The GemHunter

Professor Hausel's Guide to Finding Gemstones, Diamonds, GoldRocks & Minerals 

GemHunter - Rattlesnake Wrangler

I don't like awards ceremonies. I'd sooner go to the pub with mates I've known for years.

- Paul O'Grady

My thoughts raced through my head as I packed for college. What am I going to do? Architect? Astronomer? Pimp? Architects were glorified engineers & I'm no engineer. I break things - don't fix them. Astronomy requires physics and math - ugh! Well that settles it - a pimp! But my dream of being a pimp quickly ended when the university councilor told me I would have to major in political science.  Nope, don't like politics.

Then I found geology thanks to my brother who said "Geology 101 was an easy General Ed credit". And, in geology, you get to break things!  That did it!

So I took a class from Dr. Robinson (who, by the way, looked like a trilobite) and was hooked. I loved geological maps, talking to others about rocks, kicking rattlesnakes, exploring mineral deposits, searching old mines, finding gold, drinking beer, and writing about my sojourns. How many end up in professions they love? After graduating, I found myself at University of Wyoming for three decades, where I chased rocks and taught martial arts. Even though I lacked money (Wyoming paid a pitiful salary), I loved what I was doing! 

Anyway, I ended up mapping complex geological terrains, volcanic fields, gold districts, diamond districts, abandoned mines and wrote books. I mapped more than 1,000 km2 of geology (mostly Archean metamorphics), mapped one of the largest gold deposits found in the 20th century, presented more than 400 formal talks on geology and prospecting, wrangled hundreds of rattlesnakes, and published books and professional papers on rocks. So I had a blessed life: it was obvious someone up above was watching over me. I also had parents who believed in me.

My Papers and Maps

My Blogs

Books on Amazon

"Hey! I'm on the cover of ICMJ's 2005 Prospecting & Mining Journal!." 

I never made the cover of anything before. I was skipping & dancing like Snoopy around my office at UW and had no idea half of our staff was watching me behind a wall of file cabinets. So what if I can't dance? Anyway, what next? The cover of Prospector Illustrated? Popular Prospector? Home & Prospector? Nope, guess one is enough.

I made some discoveries: a World-Class colored gemstone deposit at Grizzly Creek in the Laramie Mountains & mexican fire opal and agate deposit at Cedar Rim in central Wyoming. These were extraordinary deposits, and over the years, they were two of many discoveries. 

How did I do it? Instead of wasting time in staff meetings, I went to the field and used geology & geochemistry as guides. Sure I was told I was not a "team player" because I seldom made appearances at staff meetings. But, for me, that was considered a compliment.

One find at Grizzly Creek, resulted in identification of the largest iolite gems in the world including some that will need to be cut out of the outcrop and transported on flatbed trucks. I picked up a 24,150-carat, iolite specimen and carried it in my backpack & exhibited it at the WGS building on the University of Wyoming campus. That rock potentially hosts $500,000 to $2.5 million in gems based on weight alone. But much, much, larger iolites remain in outcrop because I could not fit them in my backpack:  some were as large as Smart cars. Millions of carats of gems!

At Cedar Rim, boulders of common opal weighing >77,000 carats were collected. Opal was identified in parts of 40 km2 area making this one of the largest opal fields in the world. I was led to the deposit by information from a local rock hound from Riverton, that was based on geological reports by the US Geological Survey, who mentioned opalized rock (in passing). There were millions of carats of common opal, agate, Sweetwater agate, the first specimens of mexican fire opal found in Wyoming, and traces of precious opal. The size of the deposit was incredible.

I discovered gold and recognized the Rattlesnake Hills gold district. Found a few kimberlites, gem peridotruby and sapphire, kyanite, iolite, cape ruby (pyrope garnet), cape emerald (chromian diopside) nickel, palladium-platinum, hundreds of gold anomalies, found minerals previously unknown in Wyoming, and taught prospectors how to operate gold pans. Six other geologists and myself, wereI recognized by the PDAC in Canada, for discovery of the Donlin Creek in Alaska. The nifty thing about this discovery was three Wyoming Geologists were recognized by the PDAC:  Dr. Paul Graff, Mark Bronston, and myself! Wow, think about it - this one discovery has more gold than found in the entire mining history of the Klondike and more than 500 times as much gold mined during the entire history of Wyoming. And, on top of all of that, I had a wonderful time in Alaska chasing bears, providing blood donations to mosquitos, and pulling pranks on my best buddy - Dr. Graff. 

