Types of Rocks Found In South Carolina: A Guide To The Most Common You’ll Spot

In nature, there are countless dangers and wonders alike.

Say, that on a hiking trip, you come across a strange rock you’ve never seen before.

What is it? Is it valuable in some way?

In this article, we’ll look at the characteristics of six different rocks you might stumble upon when traveling around the state of South Carolina.

Types of Rocks Found In South Carolina: A Guide

Rock #1: Amethyst

This rock would appear as a shiny purple six-sided prism crystal.

It’s part of the quartz family, and is primarily made up of silicon dioxide (SiO2).

It gets its violet color from either having some iron content inside, other transition metals, or being exposed to various levels of ancient radiation.

It also has a glassy appearance, and can range from transparent (completely see-through) to translucent (foggy).

The name “amethyst” originates from the Greek word “amethystos,” which roughly translated to “not drunken.”

The ancient Greeks believed that the mineral could prevent a person from getting drunk, which is why they made wine goblets out of it!

Amethyst was also used by the Ancient Egyptians and Romans for shiny gemstones.

Up until the 18th century, amethyst was considered as valuable as rubies or even diamonds!

However, after several discoveries of the mineral in Brazil, it got demoted into a semi-precious stone.

Today, amethyst is valued as a collector’s item, and the deeper the purple color and the heavier the weight, the more valuable it is.  

Amethyst can be found within the cavities and fractures of igneous rocks all over the globe.

They are also found within geodes.

Within South Carolina, one noted site is approximately a 2,870 feet drive north of a gas station known as “Walt Shoals Junction Station”, and then 310 feet east from Mock Orange road, or highway 178.

Be wary though, you’ll need to contact South Carolina State Parks to obtain a permit if you are collecting on public land.

In the case of private land, permission from the land owner will be needed on your part.

Rock #2: Aquamarine

This rock will typically appear greenish-blue in color, and as a conchoidal crystal.

It’s also a form of beryl, a specific type of mineral with the composition Be3Al2Si6O18, and may also contain a bit of Fe2+ (Iron).

This mineral can turn pure blue when lots of heat is applied to it.

The name “aquamarine” comes from two ancient Latin words; “aqua” (water), and “marina” (of the sea).

Ancient Romans had the belief that this mineral would prevent illnesses and protect those who traveled by sea.

Both Japanese and Chinese cultures used it for ornamental objects such as figurines and engravings.

Today, aquamarine is used for similar purposes, and is known as the birth stone for people born in March.

Aquamarine is usually found within mineral-rich pegmatite rocks, and can be found with garnet, quartz, and topaz in the same formations.

One site in South Carolina you can try lies 1.04 miles from the settlement of Piedmont.

You’ll need to drive along the Saluda River on the 269 road until you meet up with River Hill Ct at an intersection.

From that point, it’s about 1,800 feet eastward to the ideal spot.

Remember to call South Carolina State Parks and/or ask for permission from any private landowners you may come across.   

Rock #3: Garnet

This rock is well-known for its dark red color.

It’s from a group of silicate minerals that have been used as gemstones since the Bronze Age.

It has many different chemical formulas, but typically has a lot of silicate materials, or specifically (SiO4)3.

Garnet crystals can come in cubic shapes, or as rhombic dodecahedrons.

Aside from gemstones, both ancient and modern, garnet is used for sand blasting in place of silica sand.

It is the birthstone for people born in January.

If you want to find some of your own, try a site located about 3,130 feet south of the North Carolina/South Carolina border.

Try and start driving from the town of Blacksburg, specifically get onto W Carolina St and exit the town in a westward direction.

It will become Blacksburg Highway, and then Shelby Highway before the border.

Drive 1,760 feet away from Rolling Hills RV Park and park your vehicle.

You’ll then need to travel about 1,360 feet westward on foot till you reach your destination near the Bowens River.

Remember, make sure you have permission from the state and/or any private landowners.

Rock #4: Tourmaline

Tourmaline is known as a crystalline boron silicate mineral that can have iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, potassium, and even aluminium inside.

Its crystals typically come in long and skinny shapes, mostly in the trigonal variety.

It has a huge list of possible colors, from common black, rare neon green, blue, pink, yellow, or even a combination of two or more.

Tourmaline is used as gemstones.

At one point in time, the Dutch East India Company transported them for curious gem collectors to buy.

A good location to try lies northwest outside the town of Clover.

If you were to start driving northbound on State Highway 55, keep going until you reach Henry’s Knob Road, and take a right onto it.

Take another immediate right onto what should be a dirt road that heads up to a quarry.

This area, though, looks like it’s privately owned, so you may have to negotiate your way into the site.

If you should be successful in getting in, try searching around the rocky sides of the quarry for any tourmaline (some digging may be required).

Rock #5: Gold

We all know this mineral quite well.

It’s just about everywhere.

Its pure form is very soft, heavy, and has a slightly reddish yellow appearance.

In nature, you’ll find it in grains or nuggets.

Throughout recorded history, gold has been used as jewelry, coinage, and other precious items just as it is today.

Up until 1971, monetary policy revolved around how much gold was stockpiled by countries all over the world.

There has even been some medical research into using it in some anti-cancer drugs.

Considering South Carolina’s strict state laws surrounding mineral collection, gold will be no exception.

Contact the state before traveling to collect it, as one location you can try is fairly remote and situated within Baker Creek State Park.

A well-known location you can start from is Heritage Gold Mine Park.

You’ll need to drive southwest on W Gold St (which changes into highway 378).

Keep going until you see a right turn onto Hugenot Pkwy.

Take it, and travel until you reach a three-way intersection, and turn left onto State Road S-33-329.

Travel along that road for about 2,150 feet, and stop your vehicle once you reach a river or creek.

The site is listed as being about 480 feet north of the road.

What you’re looking for is quite possibly river gold, and you will need the appropriate equipment to extract it.

Again, this all depends if you get permission from the state to mine it.

Rock #6: Megalodon Teeth

This isn’t exactly a mineral perhaps, but is classified as a fossil that rock-hunters like to collect regardless.

In fact, South Carolina is one of the best places in the world to find this unique item!

Similar to shark teeth today, Megalodon teeth can measure up to 7.1 inches in length!

Megalodons were top predators back in their time.

Some have been shown to reach up to 67 feet!

Meaning “big tooth,” the Megalodon and its teeth were first described by a geologist named Louis Agassiz in 1835.

The teeth are the most common Megalodon fossils that anyone can find.

Even today, its teeth are wonderful treasures for anyone to discover.

One of the most common places in the world to find these unique items lies on the shores of Myrtle Beach.

Aside from hunting them during a low-tide period, one website tells hunters to check between 50th Avenue North down to 10th Avenue South.

Also, try bringing extra tools, such as a kitty-litter scoop to help you sift through the sand.

So there you have it.

You may not simply stumble across any of the rocks on the list, but now you have a little more knowledge regarding some interesting minerals.

Just remember some crucial things before heading out on your rock-hunting adventure in South Carolina; contact the state to see if you can obtain permits for collecting various gems, talk closely with any private land owners in the immediate areas you’ll be exploring, bring any necessary digging equipment to get deeper into the earth, and keep your eyes peeled for those amazing rocks!

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types of rocks found in south carolina