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III 2013 – Morocco in 10 days

 

 

   That was our first trip after the Tucson show and the first one to Morocco after Mindat Conference (see more about it here). Only 10 days, but very intense, a lot of minerals, meetings and field researches. This time I was alone, just with Moroccan friends.
   I landed in Ouarzazate after a whole day trip (it took almost as long as trip to Madagascar) Next day in the morning I went directly to Bou Azzer area where I spent 2 days.
    During this time I found out that still the same mines are operating, there were not many news on that field. After a big find of cobaltoan calcites from Agoudal mine few  new specimens had been produced. Surprisingly, some local diggers got back to the old workings in Ait Ahmane and dug quite good gersdorffite specimens. The problem with them is that gersdorffite crystals are always frozen in calcite and have many internal cracks. During process of calcite removal, octahedral crystals almost always lose corners… I got quite a lot of material so I  hope that at least a few of them will come in a good shape after preparation. Beside of that there was a new find of proustite crystals from Bouismas mine – crystals up to 12 mm on white calcite, very sharp as for the mine. Unfortunately, only a dozen of specimens were produced. Beside of that interesting lot of yellow-orange baryte crystals came from the same mine. Crystals are up to 2 cm and sometimes have very intense color. What’s interesting, local dealers had no idea what it was. Recently also a few cobaltoan calcites and roselites were produced, but nothing of really top quality.
   From Bou Azzer I drove through the whole Anti Atlas, High Atlas to Midelt where I met 3 groups of Polish friends. During a few days in the area we visited Mibladen workings but nothing really important was recently produced. I spent time closing last post-conference issues and meeting friends and dealers. I was lucky to acquire a few very nice blue barytes from Nador. I was told that miners were still trying to dig there but without great success. The pocket was gone and there are no signs of any new one.  The specimens I acquired were from the first lot collected in June 2012. Surprisingly, Bou Bekker mine produced some decent specimens again, this time wulfenites. They are formed as yellow, very thin blades even up to 4 cm! Some specimens are up to 15 cm big. The other thing that I saw in Midelt, worth noticing, is a small find of azurite with a few mm big yellow wulfenites and white cerussites from Bou Skour. Not great specimens, but it is interesting that this locality has a potential to produce them. Also Oumjerane produced some big specimens of chalcopyrite with white barite again. One specimen was really big – over 0.5m, very lustrous and decorative. Definitively the most important find of the last months are great apatites on feldspars from Anomzy in High Atlas (see our report from the visit in that locality here). About 100 specimens with gem or gemmy, very lustrous apatite crystals were produced recently. The best specimens contained up to 3 about 3 cm long, and 1,5 cm wide crystals on feldspar. Their color varies from yellowish-green to green. Apart from that several hundreds of single crystals were found. This is one of the most important finds of apatites from Morocco.
   From Midelt, I went to the heart of High Atlas – Imilchil – where I stayed for a few days to make field research in some new localities. My first impression when we got to Imilchil was that the town seemed “dead”. Usually there are crowds on the streets there, this time everything was closed and there was almost no people. Even door to the hotel owned by my friend was closed. That was strange. I called him and he asked me to drive to the back door, to unload luggage and park car somewhere further. As soon as we did it, we asked what was going on. It turned out that the whole town was striking! All bars, stores, hotels were closed, even the weekly market (souk), which is the most important event for the whole area, was cancelled. This is why the hotel owner had to hide us, to avoid being judged as a strikebreaker. But why was this town striking? Imilchil is a capital of High Atlas, located very high, difficult to reach, usually several months a year it is almost completely isolated because of snow, really hard place to leave. Moreover, it is kind of place forgotten by the government – roads are worse and worse every year, school is too small, there are problems with sewerage system etc. This is why desperate habitants decided to start striking. When we came there, it was already after one month of the strike and finally governor decided to talk with local people, it looked like they would win what they needed. Anyway, we could stay in our friend`s hotel for the next few nights.
   We made a whole day trip to area that was new for me, rich in pegmatites occurring in intrusive rocks placed in Mesozoic sedimentary rocks in Ait Hani area. Area with mineralization is located within a group of small hills called Agoulisi Nomadghouss, placed in the center of a huge valley which is visible from the highest pass in the area – Tirherhouzine. Outcrops there are ones of these incredible localities, placed in amazing landscapes, surrounded by high mountains with sparkling river underneath. It was really a pleasure to walk many kilometers through the hills to reach small quarries.
