Information Page

Program Description

Since re-opening the Gitche Gumee Museum in 1999, it has been a privilege to help people learn about our planet’s rock and mineral treasures. Information has been relayed to those who visit the museum, take our classes, attend our lectures, browse our web pages, and purchase our books.

Many have benefited from these information delivery methods. However there are a lot of others who learn more effectively from interactive and participatory methods that are graphics-based rather than text oriented.  After all — looking for rocks is a visual thing!

These Online Rockhounding Adventures have been designed to use graphics and interactive slides to help participants learn about the history of the Universe and Solar System as well as our planet’s geologic history and its mineral treasures.

The adventures and their segments that are currently available are described below.


Adventure 1: The Basics – Big Bang Through Earth Formation

This adventure describes what matter is, where It came from, and how the Universe, Solar System, and Earth formed and developed.  Since agates, which are featured in the second adventure, are formed from silica — this adventure explains what silica is, where it came from, and why it is an important mineral in the Earth’s crust.

4 segments — 295 slides — 1,080 graphic components

  • Segment A: Building Blocks of Matter This segment describes what scientists feel happened during and just after the Big Bang. It also summarizes what constitutes matter and how our perspective of what we believe Matter to be has changed over time. Includes 45 slides and movies.
  • Segment B: Universe Formation This segment covers how the Universe formed, expanded, and developed. Information is presented about nebulae, supernovae, and galaxies. Includes 56 slides and movies.
  • Segment C: Solar System Formation This segment describes how our Solar System formed after the explosion of a supernova. It reviews details about our Sun and all of the planets. Includes 92 slides and movies.
  • Segment D: Earth Formation This segment covers the details of how the Earth formed and developed. The geologic and biologic development is covered for each of the eons including the Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic. Includes 102 slides and movies.

Adventure 2: Lake Superior Agate – Grand Marais, Michigan

This adventure features the Lake Superior agate found in Grand Marais, Michigan. The segments cover local geologic history, agate formation, beach rock classification and identification, and how to find agates. 5 segments — 415 slides – 1,481 graphic components – participant time = 6.5 hours

  • Segment A: Local Geologic History This segment traces the geologic history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It reviews Earth formation, the development of the Superior Craton, and the Canadian Shield, Mid continental Rift, Plate Tectonics, glaciation, and other geologic events. Includes 67 slides and movies
  • Segment B: Agate Genesis This segment describes how Lake Superior agates developed . Details are included about vesicle pocket formation, agate formation influences, source of silica, agate banding, and agate distribution. Includes 50 slides and movies.
  • Segment C: Rockhounding in Grand Marais, Michigan To improve the chance of finding a Lake Superior agate, it helps to have a general understanding of beach rocks. This segment describes the three types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Information is presented about how each type of rock formed, as well as how to differentiate and classify Lake Superior beach rocks. Includes 72 slides and movies.
  • Segment D: Beach Rock Identification Guide This segment is different than all the others. It has been developed to help participants identify and classify the top 22 rocks found on the Lake Superior beach. It is arranged as a dichotomous scientific key with a series of 30 questions. There are 30 YES and NO questions as well as photos to facilitate the decision tree. Then there is detailed information and several photographs about each of the 22 rocks. In the future information will be added about rarer rocks and minerals found on the beach as well as about beach specimens that are made up of different types of rock. Includes 103 slides and movies.
  • Segment E: How to Find Agates This segment trains participants in a brand new method of agate hunting, featuring the Lake Superior agate. The new method also helps to cure agate hunters of “pretty rock syndrome.”  Rather than depend on textual descriptions, the segment uses photographs to train your eye to spot the most common agate characteristics including translucency, red color, pit-marked husk, waxy luster, dense gray color (chalcedony), conchoidal fractures and irregular shape, and organized structure (banding). Includes 123 slides and movies.

For detailed specifications about available segments, Internet speed and computer requirements, press this link button.


New Participants. Press this link to register, pay, and gain access to these adventures.


Returning Participants. Press this link to login.