Enhydros, Fluid Inclusions, The Phases, & More Enhydro Data



By Jan Styer-Gold


What is an Enhydro ~ Fluid Inclusion?

Illustration, Photos, & Viewing Tips Below:


      An Enhydro/Enhydros is described as a natural water or fluid filled chamber that is found within a crystal or mineral. Scientists prefer to call the majority of them “fluid inclusions,” not enhydros. Even though it is not always correct, wherever crystals with fluid inclusions are found for sale, whether at shows or on websites, the word "enhydro" is most commonly used and best known by hobbyists and mineral collectors as the name for all types of fluid inclusions. Scientifically, the term "enhydro" is usually reserved for two particular Agate formations containing water. All types are described below. Crystals containing water are also referred to as Enhydrite Crystals. The water/fluid is usually millions of years old and is most likely very pure. The crystals or minerals grow around the liquid deposits and trap it within forever, unless it is broken open by natural conditions or manipulation by man. A large majority of fluid inclusion chambers break during their growth cycle in the ground or after they are freshly pulled out of the ground by miners or collectors. This breakage may be caused by many factors, including changes in position, pressure, or temperature. Many also break in transit after being mined and sent to dealers, due to extreme changes in temperatures from different locations that they pass through on the way. If the temperature in their transport box goes below freezing, the water or fluid in the chamber can freeze and expand, causing the chamber to break open. The chamber will then be dry and empty once the crystal has defrosted. The liquid that was once within the chamber gets reabsorbed into the crystal itself and evaporates. Poorly packaged crystals also fall prey to breakage. It is wise to not ship such crystals or minerals when the possibility of a freeze may be likely to occur. An empty enhydro/fluid inclusion chamber may be referred to as a “Dry Enhydro,” which sounds more like an oxymoron to me than anything else.


      There is another unusual type of “dry enhydro.” Many fluid inclusion crystal chambers contain mineral inclusions or other organic debris within them. A large majority of the black inclusions found in quartz crystals, especially those within fluid inclusions, are composed of Anthraxolite, which is also known as Pyrobitumen. It is a fossiliferous type of Hydrocarbon, and many people may refer to it simply as “carbon.” Anthraxolite is actually a form of fossilized sea life, sometimes referred to as "Sea Cabbage." Other black inclusions that may be found in the chambers are Black Tourmaline, Black Hematite, Graphite, Manganese, or one of many other various materials. Also occasionally found in fluid inclusion chambers are dark brown to yellow petroleum oil liquid substances. These oily liquids have been likened to "fossil fuel." Quartz crystals containing liquid yellow petroleum oil may be referred to as "Golden Enhydro" crystals. Some crystals, mainly Quartz, may contain multiple black inclusions scattered about within the crystal itself. Sometimes they appear to be within the fluid chambers, but they are not. Careful observation under magnification can help you tell the difference between the two. These crystals may be referred to as “Black Spot Quartz." If the crystal is heavily included with black material it may have a clear and transparent, yet dark coloration. It may be referred to as “Clear Black Quartz.” Both of these types of quartz crystals are most commonly found in China and Tibet. If a fluid inclusion chamber with black inclusions inside of it has broken and lost its liquid, there is a possibility that the solid included material may still be inside the dry chamber. When the crystal is moved about, you may see the black material/debris moving around inside the empty chamber if it is loose enough. This type of chamber may be referred to as a “Pepper Shaker” dry enhydro, another misnomer.


      The contents inside a fluid inclusion chamber can be either mobile or immobile. It depends on the physical proportions of the chamber itself and the sizes of the contents within it. If the chamber is too narrow, the gaseous and solid contents can get trapped inside the chamber with the fluid and not move when repositioned. You are usually able to still see the immobile air bubbles and/or the debris trapped inside the chamber. Occasionally a flick with ones finger can dislodge bubbles or debris that are not too badly trapped inside the chamber. They may just be too tightly packed together, so it is always worth a try to see if you can release them from each other. Most collectors prefer to have crystals with mobile contents, even if they only move a couple of millimeters. Some may move up to several centimeters, depending on the size of the crystal and the size of the fluid chamber. The air bubbles and/or debris in the fluid chambers can move in various directions and at different speeds. Again, it all depends on the size and shape of the chamber and the matter within it. Some quartz fluid inclusion chambers may contain only clear liquid, which fills the chamber completely. They have an “underwater mirror-like” appearance to them. After you have familiarized yourself with these types of fluid inclusions, you will easily be able to identify them. If the fluid inclusion chamber is large enough, you may be able to see the "water line" along the chamber’s edges change slightly in shape as you move the crystal around.


