The GemHunter

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

GemHunter Author, Martial Artist, Artist, Rattlesnake Wrangler & More

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 not 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. 

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

So I took a class from Dr. Robinson (who, by the way, looked like a trilobite) and was hooked. I discovered I enjoyed creating geological maps, talking to others about rocks, kicking rattlesnakes, exploring mineral deposits, searching old mines, finding gold, drinking beer, and writing about sojourns. How many end up in professions they love? I was blessed by God! After graduating, I found myself at University of Wyoming for 30 years, where I chased rocks and taught martial arts. In my spare time, I sketched. 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, and abandoned mines. I mapped more than 1,000 km2 of geology, mapped one of the largest gold deposits found in the 20th century, presented more than 400 formal talks on geology and prospecting, met hundreds of rattlesnakes, and published. And yes, the last Director of the Wyoming Geological Survey (Dr. Ron Scumbag) I worked for at UW told me "I didn't know how to communicate (not bad from someone who had his secretary access and read his email to him every morning - where do they find these morons!?!)". Did he really get his PhD from a cracker jack box as rumored?

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 I had parents who believed in me even when it seemed I was heading in the wrong direction, and was obviously blessed by God!

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

I never made the cover of anything before. This was exciting! 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 and giggling. So what if I can't dance? Anyway, what next? The cover of Play Prospector? Prospector Illustrated? Popular Prospector? Home & Prospector?

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

How did I do it? Instead of wasting time in staff meetings, I went to the field and used geology & geochemistry as a guide. Sure I was told I was not a "team player" because I seldom made an appearance in staff meetings. And when told by others I was wasting my time - as long as I had good, scientific reasoning, I ignored them & continued making discoveries, while they continued to tell me why there was nothing out there. 

One of my favorite discoveries was Grizzly Creek, which hosts the largest iolite gems in the world including some of more than a hundred thousand carats. During reconnaissance, I picked up a detrital 24,150-carat iolite and carried it out in my backpack (the size of a football fresh from the New England Patriots air pump) & exhibited it at the WGS building on the UW Campus in Laramie. That one rock potentially hosts $500,000 to $2.5 million in gems based on weight alone. But much larger iolites were left in outcrop that I could not fit in my backpack because some were as large as Smart cars. And there were millions of carats of gem-quality kyanite. 

At Cedar Rim, I recovered boulders of common opal weighing >77,000 carats. 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 following information from a local rock hound from Riverton - and this was based on geological reports by the US Geological Survey, who mentioned opalized rock in passing. In the area, I came across millions of carats of common opal, agate, and the first specimens of mexican fire opal and common black opal found in Wyoming with traces of precious opal. The size of the deposit was incredible.

I discovered the Rattlesnake Hills gold districtkimberlites, gem peridotruby and sapphire, kyanite, iolite, cape ruby (pyrope garnet), cape emerald (chromian diopside) nickel, palladium-platinum, >100 gold deposits, and some minerals previously unknown in Wyoming. With six other geologists, I was recognized for discovery of the Donlin Creek in Alaska - a deposit that hosts considerably more gold than the Homestake mine - indicated and inferred resources of more than 180 million ounces of gold! Now, multiply that by today's gold price! The nifty thing about the discovery was 3 Wyoming Geologists were recognized -  Dr. Paul Graff, Mark Bronston, and myself! Wow, think about it - this discovery has more gold found in the entire history of mining in the Klondike, and more than 500 times as much gold mined during the entire history of Wyoming. Not bad for a geologist who was harassed by the Wyoming State Geologist in 2006 for not being able to communicate (I ask you, where do they find these morons?). 

My love of geological mapping resulted led me to map complex terrains including 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 & Leucite Hills lamproite field. I shared the outcrops with rattlesnakes, coyotes, & antelope.

Much of what is known in Wyoming about hard rock mining districts and Archean geology is from my field work & research. I was awarded the Wyoming Geological Association's highest award in 2004 - the only geologist from the Wyoming Geological Survey to ever receive this honor.

I discovered the Rattlesnake Hills gold district in 1981. This greenstone belt had been intruded by >42 Tertiary alkalic plugs and dikes that should have been an obvious gold target for exhalite, replacement deposits, breccias and stockworks - but it remained overlooked by all others. The Rattlesnake Hills are now compared to Cripple Creek.

I mapped the Lewiston, South Pass-Atlantic City, Miners Delight, Bradley Peak, Silver Crown, Cooper Hill, Copper Mountain, State Line, Iron Mountain, Leucite Hills, Middle Sybille Creek districts, and mapped the South Pass, Rattlesnake Hills and Seminoe Mountains greenstone belts. 

Winters were long in Wyoming, so I wrote papers, rock hounding and prospecting guides & mining books as snow fell and temperatures dipped below - 50F. When snow plows were working, I traveled to lecture on geology and prospecting. My talks were popular because the price was right - cheap. Even so, I was presented the 1992 AAPG's President's Certificate, the 1994 Laramie Lyceum's Distinguished Speaker Award, and 1998 University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics Distinguished Lecturer. I was also the only member in history of the Wyoming Geological Survey to be inducted into a Hall of Fame for my work. The National Rock Hound & Hall-of-Fame inducted me in 2001 and I was presented their Education Award due to the efforts of members of various rock hound and mineral clubs around Wyoming.  I was inducted into the Millennium Hall-of-Fame in 1998 and nominated for two other Halls of Fame for contributions as a polymath. In 2017, I was selected for the highest honor for Who's Who. Not only was I inducted into Who's Who in Martial Arts, but I was also selected for the Albert Nelson Marquis Who's Who Lifetime Achievement Award! However, as much as I wanted to accept this latter award, it included a number of honorary gifts including a website, and required a hefty fee. Being retired made it difficult to fork out all of that money. Anyway, I did pretty good even if I didn't know how to communicate according to the last director I worked for at the Wyoming Geological Survey - Dr. Surdam. 

