Collecting Quartz Epimorphs near Patagonia, AZ


by: Daniel and David Joyce

We have been to an area near Patagonia, Arizona several times searching for quartz crystals. We've found many quartz crystals, most of which are not all that exciting or interesting. What IS interesting, though are quartz epimorphs after fluorite (we think) that we have found and collected in one particular area.

Mount Wrightson, the highest mountain in the Sant Rita Mountain chain, at 9500', dominates the view everywhere in the area. David K. Joyce taking in the view.
This is a view from Gringo Gulch, south towards Patagonia, which is just over the ridge in the foreground and at the base of the mountain in the background.

Originally, the first time that I went to Gringo Gulch, I found a few specimens of hollow octahedral epimorphs of quartz after, what I believe to be, fluorite. The original specimens were laying loose on the surface of the ground in one particular area, near the, now closed, landfill site. We dug holes in the area in an attempt to find the source of the epimorphs but were unsuccessful. Each time we dug, we encountered boring vesicular basalt 1-1.5 feet down.

One important day, we had a friend, Claira Safi, digging with us. She is a very hard worker and amazingly intuitive. She dug a hole, where she thought the source of the epimorphs might be but came up with basalt, as we had, in the past. Her second hole, though, hit a seam of epimorphs. Not octahedral, though, but dodecahedral. Still could be epimorphs of quartz after fluorite! We all worked together in the hole and produced a number of specimens. some of the specimens seemed to be loose, while some seemed to be actually in a broken up vein or seam. We were not entirely sure what we had, at first. Unlike the ones that I had found on the surface that has been washed by rain for many years, the new pieces ones we dug out were covered by thick brown clay and dirt.

One of my first good specimens of octahedral quartz epimorphs after fluorite, 5.8cm wide. This one spurred the search for more!
Claira and Daniel digging in the first hole that could be considered a "source" of epimorphs.

We found that by soaking the clay covered specimens in water, hitting them gently with a water gun and then soaking them a couple of times in Super Iron Out, we could get them reasonably clean.

Here are more photos of some of the better or interesting epimorph specimens.

Sharp epimorphs of quartz after fluorite showing sharp octahedral form. Notice the hollow form of the incomplete ones?
It appears that in some of the epimorphs, the quartz did not completely envelope the fluorite crystals.
A plate of octahedral epimorphs. 8.0cm across
A sharp, single octahedral epimorph near the base of a 7.5cm quartz crystal.
Nice dodecahedral epimorph, 26mm in size.
Dodecahedral epimorphs clustered on quartz crystals. 6.0cm across.
A cluster of dodecahedral epimorphs.
A plate of dodecahedral epimorphs. 8.0cm across
A cluster of dodecahedral epimorphs that Claira kept for her collection. One of the nicest ones!
There were some nice clusters of ordinary quartz crystals, as well.
The hole is getting bigger!
Melanie, Daniel's fiance was helping but fell victim to the warm February sun. 🙂

So, we'll keep going back to see what else we can turn up in this interesting area.

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