Parlin Sayreville Amber and Pyrite Fields (Rockhound Zone)

Someday this field will be condominiums or apartments. It is one of the largest parcels of undeveloped land in the second-largest county, in the most densely populated state in America. It is completely surrounded by condominiums and apartment complexes, and a small park. Viewed on Google Earth, it looks like a dirty piece of bread surrounded by the winding tunnels of an ant farm.

“Everything in the middle of Nowhere in the middle of Everywhere”

Big Field

On the ground though, and until the day it gets developed, this field is one of the most magical places in New Jersey. Like most open fields, you’ll find a menagerie of birds and bugs hanging out on weeds, reeds, flowers, and small trees. There is plenty of life here. Below the flora and fauna, you’ll find soil that’s a mix of stones, sand, and clay. If you dig below the surface into the gray-beige clay you’ll find glittering chunks of iron pyrite, and black lignite (coal) that still resemble the trees it formed from. Amongst the sticky clay, sparkling metallic stones, and prehistoric chunks of carbon, you’ll find tiny prices of amber. Yellow, orange & copper-colored transparent pieces of tree sap that once dripped from the trees that are now coal. If you find a large enough piece, you might find an insect forever trapped in its golden embrace.

For decades scientists, academics, and rock hounds have known about this location and tunneled through its clay thousands of times. All the best amber specimens are likely taken, or trapped forever under a neighboring condo complex.

But, for now, you can still go there, and find a lot of clay, a little coal, pyrite, and amber if you look hard enough.

A shallow hole was dug in the gray clay-rich soil.

Amber Pit

A deep pit in the clay.

Amber Pit

Tiny chunks of amber are found amongst the clay, pyrite, and lignite. Insects are found in larger pieces.


FeS2 is a mineral formed by bacteria from iron and sulfur. Pyrite and Marcasite forms are present in this location.


Lignite coal resembles the wood it was formed from.


Comments (2)

  1. Hi, i’m writing this because recently i learned this site was finally bought and developed in after years. As disappointed as i was in light of this, i nevertheless wanted to press on and look for new potential amber bearing deposits in and around sayreville. Are you aware of any other close sites i could look into, and if not, could you direct me to any relevant resources and groups i could get in touch with?

    1. Thanks for the comment. Hopefully we can sneak in one more time before they start building apartments and warehouses.

      There isn’t much info on Mindat, although that site can be hard to search. I did find this but it’s from the same location.

      I’ve found lignite wood in the beach at Cliffwood, which also has amber, but it’s been covered with cement for the most part. Cliffwood is worth a visit if you like fossils in general. I try to time my visits there at low tide — I’ve found lignite with marcasite and many fossils. There might be amber if you dig for it.

      I recommend joining the Friends of Mineralogy NJ Chapter which has many experts that might be able to help out.

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