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III 2012 – Morocco, part I

 

   This trip was quite long as for our standards but we had a lot of work to do in Morocco – preparation for Mindat.org Conference, visiting new localities and also wanted to have a few days of holidays. I was with my friend Grzegorz who has nothing to do with minerals and geology but like traveling and photographing.
    We flew to Casablanca and the first thing that we saw at the airport was heavy fog as usually. Fortunately the weather was much better the next day. We drove to visit old and forgotten locality Rar-el-Anz that was famous for producing exceptional big chalcostibite crystals. Small mine operated there many decades ago and today there is not much left of it - remains of workings and small dumps which are now good place for grazing sheep. We found only some secondary copper minerals (malachite, azurite) forming crusts on rocks. Unfortunately this locality looks like pretty much done.
    From Rar-el-Anz we drove to Midelt crossing Zair Zaiane Mountains. We arrived late and next morning started visiting our friends in the area. We also worked on details of Mindat.org Conference.
    Local dealers offered me some "ram’s horn" gypsum from Bou Bekker including some very nice pieces, but awfully fragile! I also bought several specimens of azurite and malachite with green sparkly crusts which I suspected to be olivenite. They came from a small find in the Touissit area. After analyzing they turned out to be chenevixit with adamite! This is most probably the first time chenevixit is reported from Morocco.
    There were only few pieces of good quality available from El Hammam, but two of them were really nice – with quartz and calcite showing daylight fluorescence!
    Another news was a batch of blue barytes with good luster and transparency from the Nador area (probably from Sidi Lahcen Mine). Barytes were collected there in the mid-1970`s, and after that the locality looked like exhausted. Now new specimens appeared. The best of them have crystals around 8-10 cm big with good blue color! They occur on ferruginous oxidized matrix, unfortunately almost all of them have same damages.
    Next day we moved to Mibladen to visit small forgotten locality that used to produce endlichite near AB quarry. Today this place is exhausted and only a few old shafts are still visible and endlichite specimens may be found at dumps. Afterwards we also visited an old mines Les O where cerussites are collected nowadays. Next on our way was Aouli George where we went just for fun and to take a few photos.
    From Midelt area we drove to Erfoud oasis located on Sahara desert. Erfoud is famous for polished products made from limestones reach in fossils. The polishing process is done in horrible conditions and workshops look like a place "after war". We spend the evening at the edge of Erg Chebbi dunes in the hotel which will be our base at the Conference for 2 nights. Some participants will sleep there in Berber tents (see photos).
    We spent the whole day in Taouz where I had to map the mineralized veins in the area. After a long walk through the waste mountains we came back to the famous vein 12 which produces majority of specimens in the area.  We spent some time visiting workings and trying to collect a few specimens. Afterwards we visited local miners, drank tea and bought number of cerussite specimens. Some of them where really big as for this locality!
    We spent the night in our friend`s house in the desert. The next day was very exciting! I knew before, that new mines are just being opened in Oumjrane area. All of them exploit veins containing sulphides reach in Cu. There are 4 new shafts but only one produced specimens.
    The most important one is called Afrou, it is a small shaft, with a depth of about 80 meter. It is still in process of deepening. While getting through the oxidation zone several big pockets were discovered. They produced good specimens of baryte with crystals up to 12 cm with good luster. Also very nice marcasites with well individualized crystals up to 1 cm were found. Beside of that chalcopyrite, quartz and calcite are common. Mine produced already hundreds of specimens but     only a few of them are of good quality. Definitely this area has a big potential.
    Apart from that new barytes with strange bluish crusts were collected in a small outcrop west from Oumjrane. As I always do in such situations, I bought some of them for the analyzes and was quite surprised when I received the results of XRD – these crusts are dioptaze! The area seems to be full of surprises.
    Unfortunately there were bad news coming from Bou Azzer area. Police trapped there two miners and two dealers who had been stealing native silver from Bouismas mine. They had over 70 kg of native silver while they were caught! They probably used to sell it as scrap metal. All of them are in prison with sentences from 1,5 to 5 years! Mines are owned by the king so stealing from them is the same what stealing king`s property… not a good thing.
    This incident changed dramatically situation in the area. A special security company was hired to control if the miners do not take out specimens from the mines, there are car controls on the roads etc. Also all the miners are scarred – which easy to understand. Concluding almost no specimens are coming out from Bou Azzer now. Probably the situation will get back  “normal” in the future, but who knows…
    We picked up the last stock of cobaltocalcites from Agoudal mine (they were of very good quality by the way) and until the end of April nothing new came out from the area.
    From Anti-Atlas we drove through Todra George to the hearth of High Atlas – Imilchil. We spent there a day photographing and than started visiting the localities around. As it was written several times in my articles, all localities in High Atlas are called “Imilchil” but in fact the closest one is about 15 km from the town, and some of them about 100 km from there!
    First we drove to take a few photos of epidote locality near Tizi`n`Bab pass. Then we drove to check a new locality known to produce arfvedsonite, feldspar and zircon. We drove close to  Thirrist village from where we walked to Jebel Ewargizen on slopes of which arfvedsonites are mined. Geology of this locality is typical for the area – pegmatite vein is going though nepheline syenites. Thickness of the vein varies from few tens of centimeters to over a meter. Vein is built mainly by feldspar and arfvedsonite. Pockets are very small and usually crystals are only partly free growing. Also the vein is mined in superficial part so it is very weathered and many crystals fall apart. The biggest known arfvedsonite crystals of good quality reach over 12 cm! Frequently on the termination and sometime at the prism faces there is second generation of arfvedsonite formed as hairy-like crystals. Beside of arfvedsonite, feldspar orthoclase) is frequent in the pockets. Less common are quartz (crystals reaching up to 15 cm), orange zircons (up to a few millimeters) and blade-shaped epidote green crystals. Some pockets contain also octahedral magnetite crystals reaching up to 1 cm. While I was making research I found also metallic prismatic crystals that looked like rutile. When I analyzed them I was really surprised again – ilvaite! It is most probably the first time it is described from Morocco too.
    This small locality has quite big potential but because of small demand for minerals like arfvedsonie I guess that it will die after a few months.
    Next locality in the High Atlas that we visited is also almost completely unknown – Anemzi. Many tourists go through this small village but not many people know that in surrounding mountains one of the most important and distinctive apatite locality in Morocco Is located. Anfgou produces probably the best known specimens of apatite on matrix from Morocco. They are frequently associated with calcite (highly etched scalenohedrons) and hematite formed as blades. Apatite crystals are very lustrous, gemmy and yellowish-greenish in color. Size and color of them are not as amazing as those known from Tizi`n`Ouazane but still very good. They reach up to 3-4cm. Workings in Anemzi are quite big and extensive. They are located in very small intrusion cutting Triassic sedimentary rocks. Contact of them is well visible and quite spectacular.
    From High Atlas we came back to Mibladen area. Another work to do here was mapping and examining outcrops and mineral localities which are not very well known. We walked from Boul el Maden to Coud`a visiting several old workings that used to produce specimens of barite and vanadynite. When we arrived to western part of Coud`a heavy rain caught us as so we hid in the miners` house, drank tea and looked at minerals.
    One of the most important sources of vanadynite in area of Mibladen is old ACF mine. Diggers use to go there through old incline and old shaft. They go down about 60-80 meters  and than crawl in very tiny corridors. But it is worth it – this area is very reach in crystals. Brown vanadynites formed as big, sharp and lustrous crystals which appeared on the market in 2011 came from this place. Specimens with deep red crystals reaching up to 2.5 cm are much rarer here. Some vanadynites from here are placed on black hematite what make them even more attractive.
    After this intense walking-digging days we went for small holidays. On the way to Ouzoud waterfall we stopped in Kerrouchen to check what is the conition of the road which we will use for one of the trips of Mindat.org Conference. From the waterfall we drove to Marrakech, on our way we stopped again to fix Conference details in Sidi Rahal.
    Finally we arrived to Marrakech. We spend there great 1.5 day drinking orange juice, walking though medina and markets. That was the end – we drove to Casablanca and took our flight to Poland.

