Denver Gem and Mineral Guild - Golden Diggers
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The Denver Gem and Mineral Guild is proud to offer our junior members a special group called the GOLDEN DIGGERS. The program is to increase interest in rocks, minerals and lapidary arts. Junior members range from 4 years old to high school. We strive to make these meetings fun, educational and hands-on.

Parents are encouraged to join their kids and take part in the activities.

Our Golden Diggers program is led by Joseph Payne, who has been an active member of the Guild for over 20 years.


During the year (September-May) the GOLDEN DIGGERS meet for one hour at 6:30 pm prior to the regular DGMG meeting at the Colorado School of Mines Berthoud Hall room 109. We are using the American Federation of Mineral Societies Future Rock Hounds of America program to provide structure. (For more details go to and

Topics covered at the meetings may include:
Rock and mineral identification
Lapidary arts
Gold panning and prospecting
Mineral and fossil collecting
And much, much more.

Field Trips:

Time to "Get off the mouse and out of the house!" During the months of June, July and August, the Golden Diggers go on family field trips for mineral, fossil or gold collecting. These field trips are sometimes to mines and private ranches that are NOT open to the public. Come join Denver Gem and Mineral Guild for only $25/year per family by clicking HERE.

Golden Diggers May 10, 2019 Meeting

This will be the meeting with interactive, hands-on learning experiences about safety, tips and techniques while on Field trips.

Learn the top safety lessons for field trips. See some of our tools so you know what to bring along. Learn why safety glasses are important while you crack open your own geode. And how to avoid tick bites, unlike some other DGMG members.

Also learn about "Conscientious Rockhounding." We will show you how to dig for crystals and minerals without killing off trees, plants, etc. You are the FIRST group of Golden Diggers to go through this new class, taught by your Golden Digger Team member, Susanne.

Bring your hard hats (so you can decorate them) and be prepared to learn how to be the BEST rockhound ever.

Golden Diggers April 12, 2019 Meeting

At our upcoming Golden diggers meeting we will continue learning about fossils. We will be doing activity 3.2 excavating fossils. We will split Green River limestone looking for fossil fish, everyone who attends will get some limestone. This material was given to us by Mary Lou Mobley. Thank you Mary Lou!.

Fossils are the core of the science of paleontology, or study of past life. Fossils are the preserved remains or evidence of past plant of animal life. Some common forms of fossilization are:

Molds and casts. Shells may dissolve, leaving a cavity that if filled, forming a mold and cast.

Mineralization or petrification. The wood or bone may be infiltrated or totally replaced by minerals.

Carbonization. Finely bedded shale may contain a thin layer of carbon on the bedding plane in the shape of a leaf, insect or fish.

Original remains. Fossils such as teeth are resistant to decay. Animals trapped in amber have their organic material protected. In Siberia woolly mammoths have been found frozen since the Ice Ages.

Trace fossil. Trace fossils are foot print tracts, borrows, coprolites, or trace chemicals.

The Story of the Green River Fossil Fish Formation

Rocks of the Green River Formation contain a story of what the environment was like about 50 million years ago in what is now parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming (see map below). Streams draining the steep mountains carried large amounts of sand, silt, mud and dissolved minerals into lakes. Over time the sand, silt and mud began infilling the lakes. The River swamps and lakes provided an exceptional environment for fossil formation. The lakes and swamps were calm environments where remains were quickly buried by sediment.

In some parts of the lakes, sediments were deposited in very thin layers known as varves. A thin layer of dark-colored sediment was deposited during the growing season, and a thin layer of light-colored sediment was deposited in winter. The varves ranged in thickness from a fraction of a millimeter to a few millimeters each. Some of the most detailed and highly preserved fossils are contained in varved sediments composed of very fine-grained lime mud. When these thinly layered rocks are split, the smooth bedding surfaces often reveal a delicately-preserved fossil. Photograph of a specimen is presented on this page. This photograph is from the archive of the National Park Service.

fossil fish
Green River fossil fish: Large teeth and rear-placed fins make Phareodus encaustus well suited for catching and eating other fish.

Golden Diggers March 8, 2019 Meeting

Colorado State Fossil and Geologic Time Scale

 6 Facts About the Colorado State Fossil the Stegosaurus, by Bob Strauss Updated September 26, 2018

01.           Stegosaurus Is the State Dinosaur of Colorado 

1980 Students from the McElwain Elementary School in Thornton started a write in campaign and were joined by thousands of fourth-grade students to have the State recognize the Stegosaurus as the official Colorado State Fossil.  With the guidance and encouragement of their teacher, Ruth Sawdo, the children were successful.  On April 28,1982 the Governor of Colorado signed a bill making Stegosaurus the official state dinosaur, after three years of hard work. .

02.        Stegosaurus Had a Brain the Size of a Walnut

Given its size, stegosaurus was equipped with an unusually small brain, comparable to that of a modern golden retriever — which gave it an extremely low "encephalization quotient," or EQ. How could a four-ton dinosaur possibly survive and thrive with so little gray matter? Well, as a general rule, any given animal only has to be slightly smarter than the food it eats (in stegosaurus' case, primitive ferns and cycads) and just alert enough to avoid predators—and by those standards, Stegosaurus was brainy enough to prosper in the wilds of late Jurassic North America.

03.        Paleontologists Once Thought Stegosaurus Had a Brain in its Butt

Early naturalists had a hard time wrapping their minds around the diminutive size of stegosaurus' brain. It was once proposed (by no less an eminence than the famous American paleontologist O.C. Marsh) that this none-too-bright herbivore possessed supplementary grey matter located somewhere in its hip region, but this was dispelled when the fossil evidence proved unavailing. (To be fair, this theory wasn't as ridiculous then as it seems now when we know a lot more about dinosaur anatomy!)

04.           There's a Lot We Don't Know About Stegosaurus' Plates

The name stegosaurus means “roofed lizard” , reflecting the belief of 19th-century paleontologists that this dinosaur's plates lay flat along its back, like a form of armor. Various reconstructions have been offered up since then, the most convincing of which has the plates alternating in parallel rows, pointy ends up, from this dinosaur's neck all the way down to its butt.

05.       Stegosaurus Was One of the Earliest Dinosaurs to Evolve Cheeks Although it was undoubtedly lacking in other respects, stegosaurus did possess one relatively advanced anatomical feature: extrapolating from the shape and arrangement of its teeth, experts believe this plant-eater may have possessed primitive cheeks. Why were cheeks so important? Well, they gave stegosaurus the ability to thoroughly chew and pre-digest its food before swallowing it and also allowed this dinosaur to pack away more vegetable matter than its non-cheeked competition.

06.           Most Stegosaurs Hailed from Asia, Not North America Although it's by far the most famous, stegosaurus wasn't the only spiked, plated dinosaur of the late Jurassic period. These reptiles have been discovered across Europe and Asia.

Geologic Time Scale

If you attend the meeting you will get a dinosaur.