Saturday, December 29, 2012

The King of Fundy Agates: Golden Flame Agate.


Chris Sheppard Master Rockhound and Landscape Photographer

The King of Fundy Agates

Nova Scotia's Golden Flame Agate
Nova Scotia's Golden Flame Agate

Long Beach, Minas Channel shoreline near Cape Split, N.S.

Nova Scotia's Finest Agate

On a remote section of the North shoreline of the Cape Split Peninsula on the Minas Channel is a massive rock slide called the Golden Fire Agate Slide. Approaching from the East or West requires a climb down from the woods and a hike out along the boulder-strewn shoreline and through the "dark side" as we like to call this otherworldly looking stretch of beach that never sees direct sunlight in the Winter months. The ice stays here a long time, well into the Spring.
Minas Channel Shoreline in Winter

We scramble through the boulder field on our way to the Golden Fire Agate Slide, the source of a rare seam agate of incredible detail and beauty.

Golden Flame Agate Show Piece. Fundy Rocks Collection
I was in awe of the first piece I ever held in my hand. a few months prior to finding my own amazing specimen. The beach area around the slide rarely offers up specimens of Golden Flame Agate. Many rockhounds consider this the finest agate seam in Nova Scotia.

Rockhound Andrew Hooper searches for the elusive agate
The agate from this section of cliff and beach seems to be coming from beneath the rock at the base of the slide. It takes a rare storm surge combined with the right wind direction on a high tide to move the massive amount of beach rock that would typically cover any hope of finding a large piece. I had made the difficult trip countless times mostly finding nothing; but occasionally I would pick up small teaser pieces that one would assume had been broken off a large hidden seam or chunk. For me, it was a two-year obsession to experience a significant find from the slide.

An incredible Rockhounding Day!
In January 2012, our timing was perfect and we didn't only stumble upon one good piece, but several gorgeous specimens. On the approach to the slide I had taken note that things looked "different" in the berm section next to the slide.  I couldn't believe my eyes. The entire section of beach appeared as though it had been raked by a giant set of claws. My heart started to beat a little faster and within minutes I found the first amazing piece.

Finding the first chunk of Golden Flame Agate.

A most significant agate find!
Quartz crystals that aren't distinguishable to the naked eye make up the agate that was formed within fissures and cracks inside the basalt, creating a seam agate.

Golden Flame Agate seam. Cut and polished.

Golden Flame Seam Agate Show Piece
 When the silica gel seeped into the seam within the basalt as it settled and cooled, mineral inclusions (mostly oxidized iron) gave the formed agate its unique color and appearance.
Rough chunk of Golden Flame Agate

This stunning example is from what local rockhounds call “golden flame agate.” Structures of remarkable detail reach through the agate toward the center where the crystals become visible and distinct. In the case of this highly sought after agate, the inclusions resemble vivid golden flames and plumes that stretch out from the walls of the seam toward a core of brilliant quartz crystal.

Golden Flame Agate seam with Amethyst core.


30 kg lot of Golden Flame Agate after some initial lapidary work .
We gathered approximately 30 kg of Golden Flame seam agate that cold January morning! It was the best find of any rockhounding trip I've ever been on or heard about in my time rockhounding these shores! Luckily I had Andrew and Liz with me to help carry the load up the very steep Coyote Pass and back out the main Cape Split Trail.

Liz and Andrew help carry the Agate up from the shoreline.

Golden Flame Agate is a rare plume Agate found nowhere else on Earth. It is the King of Fundy Agates!

Golden Flame Agate Cabochons by Jonathan Dunphy

Fundy Rocks is delighted to be collaborating with Jonathan Dunphy of Lazy Day Lapidary. He makes Cabochons from mineral specimens from all over the world, and is now using material from our Fundy Rocks collection for his creations to help showcase our local world-class gems and minerals. 

Golden Flame cabochon by Jonathan Dunphy.
Golden Flame agate cabochon by Jonathan Dunphy.

Contact Jonathan at Lazy Day Lapidary for more information about his incredible Cabochons.
To see more of Jonathan's Cabochons visit the Cabochon Galleries at Fundy Rocks

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Important Disclaimer
Always accompany a guide to a new or remote area described in our blog or on Facebook. Many of the shoreline places we visit could potentially leave you trapped beneath cliffs at high tides of immensely powerful currents. Always know the tide times and plan accordingly. Being trapped may not always have a survival option. Terrain is steep and dangerous in places. Never hammer specimens out of a cliff face. Weather is unpredictable along the shore. Never attempt to descend or ascend an unfamiliar cliff area. Basalt can be loose, crumbly and very unstable. Be aware of falling rocks and boulders. Slide climbing should never be attempted without an experienced guide and never by children. Caution is strongly advised. Please rockhound safely and responsibly. Respect private property. Always get permission when accessing the shore from private property.

1 comment:

  1. You that this material is gorgeous in large pieces as specimens, but when it is cabbed it seems to lose it's essence, I've always found it strange, I've been a jewelry designer for over 30 years and would like to see how this material has been incorporated in a finished piece other than just singular stone, do you have examples? Just curious to see if justice has been done to this beautiful agate. Ron