Tomasz Praszkier

 

 See our Morocco specimens for sale in our store

 

 

Morocco. Google maps.

 

We lended in Casablanca and drove to Rar-el-Anz the next day. Google maps.

 

Fog at the airport in Casablanca. T. Praszkier photo.

  

Rar-el-Anz is an old and forgotten locality for exceptional chalcosibite. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Nice fault in Rar-el-Anz. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Examining locality, visible old workings. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Secondary copper minerals are easy to find on dupms. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Secondary copper minerals are easy to find on dupms. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

From Rar-el-Anz we drove to Midelt. Google maps.

  

On our way we passed Zair Zaiane mountains. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

In Midelt even kids want to sell you stones :-) G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Dinner with Laaroussi family, our great friends. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Dinner with Laaroussi family, our great friends. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Preparing details of Mindat.org Conferece in Taddart Hotel. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Preparing details of Mindat.org Conferece in Taddart Hotel. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Preparing details of Mindat.org Conferece in Taddart Hotel. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Swimming pool is now reconstructed and will be ready for the Conference. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Some of specimens we found in Midelt. Gypsum from Bou Bekker. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Interesting specimen of azurite, malachite and rare chenevixit with adamite from Bou Bekker. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Another specimen from the find - azurite, malachite and rare chenevixit with adamite. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Another specimen from the find - azurite, malachite and rare chenevixit with adamite. G. Bijak photo.

