"Herkimer Diamant" - Middleville, County of Herkimer, New York, US

Herkimer diamonds are double-terminated quartz crystals discovered within exposed outcrops of dolomite in and around Herkimer County, New York, and the Mohawk River Valley in the US.[1][2] They are not diamonds; the "diamond" in their name is due to both their clarity and well formed faces. Because the first discovery sites were in the village of Middleville and in the city of Little Falls, respectively, the crystal is also known as a Middleville diamond or a Little Falls diamond.[3]

Herkimer diamonds became widely recognized after workmen discovered them in large quantities while cutting into the Mohawk River Valley dolomite in the late 18th century. Geologists discovered exposed dolomite in Herkimer County outcroppings and began mining there, leading to the "Herkimer diamond" moniker. Double-terminated quartz crystals may be found in sites around the world, but only those mined in Herkimer County can be given this name.

Process of formation

The geologic history of these crystals began about 500 million years ago in a shallow sea which was receiving sediments from the ancient Adirondack Mountains to the north. The calcium and magnesium carbonate sediments accumulated and lithified to form the dolomite bedrock currently known as the Little Falls Formation and formerly as the Little Falls Dolostone.[4] While buried, cavities were formed by acidic waters forming the vugs in which the quartz crystals formed. While the dolomite unit is Cambrian in age, the quartz within the vugs is interpreted to have formed during the Carboniferous Period.[5] Waxy organic material, silicon dioxide and pyrite (iron sulfide) were present as minor constituents of rock made of dolomite and calcite. As sediment buried the rock and temperatures rose, crystals grew in the cavities very slowly, resulting in quartz crystals of exceptional clarity. Inclusions can be found in these crystals that provide clues to the origins of the Herkimer diamonds. Found within the inclusions are solids, liquids (salt water or petroleum), gases (most often carbon dioxide), two- and three-phase inclusions, and negative (uniaxial) crystals. A black hydrocarbon is the most common solid inclusion.[6]

See also


  1. ^ King, Hobart M. "Herkimer Diamonds". Geology.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  2. ^ Pough, Frederick (1960). A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals. p. 232.
  3. ^ ""Herkimer-style" Quartz". Mindat. Archived from the original on 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2024-01-20.
  4. ^ Baldwin, Mike (2003-07-11). "Herkimer Diamonds" (PDF). MAGS Explorer. 2 (7): 1–3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-02-27. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
  5. ^ Muskatt, H.S.; Tollerton, V.P. Jr. (September 18–20, 1992). "The Little Falls Dolostone (Late Cambrian); stratigraphy and mineralogy". In April, R.H. (ed.). Field trip guidebook. New York State Geological Association Guidebook, annual meeting. Hamilton, NY. pp. 200–215.((cite conference)): CS1 maint: date and year (link), as quoted in GEOLEX, USGS Archived 2017-08-23 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Hydrocarbon". Herkimer History. Archived from the original on 2020-05-26. Retrieved 2019-11-26.