Apache Agate

The Apache Agate deposit is located in a very remote part of Chihuahua Mexico. It is found on a ranch about 35 miles southeast of the city of Nuevo Casas Grandes. The deposit is reached by following winding dirt roads through the small towns of Malpais and El Apache. Past El Apache the road turns northward and goes through the ranch. The agate is found on a small ridge between an arroyo draining the mountains to the west and a much larger drainage coming from the northwest. The point of this ridge was mined by hand for many years and then with a small dozer in the early 1970’s. The Gem Shop, Inc. mined this deposit in 1995 using a front-end loader.

Apache Agate

Apache Agate is known for its floating red colors in clear agate. It is usually categorized with the other banded agates from Mexico but is really quite different from its cousins (Laguna, Coyamito, etc.) found 100 miles to the southeast. The outside surface of the agate is generally reddish-orange, which makes them easy to distinguish from the Laguna agate, which is generally greenish on the outside. The bands are not as distinct or sharp as the other Mexican agates and the common red color is on the orange side of red compared to the Laguna agate where the reds are more of a bluish red. The red bands or stains can float from one clear band to another like ribbons or wind-blown veils, and this characteristic gives the Apache agate its distinctive look. Orange and yellow colors also occur. No pinks or purples occur in Apache Agate.

Apache Agate

The composition of the deposit is also unusual. The agates are found in pods or clusters very close together in hard clay. There may be upwards of 500 lbs. of agate in one of these clusters and then no agate for 10 to 20 yards of more. The agate forms as nodules and as seams. The nodules are seldom regular and often have a bumpy irregular shape. There is a lot of calcite in the formation and most hollow nodules are filled with calcite. Some plume agate is found in the area but none in the main digging area that is known. Both banded agate and moss agate are found in the Apache deposit. The moss agate often has the same bright red-orange color as the banded agates. Near the south end of the claim, some agate has been found with spherical inclusions around the outside of the nodule that was called "fish-eye".


Apache Agate specimen images -- courtesy of Michael Ignatowski