Unveiling the Mysteries of Thunder Eggs: Nature’s Hidden Treasures
There are some amazing treasures waiting to be discovered in our earth, waiting for curious souls to find them. One such enigmatic geological wonder is the thunder egg. These unique formations hold secrets that have fascinated geologists, rockhounds, and nature enthusiasts for centuries. But we know so little about them. So it’s try to unravel the mysteries of thunder eggs, exploring a bit about them.
What is a thunder egg?
A thunder egg is a peculiar geologic structure that originated in volcanic environments. The scientific name of thunder eggs is lithophysae, from the Greek for rock + blow. It is a volcanic nodule. So why do we give the name of thunder eggs? The name has nothing to do with thunder or eggs! They came by their unusual namebecause of Native American legend. They were thought to be the eggs of thunderbirds occupying Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson in Oregon.
How do they form?
Quite frankly, we don’t know how they were created, because nobody has ever seen them form! But we can make a good guess. And to do this, we will draw on our Biblical history as revealed in Genesis. Remember that thunder eggs are volcanic nodules, so we need to explore a bit of the history of volcanoes.
In Genesis 7:11, the Bible reveals that the fountains of the great deep burst open. In other words, the earth cracked open. This was the impetus for the formation of volcanoes. And volcanoes certainly formed after this monumental event.
But because nobody has seen them form, now we enter into guesses about how they formation.
Thunder eggs are found in rhyolitic lava flows. And rhyolite lava is rich in silicate minerals, like quartz. Lava flows often have pores and cavities, known as vesicles. So it could be that at some point, gem material from silica-rich solutions like agate and quartz seeped into these vesicles.
Another idea is that nodules formed from the lava flow. The outer layers of the nodule solidified into an unremarkable exterior. And then the cavity filled with colorful agate, and crystalline quartz creating a stunning contrast to the unassuming exterior. Whether either of these ideas is right, we do not know.
Where can you find thunder eggs?
Thunder eggs have been discovered across the globe, but they are particularly associated with volcanic regions. Notable locations for hunting these treasures include the United States (most famously, Oregon), Australia, Mexico, and Germany.
Oregon, a Thunder Egg Hunting Paradise!
Among the world’s thunder egg hotspots, the state of Oregon stands out as a veritable treasure trove. In fact, in 1865, Oregon declared the thunder egg as its state rock! Oregon has many volcanoes, and you can find many different types of thunder eggs in the volcanic areas. The high deserts of Oregon, especially around the regions of McDermitt, Richardson’s Rock Ranch, and Succor Creek, are well-known hunting grounds for these geologic marvels.
Characteristics and Varieties of Thunder Eggs
Thunder eggs come in an astounding array of sizes, shapes, and colors. They can be as small as a large marble. But they can also be mammoth structures, as large as several feet across. The largest one discovered was in Oregon, and weighed in at 1.75 tons!
The outer appearance can be deceiving, often looking like a plain, rough rock. But when you cut or slice the nodule open, the inner beauty is revealed. You will find bands and patterns of colors. The colors can vary widely, including vibrant reds, deep blues, luminous greens, and various shades of brown and grey.
Lapidary Artistry with Thunder Eggs
Once unearthed, thunder eggs offer a canvas for lapidary artists to display their skills. Expert craftsmen use saws, grinders, and polishers to carefully reveal and enhance the inner beauty. The finished product can take various forms, including polished thunder egg halves, cabochons, bookends, spheres, and even intricate jewelry.
The Allure of Thunder Eggs
The allure of these beauties lies partly in their hidden exquisite beauty. But it also includes their mysterious geological history. Holding one is like holding a piece of Earth’s history, a reminder of the terrible flood that changed our earth forever.
Why don’t we see them being formed today?
As I mentioned earlier, nobody has ever seen thunder eggs form. But we can figure out a very plausible solution for why we don’t see them today. The circumstances that created them was completely unique. Before the Flood of Genesis, volcanoes did not exist. And given that we don’t see them coming from volcanoes today, we could make a good guess that perhaps there were pockets of silica rich material, like agate and opal, that do not exist today. Perhaps these pockets existed as part of a wonderful creation, but they no longer exist today. This is all speculation. But without eyewitnesses, we are left to look at historical accounts to help explain what might have happened.
Thunder eggs are more than just geological formations; they are nature’s own works of art, painstakingly crafted over eons. Their unique origin and the stunning beauty they conceal make them a coveted find for collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned rockhound or just beginning your journey into the world of geology, thunder eggs are an invitation to delve into Earth’s hidden wonders, waiting to be uncovered and admired. Happy hunting!
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