Sheep Bridge Agates
Also "Purple Sagenite Agates"
Sheep Bridge (over Verde River, north of Horseshoe Dam & Carefree),
Yavapai Co., Arizona
| The picture is as viewed
from the collecting site of Purple Sagenite Agate and the Sheep Bridge
is nowhere to be seen which is because it's few kilometers (couple of miles)
away. The Sheep Bridge refers to the fact that the bridge was built in
1920s with scrap materials over the Horseshoe river for the sheep shepherds
to herd their sheeps over the river to the north. Now, that old bridge
had been demolished and replaced by a new bridge for hikers. Near the parking
is the well known agate site that had been visited for many years but Patrick
T. and I decided to explore further than that site and reached very difficult
to reach second site of purple agate and we may be one of few first people
to reach there.
After driving for 40 miles on the rough road, one would have to walk along the muddy and narrow floodplain of Verde river, naviagate around large red granite boulders, follow the javelina trail thru the forest of very tall bamboo forest along the river, hop from one side to other along the small creek, and lastly, ascent the ravine made of tan ash-like congeramate beds which is like climbing the giant's stairway before finally reaching the topmost agate-bearing basalt beds. With such obstructions, it would take at least a hour or so to travel a mile to that site up there, and it gets harder to go back with a backpack full of agates (about 60 kilograms). That was the most difficult trek(and most fun) I have undertaken, but it was worth it. :)
| Patrick T. and I stumbled upon apparent
virgin grounds where the agates are littered all over as if they haven't
been picked for millenias and it was qutie a trill to just sit down and
pick out best pieces. That gave me an idea of what it's like to experience
the "Rockhounder's Golden Days"(1960s-1970s). At first glance, the agates
are white as a result of so many years of bleaching by sunlight, and hidden
within the agates are red, orange, yellow, lavendar and especially
characteristic purple color. The agates are generally hollow with calcite
inclusions which tend to be weathered away leaving behind incomplete specimens.
What is most interesting is that the agates are completely sagenite type meaning that they consist of needle-like structures. It seems to me that the cavities in the basalt beds have been completely lined with natrolite/mesolite and usually capped with calcite before they have been replaced and preserved by agate and quartz. It is rare to find solid agates especially those with regular banded agate centers.
Since that area appeared to be virgin, I wouldn't be surprised if there are any more higher quality agates waiting to be taken from the basalt beds themselves after having traced the "trail" of float agates and getting an impression that the agates were concentrated around what may be a fault. I don't think that commerical mining is permitted on that area and there is no way any heavy machineary can be brought to that place with steep slopes unless you can afford a heliocopter lifts that is. My best specimens are on the last page.
Close-up of sagenitic structure in the agates
YOU CAN CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO SEE LARGER PICTURES
|Rare type of agate, gaps left by decomposed calcite,
| With reddish to purple color tints, and
quartz-covered calcite crystals, , January 2008
|January 2008||January 2008|
|Rare orangish colors,, January 2008||January 2008||Yellow color due to weathering, January 2008|
Have more and better agates on next page!