I loved mapping rocks, which led me to explore complex terrains such as South PassSeminoe Mountains & Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belts, the Copper Mountain supracrustal belt, the Donlin Creek-Snow Gulch epithermal gold deposit, the State Line, Iron Mountain, Middle Sybille Creek kimberlite (diamond) districts and the Leucite Hills lamproite field. I shared outcrops with rattlesnakes, coyotes, mountain lion, & ants, and was presented the Wyoming Geological Association's Distinguished Service Award in 2004, just for surviving. Several friends are included in that list and I honored to just be listed with them: Don Blackstone, Dave Love, Martha Horn, Gary Winter, Jimmy Goolsby. 

Winters were long in Wyoming, so I wrote papers and books and planned for early Springs and field work (early Spring never came to Wyoming, but a few days of pleasant weather usually enticed me to step out into the field and bury another field vehicle in mud). I was never a good speaker, but I worked hard on talks. So, in the winter, I also traveled on lecture circuits. My talks were popular because the price was right - very  cheap. 

I was presented the 1992 AAPG's President's Certificate, the 1994 Laramie Lyceum's Distinguished Speaker Award, the 1998 University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics Distinguished Lecturer, and inducted into the National Rock Hound Hall-of-Fame in 2001 and presented the Education Award.  I was inducted into the Millennium Hall-of-Fame in 1998 and nominated for other Halls of Fame. In 2017, I was selected for Albert Nelson Marquis Who's Who Lifetime Achievement Award! As much as I wanted to accept the latter award, it required a hefty fee. Being retired made it difficult, even so, it was nice to be selected. I was a workaholic! Instead of vacations, I used vacations to learn more about mineral deposits and consulted for mining companies including Chevron Resources, Echo Bay, Bald Mountain Mining, DiamonEx, Black Range, Western Archon, Endurance Gold, Fowler Resources, MK Gold, Twin Buttes, Teras Gold, Ice Resources, Sachem Prospects, Gold King mines, Wyoming Gold, Saratoga Gold, Ferris-Haggarty, and others.  


I had an insatiable curiosity to find out what was behind the next hill and spent too much time in the field, when I should have been home. It was an infliction, so, I wandered where other men had gone before (but where many  apparently forgot to look down).  I was inspired by the earth and universe - how could these tiny atoms produce such intricate minerals - and the same atoms be used to build stars, people, nebulae. You can't tell me this isn't all by intelligent design. How else can mass and energy be created in a Big Bang out of absolutely nothing. And where did all that nothing come from? I am so thankful to God for allowing me to explore a tiny part of His universe as an astronomer and geologist.

  • 1980 - Mapped Sheep Rock kimberlite district including the Radichal kimberlite with nearby, strong, kimberitic heavy mineral anomalies indicating presence of hidden kimberlites (Hausel & others, 1981). Later found a second possible kimberlite at Grant Creek.

  • 1981- Discovered significant gold in Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt that led to a gold-rush. Visible gold recovered in more than a dozen quartz samples. Several anomalies included gold in propylitically altered greenstones & BIF (Hausel, 1993, 1994).

  • 1981 - Discovered Rattlesnake Hills gold district. Identified significant gold in Archean pyritiferous veins, exhalites, stockworks, banded iron formation & Tertiary breccias associated with alkalic plugs (Hausel, 1994, 1995). This was a significant discovery based on favorable geology (Hausel, 1980, 1989) & verified by follow-up reconnaissance (Hausel and Jones, 1982a,b) & mapping (Hausel, 1995, 1996). Company drilling verified presence of significant subsurface gold in the district. As of 2014, several anomalies remain unexplored.

  • 1982 - Mapped hydrothermally altered (propylitic & potassic) zones at Copper King Mine in Silver Crown district:  large-tonnage, low-grade, Au-Cu porphyry. Years later, drilling identified a Au-Cu resource equivalent to 2 million ounces of Au (Hausel & Jones, 1982b; Hausel, 1997)

  • 1983-87 - Projects led to >300 kimberlitic indicator mineral anomalies in southeastern Wyoming. Many sample sites yielded diamond-stability kimberlitic indicator minerals (Hausel & others, 1988; Hausel & others, 2003).

  • 1985-89 - Mapped eight 7.5-minute quadrangles in South Pass greenstone belt & identified several anomalies. Recognized importance of saddle-reef Au deposits in extensive shear zone complex that runs from the Carissa mine to the northeast (Hausel, 1991).

  • 1988 - Discovered significant gold at Purgatory Gulch, Sierra Madre. Samples contained visible Au (Hausel, 1997).

  • 1988 Identified major gold deposit at Carissa gold mine. Includes 1000 by 980 ft ore shoot that continues to a minimum depth of 930 ft based on drilling. Target open at depth (Hausel, 1999, 2009). 