   First locality called Tisktenigidar (Falcon`s Landing) is located on the top of one of the hills and it is a small chaotic quarry. Mineralization there is formed as epidote zones in magmatic rock, size of them is up to 50 cm, and frequently there are small pockets in them. Pockets are filled with deep green fans of epidote, sparkling quartz crystals and quite frequent brown sharp and translucent titanite crystals. Usually they are up to 1 cm, but there are crystals up to 3-4 cm known, razor sharp! There are several localities in High Atlas, producing brown titanites, but Tisktenigidar definitively produces the best brown titanites in whole Morocco. When we finished our research there, we went again a few km through the hills built by mixture of magmatic and sedimentary rocks. What’s interesting, in some places, very close to intrusive rocks, there are clays and marls rich in halite, which is mined there too.
   Finally we reached second outcrop, called Bou Tamatrine, placed on almost vertical slope, very dangerous to walk through. We had to walk down from the top and my guide fell down on his butt several times. Finally, we slided down to the mineralized area. View from there was breathtaking, sparkling river on the bottom of a deep valley, high mountains with snow on the top and pegmatite veins everywhere around. This area is very rich in mineralization which extends along 600 meters area. Thin veins, up to 0,5m, are parallel to each other and very frequent. Different veins have different mineralization and different habits of species. The most frequent are epidotes, formed as small fans or more frequent acicular crystals. Second also very frequently occurring species is black tourmaline or amphibole (we will know exactly as soon as we have results of analyzes). Some of them are quite long, up to 5 cm, and in some places form very reach black clusters. Quite frequently they are associated with colorless or gray-green apatite prismatic crystals. They usually have decent luster and are frequently  included by tourmaline/amphibole. Beside of that, this locality also produces brown titanites, but usually very small, rarely reaching 1 cm. In some places there is quite a lot of quartz which can form crystals up to 10 cm, usually associated with green epidote and heavily included by it. Probably the most important species here is prehnite. In some places it occurs as blocky white crystals, but more important are spheroidal green to greenish-gray lustrous clusters covering big surfaces of the cracks. This kind of specimens was produced recently (a few month ago) for the first time. There were around 50 specimens all together, the biggest one up to 50 cm! Size of prehnite clusters is usually up to 3-5 cm but there are known spheroids up to 10 cm, but of low quality.
   After a long walk down on the very steep slope, we reached village Ait Hani, where we ate traditional food with miners and drunk obligatory mint tea. It was a very spectacular day.
   Next day my legs really hurt, but early morning we started another mountain trip for pegmatites. This time we drove to Tingarf known also as Tasaft by bumpy dirty road crossing spectacular gorges and mountains. When we reached the village, local miners showed me the highest peak Taouarta (about 2500 m high) in the area. They said that the quarries were there and it was 40 min walk. I knew how local Berbers were walking so I was sure that it would take at least 1,5 hour for me. We decided to drive higher and make longer but more horizontal walk. We reached the quarries after about 2 hours. Landscapes were incredible that day, view from the top to the huge valley with villages and fields - unforgettable.
   On the top of the hill, on both sides of it, there are 2 quarries. On the western side there is a group of quarries on the 200 meters long pegmatite vein. This locality is known for producing the best intense green titanite crystals on orthoclase or white ?albite with pearly luster. Titanites are usually not very big, up to 1 cm, but have great color and luster. Parallel growths of titanite crystals forming tree like groups up to a few centimeters are also quite frequent. Second quarry, located on the eastern slope is much deeper and has much more rich paragenesis of the species. Frequent pockets are covered by prismatic, cream color orthoclase crystals with quite good luster. They are frequently skeletal or partly detached. They are often associated with small octahedral magnetite crystals, a few mm red zircons, 2-3 cm long acicular deep green epidote crystals, amphibole weathered to red color, tiny acicular colorless apatites. But all of these is not a goal of mining. This quarry is very famous for sharp translucent distinctive brown-green titanite crystals which can reach even 5 cm! Real monsters! They are so distinctive that it is very easy to recognize specimens from this locality. It was quite easy to collect crystals up to 2 cm on the dumps.
   After crossing several snow fields we reached the village where we had dinner together with miners, and of course a lot of tea again.
   Next day, after repacking all the samples, that will be soon analyzed, we started long drive to Marrakech. We choose a new road I never took before, going directly to Beni Mellal, and it was a really good choice! Incredible canyons and mountains made vast part of the road very interesting. Last 200 km is a long, boring drive along very busy road to Marrakech.
   Finally we reached this beautiful city were I had some time to be a tourist and visit some well known places… again ;-)
   Next morning I flew to Warsaw. As I said at the begging – very intense 10 days!
   