      A large majority of fluid inclusion chambers contain air bubbles. The gas bubbles which are found in enhydro/fluid chambers are usually composed of water vapor, methane, or carbon dioxide. An air bubble will always float upward when you move the crystal in various directions, unless it is trapped inside the chamber. Most chambers will hold only one air bubble, but there are some rare ones that are capable of having multiple air bubbles. In my collection I have a large Brazilian Elestial, or Skeletal Smokey Quartz crystal that has a large long and narrow channel within the fluid inclusion chamber. Approximately fifty air bubbles move through it one by one along the entire width and length of the channel. They flow through it so quickly that it is difficult to count exactly how many bubbles there actually are. They are all perfectly clear and round, and measure in diameter from approximately 5-10 millimeters. Magnification is definitely not necessary to view that crystal. What a beautiful sight it is to see! Some other air bubbles that one may find in fluid chambers are coated or covered with solid particles of black debris. A small piece of black debris may also be seen attached to a clear air bubble. These black debris coated or covered air bubbles are frequently referred to as “Black Snowballs.” Occasionally an air bubble will be coated or covered with golden yellow Limonite, which gives it a gold colored appearance. A bubble may even be coated with liquid petroleum. The coated or covered air bubbles will almost always float when moved. Particles of black or other debris within fluid chambers will almost always sink when they are moved. Very rarely a minute piece of black debris will float, even if it is not attached to an air bubble. Fluid inclusion chambers that contain fluid and solid debris, without any air bubbles, may be referred to as “Swimmers.”


      The majority of quartz crystals with fluid inclusions that I have seen and own came from either Brazil, Tibet, or China. Fluid inclusion crystals are most frequently found in those countries. “Herkimer Diamond” quartz crystals from Herkimer, NY are also frequently found with fluid inclusions. Other areas where fluid inclusion crystals may often be found are Mexico, Madagascar, India, Afghanistan, Australia, and the United States. The Cascade Mountains of the northwestern USA, the Oachita Mountains of Arkansas, and occasionally other rare areas, like the Rocky Mountains, will yield fluid inclusion quartz crystals. Although these are the most well known sources of fluid inclusion crystals, they can actually be found anywhere in the world if the conditions were right during the crystal’s growth cycle. Amethyst and clear quartz crystals from the Brandberg area of the Goboboseb Mountains in Namibia are known to be outstanding examples of fluid inclusion crystals. I continue to be amazed by what I call "Quaked Quartz" crystals, which are clear quartz crystals from the Cascade Mountains. Many of these clear quartz crystals show some Amethyst phantoms and wisps. Their external structure shows an irregular chaotic growth pattern from the frequent earthquake activity there, yet the fluid inclusion chambers within these crystals have stayed intact. In 2004, scientific researchers discovered that a mineral gel (silica) is created when rocks abrade each other under earthquake-like conditions. If it is present in faults during an earthquake, the gel may greatly reduce friction between the rocks by providing lubrication to the rock surfaces. Researchers sheared quartz-rich rocks against each other under controlled conditions in this study. Perhaps this is why so many of these crystals have maintained intact internal structures. Other unusual locations for finding fluid inclusion quartz crystals are the frigid and treacherous mining areas in Siberia, along a few other areas in Russia, such as the Far Eastern region. Those crystals are extremely rare and quite interesting.


