New Europe Update 25 March 2022

21 March 2022

OUR Friday update is from across continental Europe once again and covers 11 countries and an interesting mix of minerals including the odd rarity. Today’s selection includes ore and gem minerals, native elements, a magnificent pseudomorph and some true European classics.

The rarest species by a long measure is the thallium sulphosalt Parapierrotite. This occurs with Realgar and minor Orpiment on this fine miniature and is from the epithermal ore deposit at Allchar in the Republic of Macedonia, famous for its suite of thallium minerals and type locality to Parapierrotite. Two major orebodies have been worked since the 1400s, hosting arsenic, antimony and associated gold-thallium mineralisation.

Another interesting location is Tunaberg in Sweden, about 100 km southwest of Stockholm, where copper and cobalt occur as disseminated as sulphides in skarn ores. This deposit has also been worked since the 1400s, with records dating back to around 1420. From here we have an ex. matrix, twinned Cobaltite crystal displaying many well developed faces. The term ‘skarn’ was originally an ancient Swedish mining term for waste rock, what we term gangue minerals. Skarn is now used to define a metamorphic deposit rich in calcium, iron, aluminium and silicon, where an igneous intrusion or hot hydrothermal fluids have interacted with a carbonate-rich sedimentary body.

Hungary ranks highest on our hit list today with four featured specimens. From Rudabánya a particularly well crystallized, arborescent Native Copper; a beautiful Amethyst preferentially coated with Calcite from Gyöngyösoroszi in the Mátra Mountains; a stunning bed of scalenohedral Calcite crystals to 3 cm, also from Gyöngyösoroszi and a gorgeous example of spherical Siderite from Erdobénye. The Siderite forms individual hemispheres to 1.2 cm diameter, this unusual variety being termed Sphärosiderite.

No mineral could rank higher in the European Classic stakes than Phosgenite from the world famous Monteponi mine at Iglesias on the Italian island of Sardinia. We have a complex large Phosgenite crystal, almost 6 cm long with a ferruginous matrix attached, accompanied with a U.S. National Museum (Division of Mineralogy) label. Adding a zingy splash of colour is a slightly acidic lime green Pyromorphite from the San Andrés mine in Andalusia, Spain. This stunning specimen displays relatively squat and stubby crystals to 9 mm in a jumbled intergrown habit over a flat rib of pink tinted Quartz.

Once again Volodarsk-Volynskii in Ukraine features today with a complexly developed Topaz crystal from the granite Chamber Pegmatites. The colour of the Topaz varies according to the light in which it is viewed, ranging from tan-champagne to peachy champagne. Then, from the Nikitovka Hg Deposit in the Central Donbass of Ukraine, a lovely miniature of twinned Cinnabar crystals on an aesthetic druse of acicular Quartz. This opencast mine operated between 1885 and 1994, working three 60 m thick, faulted sandstone bodies as well as coal horizons which also contained mercury.

We have three very different specimens from Germany: deep carmine acicular crystals of the antimony oxysulphide Kermesite from its type locality at Bräunsdorf in Saxony; a lovely thumbnail of Acanthite with Stephanite from Johanngeorgenstadt in Saxony and a show-stopping Galena pseudomorph after Pyromorphite from Kautenbach mine in Rhineland-Palatinate. The pseudomorphed crystals range from about 1 to 2.2 cm across and form sharply defined hexagonal steel grey prismatic crystals. The base of the specimen reveals pale banana-yellow, semi-opaque Pyromorphite as a polycrystalline glassy core.

From Slovakia, do take a look at the bubbly Pseudomalachite from Ľubietová; a deep maroon Kermesite from Pezinok and stunning Azurite with Malachite from Špania Dolina, certainly today’s largest specimen with a display face measuring 24 x 12 cm!

Our Native Gold is from the 450 Level in Boldut mine at Cavnic in Romania, displaying bright metallic, golden-yellow crystalline Native Gold as individual crystals and sheet-like developments. Also from Romania, a fabulous Calcite with included Boulangerite; an perfect example of a ‘floater’, a specimen with no visible point of attachment while in-situ.

One of today’s specimens from Kosovo is a Sphalerite with Arsenopyrite from the Trepča Complex. It is all too easy to become a little blasé about relatively common species like Sphalerite and Arsenopyrite, but this specimen acts as a timely reminder of what fabulous minerals these really are.

Our tour ends in Switzerland with a fine Smoky Quartz from the Grimsel area of the Hasli Valley. Three superb Smoky Quartz crystals project upwards and outwards, with each prism having its own unique habit, displaying varying degrees of asymmetry.

So there you have it, Europe on a plate. Between Tuesday and today that’s 42 specimens from across mainland Europe containing lots of interesting pieces and, we hope, plenty of temptation. Next week we head across the English Channel but not to England! Tuesday takes us up to Scotland followed by a Friday visit to Wales. All too often these two countries play second fiddle in a British update, so next week we are delighted to place both centre stage. PT

Here is what you have to look forward to in next week's update:

Tuesday 29th March - Scotland

Friday 1st April - Wales


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Author: JH
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