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February 2015 - Condor Agate (Argentina)

The condor agate was discovered and named by Luis de los Santos in 1993 in the Andes Patagonia Mountains near San Rafael, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. This agate exhibits vibrantly colorful bands and patterns, and has become a popular stone among collectors and jewelry designers. Close up photos of the condor agate shown above follow.

Luis had collected rocks as a child. This interest was rekindled when he saw a carved stone egg made from rhodochrosite, a local Argentinian mined mineral. On one of Luis ‘s visits to the Catamarca Province, he happened to talk with and old friend of Dr. Franz Mansfeld, a German geologist noted for his expertise regarding the Catamarca rhodochosite deposit. This friend told Luis that the geologist had also seen an agate in the Northern region of Patagonia. Luis went in search of these agates, so he made repeated visits to the area.

Rather than randomly hiking the mountainous region, Luis saw a broken piece of banded agate being used as a doorstop by one of the locals. He finally tracked down the agate deposit in an expansive area consisting of low hills located a considerable distance from the nearest road. The only way to get to the sight was on horse-back. The impressive agates were scattered over the surface of rock outcrops made of volcanic rhyolite and andesite. As it turns out, the agate nodules had naturally formed in hollow pockets within this igneous rock. The specimens spread over the surface had weathered out of the matrix rock. Realizing he had made an important find, Luis collected what he could and headed to the United States to sell the specimens. Theyt sold instantly and have been selling ever since. After several years of collecting, cutting, and polishing, he did not continue the business. However, his former wife, Ana de la Santos, picked up where Luis left off and has intensified the business since 2008. Ana now travels to Argentina twice a year and hires a crew to help her mine. Today, the surface specimens are long since gone, so mining requires digging shallow pits to find the nodules.


Mineral of the Month Archives

May 2007: Rainbow Fluorite

June 2007: Lake Superior Michipicoten Agate

July 2007: Labadorite

August 2007: Rain Flower Agate

Fall 2007: Malachite

December 2007: Nepheline Syenite

January 2008: Native Copper

February 2008: Amazonite

March 2008: Lake Superior Agate

April 2008: Shadow Agate

May 2008: Apohpylite

June 2008: Ocean Jasper

Summer 2008: Marra Mamba Tiger's Eye

September 2008: Mohawkite

October 2008: Mexican opal

November 2008: Prehnite

December 2008: Picture Jasper

January 2009: Sea Shell Jasper

February 2009: Polychrome Jasper

March 2009: Selenite Desert Rose

Spring 2009: Coyamito Agate

July 2009: Obsidian Needles

August 2009: Goethite

September 2009: Banded Iron Formation

Fall 2009: Fairburn Agate

March 2010: Fossilized Dinosaur Bone

April/May: 2010 Kentucky Agate

June 2010: Nantan Meteorite

July 2010: Mookaite Jasper

Aug/Sept 2010: Polyhedroid Agate

Fall 2010: Ammonite Fossil

September 2011: Petoskey Stones

Spring 2011: Petrfied Wood

Winter 2011: Argentina Condor Agate

January 2012: Mary Ellen Jasper

March 2012: Mexican Crazy Lace Agate

June 2012: Moqui Marbles

September 2012: Chlorastrolite Greenstone

March 2013: Jacobsville Sandstone

August 2013: Unakite

November 2013: Skip-an-Atom Agate

April 2014: Tiger's Eye

September 2014: Black Corundum

February 2015: Condor Agate

June 2015: Petoskey Stone

November 2015: Slag

June 2016: Lake Superior Copper Replacement Agates

March 2017: Chert

July 2017: Kona Dolomite

December 2017: Septarian Nodule

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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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