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What is a Geode?

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Geode Meaning- Geodes are rock formations that are spherical to sub spherical in shape and have an internal cavity lined with mineral materials. They have a weather-resistant exterior wall that is more resilient than the surrounding bedrock. When the bedrock around the geode weathers away, the geode remains intact. A scintillating druse of tiny quartz crystals also lines the cavity, which is underlain by several bands of translucent grey and white agate. Many of them are lined with even more amazing treasures.

Geode Meaning: “Earth-Like”; derived from Greek ‘γεώδης’.

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Geode Formation

Geode rocks can appear in any cavity, but they are most commonly found in igneous and sedimentary rocks as more or less rounded formations. They can form in igneous rocks, such as vesicles in basaltic lava, or in rounded cavities in sedimentary formations, as in the American Midwest. Dissolved silicates and/or carbonates are deposited on the inside surface of the cavity after the rock around it hardens. Crystals develop within the hollow chamber as a result of the slow feed of mineral constituents from groundwater or hydrothermal solutions. Bedrock containing geodes weathers and decomposes over time, leaving them at the surface if they are made of a resistant material like quartz.


When visible bands corresponding to various stages of precipitation are cut in half, patterns revealing points of fluid entry into the cavity and/or varying colours corresponding to changes in chemistry can sometimes appear.


Geode Rock Colouration

Variable impurities cause banding and colouration in geodes. Iron oxides give rust hues to siliceous solutions, such as the iron-stained quartz that is commonly seen. Clear quartz crystals can be found in most geodes, while purple amethyst crystals can be found in others. Others may have agate, chalcedony, or jasper banding, as well as crystals like calcite, dolomite, or celestite. It's impossible to tell what a geode's interior holds before it's sliced open or broken apart. Geodes from the same area, on the other hand, are typically identical in appearance. Artificial colours are often used to dye geodes and geode slices. Geode samples with odd colours or formations are more likely to be found.


Volcanic Geode rock 

Geodes produced in areas of volcanic activity are the most well-known and sought-after. Agate, quartz, opal, and other materials delivered by hydrothermal water or groundwater often fill voids in basaltic lava flows. Some voids are filled with gases that were unable to escape the lava flow until it crusted over.


What is the source of all this gas? There is a lot of dissolved gas in some magmas. On a weight basis, they can be several percent dissolved gas. As magmas reach the surface, the gas expands in proportion to the decrease in pressure. As magma erupts as a lava flow, it releases so much gas that not all of it can escape. As the lava solidifies, some of the gas may be trapped, resulting in a wide cavity.


Liquid lava leaked out after the flow was just partly solidified, creating other voids in solidified lava flows. Some of the largest and longest geodes are formed in these tiny "lava tubes." Many cathedral geodes are the product of lava tubes that were later filled with mineral material. Many of them have the shape of long tree branches, with diameters of nearly a metre and lengths of several metres.


Sedimentary Geode Rock

Geodes are most commonly found in sedimentary rocks such as limestones, dolomites, and calcareous shale. A gas-filled void in these deposits may serve as the opening for geode formation. Shells, tree branches, roots, and other organic materials also decompose, leaving a vacuum for mineral formation. Quartz, opal, agate, or carbonate minerals may be used to fill these cavities. They're usually smaller than the geodes that shape in volcanic rocks.


When the host rocks have weathered away, geodes are the easiest to collect. Basalt, limestones, dolomites, and shales weather much more readily and quickly than the quartz and chalcedony that usually make up a geode's outer layer, so this can happen. The geodes are left on the surface, washed into a sea, or stranded in residual soil as the host rock weathers away. Geodes are quickly detected and collected in these circumstances. Some geodes are made by mining the host rock, but this is a complex, expensive, and sometimes damaging process.


Interesting Facts about Geodes

  • Vugs are irregularly shaped pockets, voids, or cavities within a formation, sometimes along a vein or in breccia. Geodes vary from vugs in that the former is created as early, rounded structures within the surrounding rock and are often removed intact, while bugs are irregularly shaped pockets, voids, or cavities within a formation, often along a vein or in breccia.

