Lake Erie is the fourth largest body of water out of all the Great Lakes.
Its coast is lined with minerals, fossils, and rocks, with the oldest rocks forming the basin being 400 million years old!
Below are 15 geological rocks, minerals and fossils people can find near Lake Erie.
Types of Rocks in Lake Erie
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.
Sandstone is the most heavily abundant sedimentary types of rocks in Lake Erie.
In fact, the world’s largest sandstone quarry is located off Lake Erie in Amherst, Ohio.
The sedimentary types of rocks in Lake Erie, such as sandstone, consist of a variety of granules from other rocks naturally cemented together in ancient streams, beach or deltaic deposits.
Sandstone, as the name suggests, is usually light brown or tan in color and consists of granules of sand, feldspar grains, quartz and other rocks.
Sandstone is freely mined and can be used in a variety of construction projects, technology such as computer chips, TV screens and even fiberglass.
Those hunting for sandstone should look in the eastern part of Ohio in exposed Devonian, Permian, and Mississippi and Pennsylvanian era rock formations.
Limestone deposits are plentiful in Lake Erie.
This is another type of sedimentary rock composed of calcium carbonate, and from time to time can be found holding ancient fossils.
Limestone historically deposits in warm, inland seas such as the one formed over Ohio during the Paleozoic era.
They are white or light in color, and are mostly made up of ancient marine animals.
These types of rocks in Laker Erie can be found on the western side of Ohio, and are also commonly used for construction purposes.
Shale is a type of clay, or clastic sedimentary rock, that is beautifully thin and dark, almost resembling nature’s chocolate.
As such, it is a favorite of collectors.
Shale is usually black in color with few fine white specks throughout. It is somewhat brittle, breaking easily along weak points in its makeup.
One of the largest deposits of shale is the Bedford Shale geological formation that has outcrops in Lake Erie and runs through Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
Shale can be found in this formation, but also throughout low-energy streams and waterbeds near Lake Erie.
This type of sedimentary rock is also known as aleurolite, and it is composed mainly of angular silt granules.
Siltstone is a type of mudrock that is common in Lake Erie, and is lighter in color than shale.
Unlike shale, this rock is also somewhat stronger, lacking the same brittleness, or fissility, that shale has.
Siltstone, along with sandstone, also makes up a large percentage of the Bedrock Shale formation.
Like sandstone, it can be used in construction materials as a cheaper alternative or filler.
5. Petoskey Stone
These beautiful stones are now easier to find near Lake Erie due to high water conditions.
Petoskey stones are stones that have embedded fossils made up of fossilized rugose coral.
These stones were formed during the glacial formation of the Great Lakes.
They can be polished, or come naturally polished, and are mostly found in the Northeastern and Northwestern parts of Michigan.
However, due to the movement of frozen Lake Michigan ice, these stones can be disbursed into Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, even as far as Asia and Europe!
The unique look of this stone is similar to a white spider-web enveloping the rock, and makes them a favorite of collectors for polishing.
Although gypsum is plentiful in Lake Erie, it doesn’t make this mineral any less beautiful.
Not to be confused with regular salt (known as Halite), this mineral is a soft dull white or crystal clear.
It is composed of Calcium Sulphate material and naturally occurs in evaporated water beds.
In Ohio, gypsum can be found in Western parts of Lake Erie, North-eastern and central Ohio, and glacial lake beds.
They can be part of massive formations or occur as tubular crystals on their own, making them a favorite of collectors who adore the sheer appearance of gypsum.
There are various igneous types of rocks in Lake Erie.
These rocks are formed when hot magma cools suddenly and hardens.
Formation of igneous rocks in Lake Erie occurred during the Precambrian period millions of years ago.
In central and eastern Ohio near Lake Erie, you can find granite rocks dating back 800 or 900 million years!
Granite comes in a variety of colors, consisting of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase coarse-grained granules.
Granite rocks have specks of color dazzling throughout its entirety, usually in black, white, clear or red.
Granite is used in a variety of construction materials, including tabletops for kitchens and flooring.