      Fluid inclusions may even be found in crystals and minerals other than quartz. Agate, also known as cryptocrystalline quartz, from Brazil frequently yields porous Agate Enhydro Geodes that are filled, or partially filled with water. The Agate usually grows around the water deposit. Many scientists feel that these “Agate Enhydros” are the true "Enhydros", while the others are referred to as “fluid inclusions.” These agate geode-like formations have a constant flow of water running through them while they are still in the ground. They resemble common geodes in appearance, being roundish in shape and tannish or brownish in color on their exteriors. They have a rather porous outer coating which allows the water to flow in and out of them with ease. After they have been removed from the ground, the groundwaters that flowed through them, which kept them filled with water, will eventually dry out. Many collectors keep these specimens in wet environments, such as aquariums, where they will remain underwater. This is said to prevent them from drying out. I have yet to see a dried out agate enhydro geode reabsorb water. Some dealers insist that they will fill up with water again if soaked in a tub of water overnight. I tried soaking a few dried out specimens for 5+ years and they never absorbed a single a drop of water. Some of these agate enhydro geodes may have a slice removed from their tops. The bared area then gets polished and is used as a viewing area, or “window,” into the stone. Both the agate designs and water inside them can be observed. The level of the water will shift and slosh around when it is moved in different directions. They must be careful when removing the top slice for polishing, or they can go too deep and rupture the encased water chamber.  The water inside these agate enhydro geodes is not always eons of years old, since they have a constant flow of water passing through them. Some of the water within these agate enhydro geodes may be millions of years old, a combination of old and fairly new water, or fairly new water only.


      There is a second type of agate enhydro formation. They are found in a less porous agate "nodule" which is most commonly found in Brazil. These Agate Enhydro Nodules are also formed as the agate grows around the water deposit. They are beautifully colored and patterned agate nodules. This type usually has a roundish or an oval flattened shape, so it cannot have a viewing window. Their outer beauty compensates for that problem. You can still detect water inside them by shaking them vigorously next to your ear. You will be able to hear and feel the water sloshing back and forth inside them. Some may even have a thin enough outer layer that you may be able to see the shadow of the water level inside them. This can be done by placing them between two bright lights. Occasionally only one light is necessary. The water level line may be seen moving as you move the nodule around. These specimens are less likely to dry out, as they have a less porous outer coating, yet many may still do so. I prefer to keep mine in clear plastic bags. If they are being put on display, you can place them in well sealed acrylic cases. The majority of these particular Agate Enhydro Nodules are very aesthetic and display worthy. Some colossal sized enhydro agates have been unearthed in Fuxin City, Liaoning Province, China. Fuxin is known as the "City of Agate." These agates are often referred to as "boulders." The largest one discovered at that location was in 2006. It was round,  weighed 310kg, and measured 63 centimeters in diameter. I am personally not aware of any larger ones being discovered there since that time. Most of those spectacular boulders have been hand carved with amazing detail and they still contain the water inside them. The artisans carve the sculptures around the water chamber and may even incorporate it into the design in some manner. These masterpieces are usually found in museums, private collections, or for sale at high end auction houses. They are extremely rare and carry a hefty price. They may also be referred to as "Chinese Water Agate" and "Enhydritic Agate." Other agate nodules containing water, commonly referred to as "Water Agate," are also found in other areas of the world, such as Indonesia and in Oregon in the USA for example.


      Water, or other fluid inclusions, are not only restricted to quartz crystals and agate formations. Also, various types of fluids can be found within many different types of minerals, although water is the most commonly seen fluid inclusion. Saltwater and petroleum oil liquids are other types of fluid inclusions occasionally found inside crystals and minerals. A fairly recent find of yellow petroleum oil inclusions in quartz crystals has been made on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Quartz crystals with inclusions of yellow petroleum oil are often referred to as "Golden Enhydros." Very rarely yellow petroleum oil has also been reported to occur in some Herkimer Diamond quartz crystals from Herkimer, NY. I have a few of them in my private collection. Please check your Herkimer Diamond quartz crystals to see if their yellow color is being caused by Limonite or Yellow Petroleum Oil! You will find that the yellow petroleum oil is completely within the fluid inclusion chambers of the crystal. They can easily be mistaken for each other, so really get "inside" them for a close up view! Yellow petroleum oil fluid inclusions, even those found inside Herkimer Diamond quartz, will fluoresce brightly under longwave ultraviolet light, but yellow limonite will not. I have done some comparative studies on double terminated quartz crystals, similar in appearance to Herkimer Diamond quartz crystals, from multiple locations around the world. There are many similarities and differences between these crystals, from both the same and different locations. One of the most consistent and interesting findings is amongst the quartz crystals from multiple locations containing solid black fossilized anthraxolite/pyrobitumen inclusions. Under shortwave ultraviolet light they have multiple scattered bluish-white and/or yellowish-white to orange dots fluorescing throughout them. This fluorescence is very similar to the fluorescence seen in many types of fossils. The quartz crystals containing petroleum oil liquids also fluoresce in a light bluish-white or yellowish-white color, but under longwave ultraviolet light more strongly. The entire fluid filled chamber will fluoresce when the fluid inclusion is yellow petroleum oil. The worldwide Herkimer-like crystals also all appear to have a similar shape, which is short and double terminated, as is seen with “Herkimer Diamonds” clear quartz crystals from Herkimer, NY. Despite having the black inclusions, a large majority of these crystals are still “crystal clear.” Some localities have even adopted names similar to “Herkimers,” such as “Arkimers,” or “Arkimer Diamonds,” a clear quartz from Arkansas. There are also “Oaxaccamers,” or “Oaxaccamer Diamonds,” or “Amethyst Herkimers,” which are names for an Amethyst crystal with the same kind of shape from Mexico.


