elberton Granite Museum
Elberton Georgia is the self-designated ‘Granite Capital of the World.’ Northeast Georgia does have numerous quarries and manufacturing plants. The museum includes historical artifacts and educational displays.
Places to Visit - Interesting Sites To See
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome. The carving features three figures of the confederacy: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Less, & Jefferson Davis. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not the largest piece of exposed granite in the world.
Rockhounding Sites for Children & Families
Gold, Rocks, Minerals, &
Chattahoochee & Oconee National Forests
In 2009, there was a good deal of chatter among rockhounding clubs and newsletters regarding an enforcement action involving a staurolite collector. Nonetheless, subject to federal restrictions and forest district limitations, recreational rockhounders are allowed to pan for gold, collect fossils, and collect rocks, minerals, and gemstones. As always, recreational rockhounding is NOT mining and it is NOT a commercial activity.
Central Eastern Georgia
Tektites are unusual. The generally accepted theory is that tektites are created as a result of high-energy meteoroid impacts that melt the surrounding earth to form a high silica glassy specimen. Tektites have been found in at least twenty-four Georgia counties. Georgia tektites, or "Georgiaites," are part of the North American strewn field and are approximately 35 million years old. These small specimens generally are translucent and olive-green in color.
Graves Mountain – Lincoln County, Georgia
Commercial (fee access) business. This site is well-known for its kyanite and other minerals.
Dixie Euhedrals – Wilkes County, Georgia
Commercial (fee access) business. Hogg Mine is a well-known pegmatite site. A variety of specimens occur there including quartz, tourmaline, beryl, mica, and feldspar.
Jacksons Crossroads – Wilkes County, Georgia
Commercial (fee access) business. This business is a famous amethyst locality.