When we were planning our trip out West, I purchased a book of some of America’s best geological sites. I read about the Crater of Diamonds state park and the kids were beside themselves at the thought of being able to search for *real* diamonds!!
This state park is the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing volcanic crater. We camped in the state park and tried our hand at diamond mining!
Many of the largest diamonds have been found by searching on the surface. In fact, one couple walked out into the field to check things out. They decided they might try wet mining (with screens). The woman sat down to wait while her husband got the equipment. She looked down, noticed a shiny rock… and had found a diamond! And not too long ago a 3rd grader was also lucky enough to find a diamond while visiting the park!
So why is this open to the public? 1) Testing showed there weren’t enough diamonds to undertake commercial mining. And 2) the surface material is a much higher grade than that below the surface.
About 106 million years ago, a volcano erupted. The high pressure eruption blasted a crater about 600 feet deep and sent ash and lava high into the air. The ash cloud then collapsed filling the crater with ash (and diamonds). The diamonds were already in the lava… Geologists explain that diamonds are formed from carbon dioxide gas that was trapped in the Earth billions of years ago. Diamonds formed as crystals in the upper mantle about 100 miles deep.
The park area is plowed now and then (to help make it easier to spot diamonds if you are surface mining). As you can see below visitors (like us!) just walk out into the field and start looking!
The kids were also keen to try wet mining. We got some tips from some of the (avid) miners there and tried our hand. You place two screens on top of each other and place in some dirt you’ve collected from the fields. You shake the two screens to let the smaller pieces fall through.
Then you dump out the large pieces and focus on the small screen. You try to shake the material and keep spinning it around a bit (and shaking again) so the heavier pieces collect in the middle. You can see we collected some heavier (white) quartz… but alas, no diamonds!
Our camping neighbor found two diamonds while we were there… and last summer someone found an 8.5 carat diamond, now called the Esperanza Diamond (picture courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)!!
We drove through some really bad storms and flooding in Texas when we left but made it through unscathed (and with a beautiful cloud-filled sunset) as we finished our drive for the night. The next day we drove (and drove) across New Mexico. At one point, I saw a really neat small city off the interstate (I-40). We pulled off to take a look and stretch out a bit.
There were a couple of Native American (Acoma) women there selling jewelry and they told us that the pueblo village (that you see in the photo) dates back to the 1600s (or earlier). The church you see on the hill was built by Catholic missionaries.
The Acoma Pueblo is about 60 miles west of Albuquerque. The Acoma have continuously occupied the area for more than 800 years, making this one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.
We didn’t have time to do the tour (up to Sky City that you see on the ridge in the picture below right) but enjoyed the cultural center and looking at the artists’ displays. (FYI: I purchased a camera permit and asked permission to take the photos of the artwork below).
More soon… obviously I’m slow in getting these posts about our trip written… Once we got back home there was a ton to do. I’ve been spending lots of time working on the landscaping and gardens and am also working on some packets for the fall. I have a lot of research/prep work to do to get us ready. 🙂 I finished a new math packet for ED (multiplication review–she chose an Ancient Egyptian theme, though we’re not studying Egypt this year!!)…
… And the past few days I have been working hard on a Slavery & the Civil War Packet for the kids (that will take weeks and weeks of work, but at least I got started!)… I am also working on a new German packet (the focus will be on daily activities and household chores). And for science we’ll be doing several human body systems (that we didn’t get to last spring) and I have some prep-work I’d love to get done this summer.
I’m also still mulling over starting a Homeschool Mastermind Group with a small group who, like me, have at least one middle school child (who will (probably) continue homeschooling through high school…) and who want to chat and talk about homeschool stuff like keeping homeschooling engaging while at the same time polish important skills (like writing and more rigorous course-work)… and who might also want to chat about fitness/making time for Mom!!. Anyway, I think I mentioned that on FB back a while ago… I’m still contemplating forming a small group of 5 to 10 people in a private FB Group – so stay tuned if that sounds of interest! 🙂
The girls are in Girl Scout camp this week, so I hope to get lots done… including going all the stuff above as well as combing through the thousands of photos to highlight more of our trip out West!