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Digging for Oregon Sunstone on the Rockhound Reserve, Plush, Oregon Locale


Screening the broken bassalt for sunstone

Paul Gartner digging through the hard bassalt cap rock to get down to the softer layer containing sunstone phenocrysts. (Not a bad place to be when it is 110 degrees in the sun).

The sunstone gemfields near Plush, Oregon, have long been a favorite with collectors. Large portions of the gemfield have been reserved for collecting by the general public. Other areas have been commercially mined, on a small scale, for many years. Additional sunstone deposits occur in the same general area of the state and produce equally beautiful gems (See "Mining the Sun" by Chris Johnston, Lapidary J., Vol. 44, No. 11, pg. 75, 1991 and "The Spice of Life" by C. H. Rose and J. H. Rose, Lapidary J., Vol. 51, No.10, pg. 14, 1998).

Collecting sunstone can be accomplished either by "specking" (wandering around the gemfield looking for fragments of sunstone lying loose on the surface ) or by digging and picking through the shattered basalt matrix and screening the rock to find gemmy fragments. Many nice light-yellow sunstone fragments can still be found simply by searching the weathered surface of the bassalt flow. The more desirable schiller and reddish-colored material requires strenuous effort (See above images).