Here's an Eye Agate my neice found at Little Girl's Point
How to tell Lake Superior Agates from Rocks that look like Agates
Part 2 - Recognizing Rocks & Agate Collected on Lake Superior Beaches.
In a previous page, Part 1, I offered pictures and descriptions of common beach rocks found on Lake Superior beaches. In a seccond page, Part 2, I show some beach rocks & minerals, and some agates, that can be polished into attractive gemstones. In this page, Part 3, I continue to show and describe more varieties of rocks and minerals that make attractive gemstones. I also show here some recent agate finds and some agate-wanna-bes that some will mistakenly identify as an agate.
My identification and descriptions rely on a variety of sources, all of which are listed in the recommended agate & beach rock books section at the bottom of this page. The book "Rocks & Minerals" by Bob and Dan Lynch was particularly helpful because of the huge amount of color pictures of various specimens. The "Lake Superior Rock Picker's Guide" by Kevin Gauthier and Bruce Mueller provided some helpful supplementary information, as did my reference books by Susan Robinson and Sparky Stensaas. Karen Brzys booklet on "Understanding and Finding Agates" was helpful in identifying true agates from agate first cousins or agate wanna-bes.
Clicking on the small images shown here will bring up a larger view in a separate window. By the way, if you want to print out any of these larger images, just *right click* on the image and choose "copy image" to copy it to your hard drive. Once there you can click on it and print it out.
Agate Cousins - Agate Wanna-Bees
Water Level Agate?
I initially thought this was a water level agate but because the bands appear more opaque rather than translucent I think not. The bands are formed like they do in an agate but the crystals of the bands are so small they are opaque.
Basalt with Quartz fill
Here's another example of a banded rock that isn't an agate. Quartz has filled a seam in a basalt rock.
Here's three quartz occlusions where jasper has been fused with quartz with some agate-like banding around the margins. Some would consider these true agates.
Here is another example of opaque bands formed in a metamorphic rock. Gneiss is abundant in the Upper Peninsula beaches.
Here we have translucent bands alternating with some that look more opaque. However from what I understand exists with a true agate, the bands are too broad. So I'd say this is another wanna-be.
I believe these specimens are prehnite. The specimen on the far right may have some copper staining.
These rocks are Jasper, a microcrystaline form of quartz that has been stained, usually by iron ore. The rock on the right is Jasperlite with bands of iron ore.
Jasper with Calcite fill
These banded rocks are slate, another metamorphic rock. Originally a layered sedimentary rock but was later subjected to heat and pressure to fuse the layers together. Slate are smooth and usually flat. Make good skipping stones.
Here's a real Lake Superior Agate. See some more Lake Superior Beach Agates here.
Black River Harbor Agate Hunting - pictures and video.
Books on Lake Superior Agate Hunting & Rock Picking
Recommended by a SuperiorTrails friend & rock hound, this new guide has actual photographs of various rocks and minerals found on Lake Superior beaches. Co-author Bob Lynch is owner of Agate City Rocks and Gifts in Two Harbors Minnesota
Karen Brzys. Director, Gitchee Gumee Agate & History Museum, has created this comprehensive tutorial to finding agates. Includes over 750 photographs and diagrams.
This is required handbook for rock pickers who love to comb Lake Superior beaches looking for pretty rocks and hoping to find an agate. Identifies some of the UP's best rock picking beaches.
Here is another book recommended by a Superior Trails reader and rock hound who was able to identify over 50 rocks found on the beach using this guide by Kevin Gauthier and Bruce Mueller. Also included are tips for polishing the stones and rock. Kevin and Bruce also publish a similar guide for Lake Michigan rocks.
My wife Jo found this agate hunters book while traveling in the UP and thought it would help her find her first Lake Superior Agate. It is full of tips for agate hunting (and rock picking) and has some very good color photographs of a number of agate variations as well as photos of the other kinds of rocks you'll find on Lake Superior beaches.
Sparky's guide covers what north shore beaches to comb, a bit of history on the formation of the various rocks found on beaches, and helpful information and pictures on identifying beach rocks and minerals.
We had a great time at last year's festival. My wife Jo found 5 agates on the beach and is now an addicted agate hound!.
Links for Rock Picking on Lake Superior Beachs and information on Agates and Rocks found around Lake Superior
Continuing your Travel & Trekking
Around Lake Superior
Superior Trails Lake Superior Circle Tour
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2017
See the Best Scenic Fall Color Drives Around Lake Superior & when Peak Fall Color is expected to arrive.
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Camping along the Lake Superior Circle Drive.
Recommendations on What to see and do in Duluth, Minnesota.
See the lighthouses on an Apostle Islands Cruise.
See our recommendations on Best Hiking and Camping Guides around Lake Superior.