Flint is plentiful in Lake Erie and Ohio, and is in fact Ohio’s state rock.
Flint has been used for centuries as hunting knives and other materials.
Flint can range in color from black, deep blue, green or even red.
Flint can be distinguished from other types of rocks in Lake Erie by its smooth consistency.
In fact, the quartz crystals that comprise flint are almost undetectable!
The smooth look, variety of colors, and historical significance make this rock a favorite of collectors.
It is fragile, almost glasslike, but also hard enough to scratch steel.
It can be found mostly in marine limestone deposits.
Flint can also be found south of Lake Erie in Flint Ridge, Ohio.
Rhyolite is another of the igneous types of rocks in Lake Erie.
Rhyolite is a finer version of granite, and can be distinguished by its porous, yet unified texture.
Rhyolite can be found in the Precambrian rocks in the part of Lake Erie near western Ohio.
Rhyolite’s fine-coarse crystals are composed of mostly quartz, sanidine, and plagioclase, and come in a variety of different colors.
It can be used as a cutting tool, in jewelry, and also as a building material for roads and other construction projects.
10. Honeycomb Coral
Like Petoskey stones, honeycomb coral is a unique-looking sedimentary rock that is basically a fossilized favosite.
Favosites are ancient types of coral that were made up of closely packed corallites.
Honeycomb coral can be found on the shores of Lake Erie, however, like Petoskey stones, changing ocean patterns can transport this rock anywhere!
Honeycomb coral is prized for its uniform pattern of intertwined honeycombs, and is mostly sold by collectors just as they are found.
Brachipods are bountiful near Lake Erie.
These ancient animals were the relatives of modern-day clams during the ancient Paleozoic era.
These brachiopods have been found near ancient seabeds, as they thrived on the ocean floors or near shores.
Brachipods can be distinguished by their dull gray color and symmetrical patterns, resembling ordinary sea-shells in a fossilized state.
They are adored by collectors due to their age…550 million years!
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral that is dull white in color.
It is composed of mainly calcium magnesium carbonate, and comes as saddle-shaped crystals.
These types of rocks in Lake Erie also occur as dolostones, which are used in construction as filler material.
Dolostones can be found in the banks where the Hudson River meets Lake Erie in Ohio.
One of the world’s biggest celestite formations is inside of the South Bass Island in Lake Erie.
Known as The Crystal Cave, this cave with abundant celestite is located in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, and was discovered in 1897.
Celestite and celestite range in color from pale blue to white, and can also be found in dolomitic limestones in Ohio’s northwestern region.
Celestine is collected for a variety of reasons, from its beauty, to the belief that this stone can encourage mindfulness, meditation and prayer.
Fluorite is a mineral made of Fluorine crystals. Its unique cubic shape and variety of colors make this a favorite for ornamental decoration purposes or for polishing.
Fluorite, like dolostones, can be found in Ohio’s Northwest region.
Trilobites are another type of fossil that can be found in Lake Erie.
Though they are rarer to find than brachiopods, trilobites can be found rolled up in ancient Limestone near Lake Erie.
Trilobites can also be found in shale throughout Ohio.
Trilobites are ancient creatures from the Devonian era nearly 520 million years ago, so finding them involves a bit of careful digging (literally).
In Ohio, a free permit or permission to collect rocks, minerals, and fossils in private property is required.
Some states, such as Pennsylvania, also limit the removal of certain rocks to only 25 lbs per year.
Check with your state or local authority for information and permission to remove rocks, minerals, and fossils near you.
Carry With You
If you are planning a hike where there will be rocks to pick through, consider packing one of the following:
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (small book with pretty colored pictures to help identification)
- National Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Fossils (small book with pictures)
- Gemstone & Crystals Properties (durable fold-up guide)
- Small UV Flashlight
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Collecting rocks, minerals, and fossils is fun and educational.
Best of all, it helps preserve geological finds that might have otherwise been destroyed by nature.
Take a trip to see what treasures and types of rocks in Lake Erie you can find.