North Dakota Rock and Minerals

North Dakota has lots of oil and gas, sand and gravel, coal, groundwater and other natural resources.

North Dakota is in the U.S. region known as the Great Plains. Eastern North Dakota lies in the level bed of the ancient Lake Agassiz, an area of rich farmland. To the west is hilly plain, ridged with glacial moraines, the state was glaciated six to seven times, and dotted lakes. An abrupt rising separates this area from western North Dakota, which is part of the Mississippi Plateau, an almost unglaciated region of buttes and coulees culminating in the picturesque badlands.

Petrified Wood is found in the sandstones of the plateau, along with agates jaspers, and other quartz minerals. Particularly in gravel pits, quarries and along the shores of creeks and rivers.

Western North Dakota contains the single largest deposit of lignite known in the world. All of the economic or mineable coal in North Dakota is found in western and central North Dakota. Petroleum was discovered in the state in 1951 and quickly became one of North Dakota's most valuable mineral resources.

The "gold rush" in North Dakota began in the southeastern part of the state, about 1884, when gold was discovered in the Sheyenne River valley about six miles north of Fort Ransom. Several other gold discoveries have been recorded, and even today people still like to prospect in the state, however really only small amounts of gold have ever been found.

Selenite, a shimmery white crystal, and Aventurine, a green quartz, can be found in several locations in Hettinger County, which is in the southwestern part of the state, and to the north along Thirty Mile Creek.

Calcite can be found in the Tongue River, situated in the southern part of the state and in limestone outcrops south of Concrete.

Recently the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources discovered a massive, thirty foot thick, ‘rare earth’ deposit in Williston Basin.

North Dakota has not declared an official state rock or mineral.

Before venturing out-do some research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.