Pennsylvania Rocks and Minerals

Pennsylvania is not rich in rocks and minerals, and not very great for rockhounding. 

There are very limited public lands, and much of it is hunting grounds. Pennsylvania does not have an official state mineral or rock.

Pennsylvania is made up of 6 geological provinces but three of them, the Appalachian Plateaus, the Ridge and Valley, and the Piedmont, cover more than 98 percent of the state. Eastern Pennsylvania falls within the coastal plain made up of marine deposits, and lying west of it is the Piedmont Plateau, resting on crystalline metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks. The highlands are formed of crystalline and volcanic rocks, culminating in the Allegheny Plateau, which is mostly sedimentary rocks, and forms nearly half the state and is its most rustic region. Almost all of the metamorphic and igneous rocks are confined to the southeast portion of the state.

About 30 percent of Pennsylvania was covered by glaciers during the Ice Age. In fact, the upper corners of the state have seen repeated glacial activity. Most of the natural lakes in Pennsylvania were created by glacial activity. Some gold is found in the state, mostly likely brought down in the glaciers from Canada. But the gold is usually very fine, hard to separate from the sand and the state doesn’t allow panning on state land.

A highly valued rock found in Pennsylvania is anthracite coal. Both bituminous coal and anthracite coal are found in the state. Anthracite coal was first found in Pennsylvania in 1762. There are four different anthracite coalfields in Pennsylvania, all located on the eastern side of the state. It is known as the largest known deposits of anthracite coal in the world.

You can find trilobites, corals, mussels, clams, or other Devonian marine fossils in the Mahantango Formation, this formation extends into West Virgina and Maryland, at the Montour Fossil Pit in Danville where you can dig for free, and at Swatara State Park.

Crystal Cave, located in Kutztown, is known for its abundance of milky white stalactite and stalagmite formations. They offer one-hour tours that go 125 feet underground.

The entire southeastern portion of Pennsylvania is home to Triassic-era petrified wood. It unfortunately is not very colorful though.

Other rocks and minerals found in Pennsylvania include agates, jaspers, quartz crystals, serpentine, calcite, fluorite, kyanite and amethyst.

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.