Types of Rocks Found in Nicaragua: A Guide To the 7 Most Common You’ll Spot

Nicaragua is a very well preserved natural environment. The government of Nicaragua shifted dramatically in the 1980-90s making it a much easier place to visit. This means that the natural environment is better preserved than many areas of Central America. 

There are large deposits of precious metals that remain unmined in Nicaragua because of the political restrictions, which mean many unspoiled rock hunting locations. 

More research is needed into the geology of Nicaragua and collectors are encouraged to record and share any interesting finds with the rockhounding community.  

Types of Rocks Found in Nicaragua: A Guide


The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.


Nicaragua is home to over 40 volcanoes and a few of them are still active. 

In areas with active volcanos it is possible to discover new rocks as they are regularly being brought up in lava. 

Basalt is a common stone found in areas where volcanic activity has formed the land, but the basalt in Nicaragua is unique in its chemical compounds. 

Basalt is a dark colored fine grained rock that may have vesicles and small crystals of other minerals. 

Olivene is the most common type of crystal found in basalt.  


Volcanoes often contain sulfur, the characteristic smell of sulfur has long been associated with volcanoes. 

Sulfur, once called brimstone, is a bright yellow to yellow green crystal that can often be found in volcanic rock in recently active volcanic regions. 

Sulfur is quick to weather away, but it can be found around fumaroles or other steam vents in areas of volcanic activity. 

Sulfur crystals may have a pungent smell, but the crystals are strikingly beautiful. 

You may find sulfur crystals embedded in pumice found on the island. Collectors have found interesting samples at the Masaya Volcano. 


Andesite is a slightly less common volcanic rock that is found in Nicaragua. It is a fine grained rock that can be difficult to identify apart from basalt. 

Andesite is generally lighter in color and is less likely to contain large crystals. 


Pumice is a very porous stone that is very light weight for its size. 

Pumice forms when lava rapidly expands when it comes to the surface. When lava is extruded in a volcanic eruption it quickly depressurizes and cools. This traps air into the stone making a sponge like matrix of bubbles. 

Pumice is used in concrete and beauty products. The stone is also sometimes mined for these industrial applications. 

Red and Blue Clay

The climate of Nicaragua is separated into two very different zones. The east side of the country receives abundant rain throughout the year and that causes vegetation and rock to break down into clay. 

Clay is often formed of ingenious rock and feldspar. The basalt in Nicaragua is unusually high in feldspar making clay formation possible. 

Clay is very fine grained and can be shaped in your hands. It ranges in color from dark red to blue and you can find striking examples of both in Nicaragua. 

The red clay on the east side of Nicaragua contains high levels of iron and biological activity that helps oxidize the iron causing the red color. 

The west side of the country has significantly lower rainfall and it is confined to half of the year and this results in the clay being blue clay. 

Blue clay contains less iron and has different biological activity in the clay. 


There are several limestone deposits on Nicaragua that were formed in the warm Caribbean water along the coast. 

Limestone is a relatively soft stone that can be scratched with the tip of a knife. 

Limestone ranges in color from pale yellow to dark gray and is found around the coastlines and on flat areas of the country. 

Limestone is also commonly mined for use in construction, creation of lime, and other agricultural uses. 


Sandine is a crystal formation of feldspar and potassium that can often be found in volcanic rock. 

The basalt on Nicaragua is unusually high in feldspar so the volcanic stones may contain good sized crystals of the mineral. 

The mineral is white to colorless and forms very square crystals. 


While large deposits of precious metals and non metallic resources have been uncovered in Nicaragua, only gold has been mined and exported successfully. 

The political situation in Nicaragua made mining impossible until recent years. 

There are important mines located in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region in Bonanza. 

The mining has resulted in 8 million ounces of gold being exported since the 1930s. 

Gold panning is still very active in Bonanza and the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. 

Nicaragua is the leading gold producer in Central America, so consider supporting the local economy  and purchasing some regional gold. 

Cave Diving in Nicaragua

The volcanic origins of Nicaragua there are several popular cave diving locations. 

The coast of Nicaragua is on the Caribbean and the dives allow you to see the coral reef formations and limestone caves. 

Blowing Rock is a good dive along the coral reef and is located off Corn Island. Tourists can go to the diving center on the island for more information. 

Shark Hole involves a dive through tunnels in the reef. As the name suggests, be on the lookout for coral sharks in this area. 

Apoyo and Xiloa’s volcanic craters are also good places to freshwater dive and explore the interesting geography of a volcanic crater and offer sights of still unstudied fish. 

The lakes formed in the volcanic craters are popular tourist locations. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America. 

Collecting Rocks on Nicaragua 

One fifth of Nicaragua is covered in nature preserves, so be sure to know the local laws when you are collecting rocks on Nicaragua. 

Many visitors report the secluded feeling of exploring Nicaragua. It is a great place to observe the unique geology of Central America. 

Nicaragua has 78 National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Nature Preserves, they cover roughly a fifth of the country. 

These parks are publicly and privately owned and the rules and regulations vary widely from site to site so be sure to always collect with permission. 

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Types of Rocks Found in Nicaragua