Minerals are abundant in Washington State. More than 550 minerals have been found in the state, and many are mined for their monetary value and various uses. Some of these minerals are more common on the west coast while others can be found across the country. Knowing what these minerals look like and where they are commonly found can help you identify minerals you may find.
Copper, Silver and Gold
Gold, silver and copper are very valuable minerals that are often found in rock deposits near springs. According to a U.S. Geological survey conducted in the late 1990s, Washington State holds about 519 metric tons of gold, 4,040 metric tons of silver and 13,200 metric tons of copper. According to the Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom website, gold nuggets often contain traces of silver, copper and iron. Gold is one of the heaviest minerals and is usually of a bright golden yellow color. The higher the traces of silver found in the gold, the whiter the color is. Silver is a metallic mineral with a silver-white color, and copper is another metallic mineral with colors that range from copper-red to brown.
Quartz and Calcite
Quartz and calcite are abundant minerals in Washington State. Calcite is a very common mineral that appears in almost every color possible. Calcite is made up of calcium carbonate and is very brittle. Calcite sometimes contains iron, magnesium and zinc. Quartz is a very common mineral as well and also occurs in many colors. Quartz is made up of silicon dioxide and is commonly found lining the inside of geodes, a naturally occurring hollow rock made of agate or chalcedony.
Talc and Pyrite
Talc is the softest mineral and is made up of basic magnesium silicate. This mineral also occurs in many different colors and often has a waxy and greasy look. Talc is often found in metamorphic rocks, a type of rock that forms after two rocks merged together due to heat and pressure in the earth's crust. Pyrite is another type of mineral found in Washington, and it is often referred to as fool's gold because it looks and feels similar to gold, according to the Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom website. This mineral is made up of iron sulfide, and it ranges from yellowish-gray to gray in color.
Arsenic and Sulfur
Sulfur is a bright yellow to yellow-brown mineral that gives off a slightly rotten odor. This mineral is soft, lightweight and yet also very brittle. This mineral is often found in rock near volcanoes and volcanic deposits near hot springs. This mineral has a greasy feel, and it dissolves easily in warm water. Arsenic is another mineral found in Washington State. Arsenic is a poisonous metallic mineral that is usually a tin-white color unless it has tarnished due to contact with the air, after which it turns dark gray to black. This mineral gives off a strong garlic odor and is often found in metamorphic rocks.
- Washington Minerals
- Washington State Department of Natural Resources: Washington State Minerals Checklist
- Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom: All Minerals
- U.S. Department of the Interior: Database of Significant Deposits of Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead and Zinc In the United States
- Slate: The Evergold State; Jacob Leibenluft
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images