  • 1988-89 - Mapped significant alteration associated with Donlin Creek (Snow Gulch-Ruby Gulch-Lewis Gulch-Queen Creek) disseminated gold deposit, Alaska - a deposit with a 10-mile strike length. In 2003, this was described by Northern Miner as the largest undeveloped gold deposit in North America. More recently Northern Miner reported this to be one of the largest untapped gold deposits in the world based on drilled resources of >29.3 million ounces & inferred resources of 10 million ounces. Its size rivals the Homestake and is equivalent to all gold produced in Alaska in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries! Exploration suggests this deposit could potentially host as much as a 180 million ounces.

  • 1989 - Discovered gold at Garrett, Wyoming and first berthierite specimens in Wyoming. Gold lies along contact of arsenopyrite-berthierite mica quartzite  with amphibolite in a greenstone belt fragment. This stratiform deposit was traced on the surface for more than 1 mile. Part of the mineralized structure continues under the adjacent river, thus there is likely placer gold downstream.

  • 1990 - Found high-grade mineralization at Mineral Hill, Wyoming. One channel sample yielded >4 opt Au and >10.5 opt Ag (Hausel, 1997).

  • 1990 - Found the first verified amethyst in Wyoming at the Artic Mine in the Mineral Hill district.

  • 1990 - Discovered moonstone, labradorite and spectrolite gems in the Laramie Range anorthosite complex.

  • 1990-91 Mapped Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt: discovered gold, zinc, lead & 'kimberlitic' diamond-stability indicator mineral anomalies (Hausel, 1993, 1994).

  • 1991 - Investigated the Kortes gold paleoplacer & found diamond indicator minerals on north flank of the Seminoe Mountains (all tested as diamond-stability (G10) pyropes!).

  • 1991 - Discovered first specimens of ilsemannite in Wyoming at Sheep Mountain (Hausel, 1991).

  • 1991-93 Discovered significant zone of gold and silver mineralization at Copper Creek, Sierra Madre (Hausel, 1997).

  • 1992-93 Mapped Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belt & associated epithermal & exhalitive gold mineralization (Hausel, 1995, 1996).

  • 1993-94 Mapped Cooper Hill district, Wyoming (1:12,000 scale).

  • 1995 - Discovered significant nickel and palladium with copper-cobalt-gold-platinum mineralization at Puzzler Hill pyroxenite massif (Hausel, 1995, 1997).

  • 1996 - Discovered gem-quality sapphire, ruby, kyanite & iolite at Palmer Canyon, Wyoming. Recovered largest iolite gem in world at that time (Hausel, 1998).

  • 1997 - Discovered gem-quality peridot in Leucite Hills. Recovered >13,000 carats from two anthills (Hausel, 1998, 2004).

  • 1997-99 - Discovered several kimberlites in Iron Mountain district, Wyoming. Completed 1:24,000 scale map & identified cryptovolcanic structures to west at Indian Guide (Hausel and others 2003).

  • 2003 - Recognized one of the largest opal deposits in North America (Hausel, 2005, 2008).

  • 2004 - Identified the largest colored gemstone deposits in world at Grizzly Creek along with gem kyanite (Hausel, 2004; Hausel and Sutherland, 2000).

  • 2005 - Identified possibly the largest iolite gemstone deposit on earth in the Sherman Hills of the Laramie Mountains. Explored for cordierite resources in the 1940s, this deposit may have as much as >2.7 trillion carats of gems based on mapping & sampling by Newhouse and Hagner (1947). Was able to identify very, high-quality iollite gems along the margin of the deposit on a county road  (Hausel, 2005).

  • 2005 - Discovered several crytovolcanic structures (kimberlitic anomalies) in Wyoming Craton (Happy Jack, Horse Creek, Eagle Rock clusters).

  • 2005 Explored Leucite Hills lamproite field & identified diamond-stability indicator minerals in NE portion of the field  (Hausel, 2006).

  • 2006-2008 Discovered cryptovolcanic structures (i.e., structurally-controlled depressions with vegetation anomalies, montmorillonite-carbonate blue ground). These include Harrison, Lost Mountain, Twin Mountain, Lost Lake, Lone Pine Lake, Molly, CML, BG, BA, WPA, Gold Lake, Prairie Divide, Lady Moon Lake, Red Feather Lakes & Douglas Creek clusters.

  • 2012 - Mapped Copper King fault and found visible gold in granodiorite. Fault offsets east flank of Copper King ore body. Found nearby hydrothermal altered zones. The Copper King is deeply-eroded and likely has  placer gold down slope!

Some of the above cited references are be found at the Mining Journal, pbwiki, Good Reads, Open Library, Cheyenne Chapter GPAA, Wyoming Prospectors AssociationEveripediaAmazon Books, etc.