Crater of Diamonds State Park Uncovers New Search Material For Diamond Prospectors

Article follows the photos:
Exposing new dirt
Exposing new dirt
West Trench excavation
West Trench excavation
September 14, 2006

Contact: Tom Stolarz (870) 285-3113 E-mail: tom.stolarz@arkansas.gov

Deep Trench in Diamond Search Field Opens Up New, Previously Unsearched Diamond-Bearing Ground at Arkansas’s Diamond Site

(Murfreesboro)—The Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas’s diamond-bearing site, and uniquely, the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public where the public can search, has undergone many improvements for the enjoyment of park visitors. The latest of these enhancements is directed towards the park’s essential visitor experience—the one-of-a-kind adventure of prospecting for the real diamonds that occur naturally here. The second in a series of large trenches is being excavated in one of the park’s most productive diamond sites to uncover new material for park prospectors to search. The trench will be completed and open to the public by this Saturday, September 16, according the Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz.

The first trench was completed in late-August 2005 in a productive area of the park’s diamond search field known as the East Drain. The park’s 37 ½-acre search area is a plowed field, the eroded surface of an ancient, gem-bearing volcanic pipe that is the earth’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area.

The new trench is being excavated in an area along the west side of the field known as the West Drain, historically a diamond-producing site for park prospectors, too.

Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz said, “This method of opening new diamond-bearing ground at depth here at the park helps provide a more rewarding diamond hunting experience for visitors.”

He noted that a local contractor is excavating the large, self-draining trench that slopes into the diamond field to a depth of four feet. The trench is approximately 24 feet wide at the bottom. The overall length is approximately 150 yards. The sides of the trench slope gently at a four-to-one ratio so that it can be entered easily and safely by park visitors. “This is very similar to the East Drain trench we created last August that’s turned out to be so productive,” said Stolarz.

Excavation is being done with pan scraper machines drawn behind large dual-wheeled tractors. Each pass over the ground removes five yards of material per load. The soil being removed cuts through unsearched diamond-bearing ground that was previously inaccessible to park prospectors since the trench uncovers new material.

Stolarz noted that this will also assist visitors who want to dig below the layer of the park’s regular plowings of the field since the trench reaches a greater depth.

To further enhance the chance for diamond finds by park visitors, the soil being removed from the trench is being spread out over adjacent portions of the diamond field to a depth of about six inches. Stolarz said, “This will provide easy access to that new material by park visitors who prefer to search the surface of the field for diamonds rather than dig. And, it will certainly increase the potential for surface finds in adjacent areas around the trench where that fill material has been spread.”

Stolarz emphasized that the success of the East Drain trench that was excavated last year has been very exciting for the park. Several large diamonds have been discovered by visitors as a direct result of that trench. These stones include the 1.22-carat white diamond that Steve Lee of Morning Star discovered and gave to his mother. Also, a 1.11-carat white diamond was found on the surface by 9-year old Courtney Conder of Grantsburg, Illinois, in June. And in July, U.S. Navy retiree Mike Ellison of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, dug up a 2.18-carat white gem.

Stolarz said, “Over the years, I’ve seen many diamonds come out of the site of the new trench in the West Drain, too. I remember the 3.20-carat Divello diamond, the 4.25-carat Dill diamond, the 3.76-carat Albin diamond and the 5.63-carat white diamond that was named the Star of Karen.

According to Stolarz, 335 diamonds have been found by park visitors so far this year. The largest of these was a 4.21-carat, flawless canary yellow diamond found on March 12 by Oklahoma State Highway Patrol trooper Marvin Culver of Nowata, Oklahoma. Culver and his gem, named the Okie Dokie Diamond, were featured on the NBC “Today Show” three days later.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Located in southwest Arkansas two miles southeast of Murfreesboro on Ark. 301, the park is the world's only publicly-operated diamond site where the public is allowed to search and keep any gems found, regardless of value. Other semi-precious gems and minerals found here include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite and quartz. Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rock hound's delight.

Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater since those first found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land. The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond weighed 40.23 carats. Other notable finds from the Crater include the Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats) and the Star of Arkansas (15.33 carats).

The largest of the 25,000 diamonds discovered since the Crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972 is the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight. A visitor from Texas found this white diamond in 1975.

In June 1981, the 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport was added to the growing list of large valuable stones found at the Crater of Diamonds.

The 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond was unearthed at the park in 1990 and later cut to a 1.09-carat gem in New York by Lazare Kaplan International in 1997. The American Gem Society graded the diamond a D-Flawless, O/O/O (for cut/color/clarity) in April 1998 and noted it was the most perfect diamond their laboratory had ever certified.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown and yellow, in that order. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is open daily. Admission to the diamond search area is: Adult—$6 each; Child (age 6-12)—$3 each. With advance notice, groups of 15 persons or more can receive a group discount.

The park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups, picnic sites, picnic pavilion, a cafe, visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, the Diamond Discovery Center, Diamond Springs aquatic playground, laundry, hiking trail and interpretive programs. The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs, the exhibit gallery in the park visitor center, and the Diamond Discovery Center explain the site’s geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough. For more information about the park, contact: Tom Stolarz, park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone: (870) 285-3113. E-mail: craterofdiamonds@arkansas.com. Web site: www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
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