 

Another specimen from the find - malachite and rare chenevixit with adamite. G. Bijak photo.

 

One of new fluorites with quartz and calcite from El Hammam. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Another new find! Old mine Sidi Lahcen, near Nador produced blue barytes after 20 years! G. Sobieszek photo.

 

New barytes from Sidi Lahcen Mine. Google maps. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

New barytes from Sidi Lahcen Mine. Google maps. G. Bijak photo.

 

One of the best new barytes from Sidi Lahcen Mine. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

One of the best new barytes from Sidi Lahcen Mine. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

From Midelt we visited Mibladen and Aouli. Google Maps.

 

Entrance to the Mibladen miners` village. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Mibladen miners` village - today looks a bit like ghosts` town especially in this weather. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Mibladen miners` village - today looks a bit like ghosts` town especially in this weather. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Mibladen miners` village - today looks a bit like ghosts` town especially in this weather. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Yard in one of the miners` houses in Mibladen. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

In miners` house in Mibladen village. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

That day we also visited almost unknown locality of endlichite near AB quarry. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Locality for endlichite at AB quarry. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

One of the old workings for endlichite at AB quarry. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Endlichites are still easy to find at dumps. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Endlichites are still easy to find at dumps. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Old quarries/mines in Mibladen - today source of skeletal cerussite. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Visiting old mining area in Mibladen. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Visiting old mining area in Mibladen. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Visiting old mining area in Mibladen. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Baryte-galena veins which sometimes contain good cerussite specimens. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Next point on our visit was Aouli - abandoned mining town. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

 

Next point on our visit was Aouli - abandoned mining town. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

View to the outcrops of vulcanic rocks rich in agates in Aouli area. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

From Midelt we drove to Erfoud. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Small bar on the way to Erfoud. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

View to the road going through High Atlas. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

View to an oasis. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Big valley with oasis. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Big valley with oasis. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Shop with suvenires in Erfoud. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Erfoud is famous for polishing fosiliferous limestones. Area where the rocks are prepared looks as it was just after the war. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Polishing workshops. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Working on limestone plate. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Workshops. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Carving limestones with orthocerases, as you can imagine it is not very healthy for your lungs to work like this. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Carving limestones with orthocerases. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Carving limestones with orthocerases. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Carving limestones with orthocerases. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Next stop was the favourite tourist place - Erg Chebbi - huge dunes. Google Maps.

 

View to the swimming pool and dunes - we will stay there at the Mindat.or Conference. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Berber tents on dunes - some of Conference participants will stay in these tents. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Berber tents on dunes - some of Conference participants will stay in these tents. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Berber tents on dunes - some of Conference participants will stay in these tents. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Ready for a ride on camel. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Dunes. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Grzes on camel. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Berber`s tent on the desert. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

From Erg Chebbi we drove to Taouz. Google Maps.

 

Examining vanadinites from Taouz and drining tea. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Miners` houses in Taouz. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Mapping veins in Taouz area. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Old abandoned workings in one of veins. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Vein consisting of Fe-Mn oxides. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

 

View from the mountains to the desert. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Me in the mountains. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

View to the desert, note the size of a car - white spot in the left part of the photo. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Examining the famous vein 12 in Taouz - source of specimens. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Hematite in vein 12. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Hematite in vein 12. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Fe-Mn oxidied ? from the vein 12. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Vein 12 is one of the biggest in the area. Workings strech out along it for about 1km. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Workings. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

Note how seriousely wheel is attached to the wooden beam. G. Sobieszek photo.

 

GO TO:   Part II   Part III 




  Comments

Really nice report! You have done it again. As I have said before. The combination between tourism and the subject mineralogy/geologi is very pleasent reading. And the minerals. Morocco is a country full of surprises. Though so many mineral locations, and geological maping in many parts of the country there is still places to investigate. Take the area around Oumjrane for exsample. A new locality, new minerals and who knows the future? I think we will see this in many more areas. So the future seems promising according to new places looking for minerals. (Hopefully!) I did not like what happens in the Bou Azzer area.
habil
2012-04-24 22:15:07

Hopefully when we are going to Morocco this autumn things have gone back to normal. Great pictures! And it is fine Tom that you have been able to get the correct names on the occurence. Not just Imilchil, but actually the right name where the digging have taken place. Great Tom and Spirifer!
habil
2012-04-24 22:21:24

Thanks, I agree that Morocco is a promosing country even that it seems to be so popular among mineral collectors there is still a lot of loclaities and information to be found out!
tomek (admin)
2012-04-25 20:22:28

Thanks Tomasz, very good article, well explained and good photos. One gets a sense of what can be the trip. Too bad there are no vacancies ...
Josele
geozen
2012-04-26 22:29:24


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