Deleted Scenes from the Salt Plains

By Ted Satterfield

Even though I love being an editor, it can get pretty monotonous, which is why I love being an editor at the OGS. I occasionally get to leave the office, go outside and do something cool. Being able to spend a day digging for crystals in the Great Salt Plains is probably the coolest field trip I’ve had so far.

I am relaunching a publication that’s run at the Survey for over 70 years: The Oklahoma Geology Notes. In the new format, my colleague Jennifer Morris, who is in charge of education and outreach, is writing an educational section that features fun geological things to do in Oklahoma. For the first issue, she is writing about crystals and how to find them in the Salt Plains. I came along to take photos and, since I was there, I went ahead and dug for crystals.

If you haven’t done this, it’s a blast! The Great Salt Plains is located in northwest Oklahoma, near the town of Jet. Haven’t heard of Jet? It’s about an hour west of Enid. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but I’m learning that when it comes to geological experiences, the “middle of nowhere” is the place to be.

If you are interested in crystal digging in the Salt Plains, you should pick up the upcoming issue of Geology Notes. Jennifer goes into great details about where to go, what to bring, and how to find crystals.

But for this blog, I’d mostly like to showcase some of the photos I took. The Salt Plains is a wonderful destination for a photographer, and since there are limits to what can run in the Geology Notes, I’m going to share some of the photos I liked, but that didn’t make the cut for the publication. Top 10 in no particular order are as follows:

Photo 1: Using a fast shutter speed (1/1,600 of a second) I caught a cool effect while Jennifer washed the crystals.


Photo 2: Not much to say here. The sky was amazing.
Photo 3: Jennifer is sifting through some crystals in the foreground. The landscape behind her shows holes and mounds of sand left behind by other diggers. You are asked to leave them like that because birds lay their eggs there.
Photo 4: Jennifer is washing off her tools. It’s very important to blah, blah, blah. LOOK AT THAT SKY!!!
Photo 5: Jennifer was kind enough to pose next to the Porta Potty. It really is the only amenity available out there, so I wanted to take a picture of it. I didn’t, however, ask her to act like it was a prize on The Price is Right. That’s on her!
Salt Plains 9
Photo 6: Not a great photo. In fact, it was just taken through the windshield. But it does show how treacherous the road to the crystal-digging area was on that day. Something to keep in mind if you go out there after it’s just rained.
Photo 7: This is the cool sign at the entrance. You can get some great photos up on that overlook. We were, however, on our way out and tired from several hours of digging. Next time I’ll stop here on the way in.
Photo 8: Saw this just outside the entrance. I took a couple snaps hoping the flame would look cool. Luckily I was set on a fast shutter speed, and I love how it turned out. Has nothing to do with the Salt Plains, but I like it.
Salt plains 10
Photo 9: I shot this somewhere between the Salt Plains and Cherokee. Looks like a default desktop photo to me. Beautiful.


Photo 10: As a professional photographer, I’m not a huge fan of selfies. But a blog without a selfie feels like it’s missing something. Plus, I wanted to give you one more look at that sky.


The weather was perfect. The sky was kind of ridiculously beautiful. The only break I didn’t catch on that day was with birds. Usually there are migrating birds all over the place, but unfortunately we didn’t see any.

It was a bummer, but oh well, I’ve got an excuse to go back.


Ted Satterfield Editorial and Media Manager

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