Ok, I admit it, I was a workaholic! Instead of vacations, I took working vacations to learn more about mineral deposits and consulted for several mining companies including Chevron Resources, Echo Bay, Bald Mountain, 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 and others. Some of my first work in Wyoming was to search for diamondiferous kimberlite.  


I apologize to my family - I just had an insatiable curiosity to find out what was behind the next hill and spent a lot of time in the field, when I should have been home. It was an infliction. So, I wandered where other men had gone before (but apparently forgot to look down). Here are some discoveries:

  • 1978-79 Mapped the Colorado-Wyoming State Line district & discovered some overlooked diamondiferous kimberlites (Hausel & others, 1979, 1981).

  • 1980 - Completed map of Sheep Rock kimberlite district. Discovered Radichal kimberlite & strong kimberitic heavy mineral anomalies indicating presence of hidden kimberlites (Hausel & others, 1981). Found a second possible kimberlite at Grant Creek in the Albany County Road 11/12 that remains to be unverified.

  • 1981- Discovered significant gold in Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt that led to a gold-rush. Visible gold recovered in >dozen quartz samples. Several anomalies included gold in propylitically altered greenstones & banded iron formation. Assays from a trace to 2.87 opt Au (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 major 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 - a large-tonnage, low-grade, Au-Cu porphyry. Years later, company drilling identified a Au-Cu resource equivalent to >1 million ounces of Au (Hausel & Jones, 1982b; Hausel, 1997). Recently, resource expanded to 2 million ounces.

  • 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 >100 Au anomalies. Recognized importance of saddle-reef Au deposits in the extensive shear zone complex that runs from the Carissa mine to the northeast (Hausel, 1991).

  • 1988 Discovered significant gold at Purgatory Gulch, Sierra Madre. Several samples contained visible Au. Area remains unexplored (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 is open at depth (Hausel, 1999, 2009). This deposit likely hosts several million ounces.

  • 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 as 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. The size of the deposit (41 million ounces) rivals the Homestake (produced 40 million ounces over 100 years) and is essentially equivalent to all gold produced in Alaska in the 19th and 20th and 21st centuries! Seven geologists were presented the Thayer Lindsley Award for significant International Mineral Discovery at PDAC (2009) in Canada for this discovery. Recent exploration suggests this deposit could end up as a 180 million ounce discovery.

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

  • 1990- Found zone of high grade gold and silver mineralization (>1 opt) at Mineral Hill. 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 the first known moonstone gems in Wyoming 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 gold paleoplacer & discovered diamond indicator minerals on north flank of the Seminoe Mountains (all tested have been 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. This deposit remains unexplored! (Hausel, 1997).

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

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

  • 1995 Discovered significant nickel and palladium anomaly 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 (1,750 carats) at that time (Hausel, 1998).

  • 1996- Recovered large rubies in Tin Cup district - deposit was later called the Red Dwarf ruby deposit (Hausel, 1997). Developed exploration model for rubies & sapphires that led to discovery of nearly a dozen ruby-sapphire deposits (Hausel, 2003; Hausel & Sutherland, 2000, 2006).

  • 1997 - Discovered gem-quality peridot in Leucite Hills. Recovered >13,000 carats from two anthills & gems 0.5 inch across in outcrop & soil (Hausel, 1998, 2004).

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

  • 2003 - Recognized one of the largest opal deposits in North America - the Cedar Rim field with giant common opals, some weighing >77,000 carats. Discovered first verified precious opal in Wyoming, first verified 'fire' opal in Wyoming & source beds of Sweetwater agate (Hausel, 2005, 2008).

  • 2004 - Identified one of the largest colored gemstone deposits in world at Grizzly Creek with the largest iolite gemstones on earth along with significant resource of gem kyanite. Recovered largest iolite gem in the world (24,150 carats). Some in outcrop estimated to weigh >1 million carats (Hausel, 2004; Hausel and Sutherland, 2000).

  • 2005 - Discovered potentially the largest colored gemstone deposit on earth in Sherman Mountains. This world-class iolite deposit may have as much as >2.7 trillion carats of gemstone based on past mapping & sampling (Hausel, 2005). In recognition of discovery, WGS director confiscated field vehicle to stop research.

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

  • 2005 Mapped Leucite Hills lamproite field & identified diamond-stability indicator minerals in NE portion of the field - recommended exploration for hidden olivine lamproites - remains unexplored (Hausel, 2006).

  • 2006-2008 Discovered cryptovolcanic structures with characteristics consistent with kimberlite (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. This zone remains to be drilled (previous company drilling identified a 2 million ounce equivalent of gold-copper mineralization). Found similar hydrothermal altered zones in the region that remain unexplored. The Copper King ore body is deeply eroded which means - all of you Cheyenne prospectors may be missing out on some placer gold running into town from the west!

Many of the above cited references can be found at some of my other sites - such as the Mining Journal, pbwiki, Good Reads, Open Library, Cheyenne Chapter GPAA, Wyoming Prospectors AssociationEveripedia, and Amazon Books.