Rockhounding South Carolina
South Carolina is a good state for rockhounding. South Carolina has enormous granite deposits. For rockhounders, the northwest portion of South Carolina has some gemstone and mineral localities, while the coastal portion of the state is noted for its fossil occurrences, especially fossilized shark teeth.
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.
Blue Granite (1969)
South Carolina designated blue granite as its official state rock in 1969. Blue granite (also called Winnsboro Blue) actually is a gray-colored igneous stone (it has a blue hue when polished). It is unique to the Midlands and the Piedmont region of South Carolina where granite is abundant. It was mined extensively in Fairfield County.
Gemstone: Amethyst (1969)
South Carolina designated amethyst as its official state gemstone in 1969. Amethyst is a light or dark purple variety of quartz. Typically, it is translucent, and the better specimens will have fine-pointed, six-sided crystal terminations. One of the best specimens of amethyst ever found was on a property near Due West, and it is currently displayed at the American Museum of Natural History. Amethyst crystals have also been found near Lowndesville and Antreville in Abbeville County, South Carolina.
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!
- Carolyn Hanna Murphy, Carolina Rocks – The Geology of South Carolina (1995).
- Kevin G. Stewart, Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas: A field Guide to Favorite Places from Chimney Rock to Charleston (2007).
- Ashley Oliphant, Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast (2015).
- 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
South Carolina State Museum
Columbia, South Carolina
The museum exhibits rocks, minerals, and fossils including a 118-pound amethyst that was found in South Carolina in 2008.
University of South Carolina – Columbia, South Carolina
The museum includes a permanent exhibit titled ‘Natural Curiosity’ that includes rocks, minerals, gemstones, and fossils.
Bob Campbell Geology Museum
Clemson University – Clemson, South Carolina
The museum, located in the Botanical Gardens, exhibits rocks, minerals, and fossils.
The Charleston Museum
Charleston, South Carolina
This is America’s oldest museum (founded in 1773). Exhibits include mounted skeletons of prehistoric animals such as a primitive toothed whale, an eighteen-foot-long crocodile, and the second largest known flying bird (all from 28 million year old marine beds near Charleston).
Places to Visit - Interesting Sites To See
Former Blue Granite Quarry
Near Rion in Fairfield County, South Carolina
The location of the huge former Winnsboro Granite Works.
Rockhounding Sites for Children & Families
Fairfield County, South Carolina
Blue granite was mined extensively in this part of South Carolina.
Coastal South Carolina
Most South Carolina fossil localities are in coastal and adjoining counties, in an area referred to as the Coastal Plain of South Carolina. In some places, fossil outcrops are exposed in creeks, riverbanks, and road cuts. Excellent fossil occurrences are common in limestone quarries such as the Martin-Marietta Quarry in Berkeley County near Cross, S.C. For fossil collecting on beaches, consider Hunting Island, Edisto Beach, and Myrtle Beach.
Fossils – River Diving
Some fossil collectors will brave the wildlife (including snakes and alligators) and dark water to dive South Carolina rivers in search of fossils, including megalodon (prehistoric shark) teeth that can be up to six inches in length. The Cooper River in Berkeley County is a well-known location for magalodon fossilized teeth. Note: To collect fossils in South Carolina rivers, you will need to obtain a hobby diver’s license.
Diamond Hill Quartz Prospect – Abbeville County, South Carolina
Commercial (fee access) business. This is a well-known location for quartz crystals including smoky and amethyst.
Charleston Fossil Adventures
Coastal South Carolina
Commercial (fee-access) business. Charleston Fossil Adventures (and owner Ashby Gale) provides fossil hunting in the Charleston and surrounding area. Ashby is knowledgeable and can readily identify fossils. Trips are suitable for experienced and novice collectors. My dad went on a collecting trip with Ashby in December 2016 for fossil shark teeth and found a small megalodon tooth as well as a rarer fossil mako shark tooth.