Author Topic: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires  (Read 10657 times)


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1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:16:18 PM »
This was my first trip fossicking and now i`m hooked. Its funny though, i originally planned this trip to get my ailing father outdoors and a bit more active, i really had no interest in 'rockhounding' other than it was a relatively inexpensive exercise. Boy was i in for a surprise!.

After hiring some equipment from the local information centre we set off to a designated fossicking area just outside of town and got to work. As my father is recovering from a hip operation he tasked himself with the job of sorting and i was to do the digging. Having done some classes in geology back in uni and recently watching the series 'Gold rush' i thought i could at least find some interest in this menial task. After a hot cuppa i set off to find a nice place to dig. Very quickly it became apparent that ALOT of people had fossicked here before, there were holes everywhere, some were years old and some were relatively fresh. Referring back to an episode of some TV show i thought my best course of action was to find ‘virgin’ ground and start a hole there, this made perfect sense to me, that was until my shovel hit the ground. The clay here was like concrete. I knew from the information provided that we were digging an ancient riverbed and the ground was mostly compact clay, but i never in my wildest dreams imagined it to be this hard! I then looked upon the many large holes surrounding me with a feeling of awe and respect. How on earth did people manage to dig those, more importantly how many days did it take them to dig even the smallest hole! I knew i had horribly underestimated how much time was needed before we would have our first bucket of material. Having weighed up my options i decided to utilise one of the many holes available. After a quick search i found two large holes close to one another and decided to dig a channel between the two thinking that no one would have thought to do this previously, providing me with some virgin ground. After about an hour of digging i started to find some decent river rocks suspended between dark and light layers of clay. We processed the band of clay around these rocks to find that it was full of small alluvial quartz and other rocks. When i saw that first bucket of clay turn into a mass of small pebbles i was hooked! No sooner had the first lot been processed i was ready with another. As i later found out this continued for about 6 hours straight. I had been caught up in digging out material so much so that i didn’t realise that the temperature had dropped to about 4 degrees, it was almost dark and my father was quietly freezing his ass off. So we took all of our processed but not sorted gravel (about 5kg worth), gathered our things and headed back to the big smoke..

On the trip home we discussed the days events and to my surprise i had thoroughly enjoyed myself and was already looking forward to our next trip.  Unbeknown to me the fun had only started. Later that week i went though our gravel and found a few sapphires, a ruby and a lot of very very small diamonds (wow those buggers shine!). I was hooked. I was bitten by the rockhound bug and the symptoms were just starting to show.

There is just something about pulling a mineral from the ground that was made millions of years ago.

I`m now planning another trip back to Oberon but this time i will have done my research. Already i find myself spending countless hours interpreting maps of the area and trying to understand the geological history. I am amazed at the amount of data available, Infact i have learnt more about geology in the last month than my measly 4 geo courses at uni could of ever taught me.

On a side note I later found that the area we were fossicking is on top of a massive biotite granite bed. Would I be right in guessing that the clay was so dam hard because of this? I truly have very little knowledge in geology and the formation of minerals and the knowledge I do have was self taught from some of the sources stated below.

I have provided a geological map of the area I fossicked in, And would appreciate any help in determining how the sapphires came to be here or any information on the geological history of the area. I am spending countless hours learning about rocks and their origins and how gems are formed but it’s a hell of a hill to climb. But its fun :)

Anyway I hope to get back there soon not only to fossick but to see what rocks like ‘biotite granite’ and ‘Pyroxene Olivine Basalt’ look like


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2014, 05:17:18 PM »
This is the sapphire we found, (well the only one of size worth taking a photo of) - was still fun!


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2014, 05:41:40 PM »
Welcome to ALF ZarV. It is a great hobby. Your research & persistence will pay off if you hang in there. Happy fossicking! :)
Baaa humbug, not enough fossicking time!


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2014, 05:48:37 PM »
That's a great find for your first go,hope to find one that big myself some day  ;D
Insert [Funny Text] here!


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2014, 05:50:38 PM »
Thanks for the welcome and words of encouragement Jamo :)

I`m currently reading 'Rocks and their Origins' by Grenville A.J Cole.

and referring to

also ktmman i really wish i had looked at my courser tailings. i keep dreaming that i inadvertently threw out a big one! lol.

edit : also that sapphire in the photo is only 2mm x 3mm aprox. but it aint the size that matters a girl once told me ;)
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 05:52:35 PM by ZharV »


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2014, 07:10:51 PM »
Hi ZharV. I did my first fossicking for sapphires in the Vulcan State Forest near Black Springs in 1966 and my last in 1967! There were lots of holes there then. Yes, there were a few small cutters found.
It's generally believed that the sapphire, zircon and spinel originate in material erupted in the Tertiary period, usually basalt and associated pyroclastics. The granite is incidental, simply providing good traps in water courses both modern and ancient.
Happy fossicking!


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 08:21:29 PM »
Thanks Findem

This is exactly he sort of information that can help me :) I might try and read up on the local Teritary period. This just gets more interesting the deeper i delve.

Also now looking at the allocated fossicking areas and what you say about the granite providing good traps in water courses i`d guess thats a good reason why the areas are there as they provide easy access to material for newbies like me :) (at a guess, among with other things)

« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 08:23:39 PM by ZharV »


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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 10:14:31 AM »
The source is in the basalt along the fault lines in the basalt is vents that look like large sections of kimberlite the greenish grainy form the gems are eroding from there
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Re: 1st Fossicking Trip - Oberon - Sapphires
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2014, 07:59:24 PM »
Welcome the hobby Zharv one bitten that is it , you soon become infected with Rockhoundus digiosis


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