The famous Elk Creek locality is located in Meade County in western South Dakota. The region consists of primarily private ranch land, and is part of a crescent-shaped region in which world-class barite (also called "Baryte") has been found. The barite and calcite forms in hard, calcareous concretions within the Pierre Shale and mudstones. The concretions are broken open by collectors with sledgehammers, prybars, and chisels. It is rare that a concretion will have barite, and is stated that only 1 out of 15 to 20 will. Based on my experience with the region, it is more like one out of 50 will have barite. Most specimens, when recovered, will have some trivial damage, imperfections, (and sometimes repairs) resulting from breaking open the hard concretions. It is truly a miracle that any are recovered intact. The Elk Creek locality was 1 of 50 American localities featured in the American Mineral Treasures Exhibit at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show in 2008 and the corresponding book featuring America's most treasured mineral localities and specimens. Click HERE for a link to a photo of this display on Mindat. Many worldwide Barite and mineral collectors will say that the finest barites in the world come from Elk Creek, and I can't disagree with that. Most specimens from Elk Creek are comprised of nearly transparent golden honey to dark brown "root beer" colored barite with accents of yellow calcite crystals. Many of the larger barites from this locality have interesting growth helices on the crystal faces. As to collecting, most existing exposed deposits have been depleted and, unless you know someone in the region who will let you collect on their land, collecting and trespassing is prohibited. Specimens from this locality are very collectible and in high demand by mineral enthusiasts. With so little being found, prices for specimens from this locality can only be expected to rise and existing specimens becoming harder to find. To see the Elk Creek Locality page on Mindat Click HERE. To see what some of the finest Elk Creek specimens at Tucson 2012 looked like, read my blog post on Tucson HERE. Several specimens appearing in this blog post are for sale on the Dominion Exploration website, to see them CLICK HERE or go to: http://www.dominionxploration.com/#!elk-creek-barite-specimens/c15tq
|Exposed concretions of the Pierre Shale at Elk Creek|
|Closer view of exposed concretions|
|Yellow Calcite from Elk Creek|
|Another exposure of the Pierre Shale with small concretions|
|Large, 4.7 c long contacted Barite, but shows crystal faces.|
|Barite crystal with calcite|
|Unique large contacted barite wich shows individual welded crystals|
with yellow calcite fringe.
|A large 5.5 cm long Golden Barite with smaller barites to 2.8 cm|
on yellow calcite from Elk Creek.
|A 5.0 cm, twinned Golden Barite crystal on a 12.5 cm long matrix|
with yellow calcite crystals, from Elk Creek
|Nice golden barites to 2.8 cm on a large 11x11x9 cm matrix with both a fine|
dusting of lemon calcite and larger crystals of yellow calcite.
|A small golden barite in matrix of yellow calcite|
|A view of the Elk Creek locality, which area has produced some|
of the world's finest barite specimens
|A nice golden barite (repaired) on yellow calcite|
|Golden Barite on yellow calcite|
|a nice specimen of yellow calcite|
|Holding a very small Elk Creek concretion. These typically do not contain much|
except small crusts of calcite
|A fine, gemmy, chisel point golden barite crystal from Elk Creek|
|A small concretion, split open showing only thin crust of yellow calcite and|
one small pocket of yellow calcite. These things are HARD to break open which
is why pristine specimens are so rare.
|A nice miniature of golden barite on yellow calcite, 6.6 cm long with|
the largest barite measuring 3.2 cm.
|Golden Barite crystals|
|barite crystal, a nice clear to honey color|
|Another view of barite crystals grouped together|