BLOG

On a Trip – To the Amethyst Crystal Mines

by JEFF SEGAL

When people come to the Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery, they always ask me, “How do they get these amazing crystal geodes out of the earth?  Do they look like this when they come out?”  On a recent trip to Uruguay, I saw for myself the amethyst crystal mines, the extraction process, and how the geodes go from a rock in the earth, to the amazing pieces of natural beauty in our gallery.  I want to share with you what I learned.

Geodes are formed as the result of two volcanic eruptions occurring in the same area over a “relatively” short period of time.  The first eruption released molten lava that seeped down into the soil.  In certain places, for various reasons, the lava could not flow straight down, but instead flowed down, then curved, and later rejoined itself, thereby forming air pockets deep in the earth.  These air pockets remained “dormant” until the second eruption occurred, releasing trace minerals from the molten lava into the cracks that had formed in the barrier to the air pocket over the millennia.  These minerals, once inside the air pocket, were the seeds from which the beautiful crystals formed in the air pocket, what we now see and call the geode.

 Amazingly, this phenomenon happened only in a few places on earth, and only over a “relatively” very narrow period of time.  As such, we see amethyst crystal geodes forming almost exclusively in South America, primarily in Brazil and Uruguay.  Moreover, the geodes are only found in a narrow stratum of the earth, which the miners call, “the Colada”.

 

Once the amethyst geodes were discovered, extraction of them began.  The mines, always horizontal because the geodes are only found in the Colada, are created using explosives.  The geodes are found in the Colada when a miner, drilling a cylindrical opening to insert the explosive, finds the earth to have “no resistance” so that he lunges forward.  This means the miner has found the “air pocket” that has formed, or contains the geode.  Work then ceases, and an artisan miner is brought in to carve the geode out of the earth. 

Once the geode is extracted, it is opened using huge saws.  The amethyst crystals inside are then cleaned, removing residue from inside the geode that has built up over millions of years.  Finally, the face if the geode is polished to make it smooth, and the back of the geode is sometimes reinforced so that the true natural beauty of the piece can come into full blossom and be strong enough to last in an opened and exposed state for years and years to come. 

 

Come to Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery to see some of these natural pieces of art in all their beauty and to learn more and more about amethyst crystal geodes from me and all of our wonderful staff.

Uruguay is one of the least densely populated countries on earth.  And the location where much of the amethyst crystal is found in Brazil is also only sparsely populated.  This fact, when combined with the fact that the mines are only horizontal, means that there is little disruption to the earth and its nearby surroundings.