Geodes are a family of extraordinary spherical rocks that are usually hollow inside. They almost always contain some crystal formation on the inside. This makes them highly prized and sought-after collectibles in the gem community. Most of them have gems on the inside but have you ever wondered why some geodes have water in them?
Geodes have water in them due to the slow, silica-rich liquid permeating in and out of the cavity. As the layers slowly build up over time, the water gets trapped inside the geode. Over time this cavity becomes layered with silica and traps the moisture inside permanently, changing its viability.
Geodes that have water inside of them are called Enhydro agates. They are geodes but contain liquid inside of them. They are pretty unique since they form mainly in volcanic rock beds and areas of hydrothermal activity. They are also known to contain petroleum and unspecified debris. Some ancient specimens that were opened had a type of bacterium in the liquid that was still alive.
How Does The Water Get Inside The Geode?
The exact method of how the water gets trapped inside the geode is a very long and slow process. Some agates are recorded to be 50 million years old and can be very large in size. The way the liquid gets trapped inside the geode is explained as follows;
- Volcanos erupt, and lava flows down the mountainside.
- As the lava cools down, pockets form in between trapping gasses, making bubbles inside the lava.
- The bubbles solidify over time, and Swiss cheese-like hardened pockets form.
- High concentrate silica water percolates and seeps into these pockets, and silica gel starts to crystalize on the walls of the inner pocket.
- Some water permeates out again, and eventually, the silica gel forms a solid barrier on the inside.
- The water is now trapped inside the geode or agate at this point.
- Rings of the silica and other minerals are visible on the inside.
This process will continue as long as silica-rich liquids continue to permeate in and out of the agates taking several centuries to form into the beautiful gems we find today. Agates are not all the same and are classified not just by color but also by the rock’s composition.
The only geodes or agates with water in them are called Enhydro Agates and are always made of chalcedony.
Is The Water Inside An Agate Drinkable?
Since the liquid or water inside an agate has been there for an undetermined number of centuries, it would be safe to say it will be extraordinarily mineral-dense or rich. Being mainly silica-rich, the water that gets trapped inside of the agate will not be exposed to sunlight or oxygen any longer. Studies that were done on the liquid inside an agate showed that it contained bacteria.
Opening an agate is very difficult, and you need special tools or an electric saw to split it. If there is liquid inside, it will take a lot of precision to open it without spilling the contents. There is usually not a great deal of liquid inside one, so drilling a hole would be an option to extract the contents. Although there are many reports and videos of people drinking the liquid inside, it is not advisable to do so.
Are Enhydro Agates Rare?
In the geode and agate world, Enhydro agates are relatively rare. It is not one of the most common agates you would imagine finding at every gem fair. There are online gem traders that sell these from time to time. Some agates are extremely rare to see for example;
- Ellensburg Blue agate
- Dendritic Agate
- Copper replacement agate
- Fairburn agate
Although the Enhydro agate is not in the top ten most rare agates worldwide, finding one is still an occasion and definitely one to have in a collection. They make great conversation pieces when showing off the water and sometimes air bubbles trapped inside. Children, in particular, find these particularly fascinating, and it is a great learning tool.
Where Are Enhydro Agates Distributed?
Agates are found all over the world. The USA has substantial deposits of geodes and agates all over various states. Let us look at some countries that are known for geodes and agates;
- Brazil – Oco geodes are found in the Tres Pinheiros region.
- Brazil – Enhydro Agates are found in the Rio Grande do Sul region.
- Uruguay – Amethyst geodes are found in the Artigas region.
- Argentina – Rhodochrosite can be found in the Wanda Mines at Iguazu waterfall.
- Botswana – Many different agates can be found here, for example, moss agate, Stilbite, pink agate.
- China – Red agate
There are many other locations where you can find agates and geodes, and there are a few companies known for organizing gemstone hunts where you go on a hike for a few days and dig up your own geodes. It really does sounds like a lot of fun being able to learn, explore, discover and take your treasures home afterward.
What Else Makes Enhydro Agates Special?
In gemology and in metaphysical practices, geodes and gemstones are often used in alternative healing techniques. Specifically, in metaphysics that studies the relationship between substance and attribute, matter and the mind, and potentiality and actuality, the use of crystals and stones is standard practice.
It is believed an agate like the Enhydro agate that contains water helps with cleaning of the person’s aura and transforms negativity. These water-containing agates are supposed to enhance the mental function of an individual. It is supposed to improve concentration, help perception and the analytical side of the brain.
Apart from that, the water inside the agate is supposed to help calm and soothe the nerves, bring inner healing, and take away anger, creating a sense of security. The use of crystals and stones in therapy has become a more widespread practice.
How Big Can Agates Get?
The Enhydro agate I picked up at the gem fair in Uruguay is around the size of a ping pong ball. It has a flat edge and a domed shape on top with beautiful cream, grey and white markings. It has a relatively large water pocket for its size, and there is also an air bubble trapped inside it. It is one of my most favorite gems I have picked up in the last seven years of collecting.
My agate is not particularly big compared to other specimens I have seen, and they can get pretty enormous. Below are three of the world’s largest agate and geodes ever found to date;
- China boasts the largest ever Amethyst geode found there, weighing in at an astonishing 13 000kgs and stands 3 meters tall. It is currently on display in the Shandong Museum in China.
- The Empress of Uruguay – the largest ever Amethyst geode found in the Artigas province weighed in at 2.5 tons and stood 3.27 meters tall. She is now on display in the Crystal Caves in Australia.
- The largest agate ever found is also in China. It is a Guinness World Record and weighs just over 61 tones. This agate measures around 22 cubic meters, stands 2.7 meters tall, and about 5 meters wide. This agate was found in Fuxin City, China, in 2009
The extreme forces responsible for creating these magnificent rocks and gems were so brutal that they could change landscapes forever. What they leave in their wake of destruction are these unique agates full of colors, crystals, copper, and, in this case, water.
Not the pure spring water you would find in crystal clear rivers, but rather a water that has traveled through centuries inside these agates and once trapped inside became a thing of mystery and beauty. We now know that the reason for this liquid being inside is through the hydrothermal percolating of the silica-rich water surrounding the solidifying lava pockets. Now it would be easier to imagine exactly what is happening beneath an erupting volcano and the lava layers as it starts to set. In a few millennia, new Enhydro agates will be discovered there.
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