Crater of Diamonds State Park


Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park
IUCN Category III (Natural Monument)
Map showing the location of Crater of Diamonds State Park
Map showing the location of Crater of Diamonds State Park
Location Pike County, Arkansas, USA
Nearest city Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Coordinates 34°02′00″N 93°40′21″W / 34.0334423°N 93.672404°W / 34.0334423; -93.672404Coordinates: 34°02′00″N 93°40′21″W / 34.0334423°N 93.672404°W / 34.0334423; -93.672404
Area 911 acres (369 ha)
Established 1972
Governing body Arkansas State Park System

The Crater of Diamonds State Park is an Arkansas State Park located near Murfreesboro in Pike County, Arkansas, USA containing the only diamond-bearing site in the world that is open to the public.

Contents

Description

The Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 911-acre (369 ha) Arkansas State Park situated over an eroded lamproite volcanic pipe. The park is open to the public and, for a small fee, rockhounds and visitors can dig for diamonds and other gemstones. Park visitors find more than 600 diamonds each year of all colors and grades.[1] Over 29,000 diamonds have been found in the crater since it became a state park. Visitors may keep any gemstone they find regardless of its value (and some, as listed below, have been quite valuable).

In addition to diamonds, visitors may find semi-precious gems such as amethyst, agate, and jasper or approximately 40 other minerals such as garnet, phlogopite, quartz, baryte, and calcite.

The crater itself is a 37.5-acre (15.2 ha) plowed field. It is periodically plowed to bring the diamonds and other gemstones to the surface. The remainder of the park consists of a visitor center, interpretive Diamond Discovery Center, campground, picnic area, and Diamond Springs aquatic playground. A 1.3-mile (2.1 km) walking trail along the Little Missouri River is available for hikers.

The park is open throughout the year.

History

A supplement to the Nashville News of nearby Nashville, Arkansas, advertising diamond mining in the early 1900s

In August 1906, John Huddleston found two strange crystals on the surface of his 243-acre (98 ha) farm near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, and soon became known as the first person outside South Africa to find diamonds at their original source. The following month, Huddleston and his wife, Sarah, sold an option on the 243 acres (98 ha) to a group of Little Rock investors headed by banker-attorney Samuel F. (Sam) Reyburn, who undertook a careful, deliberate test of the property.

After 1906, several attempts at commercial diamond mining failed. The only significant yields came from the original surface layer, where erosion over a long period of time had concentrated diamonds. In the early period, 1907–1932, yields from this "black gumbo" surface material often exceeded thirty carats per hundred loads (50 mg/Mg) (standard 1600-pound tramload of the early period). Highest yields from the undisturbed subsurface material (described as kimberlite or volcanic breccia, by the U.S. Geological Survey) were two carats per hundred loads (3.5 mg/Mg) in 1908 and about two carats per hundred short tons (4.4 mg/Mg) in 1943-1944.

Because equipment of the early period usually included bottom screens with mesh larger than 1/16 inch (1.6 mm), thousands of smaller diamonds were allowed to pass through. The bulk of these ended up in drainage cuts of varying depths all over the field and in the big natural drains on the east and west edges of the diamond-bearing section of the volcanic deposit (approximately 35 acres (14 ha) of volcanic breccia on the east side of the 80-acre (32 ha) pipe). In recent decades, those small diamonds have been the bread-and-butter of recreational diamond-digging.

Soon after the first diamond was found, a "diamond rush" created a boomtown atmosphere around Murfreesboro. According to old tales, hotels in Murfreesboro turned away 10,000 people in the space of a year. Supposedly these aspiring diamond miners formed a tent city near the mine which was named "Kimberly" in honor of the famous Kimberley diamond district in South Africa. On the other hand, all available evidence indicates the Town of Kimberly originated as a land-development venture in 1909, initiated by Mallard M. Mauney and his oldest son Walter on their land immediately south of Murfreesboro. The project failed soon afterward as the speculative boom generated by the diamond discovery collapsed. Today the Kimberly area is almost all cow pasture, owned by Mauney's descendants.

During the Second World War, the U.S. government took over the mine and granted a contract to Glen Martin to extract this rare war material. Although diamonds were obtained, and the concentration of diamonds similar to other producing mines, this was not fully successful as a venture due to the large costs involved with U.S. labor. After the war, the property was returned to the previous owners. From 1951 to 1972, the crater hosted several private tourist attractions. The first, The Diamond Preserve of the United States, lasted only about one year. In late 1951, Howard A. Millar stepped in and salvaged the infant tourist industry. In April 1952, Millar and wife, Modean, launched their "Crater of Diamonds" attraction. Howard Millar, an accomplished writer and promoter, stirred unprecedented national publicity and drew enough visitors to sustain the operation. In March 1956, a visitor found the "Star of Arkansas" on the cleared surface. The rare beauty weighed 15.33 carats (3.07 g). Later, Roscoe Johnston opened a rival tourist attraction, the "Arkansas Diamond Mine", on the main part of the diamond field.

