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agate GENESIS

Close Inspection Suggests Answers to Major Questions

Agates are an extraordinary form of natural beauty whose genesis took place on a geological time scale, completely hidden from view. Most people are initially drawn to their combination of intense colors, prominent concentric bands, durability, and ability to take a mirror polish. However, the collector soon discovers additional layers of complexity, such as mysterious radial channels, colored dots, horizontally banded sectors, small peripheral hemispheres, tubes, circular/ orbital structures, and vastly diff erent textures within the agate. Ultimately, everyone wants to know how this all happened.

Excellent studies of agates have been carried out using advanced analytic tools (Moxon, 2009); yet, three major questions remain unresolved:

1. Is band development a result of external processes (wet/dry seasons), internal processes (self-organization), or both?

2. Are the radial channels connecting the inside of the agate with the host rock input or output passage ways?

3. What is the origin of the intense color of the bands, particularly in cases where colors vary dramatically between adjacent bands?

This article uses the examination of numerous specimens of banded agates at high resolution (4.5x to 90x magnification) to compare to current theories and to suggest answers. More than 200 banded agates from the author’s collection have been inspected at varying resolutions, and more than two dozen images are presented here that address the above three questions.

FIGURE 5: The magnified (45x) images for perimeter spherulites along the bottom edge of the agate (box in Fig. 3) is shown.
FIGURE 1: The front and back of a 3-1/8”-long Fairburn agate; the red boxes in the top view indicate the sections magnified in Figures 2 and 3.

THE COLLECTOR SOON DISCOVERS ADDITIONAL LAYERS OF COMPLEXITY, SUCH AS MYSTERIOUS RADIAL CHANNELS, COLORED DOTS, HORIZONTALLY BANDED SECTORS, SMALL PERIPHERAL HEMISPHERES, TUBES, CIRCULAR/ORBITAL STRUCTURES, AND VASTLY DIFFERENT TEXTURES WITHIN THE AGATE.

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Rock & Gem March 2019, Special Section : Tools of the Trade, Answers to Agate Questions, Prehistoric Texas : Home to Mammoths & Dinosaurs, And More.....