State Line Kimberlite Province showing locations of (1) Radichal kimberlite & Mineral Indicator Anomalies, (2) the Iron Mountain kimberlite district, (3) Schaffer, Aultman, Ferris kimberlites, (4) Keslsey Lake Kimberlites (5) Nix kimberlites, (6) Sloan kimberlites, (7) Estes park kimberlites, (8) Boulder Kimberlite, (9) Boden diamond placer. In between these are several hundred cryptovolcanic structures with similarities to kimberlite pipes as well as more than 300 kimberlitic mineral anomalies.
False-color aerial photo shows a few of the several hundred cryptovolcanic structures that have been found in Colorado and Wyoming. These structures are lake filled, structurally controlled depressions with carbonate-rich soils on shore lines. Are these just lakes? Or are they diamondiferous kimberlites? Note the roads near these structures to get an idea of scale.
Research suggests that the Wyoming Craton encloses a world-class diamond province as well as major deposits of colored gemstones. The Wyoming Craton includes portions of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana , Wyoming, Alberta & Saskatchewan, & encloses the two largest known kimberlite districts in the US & the largest lamproite & lamprophyre fields in North America. Diamonds have been reported in kimberlites and lamprophyres in this craton in Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas.
Winkler Crater in Kansas with two trenches dug to sample the material. Originally classified as an impact crater until it was verified by Doug Brookins to be kimberlite. Tested by Cominco American in the 1980s the pipe may have yielded one microdiamond, but there is concern that the diamond may have been contaminate from the State Line district.
Hundreds of kimberlites, lamproites and lamprophyres were identified over the past few decades. In addition the many known diamondiferous kimberlites & lamprophyres, in recent years, four significant iolite (water sapphire) deposits were found as well as deposits of ruby, sapphire, opal, kyanite gems, jade, chromian diopside (Cape Emerald), pyrope garnet (Cape Ruby), almandine garnet, spessartine garnet, peridot, gem-quality apatite, jasper, agate, onyx and other gems – all found since about 1975. Two of the iolite deposits are world class. This region has turned into an exploration geologists’ and rockhounds’ paradise.
Consulting geologist W. Dan Hausel identified hundreds of cryptovolcanic structures within this province over the past several years. Many are quite large and some are situated within known diamond districts and in large areas that remain unexplored. In addition to the the known kimberlite, lamproite and lamprophyre districts, more than a dozen new districts containing many cryptovolcanic structures were discovered. As incredible as it seems, a few lie adjacent to interstates and highways and have been missed by millions of travelers every year.
Cryptovolcanic structure (kimberlite) in Colorado showing open park associated with depression.
During the past 30 years, the two largest diamondiferous kimberlite districts in the US and the largest field of lamproites in North America were mapped in the Colorado-Wyoming region. Several hundred kimberlitic indicator mineral anomalies were also scattered all over Wyoming, parts of Colorado, Utah, Montana, Kansas and Alberta. Other researchers found similar anomalies.
The several hundred cryptovolcanic structures have characteristics that suggest most are kimberlite pipes. They are circular to elliptical in shape, structurally controlled, many are distinct depressions with distinct vegetation anomalies similar to kimberlites mapped in the past. Some of the depressions are so distinct that they have actually been mistaken as impact sites, such as the Winkler crater in Kansas, that was originally thought to be an impact site, and later discovered to be kimberlite, and a few depressions that were identified in the central Laramie Range and Medicine Bow Mountains. Field examination of many depressions show visible blue ground and carbonate-rich soil, with rounded boulders and cobbles –characteristics that are generally associated with kimberlite. In addition, samples from some sites yield the traditional kimberlitic indicator minerals.
Historically kimberlite pipes were described in 19th century South Africa as having ‘blue ground’, considerable calcium carbonate, and were thought to be old dry stream placers because they contained rounded cobbles and boulders (similar to the cryptovolcanic structures found in the Wyoming craton). The rounded boulders were instead due to country rock fragments that had been rounded and polished in the kimberlite magma as it erupted a few hundred million years ago.
A few of these structures may represent some of the larger pipes in the world. The best explanation for most of these depressions is that they represent soft, circular deposits of rock that is dramatically different from the more resistant and harder basement granite and gneiss country rock they intrude. Kimberlite typically erupts in circular maar-like volcanoes and is a relatively soft rock. This is why so many kimberlites discovered in Canada as well as in the Wyoming craton form distinct open, treeless parks, with several being submerged under shallow ponds and lakes.
Such structures have been found in the Laramie, Medicine Bow, Front and Seminoe Mountains, the Green River Basin, Bighorn Basin, eastern Kansas, and Alberta. Several hundred were found as far south as Denver Colorado, to as far north as central Alberta, and as far west as Little America to as far east as eastern Kansas. In the vicinity of the Colorado-Wyoming border, Hausel mapped the State Line district with more than 40 diamondiferous kimberlites. Some of these form distinct circular depressions and have already be verified as diamond pipes.
Rough diamond with trigons
Unfortunately, only a few of the anomalies and the known kimberlites, lamproites and lamprophyres have been tested for diamond. But nearly all that have been tested yielded some diamonds. The State Line district alone produced more than 130,000 diamondsduring testing in past years. No one really knows what awaits discovery here as past diamond testing was inefficient.
