Bolivia contains some of the most amazing stones in South America.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Bolivia.
Types of Rocks in Bolivia: 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.
Bolivia is home to stunning rocks and gems, ametrine, bolivianite, amethyst, muscovite and sulfur crystals have all been found here.
Bolivia and it’s neighbor Brazil have a large mining and lapidary industry where there are numerous gemstones that are used in jewelry and in industrial applications.
Many varieties of quartz are found in Bolivia and gem quality amethyst, citrine and the beautiful bolivianita stones are mined in the eastern mines of Bolivia.
When searching for beautiful rocks in Bolivia be sure to do so where permitted by law and with permission.
Bolivianita aka Ametrine
Ametrine is a rare beautiful gemstone that is primarily found in Bolivia which gives it the trade name Bolivianita/Bolivianite.
This naturally occurring quartz gem is a mixture of amethyst and citrine crystals making a striking purple and yellow or orange stone.
The stone is transparent and has a hardness score of 7.
The color variation is the result of a temperature gradient that makes the iron in the quartz oxidize to orange. The purple sections contain unoxidized iron.
The geological conditions that result in the formation of Bolivianitea are rare, but they do exist in other locations.
However, there are not many documented specimens of Bolivianita outside of Bolivia and Mozambique.
The confirmed specimens of Ametrine have only been found in Bolivia and Mozambique. There are possibly other locations but they have not been confirmed.
This makes the stone very rare and desirable.
It is found in Bolivia in Ricon del Tigre in the Anahi mine.
Amethyst is a violet or purple type of quarts. The purple color comes from unoxidized iron in the quartz.
Amethyst is a semi precious stone and the birthstone for February.
The stones are found in the Chayanta Province, Angel Sandoval Provence, and the Sud Lupiz Provence and in mines all over Bolivia and Brazil.
The stone is abundant there and large rough stones are available to be purchased and are found every year.
Amethyst is believed by some to protect the wearer from drunkenness. The word amethyst translates to “not drunk” from Ancient Greek.
Citrine is a yellow to orange quartz crystal that is abundant in Brazil. The beautiful yellow orange color is the result of iron oxidation in the quartz.
The stone is most famously found in the Anahi Ainetrine Mine in eastern Bolivia.
The mine has had their beautiful stones tested by laboratories and they have been proven to be naturally occurring.
Citrine is cut and used in jewelry and the large raw in crystals are also available for purchase.
Muscovite, also called common mica, is found in beautiful formations in Bolivia.
Muscovite is easily distinguishable for its perfect cleavage. The gray to clear, thin, durable layers make this stone easy to identify in the field.
If you split the sheets apart you may notice that the thin sheets are incredibly elastic and bend without breaking.
The sheets are so transparent they were used in Russia as an alternative to glass in windows. Examples of Muscovite windows still exist and they are reminiscent of stained glass.
The color comes from the aluminum and potassium composition. It is most commonly gray to brown, it is rarely red, violet and green.
Muscovite is highly prized in large sheets, the larger, more complete the sheets the more desirable the sample.
Muscovite samples are often found in granite.
It is used industrially for fireproofing and insulation products.
Epidote is a transparent deep to olive green mineral that has prismatic formation with a long side at the base.
The stone is rather hard with a mohs score of 6, and the crystals are often elongated.
The crystals are often found in volcanic rock.
The very long thin crystals may emerge from quartz in crystal sprays.
While Epidote is not the most stunning or the most valuable rock, it is a favorite of many collectors.
Sandstone is a stone formed by the cementing together of individual sand particles.
Much of the sandstone in Bolivia is made of quartz particles.
Sandstone is found in the La Paz district of Bolivia in large formations. It was originally thought to be glacially transported, but after further inspection it is believed to have marine origin.
This area of the country has been pushed up above sea level by volcanic action under the formation.
The large sandstone landscape is located in the Eastern Lowlands of Bolivia where the sandstone has been weathered by the rain and wind into striking columns.
Note on Fossils
Many tourists visit Bolivia to find fossils which can be found in the fold and thrust belt located in the most seismically active area of Bolivia.
The fold and thrust belt is located south of the city of Cochabamba. There are winding rivers where many rocks can fossils may be found.
Cal Oroko Park is globally known as the largest collection of fossilized footprints. There are nearly 10,000 dinosaur footprints preserved in the park.
These fossils are incredible and visiting the fossils is a memorable trip, but do not collect or remove any fossils.
Bolivian and international laws on the removal and transportation of these fossils can result in hefty fines and even possible jail time.
Rocks in Bolivia
Bolivia is home to some beautiful and desirable gems and rocks.
15% of Bolivia is protected park land. These areas have rules and regulations concerning collecting sand, shells and stones.
Be sure to obey any posted signs and local laws to avoid any fines or arrests!
Many mining operations have security, so be sure to obtain permission from the proper authorities when collecting or exploring areas where you are not familiar.
Consider supporting the local economy by finding a reputable seller of raw stone specimens.
The Anahi Ainetrine Mine in eastern Bolivia has traditionally had an open door policy for those interested in their operation. This is the best place in the world for Bolivianite.
Consider contacting this mine and asking for reputable sellers, tour guides and rock collecting as they may have the best inside information.