DIGGIN'

ABOUT EMERALD HOLLOW MINE

DIGGING RULES

1. Your hole should be twice as wide as it is deep, and it should be benched all the way around.

2. Do not dig under roots or trees. 

3. No tunnel mining.

4. Stay in permitted digging areas. 

These rules are enforced for the safety of our guests. Failure to comply will result in immediate revoking of permit without refund. Please report any violation of these rules to staff immediately. 

DIGGING

Digging at the Emerald Hollow Mine is unlike anywhere else in the world. Our location is a geological freak of nature. The reason for this is that there were 5 different events of tectonic plates colliding and ripping apart simultaneously creating voids and cracks. This allowed for liquid magma to fill and form mineral rich veins as it cools over a long period of time. This is one of the reasons why Hiddenite is so rich in mineral content and variety.

Because of this, finding the best spot almost always is a shot in the dark. A good way to bring light to the situation would be to assess the slopes of the terrain surrounding where you're looking to dig at. The terrain shows where people have already been, how the water moves when it rains, how your dig site is going to drain and shows how water and erosion will fill your dig site overtime. These points are crucial when digging if you plan on returning to your dig site.

Other hints gathered from the terrain can be mica and quartz sticking out of the ground, some quartz veins are as little as 14 inches in the soil. Water from rain and constant erosion can expose these veins making them visible to the naked eye without shovels. Fun fact, a lot of people play on this concept and “Surface Collect” which is mining without any digging required.

 

The first thing you're going to see on the ground here in Hiddenite is mica. To most people mica is king. It embeds itself inside and around the mineral veins and sometimes comes out mixed into crystals! In order for there to be mica, there has to be an enormous amount of heat. Which is why it's drawn to the different mineral veins in the area. In order for a hydrothermal mineral vein to be formed there has to be immense heat, extreme amounts of pressure, space to grow and finally, time for the crystals to grow. 

 

The detail that makes hiddenite so special is the process that formed the gemstones happened multiple times, essentially coating the material with extra features that previously were not present. All of this reflects the land, making it possible to look at the dirt and tell exactly what's going on. Some layers you see in the ground here contain feldspar. A speckled white crumbly mineral, we use today in production of things like porcelain and abrasive cleaners. Usually feldspar produces tourmaline or moonstone in our area. It's safe to hack through this stuff, but to keep in mind that anything can be behind that toilet rock. 

 

Aside from feldspar you may find manganese, a black charcoal like substance that some say holds the key to success. Manganese forms in veins that if proper conditions are met can house crystals. If you find mica mixed with feldspar and manganese you truly can find anything this place has to offer.


Now with all that being said there is one more mineral you can find that will verify the quality of the vein you're prospecting. Siderite, some call it baby poo. You can find it coated on quartz specimens or crystals. Its evidence that even more heat was applied to the specimen essentially leaving a treasure box behind for you to open. After you wash the siderite off very carefully you may find rutile or if we're lucky EMERALDS.

In the state of North Carolina, tunnel mining is banned and illegal, due to how unsafe conditions are with the earth constantly shifting. This leaves us pit mining, which is when you dig a hole with benches all around the outside of it that allows the top layer of earth to have something to sit on as well as the next layer and so on. A good reference is twice as wide as it is deep. Also Make sure your benches are wide enough for how deep your hole is. This provides a safe environment while trying to prospect.

 

Once our pit mine is dug and we have run into our first mineral vein we must remember that veins travel the path of least resistance. Meaning if there was a tree knot in the middle of its path, it would go slightly around it rather than right through it. This is crucial when digging because sometimes the vein can seem as if it disappeared when in reality the vein has just shifted. Sometimes veins can shrink down to the size of a line of ants then can grow to the width of an oak tree. That being said you need to stay vigilant and try not to move too much dirt when the vein is exposed. It can get hectic down there QUICK. Just breathe, move step at a time and start collecting your mica and quartz, make sure that you're using your plastic tools the second you come into contact with any crystal face. We wouldn't want to scratch our retirement plan.


Notice how some of the quartz being pulling out looks rather dirty and littered with earth's graffiti, that is because of the amount of shifting, heating and cooling the ground does during the time the crystals are in the ground. Leaving some of the material broken or cracked with iron and mud inclusions all over. some ruining almost perfect crystal points. This is unavoidable unless you got there as soon as the crystal was formed. Sometimes the slope of the land will reflect the type of crystals you get. Maybe the ground had more heat? Maybe the ground shifted after it was cooked a second time? There's almost millions of possibilities, which makes what we do so fun. You never know what you're going to get. After you have carefully gathered your finds, it's time to return to the sluiceway to wash them off.