For example, the four diamond mills constructed to test various diamond deposits in the State Line district had many significant flaws & evidence supports that they only recovered a small portion of the diamonds. Even so, gem diamonds >28 carats were recovered along with a octahedral diamond fragment from a larger diamond estimated at 80 to 90 carats. But much larger diamonds were very likely missed by the mills, and these deposits likely contain hundreds of thousands of carats! In Wyoming, kimberlites yielded 50% high-quality gem diamonds. In Colorado, about 30% with gem-quality.
Little effort to outline this resource has been done by the respective state geological surveys in recent years. Research expenditures on diamonds in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana & Kansas has been nearly non-existent compared to the tens of millions of dollars spent for Canadian research along with the hundreds of millions in exploration by companies. Canada now has some commercial diamond mines developed since 1998 an others in the planning stages. In fact, state and federal agencies in the US, which should be conducting research, have only hindered research.
Past work has shown that nearly 50% of the diamonds in this craton have been very high quality gemstones. But at the pace that various government agencies are investing to outline this resource (currently non-existent) is shameful and little will happen until a major diamond is accidentally found by a prospector or rock hound.
Diamonds from the State Line of Colorado & Wyoming
In Canada, it typically takes $1.5 million per discovery (whether diamondiferous or barren). The Wyoming Geological Survey invested about $20K in research over the past 30 years! – “It is no wonder why nothing is happening, yet a new multi-$billion dollar industry potentially awaits discovery”.
And the author believes he has found enough kimberlites, anomalies and colored gemstone deposits in this region that could have enough value to pay for a significant portion of the national debt (prior to Obama). In addition to significant diamond resources, two world-class colored gemstone deposits were discoveredalong with other major and significant gem deposits. The area not only provides some of the better samples of kimberlite, but has also been the most productive in the US as far as the number of diamonds recovered.
KIMBERLITE PIPES Hundreds of kimberlite pipes occur in a large group of 12 districts within a major diamond province in Colorado and Wyoming. Some of the recently discovered districts enclosed as many as 50 known cryptovolcanic structures (along with potentially dozens of hidden kimberlites).
Aerial photos showing (left) – one of more than a dozen distinct cryptovolcanic structures (depression filled with rounded boulders & cobbles containing calcium-carbonate-rich soils within a granitic terrain) in the Happy Jack area west of Cheyenne.
And (right) aerial photo of one of the largest cryptovolcanic structures in North America at the Twin Lakes field south of Interstate 80 west of Cheyenne. This field of >50 such structures (kimberlites?) are outline by distinct vegetation anomalies, depressions in silicate-rich Proterozoic age granites & gneisses in cratonized belts, have considerable calcium-carbonate salts (white bull’s eyes), rounded boulders, are structurally controlled and located between the State Line and Iron Mountain diamondiferous kimberlite districts.
The author discovered these in the State Line district, the Red Feather Lakes district, the Boulder district, the Happy Jack district, Horse Creek district, Iron Mountain district, Middle Sybille Creek district, Indian Guide district, Harrison district, Twin Mountain district, Eagle Rock district, King Rock district, Strong Creek district, Grant Creek anomaly, Lone Pine field, Lost Lake field, Creedmore Lake field, Chicken Park field, BG field, Lake Owen district, and the Douglas Creek district. Very few of these are tested but provide evidence for one of the largest kimberlite provinces in the world. IN the past, the author mapped the two largest diamondiferous kimberlite districts in the US (Iron Mountain and State Line) in this region.
LAMPROITE AND LAMPROPHYRE
One of the largest lamproite fields in the world (Leucite Hills) and one of the largest lamprophyre fields in North America (Missouri Breaks) occurs in this region, and few of these have been tested even though a group of lamprophyres near Cedar Mountain Wyoming contain diamonds and several lamprophyres have produced diamond-stability minerals, and evidence suggests that one of the largest lamprophyre fields in the world is located in southwestern Wyoming near the Leucite Hills lamproite field.
PLACER DIAMONDS Placer diamonds are likely to be found all over the region, but little exploration has occurred. In the state line district, the kimberlites are deeply eroded providing geological evidence for a very large placer diamond population to occur in the adjacent draininges. To date, only a few samples have been taken in these drainages, yet placer diamonds as large as 6.2 carats were recovered in the past.
One deposit discovered more than 10 years ago yielded the largest iolitegemstone in the world at the time of the discovery – a >1700 carat iolite. Recently, a world-class iolite depositwas discovered where a >24,000 carat iolite gemstone was collected, but masses of gem were identified in outcrop that are estimated to weigh >a million carats. At another deposit, high-quality iolites were verified, where past exploration accidentally identified a deposit that could be the largest ever found – it is suggested that this latter deposit could host more than a trillion carats of iolite (iolite sells for $15 to $150/carat).
Many other gemstone deposits are suspected in this region. For example, nearly a dozen rubydeposits were found by searching favorable geological regions and recovering rubies in stream sediment samples while searching for diamond deposits. Need more information on diamonds, other gemstones and how to find them? We are putting together a newsletter to send out to interested prospectors and geologists – write to us at: [email protected].
Photo of outcrop of iolite in central Laramie Mountains.
And, I’ve always wanted to see if I could cleave a large diamond with my hand. So, do you have a giant diamond you would like to donate to this research project? Diamond verses Karate.