The rivalry between the two tourist operations left both in a weakened position. In 1970 the entire volcanic formation was consolidated by a private partnership which then reassigned the property to General Earth Minerals (GEM) of Dallas, Texas. GEM expected to turn the property over for a profit, but ended up heavily indebted to GF Industries (GFI) of Dallas. Upon default, GFI took the property in July 1971.

GEM consolidated the tourist operation as well as the property. GFI continued the attraction until it sold the 80-acre (32 ha) volcanic formation and some 800 acres (320 ha) surrounding to the State of Arkansas in March 1972, for $750,000. The tourist operation continued as the centerpiece of Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Due in part to the park, and also because Arkansas was the first place outside South Africa where diamonds were found at their original volcanic source, this special gem has come to be associated with the Natural State. A large diamond symbol has dominated the state flag since the early years. The Arkansas State Quarter, released in 2003, bears a diamond on its face.

Geology

The Crater of Diamonds volcanic pipe is part of a 95 million-year-old eroded volcano. The deeply sourced lamproite magma, from the upper mantle, brought the diamonds to the surface. The diamonds had crystallized in the cratonic root of the continent long before, and were sampled by the magma as it rose to the surface.

The geology of the area and the diamond formation process itself were the subjects of the Ph.D. dissertation of Roland Everett Langford in 1973 from the University of Georgia; in it, he proposed a gas phase reaction from the reduction of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the upper mantle. The dissertation was on display at the state park for many years.

The lamproite diamond source is unusual, as almost all diamonds are mined from kimberlite and from alluvial deposits of diamonds weathered from kimberlite. The most prominent lamproite diamond source is the Argyle diamond mine in Australia.

Notable diamonds found

Strawn-Wagner Diamond, the only diamond rated 0/0/0 by the AGS
Notable diamonds found
Year Finder Diamond Name Weight Color Notes
1917 Lee J. Wagner of the Arkansas Diamond Company 17.86 carats (3.57 g) canary yellow on display in the National Museum of Natural History
1924 Uncle Sam 40.23 carats (8.05 g) largest diamond ever discovered in North America
1964 Star of Murfreesboro 34.25 carats (6.85 g)
1975 W. W. Johnson Amarillo Starlight 16.37 carats (3.27 g) largest found since 1972
1978 Betty Lamle Lamle Diamond 8.61 carats (1,720 mg) fourth largest found since 1972
1981 Carroll Blankenship Star of Shreveport 8.82 carats (1,760 mg) second largest found since 1972
1990 Shirley Strawn Strawn-Wagner Diamond 3.09 carats (620 mg) cut to 1.09 carats (220 mg) in 1997; graded a "perfect" 0/0/0 by the American Gem Society in 1998, making it the first diamond ever to receive such an AGS grading. Currently on exhibit at the park.
1991 Joe Fedzora Bleeding Heart Diamond 6.23 carats (1,250 mg) brownish yellow
1997 Richard Cooper Cooper Diamond 6.72 carats (1,340 mg) deep purplish-brown
1997 Richard Cooper Cooper Diamond 6.00 carats (1,200 mg) brown/cognac new owners from Florida since 2008
2006 Marvin Culver Okie Dokie Diamond 4.21 carats (840 mg) deep canary yellow Flawless. Seen on Today Show, MSNBC, Inside Edition and Travel Channel and published in Lost Treasure magazine (twice), Western and Eastern Treasures magazine, Mineralogical Record and Rocks & Minerals.
2006 Bob Wehle Sunshine Diamond 5.47 carats (1,090 mg) deep canary yellow flawless
2006 Donald and Brenda Roden Roden Diamond 6.35 carats (1,270 mg) honey brown
2007 Eric Blake 3.92 carats (780 mg) white[2] Discredited by FakeMinerals.com, salted diamond from India[3]
2007 Chad Johnson 4.38 carats (880 mg) tea-colored [4]
2008 Denis Tyrrell Kimberly Diamond 4.42 carats (880 mg) [5]
2008 Richard Burke Sweet Caroline 4.68 carats (940 mg) white [6]
2009 Glenn Worthington Easter Sunrise Diamond 2.04-carat (410 mg) yellow [7]
2010 Glenn Worthington Brown Rice Diamond 2.13-carat (430 mg) light brown [8]
2011 Beth Gilbertson Illusion Diamond 8.66-carat (1,730 mg) white third largest diamond found since 1972, and largest in almost 30 years[9][10]

See also

References

External links



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