In 1851, Hiram de Witt, of Springfield, Massachusetts, accidentally dropped a fist sized piece of gold bearing quartz that he had brought back from California.
Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if the source rock (in this case, reportedly Ordovician) is chemically soluble (Cole, 1985).Some have a thin shell about a quarter inch thick, when broken open are filled with a strange spongy material that disintegrates into dust upon contact with air. I was intrigued by the form of the spheres, grooves around the middle and the fact that they are as hard as steel, while the material (pyrophyllite) in which they are found, is as soft as limestone with a count of only 3 on the Mohr scale.As you probably know, pyrophyllite (Al2 Si4 O10 (OH)2) is a secondary mineral and the deposits were formed by a process of sedimentation.Workmen quarrying stone near the River Tweed below Rutherford, Scotland in 1844, found a piece of gold thread embedded in the rock of the quarry eight feet below ground level. Culp, of Morrisonville, Illinois, was breaking coal into smaller lumps for her scuttle, one day in 1891, when she noticed a chain in the midst of the coal.A small piece of the thread was sent to the offices of the local newspaper, the Mrs. When she reached down to pick it up, she saw that the two ends of the chain were firmly embedded in two separate pieces of coal that had clearly been a single lump only moments before.At least 200 have been found, and extracted out of deep rock at the Wonderstone Silver Mine in South Africa, averaging 1-4 inches in diam.and composed of a nickel-steel alloy that doesn't occur naturally. 'The existence of the sphere came to my attention ca 1977 while removing endangered rock engravings from the site where pyrophyllite or "wonderstone", as it is commonly known in the region, is mined on the farm Gestoptefontein (meaning plugged fountain) near the little village of Ottosdal about 110 km from Klerksdorp in South Africa's Northwest Province.For we now know, thanks to advances in geological and anthropological dating, that such a thing is absolutely impossible. metallic spheres, at least one of which has three parallel grooves running around its equator.The spheres are of two types - "one of solid bluish metal with white flecks, and another which is a hollow ball filled with a white spongy centre" (Jimison, 1982).Occasionally the "sawing cable" got stuck on one of the metal spheres embedded in the pyrophyllite.They vary in size from " 30 50 mm in diameter and have perfectly concentric grooves round the center as if they were molded.