Coastal clue to garnets and crystals

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Red marks like these are actually partly-formed garnets.
Camera IconRed marks like these are actually partly-formed garnets. Credit: Aaron Cavosie

A trove of sub-surface precious garnets and crystals could be hidden in coastal rocks around Albany, according to a visiting geologist.

While they look like pepperoni slices on the surface, geologist Dr Aaron Cavosie said fully formed garnets could be hidden within rocks at places such as Whale Head Rock near Middleton Beach.

Dr Cavosie studied the rocks during a recent Curtin University trip to Albany and said surface evidence of garnets could hint at rich deposits within.

“You’d cut into (the rocks) and see something similar,” he said.

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“In some areas there are garnets as big as a centimetre.”

Unfortunately, the precious stones would be out of reach for even the most ambitious treasure hunter — but they leave a tantalising hint at riches hidden along our coast.

The Gap.
Camera IconThe Gap. Credit: Kalgoorlie Miner

Australia supplies nearly half of the world’s stock of garnets, which can end up in jewellery store catalogues for more than $1000 each.

They usually form under heat and pressure within sedimentary rocks, a process Dr Cavosie likened to Cinderella transforming from a peasant into a princess.

“It’s one of the prettiest rocks you could ever see,” he said.

“It’s rags to riches when you make garnets.”

While he did not find any traces of the red stones at The Gap, he said crystals were common.

“The younger rocks near Albany are very fresh, which are lovely and wonderful to study,” he said.

“The Gap represents lava that never made it out of the surface ... you can see very large, coarse crystals.”

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