      Recent studies of the yellow fluid inclusions in quartz crystals from Argentina have shown that many of their fluids are composed of hydrocarbons of an asphalt and paraffin mix base. This yellow fluid may be alone or with other inclusions. Studies have also shown that the yellow fluid inclusions found in the quartz crystals from the Pakistan and Afghanistan border are indeed natural yellow petroleum. These inclusions have also been shown to contain methane gas bubbles, small pieces of black bituminous material, and small amounts of water. There are many other studies regarding the solid, liquid, and gaseous inclusions in minerals from around the world currently in progress. I will provide further updates as they become available.


      Several other minerals and crystals, besides the quartz varieties, have been known to contain enhydros/fluid inclusions. Minerals, other than the varieties of Quartz, in which I have personally seen fluid inclusions are: Agate, Amber, Aquamarine, Beryl, Calcite, Cerussite, Copal, Danburite, Emerald, Fluorite, Halite, Phenakite, Ruby, Sapphire, Selenite, Topaz, and Tourmaline. The water/fluid within the natural Copal and Amber specimens is without a doubt millions of years old. Fluid inclusions have also been found in Hematite and Hausmannite from high-grade Wessels-type ore from the Kalahari Manganese Field in Africa. If you know of any other minerals containing fluid inclusions, please let me know. By studying the mineral, fluid, and gaseous inclusions within crystals, one can learn a great deal about the physical, chemical, and/or environmental conditions which existed during the growth cycles of the various crystals.


      There seems to be some confusion regarding what the “inclusion phases” are. Many people seem to be quite puzzled about what they are and how to tell the difference between the three phases. The three phases are basically rather simple to understand, since they are based on the three forms of matter: liquid, gas, and solid. Most collectors have never seen a “Phase 3 Fluid Inclusion,” or they did not examine the specimen closely enough to notice it. The most commonly seen phases are the “Phase 2” fluid inclusions. “Phase 3” fluid inclusions are the most difficult ones to find. It involves working under a good amount of magnification and lighting, and it can be a long and tedious “quest” finding them. I admit to being seriously addicted to enhydro and fluid inclusion crystals! I can spend hours "inside" them and never get bored! The three phases are described in full below. I hope this information has been helpful to you.


Enhydro ~ Fluid Inclusion Phases:


PHASE 1: a chamber that is filled with water/fluid only (LIQUID)

PHASE 2: a chamber that is filled with water/fluid and an air bubble (LIQUID & GAS)

PHASE 3: a chamber that is filled with water/fluid, an air bubble, and solid debris (LIQUID, GAS, & SOLID)


**Please note that some may refer to a chamber containing water/fluid and solid debris as a Phase 2 inclusion because it contains two forms of matter, liquid and solid. Others may call it a Phase 3 inclusion because it contains a solid. The illustration below shows examples of all four of these types of fluid inclusions. Air bubbles and empty chambers, which once held fluid, are not fluid inclusions/enhydros. Fluid inclusions must contain fluid/liquid!


If you have any questions regarding enhydro/fluid inclusion crystals, feel free to contact me.




Fluid Inclusion Crystal Illustration


Agate Enhydro Geode



Agate Enhydro Nodules



Herkimer Diamond Quartz With Brown and/or Yellow Petroleum Oil Inclusions



This Is My Favorite "Herkimer Diamond!"
It Is 3 Inches Long & Contains 18+ Fluid Inclusions!
All 3 Phases Are Represented Several Times...Water, Air Bubbles, & Anthraxolite!




