New Mexico Fire Agate

I have known for quite a few years that there is fire agate in New Mexico because I have spent hundreds of hours in the mountains searching for and finding them. I had not been out for about seven years mainly because of the fact that the friend I would go out with was out of the country on consulting work and I choose not to be out in the bush by myself.

About twelve years ago when myself and my friend were first really researching and looking for fire agate we found a soft rhyolite outcrop that had all the signs of being a fire agate producing formation, because it was so early on we marked the location and went on our merry way in search of other locations. Over the next few years we found about five very promising fire agate locations. It was at this time the my friend started being hired for consulting work in south America.

Many years have passed since I have had someone that I could first of all trust with the knowledge of locations and also have a good relationship with. About two months ago Greg Merritt came cruising up my driveway (Greg is a local fire wood supplier that I already knew), as Suzi and I had always liked Greg and his work ethic it was good to see him. One of the first things Greg said "Is that you on face book regarding fire agate" I said yes and this has turned into a new relationship with Greg and also given me the other person I needed to go out in the hills (mountains for most)with.

Yesterday Greg and I had arranged to meet at the Mule Creek post office about 9:30 in the morning, Greg got there shortly after I did and we made our way out to the area the location is located. As I have a two wheel drive truck we offloaded my stuff into his 4WD and ventured off to as close to the location as possible. Once we were within about a quarter of a mile we unloaded our prospecting tools and started the hike down a pretty steep incline to this new source.

As Greg had never been in this area we took our time down the hill so he had the chance to do some snooping on the various small shelf formations that catch stones as they erode from the rhyolite out croppings. Once in awhile you find a small fire agate on these outcrops but not this day.

When we got down into the small canyon and it flattened a bit it was easy hiking, I was first and came upon the soft rhyolite face, thinking I should not quite be where I thought the out crop should be I pointed out the formation to Greg and told him this is the rhyolite you look for when hiking around looking for fire agate. It then dawned on me that this was the out crop that Jack and I had found twelve years ago.

Greg and I grabbed some of the prospecting hand tools and got over to the face of the flow, there were more than a few botryoidal calcedony formations visible some with the distinctive internal iron oxide stains. We both picked a spot and started working on the seams, within the first ten minutes Greg got pretty excited "Wow", I walked over, he had just uncovered a pretty nice very bright red botryoidal calcedony with a thin fire layer just below the surface. Needless to say this was very inspiring and a great start of the day.

Here are some images of some of the agate we exposed. As this was just an exploratory day to decide wether or not we should continue to pursue this location, the answer we got was yes, without a doubt this is well worth spending quite a few days through the coming months. I will keep you posted as things progress.

Images of the face of the soft rhyolite flow and looking up at the incline of the small canyon.

After we worked the rhyolite face for a few hours I took Greg for a short walk over to an area that I knew had produced some pretty nice surface finds over the years. This is the nicest piece Greg found, he got pretty excited when he found it. The next day Greg came by the house and we went out to my studio, on close inspection the fire layer on this stone was quite thin so I just polished the face and told Greg it would make a nice souvenir from his first fire agate adventure.

I can not say 100% for sure but I am 99% sure this is a New Mexico fire agate. I got the piece of rough from Marvin Ellis about ten years ago. Marvin was born in Mule Creek in 1922 and spent the major portion of his life there. He was an avid hiker and ATV maniac (when he was about 80 I had a hard time keeping up with him). Marvin showed me more than one location for fire agate and I assume he found this and others he had out in the area I just wrote about.

More to come later!!