  • A nodule is a mass of mineral matter that has accreted around the nodule nucleus, while a geode is a mass of mineral matter that has accreted around the nodule nucleus.

  • Geodes can appear in any cavity, but they are most commonly found in igneous and sedimentary rocks as more or less rounded formations. They can form in gas bubbles in igneous rocks, such as vesicles in basaltic lavas, or in rounded cavities in sedimentary formations, as in the American Midwest.

  • Variable impurities cause banding and colouration in geodes. Iron oxides give siliceous solutions a rusty appearance. Clear quartz crystals can be found in most geodes, while purple amethyst crystals can be found in others. Others may have agate, chalcedony, or jasper banding, as well as crystals like calcite, dolomite, or celestite.

  • Artificial colours are often used to dye geodes and geode slices. Geode samples with odd colours or formations have almost always been synthetically altered.

  • Geodes can be found in a variety of formations throughout the United States (mainly in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, western Illinois, Kentucky, and Utah). Brazil, Uruguay, Namibia, and Mexico, are also popular for Geode rock.

  • Geodes can mostly be found in basaltic lavas and limestones.

  • Crystal Cave, a celestine geode 35 feet (10.7 m) in diameter at its widest point and situated near the village of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, is the world's largest known crystal cave or vug.

  • The ‘Empress of Uruguay' is the world's largest amethyst geode. About three metres (eleven feet) tall and weighing over two and a half tonnes. It's in the Australian town of Atherton, in the state of North Queensland.

  • Calcite, pyrite, kaolinite, sphalerite, millerite, barite, celestite, dolomite, limonite, smithsonite, opal, chalcedony, and macrocrystalline quartz, which is by far the most common and abundant mineral contained in geodes, have a chalcedony (cryptocrystalline quartz) shell lined internally by various minerals, mostly as crystals.

Commercialization of Geode

A geode that hasn't been opened has the appearance of a boring rock. When you open them up and see the internal crystals and agate bands, they become even more fascinating. Even though each crystal-lined geode is a work of art, there are several things that can be done to make it more marketable and increase its value.


1. Utilitarian Geode Products

Large agate geodes are often carved into blocky pieces with a flat base for use as bookends, desk sets, clock faces, or paperweights. Gray, white, and other unappealing agate colours are often dyed bright blue, green, purple, red, or other colours, then face polished to improve their appearance. These treatments help the bookends sell quicker and at a higher price than if they were in a less appealing grey colour.


2. Geode Rock as an Item of Decor

The internal amethyst crystals in large amethyst-lined geodes are often expertly cut to show off their internal amethyst crystals. They are then sawn and fitted with a weighted base to make them suitable for use as home or office decor.


Agate-lined lava tube geode parts have often been used to build several-foot-high “cathedral geodes.” These are sawn to provide a flat foundation, which is filled with metal-weighted concrete to allow the geode to stand upright, the edges of the cavity are sanded for a pleasant appearance, and the entire exterior is painted to conceal the scrapes and scuffs that occurred during collection and transportation.


3. Geode Novelties

Slicing and polishing small geodes is popular. Slices that are particularly good can be shown "as is" in custom-made frames or stands. Some, like the illustration picture at the top of this article, have their transparent elegance reflected in stained-glass panels or windows. Wind chimes, coasters, and decorative magnets may be made from less spectacular specimens that have been dyed. Tiny parts of geodes with beautiful and vibrant crystals are often sawn into small pieces that will stand upright or into slabs for display purposes.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. How to Test If a Rock Is a Geode?

Ans. The only way to confirm if a rock is a geode is to smash it apart with a hammer or get someone to cut it open with a powerful saw.  When you see the interior, you will have to determine if the composition is hollow or solid.

Q2. Which is the Rarest Geode?

Ans. Amethyst crystals and black calcite are the rarest and most valuable geode rocks.

Q3. Where are Geodes Found?

Ans. Geodes can be found all over the world, but the deserts have the highest concentration. Geodes are commonly found in volcanic ash beds or limestone-rich areas. In the western United States, such as California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, there are numerous geode collecting sites that are easily available.