Tips For Viewing Enhydro ~ Fluid Inclusion Quartz Crystals:


1. Hold the crystal in your hand for a few minutes to warm it up prior to examining it.

2. Inspect the crystal section by section, and mark each area with a small dot from a marker or pen after you have finished examining it. Pen ink and Sharpie marker marks can be easily removed with rubbing alcohol. This way you will not keep going over the same areas multiple times.

3. Hold the crystal in between two fingers and move it back and forth slowly at first. Some bubbles or debris move slower than others. Once you know what you've got, then you can move it back and forth more quickly or vigorously.

4. If you see something that you think might be mobile, give it a flick with your finger to see if you can give it a jumpstart. Then, continue moving it back and forth to see if it can move.

5. I suggest examining the crystal outside during the daytime under magnification. You can also adjust the amount of light passing through the crystal better in daylight by repositioning your body. Indoor lighting may cast too many shadows or reflections from other things, especially the TV. If you prefer examining it inside, do it next to a window with a lot of light coming through it, or under only one light source. Turn off the TV and/or computer monitor!

6. If you find one particular (or more) area more interesting than the others, place a circle around that area with a marker. You will be able to instantly find it the next time you view it.

7. More than likely you will examine the crystal many times and continue to find new things inside of it each time you look!

8. Phase One enhydros and fluid inclusions may be difficult to locate at first. After some time you will be able to identify them as such. Many of them are quite small. You may be able to make out their shapes. They actually look like they have water in them, or have a mirror-like appearance, as if you are looking through water. Sometimes the fluid's edges will move slightly when you reposition the crystal, making them easier to locate.

9. The more magnification you have, the better the view! Warning...these crystals are addictive :-)


A Really Brief History of Herkimer Diamonds

By W. David Hoisington, Ph.D.

      Herkimer diamonds are found in Herkimer county, New York.  They are very shiny quartz crystals that are doubly terminated (coming to a point at both ends of the crystal) and at first look they shine like a diamond.  There are many places outside of New York that claim to have Herkimer diamonds, but they are mislabeled.  Herkimer diamonds come from only one place in the world.

      Over the course of Earth’s history this place in New York was the location for a unique sequence of overlapping of events.  This unique sequence of events started around 500 million years near an ancient shoreline.  Over millions of years sedimentary rocks were formed at this shoreline and they had large open holes along certain layers.  Sometime later (300 to 400 million years ago), deep within the Earth, fluids containing gas, oil, salt and dissolved quartz (and a few other things) moved up along cracks and then out along these layers that had all the holes.   As the fluids moved into the holes the solutions helped to “grow” the doubly terminated quartz crystals called Herkimer diamonds.  Today you can crack open the rock and find a hole with a couple, or a larger hole with a hundred, Herkimer diamonds inside.

      This is a really brief history and the details are more complex and varied across all the different deposits in what is called the “Herkimer Diamond Mining District.”  For more detailed information please visit the "Herkimer History" website via the link provided below.

"Everything You Need Or Want To Know About Herkimer Diamonds"


**HerkimerHistory.com is an excellent website with tons of information, including ongoing research! You can help too!**

Enhydro Lore:


      An enhydro is a mineral or crystal which naturally contains fluid/water; the fluid could be eons of years old and is most likely quite pure; they are said to help one to recognize and understand the true feelings of another; they support the empathetic state; they provide for the coupling of imagination and practicality; they induce sensibility and acceptance of responsibility; they contain life-sustaining energy, which can decrease stress and allow one to be more adaptable to changes; they assist in metamorphosis and continued change throughout all times; impetus and catalytic motion are enhanced; they are most useful in healing; they assist in bringing the body to the state or specified condition that one is attempting to attain; they enhance the healing properties of all minerals; consider greatly the water cycle, without which no life could exist anywhere on Mother Earth's surface; water is the World's most valuable resource; human beings must not be allowed to turn its lifeblood into poison by polluting it; water helps maintain the body's functions, and is taken in to slake ones thirst and to help maintain the body's fluid and electrolyte balances; the main component of our bodies is water.



**If the images and/or text on any of the web pages do not appear evenly spaced and centered on your screen, which commonly occurs with AOL pages, maximize the individual page's window. That should resolve the problem.


Copyright © 2005-2009 Jan Styer-Gold - All rights reserved.
Photographs and data are the copyright of Jan Styer-Gold, unless stated otherwise.



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