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

Colombia contains some of the most amazing stones in South America

In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Colombia.

Types of Rocks in Colombia: A Guide

Disclaimer

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.

Introduction

Best known for its emerald mines, Colombia is a country with many valuable mineral resources.

Rare quartz formations, pyrite, Colombianite, and salt are all present in Colombia.

Spend time in any of the mining areas and you are sure to see emeralds for sale polished and raw. 

Colombia has the largest mining industry per square mile. Gold, silver, copper, coal, salt and quartz are just some of the resources that are mined in Colombia. 

The big draw for rock and gem collectors in Colombia is emeralds. Colombia is the number one exporter of emeralds and is home to 3 major mining areas each containing several mines. 

Colombianite

Colombianite is also known as piedro del rayo or  lightning rock because it is the result of meteorites colliding with Earth. 

Colombiantitie is a type of tektite that was first recorded in Colombia. 

Colomniantite is a fine grained ancient form of obsidian, it is dark gray to black stone with a dimpled surface. It resembles hammered bronze in texture.  

Colombanite appears totally opaque until you shine a light through the stone and you will see a smoky yellow color of the stone. 

It is a mesmerizing stone and is a very unique texture and color.  

It is believed by some to awaken spiritual fire in humanity. 

It can be found mostly in the La Guajira region of Colombia and it can be purchased from local venders in the area and online. 

Emerald

Colombia is the place to find emeralds.

There are several mining opportunities for tourists to see and hunt for the naturally occurring emeralds that can be found all over the country. 

Emeralds are precious stones that are known for their bright green color, but emeralds can also be 

Emeralds are very hard with a hardness of 7.5-8 on the mohs scale.

The highest quality emeralds are identified by their bright green color and their high clarity when cut and shaped. 

Emeralds are one of the “Big Four” precious stones with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.

If you are interested in seeing these in their natural form Colombia is the destination for emeralds. 

There are three major mining areas in Colombia for emeralds:

Muzo

Coscuez

Chivor 

Each area has several mines operating. 

Colombia is also the home to a stunning Emerald Museum which contains several displays of emeralds and celebrates the emerald’s significance in Colombian history and culture. 

There is also an emerald mine replica display in the museum which gives information about the mining in the country. 

Quartz

Quartz lovers have a lot to see in Colombia. The geology of the country has resulted in some rare quartz formations.  

Needle Quartz

Needle quartz is a formation of thin sharp quartz crystals. These crystals can be found in La Belleza Santander in Colombia. 

Needle quartz is very rare and is often sold online to collectors. 

Red Quartz

Red quartz also known as hematoid quartz is a quartz formation that is structurally quartz with a reddish brown hematoid coating. 

Formations of red quartz have been found in gold mining operations in Cauca. 

This fine grained bright red to brown red. The crystals are very hard and fine grained.  

Green Quartz

Green quartz is technically called Prasiolite.

It is not common to find in Colombia, but samples have been found in the country.  

Natural green quartz is very rare and substitutes can be found by treating some types of amethyst and almost all green quartz on the market is actually treated amethyst. 

Most samples of green quartz have been found in Brazil.

Mango Quartz 

Mango quartz is identified by the bright mango colored tips on quartz crystals. 

Mango quartz is a normal quartz crystal that has a collection of halleocyte at the tip of the crystal. There is some debate as to the true structure of the mango orange tips. 

This type of quartz was first described in 2017, but was kept secret until 2020.

The geologist responsible wanted to call it corona quartz because the orange tip looks like a crown, but the name has been changed to mango quartz.  

It is believed to have been discovered earlier in emerald mines, but was not broadly reported until 2020. 

Mango quartz has been found in Boyaca, Colombia.  

Pyrite

Pyrite is a plentiful sulfide mineral that can be found in Colombia. 

Pyrite has a brassy metallic luster, but it forms stunning cubic crystals. It is easily distinguished from gold when examined closely. 

It can be found in coal deposits or veins of quartz, both of these are mined extensively in Colombia. 

In Colombia pyrite can be found in Rio Cauca and Chivor Mine. 

Salt

The salt mines in Colombia are massive and stunning. 

Salt deposits are mined for industrial use and Colombia has several large deposits. 

Salt crystals are white to dark gray and form large blocks of salt. 

There are several salt carvings that are open to tourists in the country. 

In Zipaquirá you can visit the Salt Chapel, an underground church that was carved into a salt mining tunnel. 

This Catholic chapel is a pilgrimage for locals, it holds weekly services but does not have a bishop. 

The Mino de Sal de Nemocon is an incredible experience for anyone interested in geology.  

Inside the museum you can see the breathtaking waterfall of salt that shows how the salt crystals were formed over time. 

It also includes a salt chapel dedicated to Virgen del Carmon with stunning natural caves and salt deposits. 

Rocks in Colombia 

Colombia is a country that is very connected to the geology of the country. Celebrate the rich geological history of the country by visiting the museums, mines and churches that are carved into the local stone. 

Lapidary is alive and well in Colombia and there are many opportunities to collect polished and raw examples of many stones in the area. 

Be sure to collect only where you have been given permission and obey any posted signage and local laws. 

National Parks and Nature Preserves generally do not allow the collection or removal of natural materials, so be sure to seek permission when collecting minerals in Colombia. 

Types of Rocks in Colombia