The Crater Of Diamonds State Park is a treasure trove of diamonds that were forged by geologic and volcanic activity that shaped the region around 3 billion years ago. Having formed deep below the Earth’s crust, they were explosively forced to the surface and now can be found by, well, just about anyone.
Don’t believe us? In September 2023, a seven-year-old found a 2.95-carat brown diamond on her birthday. Situated in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, the crater represents a unique opportunity, because the Crate Of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond mine in the world that’s accessible to the public.
Its story begins around 3 billion years ago when immense heat and pressure created by geologic and volcanic activity created the diamonds deep beneath the Earth’s surface. We now know that diamonds can rush up to the surface traveling in molten rock called kimberlite, and this occurred where the Crate Of Diamonds State Park sits when a volcanic vent called the Prairie Creek diatreme formed.
Diatremes are a kind of volcanic pipe that's associated with gassy explosions and it’s thought they form when weak spots appear in the Earth’s crust as it shifts, thins out, and breaks apart during plate motions that break up continents and smash others together.
When the Prairie Creek diatreme went up, it left in its wake an 83-acre (34-hectare) crater riddled with diamonds. However, according to Atlas Obscura, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the site’s sparkling geologic potential was discovered by a man who was only looking for turnips.
It was 1906 when John Wesley Huddleston turned up two strange stones in his turnip field. The unyielding nature of the rocks under his grinding tools told him they were something special, and he took them to be assessed. He was later dubbed the “Diamond King” for his discovery.
You can follow in the Diamond King’s footsteps as the Crater of Diamonds State Park is now a publicly accessible diamond mine. Best of all, you get to keep anything you find, and there have been some pretty remarkable discoveries in the park’s history.
“More than 35,000 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972,” reads the Crater Of Diamonds State Park’s website. “Notable diamonds found at the Crater include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S.; the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight; the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas; and the 8.52-carat Esperanza.”
The public is invited to bring their own equipment for diamond digging (though no battery- or motor-driven tools are allowed). It's thought the digging of a trench meant to tackle some erosion issues may have been behind the seven-year-old's remarkable discovery in September. Who knows what rock the historical site will spit up next?