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History

Fluorescent Sodalites are super cool. Have you wondered where they come from? Here's what we know!

Rock hunting along the Great Lakes is a hobby that has withstood the test of time. If you ask a local, they’ll often say they were taught by their parents and grandparents to find various rocks present on the Great Lakes shores. Everyone has a different favorite rock, with answers varying from Agate to Petoskey to Halysite. In the last few years, a new answer has come into the mix: Fluorescent Sodalite. These once glanced-over rocks are becoming the new Great Lakes craze. With the use of UV flashlights, a once boring, bland rock has become something truly beautiful. Seeing one in person is an experience you will never forget.

Fluorescent Sodalite took the internet by storm in 2018 when they were first discovered. Everyone wanted to know what these mesmerizing rocks were and how they could get their hands on some. People started making jewelry out of them, art out of them, tools out of them. They’re everywhere. The world is captivated by them, and now that we know they exist, we have just one question: Where did they come from?

The short answer is simple: glaciers. The long answer is a little trickier. Around 10,000 years ago, continental glaciation started occurring. Glaciers were beginning to shift, transporting with them various forms of rock. Fluorescent Sodalite being one of these varieties. Bedrock in the area of the Coldwell Alkaline Complex has similar mineralogy and texture to that of the stones we find on the Great Lakes shores. This similarity has made scientists believe the stones originated there. The Coldwell Alkaline Complex is on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, specifically between Schreiber and Marathon.

Being sourced from the northern shore of Lake Superior, it makes sense that many rock hunters find Fluorescent Sodalite along its beaches. This doesn’t mean they’re only found there, however. Glaciation moved them farther into all of the Great Lakes, and possibly beyond the Lakes to surrounding inland lands, rivers and streams. We are uncertain of how far they stretch, because no one was looking for these rocks up until 2018. It’s possible Fluorescent Sodalite can be found anywhere that was carved out by glaciers, specifically, anywhere carved out by the same glacier as Lake Superior.

The human eye cannot see the rock’s beautiful orange glow without the use of a UV light, specifically a filtered 365nm UV light. Fluorescent Sodalite does glow under 395nm UV, however, it is much duller, causing many rocks to not show any fluorescing minerals at all. These 365nm UV lights are pretty amazing—they make it easier to find other beach treasures like various fluorescent minerals, phosphorescent rocks, fossils and sea glass and more!

There’s so much history on the Great Lakes’ shores, and it’s all at our fingertips. If you find a rock beach, it’s very common to see someone, or a group, searching for unusual stones. Once something you could only do during the daytime, you can now do at night. This means there’s more history to learn and more rocks to find. Happy hunting!

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