New Europe Update 28 September 2021

28 September 2021

AFTER last week’s exploration of Britain, today we cross the English Channel to continental Europe.

The geology of Europe is complex and subsequently hosts mineral deposits associated with the majority of depositional systems. The African plate continues to drive north into Europe, having already uplifted the Alps, the Pyrenees, and more to the east, the Carpathian Mountains. This plate movement is also the cause of the volcanic activity we see around Italy, Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands for example. Cratons are ancient remnants of pre-Cambrian continents and are found embedded within modern continents around which they have nucleated. The Baltic craton provides an area of great tectonic stability within Europe and other more fragmented cratons include those of the Anatolian, Avalonian, Gondwana, Laurentian (North American) and Neo-Tethys Ocean. We are all familiar with hot spots, Hawaii being the most famous, but one does still exist beneath Germany. The Eifel hotspot last caused a volcanic eruption about 10,000 years ago and although now largely passive, does remain weakly active.

We have a selection of minerals from 11 European countries with a wide variety of species, so let’s dive in. We’ll begin in France with a Stolzite from the Sainte-Lucie mine in Occitanie and a Cuprite on Azurite from Chessy-les-Mines. The Sainte-Lucie mine was a small silver-lead mine which closed in 1936, but specimen mining in the 1990s lead to the discovery of these fabulous Stolzite specimens, this particular crystal measuring to almost 5 cm! The Chessy specimen is a small miniature of Malachite coating two inter-grown Cuprite crystals on fanned groupings of deep powder blue Azurite crystals.

There are two beautiful Swiss specimens, one a pink Fluorite and one a smoky Quartz. The Fluorite forms an impressive 2.8 cm octahedral crystal of translucent rose-pink on a bed of milky Feldspar, accompanied by prismatic crystals of smoky Quartz. The smoky Quartz crystal measures 8.7 cm long and throughout much of the prism is perfectly transparent and of a completely uniform mid-clove brown. Both of these specimens are from Grimsel in the Hasli Valley, close to Bern.

And keeping in pairs, we also have two specimens from Poland, a Celestine on Native Sulphur from the famous Machów mine and a barium-rich Celestine from Tarnobrzeg. The latter forms a V-like configuration of two prismatic crystals measuring to 11 cm and under LWUV the entire specimen fluoresces bright white with creamy patches while in SWUV becomes a pale, ghostly greyish white. The Celestine forms lustrous prismatic crystal bursts of gemmy-translucent light sherry brown on a matrix of bright canary yellow Native Sulphur. The Celestine crystals measure up to about 4 cm long, are well developed and terminated and together with the Sulphur makes a splendid cabinet specimen.

Representing Italy is a large complex crystal, almost 6 cm long, of glassy Phosgenite from the Monteponi mine on the island of Sardinia. This comes with old handwritten and U.S. National Museum (Division of Mineralogy) labels. We rarely see good specimens of Italian Native Gold, yet today we have a superb example on white vein Quartz from the alpine gold mining area of Brusson in the Aosta Valley. A contorted crystallized three-dimensional mound of Native Gold measuring to 2.5 cm sits aesthetically on top of the specimen, forming crinkled plates with hacky edges of a rich buttery yellow gold. This is a handsome specimen and perfect for display.

Although relatively common, we must give mention to a fabulous Bulgarian pink Calcite from the Madan Ore Field in the Rhodope Mountains. Yes, we have all seen lots of these, but this good-sized cabinet specimen is a thing of beauty due to its perfect crystal habit and slightly deeper shade of pink than of specimens frequently seen.

From Slovakia we have a Tetradymite from (or extremely close to) its type locality by the village of Župkov; a fine crystallised specimen of the rare copper arsenate Euchroite from Ľubietová (formerly Libethen) and an excellent old-time Devilline from Špania Dolina.

We seldom have a specimen from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but today we have a real cracker! Hyalophane is a potassium-barium tectosilicate, and this gorgeous, twinned crystal is colourless to translucent white with outstanding gemmy zones. Measuring overall to 8 cm, this well-developed crystal has smooth faces and terminations with a fabulous glassy lustre.

Final mention must go to a delightful Wulfenite from the Stefanie mine at Bad Bleiberg in southern Austria, a mine which closed in the late 1980s. During its years of operation it produced lead and zinc plus a range of mineral species of which Wulfenite was one of its most spectacular. This superb specimen has Wulfenite blades averaging 1 to 1.5 cm across with a preferential coating of powder-like Wulfenite producing a matt apricot texture and lustre. The opposite uncoated side has mirror-like intense peachy-apricot orange faces and a bright glassy lustre.

There are many other specimens not covered here which are well worthy of a further look, so dig in and explore the web links at your leisure. The European countries each have their particular mineralogical traits and many surprises also, making it a collector’s delight. Enjoy your tour with the possibility of adding one or two to your European suite. PT

                                         

If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at orders@crystalclassics.co.uk and we'll be happy to assist you. We endeavour to respond to all enquires within 24 hours during weekdays, however at the weekend it might take us a little longer to respond.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Crystal Classics, and our sister company UK Mining Ventures, will be in attendance at the following shows for the remainder of 2021:

OCTOBER 9-10
The Bakewell Rock Exchange 2021
Lady Manners School, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1JA, UK

OCTOBER 22-24
The Munich Show 2021
Exhibition Center Messe München, WEST Entrance, Munich, Germany

NOVEMBER 20
The Sussex Mineral & Fossil Show 2021
Haywards Heath College, Harlands Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1LT, UK

NOVEMBER 27
Crystal Classics Winter Open Day 2021
No.1, The Old Coach Yard, East Coker, Somerset BA22 9HY, UK

 

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MINERAL WISH LIST

We also offer an additional service that enables you, as our customer, to contact us via orders@crystalclassics.co.uk with your mineral wish list to enhance your current collection, but are unable to find the right specimens on our website. We have 1000's of specimens in our general stock that do not appear online.

Author: JH
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