New Romania Update 22 February 2022

22 February 2022

HAVING roamed continental Europe last week, today we focus on Romania, a country with a diverse range of economic minerals and containing the largest gold deposit in Europe, Roșia Montană. Romania is situated in south eastern Europe and its south eastern corner abuts the Black Sea. Records of metal mining pre-date Roman times and the industry still ranks high on the world stage today, having the tenth highest diversity of mined mineral products.

Referring to Mindat, we find Romania has 841 different known mineral species and is type locality to 35, three of which we have in this selection. The geology and scenery of Romania is dominated by the Carpathian Mountains, for which they account 40 percent. Many of the country’s metal deposits are hosted in Precambrian rocks and include the ores of copper, gold, lead and zinc.

This update features some highly aesthetic specimens and, admittedly, some a little beastly! Yet beastly in terms of aesthetics is often synonymous with rare and exotic chemistry, typical of many sulphosalts and tellurides. We also include quite a few fascinating habits and unusual varieties, so read on and we’ll take a closer look.

Let’s begin with the three type localities, those of Rhodochrosite, Krennerite and Nagyagite. The first known description of Rhodochrosite, a mineral with which we are all so familiar, could be imagined to date back into the mists of time, but indeed not! Its type locality is at the Cavnic mine in Maramureș county and this showy cabinet specimen is associated with Quartz and Wavellite. A delicate coral pink massive Rhodochrosite matrix is encrusted with sugary, coral pink micro-crystals of lustrous Rhodochrosite, three-quarters overgrown by sucrosic micro-Quartz crystals and larger Quartz crystals of up to 1 cm tall. Perched towards one end are two spherical clusters of buttermilk, creamy white Wavellite, an aluminium basic phosphate.

Both the Krennerite and Nagyagite are from Săcărâmb, whose former name was Nagyág. The Săcărâmb district is Romania’s only known deposit of tellurium and selenium mineralisation, located in Hunedoara county. Krennerite is a rare gold-silver telluride and this cabinet specimen contains a 5.5 cm wide band of metallic, brassy gold to sooty grey Krennerite micro-crystals and granules embedded in a light grey-cream Quartzite matrix. Nagyagite is a rare lead-gold-tellurium sulphosalt and rarely does this species form crystals as magnificent as in this museum quality specimen. Metallic steely silver plates of up to at least 1.2 cm long and approaching 1 cm wide form a dense and rich 4.5 x 2 cm cluster within a Calcite vein of boudinage structure, i.e. widening towards the centre of the mineralised cavity. The crystallised Nagyagite plates are surrounded by tiny terminated Calcite crystals. This fine specimen is accompanied with a Museum of Natural History, Vienna, 8.5 x 8.5 cm card label.

I am always pleased to include a meteorite in any of these updates and this Chondrite, weighing-in at 42.1 g, is from the historic region of Transylvania. Several similar meteorites have been discovered throughout Transylvania, so it is not possible to specifically identify this specimen in terms of its exact locality or classification. Two of the most famous Transylvanian finds were the Mocs meteorite, an L5-6 chondrite (fell 1882) and the Tauti meteorite, an L6 chondrite (fell 1937). One side of the Chondrite has been sawn to display its dense granular texture and the remaining outer surfaces have a dark chocolate to black fusion crust, a result of partial melting during decent through the Earth’s atmosphere. Chondrites date to around 4.55 billion years and represent the primitive silicate mineralogy of the early solar-system.

Today’s selection also includes two native elements, Gold and Tellurium. Sparkling metallic, tin-white-grey Native Tellurium granules and micro-crystals mostly cover one face of a light grey-brown limestone matrix from Baia de Aries in Alba County. Native Tellurium is one of the less common elements to have in specimen form and this rich example will make an excellent addition to any collection, especially one of native elements. The leaf-sheet Native Gold is a gorgeous large thumbnail (or small miniature) from Roşia Montană. Light metallic burnished yellow Native Gold in the habit of crystallised sheets, hackly platelets and small single crystals pervades a matrix of translucent milky Calcite. The largest crystallised sheet, measuring to 2.6 x 2.3 cm, has a metallic silky lustre whose entire surface is covered in micro-triangular crystal faces. All the smaller sheets are covered in similar crystals, some better defined than those on the largest sheet.

Other beauties include a lovely crystallised Pyrite from Botés in Alba County. This displays raised growth patterns aligned in parallel to the striation’s foliation, forming fascinating stepped Babel-like elongated mounds with contoured tiers. You could not make this stuff up! Also take a closer look at the Sceptred Quartz from Baia Sprie; super Andradite Garnets from Ocna de Fier; a Magnetite from the Banat Mountains and an amazing Gypsum from Cavnic mine. This famous group of mines lie in the Carpathian Mountains and host one of the largest polymetallic reserves in Romania. The Gypsum forms perfect crystals to 3 cm long, opaque, pure snow white and with a completely matt lustre. The crystals form two branching clusters measuring 6 and 5 cm wide respectively on top of a broad plate-like rib of Quartz. They look like flowers blossoming on the matrix’s surface and are stunning.

We’ll sign off with a Calcite and a terrific epimorph. The latter is a Siderite pseudomorph/epimorph after Calcite with Quartz from Turt at Negrești-Oaș in the Oaș Mountains. Crystalline Siderite forms excellent, well-defined rhombic epimorphs, some with egg shell-thin walls infilled with drusy undulating granular Siderite together with the odd Quartz crystal. It is an unusual cabinet specimen and fine example of complex epimorph and pseudomorph replacement chemistry. Our final mention goes to a large, museum grade Calcite, made completely graphite black by micro-inclusions of the lead antimony sulphide, Boulangerite. It is almost 17 cm square and is magnificent!

Romanian minerals are a firm favourite amongst many collectors and for those of you not quite so familiar, we hope this acts as an introduction and somewhat of a tasty appetiser. I began rather cruelly by referring to some as beasts, but when they contain elements such as gold, silver and tellurium and in nicely crystallised forms, they are beasts very welcome to reside in my collection any day! Enjoy looking through this snapshot of our Romanian collection and maybe there will be one or two to tempt you. PT


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Author: JH
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