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Rocks & Minerals

 

Nevada has a vast assortment of rocks and minerals. Igneous rocks include those from gabbro,
diorite, and granite intrusions, and basalt, andesite, and rhyolite flows, breccias, and tuffs.
Sedimentary rocks include conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, shale, argillite, limestone, and
dolomite. Metamorphic rocks include gneiss, schist, phyllite, slate, marble, hornfels, and skarn
and various other types of metaigneous and metasedimentary rocks. Many types of minerals,
both common and obscure, are also present. Gemstones such as turquoise and opal are also
locally present.

The NBMG Publication Sales Office sells a box containing 18 Nevada rock and mineral specimens
and a brochure.

Purchase a rock and mineral specimen box now >>

For other rock, mineral, and fossil publications

Also visit the NBMG Rock Garden at GBSSRL!

Identification

People can bring rocks and minerals to NBMG for identification. It costs nothing for us to look at them. Most rocks and minerals can be identified by someone on the NBMG staff.


Restrictions to Collecting & Recreational Prospecting


Collecting
One should always contact the owner before collecting on private property. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees most of Nevada's public lands, and allows gemstone and common rock specimens to be collected for private use on unclaimed sites. On public land, most minerals on a valid mining claim belong to the claim holder. See Mining for more detail on mining claims and records. So it is necessary to either avoid valid mining claims or to ask permission from the claim holder to collect rocks and minerals on their claims. Only hobby collecting is allowed in wilderness and wilderness study areas if it does not create surface disturbance or impair the environment.

The same general rules apply to land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, but collectors should check with that agency for additional restrictions. Collecting rocks and minerals are generally prohibited in National Parks, and trespassing and collecting is illegal on Indian Reservations without permission from the tribal authorities. Trespassing and collecting is both illegal and dangerous on lands controlled by the Military.

Recreational Prospecting
Gold, silver, and other metals are discussed in more detail in Mining, but the recreational prospector can prospect for gold and silver with hand tools such as pans and metal detectors. One should always contact the owner before collecting on private property. On public land, gold, silver, opals, and many other minerals on valid mining claims belong to the claim holder. See Mining for more detail on mining claims and records. So it is necessary to either avoid valid mining claims or to ask permission from the claim holder to prospect over their claims.

Sluicing, dredging, and commercial mining on public land require permits. Recreational panning which does not involve mechanical equipment is permitted in wilderness and wilderness study areas if it does not create surface disturbance or impair the environment.

The same general rules apply to land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, but recreational prospectors should check with that agency for additional restrictions. Prospecting is generally prohibited in National Parks, and trespassing and prospecting is illegal on Indian Reservations without permission from the tribal authorities. Trespassing and prospecting is both illegal and dangerous on lands controlled by the Military.

Collections

The Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library houses various rock and mineral collections detailed on our Collections page.

Samples

If you have need of a certain rock, mineral, or fossil, the Information Office suggests that you contact nationally recognized commercial supply houses. A few are listed below:

D. J. Minerals
P.O. Box 761
1001 S. Montana Street
Butte MT 59703-0761
Phone No.: (406) 782-7339

Ward's Natural Science Establishment
Box 24
Rochester, NY 14601
Phone No.: (800) 962-2660
Website: http://www.wardsci.com

Geological Enterprises
Box 925
308 Stolfa Street
SE, Ardmore, OK 73401-6098
Phone No.: (580) 223-8537

Also, the NBMG Publication Sales Office sells a box containing 18 Nevada rock and mineral specimens and a brochure.

Purchase a rock and mineral specimen box now >>

Maps & Literature about Collecting and Prospecting

Nevada's geology is too diverse to sum up in a sentence or two. It would be best for the collector to review the literature before planning a collecting or prospecting trip. NBMG has produced a number of bulletins, maps, and reports on the geology and mineral resources of the state. These can be obtained from the NBMG Publication Sales Office. NBMG Special Publication 29, Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, and Fossils in Nevada, is a useful generalized map of areas to go. A large number of popular books have been written on rock, mineral, and gem collecting and recreational prospecting in Nevada and the west in general. The NBMG Publication Sales Office carries some of these books. Others can be found by contacting book stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders Books and Music, and Waldenbooks.

Geologic maps at various scales are also published by the USGS, many of which are also available from the NBMG Publication Sales Office. Topographic maps at various scales are published by the USGS and can be found in the NBMG Publication Sales Office; blueprint stores; bookstores; and in hiking, hunting, and fishing stores. A free index to USGS maps is available by writing to: U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25425, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 or calling (888) ASK-USGS.