There are those among us who realize the true value of the things we can find on or underneath the ground.
Among all that boring dirt, it can contain the most beautiful of minerals.
For all those who seek the gems of the earth, we’ll discuss the characteristics and some possible locations of six interesting rocks you might come across in the state of Mississippi.
Types of Rocks Found In Mississippi: A Guide
Rock #1: Agate
Agate is known for its multiple bands of all kinds of colors within it.
This mineral is made up of quartz and chalcedony, and can come in all sorts of crazy patterns.
For thousands of years, many cultures such as the Ancient Greeks and Minoans used agate for ornamental purposes.
From seal stones of warriors to everyday jewelry, agate has been pleasing to look at for a very long time.
Today, agate is used for more-or-less the same purposes.
It’s also used for making certain laboratory tools such as mortars and pestles, precision pendulums, and other surfaces that require high resistance to certain chemicals.
Before you start digging into the ground for these rocks, bear in mind state law claiming that most mining is prohibited, especially if it dramatically changes the natural landscape.
There is an exception.
However, you’d have to contact the Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks or his designee for permission to collect minerals on public land.
In the case of privately-owned land, you’ll need the permission of that land owner to proceed.
Always make sure you know what kind of land you’ll be walking into before picking up that interesting rock for yourself.
Should you acquire the green light in either case, one location you can try lies on the Wolf riverbank, a place that also intersects with Bell Creek.
This area is fairly remote, and lies approximately 1.2 miles northeast of Muddy Boots Ranch.
However, you can drive northbound on Bell Creek Road (which cuts through the ranch), until you reach a three-way intersection with a dirt road to the left.
From that intersection, you’ll have to walk about 1,720 feet east until you reach the Wolf river bank, an area known to have agates.
If you’re unsure which an agate is, and which is just an ordinary rock, try picking them up and find the ones that feel the heaviest.
Agate typically has a higher density than most rocks you’ll find, meaning it should feel like one of the heaviest golf balls you’ve heard held.
Feel the surface too.
If it feels waxy to the touch, you probably have an agate.
However, a sure way to tell is to split one open to see crazy bands of color on the inside.
It helps if you have a rock hammer and/or steel chisel with you.
Also be aware of dangerous creatures roaming about.
Some animals to look out for are Alligators, Black Panthers, Black Bears, Wild Hogs, and even the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.
Practice caution when wandering out into the wilderness, because you never know what might be close by.
Rock #2: Amber
This rock is technically not a mineral, but is listed as a fossilized tree resin.
Specifically, it’s part of the organic gemstone family.
Some samples can be millions of years old, and include ancient plants and animals on the inside!
Most amber has a yellowish-brown color, hence its name.
Several ancient civilizations used this substance for jewelry.
From the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Greeks, and the Romans, amber has been around for a very long time.
Today, amber is still a beautiful stone to have, and is also used by paleontologists to determine the age of certain insects found within them.
The oldest amber sample to date was shown to be 320 million years old!
One place that has known amber discoveries lies on the shores of Bay Springs Lake, on a peninsula about 4,530 feet northeast of Jackson Camp Recreation Area.
Remember, you may need permission to collect any samples in the case of both public and private land.
Rock #3: Petrified Wood
Again, what we have here is not exactly a mineral, but is classified as a fossil that has many minerals inside of it.
Any material that was once organic inside the wood is replaced by rocks through a mineralization process that can take millions of years.
The primary mineral found in most samples is silica.
Sometimes the remains of ancient insects can be found within as well.
This kind of fossil is used for various decorative items such as table tops, book ends, and clock faces.
Scientists are attempting an artificial way to petrify wood, so that it can be used as a ceramic material.
One place you can try your luck finding this fossil lies at WM Browning Cretaceous Fossil Park, which lies north of the city of Baldwyn.
Whether it’s private or public land is uncertain, but what is certain is that you’ll need permission to collect any samples you find there.
An easy way to get there by vehicle is traveling north along the US-45 highway.
Don’t forget about any dangerous creatures wandering about!
Rock #4: Ochre
This mineral usually comes in the form of a powder, as it’s not known to be solid when found in the wild.
It’s defined as a “natural clay earth pigment,” with the main chemical composition being ferric oxide (Fe2O3).
Ochre can come in deep orange, brown, yellow, or even red colors.
Ochre has been used by humans since pre-recorded history.
One sample (a hand print) was found in a South African cave that dates back 75,000 years!
Images from caves all over the world have also shown to have ochre-based paintings.
The industrial process for producing ochre pigment occurred in the 1780s by Jean-Etienna Astier, a French scientist.
He found a method to separate the clay from the actual ochre, which only has a 10 to 20% total concentration in the raw earth.
It was then used for art paints, house paints, and was a crucial ingredient to fuel the early rubber industry.
Getting your hands on some ochre can be as simple as traveling to the city of Luka.
One such site lies on public land (remember to ask for permission!) which is about 2,840 feet northeast from the US-72 highway and Veterans Memorial Drive intersection.
There’s also a nearby McDonalds and Jacks you can park your vehicle at.
From that point of reference, you’d have to travel approximately 1,765 feet in a Southeastern direction.
It’s a heavily wooded area, so be on the lookout for any animal that could pose a danger to you.
Rock #5: Chalcedony
You might remember this mineral being mentioned in the agate section, and may be surprised to know that it’s a separate rock in of itself.
It’s a cryptocrystalline version of silica, and made up of moganite and quartz. Like agate, its main chemical composition is silicon dioxide (SiO2).
Chalcedony can come in many forms.
It can take a rich blue color in the form of Chrysoprase, the brooding red of Heliotrope (sometimes called a “bloodstone”), colorful-banded agate, or even black onyx.
Throughout history, chalcedony was used to make a variety of tools, seals, ornaments, and jewelry.
One place you may find some chalcedony lies in gravel pits 4.15 miles east of the town of Wesson.
The route that will take your vehicle to the direct site is Anderson Road.
Make sure you turn left on Cecil Reeves Road and you should see the gravel pits to your left.
There are a few farms in the area, meaning it wouldn’t hurt to talk to some locals to see if anyone owns the land. Again, watch out for wildlife such as snakes, alligators, and bears.
Rock #6: Fossilized Shark Teeth
Like most fossils on this list, a shark tooth can become fossilized after millions of years of having its internal organic components replaced by minerals.
These fossils can come in all kinds of forms, such as needles, flat, up to 7 inches in length (in the case of Megalodon teeth), or even dense and flat.
The earliest account of a shark tooth fossil comes from recordings by Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman historian, and he believed that a lunar eclipse would rain shark teeth down from the sky.
Native Hawaiians were known to use shark teeth as cutting and hunting tools.
Not all rocks will carry shark teeth fossils.
Most are found to be preserved inside sedimentary rocks, so location is crucial to finding these treasures.
Try searching the banks of rivers to find a shark tooth fossil.
One such location lies on the Tombigbee river bank, approximately 4.24 miles south of the town of Fulton.
This is public land, so make sure you have the right authority to collect teeth.
So when hunting for mineral treasures in the state of Mississippi, know what you’re looking for, ask for permission, watch out for dangerous wildlife, and have fun!