Tomasz Praszkier

 

 See Moroccan specimens in our store

 

Morocco. Google Maps.

 

I landed in Ouarzazate and drove from there to Bou Azzer. Google Maps.

 

Miners with their specimens. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Miners with their specimens. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Cobaltoancalcites and erythrites. T. Praszkier photo.

 

One of new gersdorfites from Ait Ahmane. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New yellow/orange barytes from Bouismas mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New proustites on calcite from Bouismas mine, crystals up to 12 mm. A. Hassan photo.

 

New proustites on calcite from Bouismas mine, crystals up to 12 mm. A. Hassan photo.

 

After examining the new specimens - of course tajin! T. Praszkier photo.

 

I visited a few localities, here Agoudal quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Erythrite freshly collected in Agoudal quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Core cutter at Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Agoudal mine headframe. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Agoudal mine headframe. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Miners` lamps are charging. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Lift machinery in Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Cobaltoanclacites are still produced in Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Cobaltoancalcite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Cobaltoancalcite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Cute cobaltoan calcite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

From Bou Azzer i had a long, long drive to Midelt. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Landscapes in Tinghir area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Landscapes in Tinghir area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Landscapes in Tinghir area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In the Todra gorge. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In the Todra gorge. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In the Todra gorge. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Finally I arrived to Midelt - promised land :-). T. Praszkier photo.

 

Huge chalcopyrite with baryte from Oumjerane from a new find. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Hand size wulfenite specimens freshly produced in Bou Bekker mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

So far the most important find of 2013 in Morocco - apatites with orthoclase from Anomzy, High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatites with feldspars from a new find in Anomzy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

 

Apatites with feldspars from a new find in Anomzy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatites with feldspars from new a find in Anomzy. T. Praszkier photo.


Apatite with feldspars from a new find in Anomzy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Doubly terminated apatite with feldspars from a new find in Anomzy. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatite single crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

I had also some time to visit Mibladen workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View to rainbow from Adeghoual near Mibladen. T. Praszkier photo.

 

From Midelt I drove to the heart of High Atlas - Imilchil. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In High Atlas I visited two productive areas, the first one was Ait Hani area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way to Ait Hani. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way to Ait Hani. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On the way to Ait Hani. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Localities in Ait Hani area, intrusion (marked in grey color) is located in huge valley below the Tirherouzine pass. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Old photo taken from Tirherouzine pass - grey rocks on the bottom of valley were my goal this day. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Location of the Tisktenigidar quarry in the valley. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Tisktenigidar quarry on the top of a small hill in the foreground. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In the quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In the Tisktenigidar quarry epidote and brown titanite are mined. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Epidote. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Epidote bodies in the intrusive rocks (nephelines). T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small pocket with brown titanites. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Titanites with epidotes and feldspars. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible view from the quarry (note the dump on the bottom of the photo). T. Praszkier photo.

 

After Tisktenigidar we walked to the second locality - Bou Tamatrine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible landscapes during walk. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible landscapes during walk, Ait Hanni village visible on the bottom of the valley. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Contact of the sedimentary and intrusive rocks in the valley. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View to the very steep and deep valley, we had to walk down to reach the pegmatites. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View to the valley with pegmatite veins visible at the right side T. Praszkier photo.

 

Finally reaching pegmatite veins. T. Praszkier photo.

  

Pegmatite veins. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Examining the outcrops. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Epidote rich zone. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mineralized zones. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small cracks covered by ?amphibole acicular crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

?Amphiboles in situ. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatite with titanite and ?amphiboles. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Classic paragenesis for the locality - apatite, amphibole and prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Amphiboles with apatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Amphiboles with apatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Amphiboles with apatites and prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Amphiboles with apatites and prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatite crystals included by ?amphiboles. T. Praszkier photo.

 

 

Titanite and prehnite crystals in situ. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Titanites with epidote and ?amphiboles. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Quartz with epidote. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Quartz. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Prehnite from the new find, probably the most important in the locality`s history. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Prehnite specimen. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Green prehnite. T. Praszkier photo.

    

Walking down to the bottom of the valley. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Walking down to the bottom of the valley. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Next day I visited localities in Tasraft area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Intrusion near Tassent on the way to Tasraft. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Epidote workings in the same intrusion at the top of mountain. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible faults with waterfall on the way to Tasraft. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Contact of the intrusive rocks (greenish) with limestones (gray) on the way to Tasraft. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Contact of the intrusive rocks (greenish) with limestones (gray) on the way to Tasraft. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mineralization in intrusive rocks well visible in the roadcut. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mineralization in intrusive rocks well visible in the roadcut. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mineralization in intrusive rocks well visible in the roadcut. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Stratified pegmatite vein. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Finally we reached Tasraft, from there we had to walk to the highest peak - Taouarta. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Taouarta peak (in the center) seems to be small from the distance but it is about 2500 m high! T. Praszkier photo.

 

View on the way to the peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View on the way to the peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View on the way to the peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Location of the two quarries on Taouarta peak, first we visited one on the right. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Extend workings along the pegmatite vein on Taouarta peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Extend workings along the pegmatite vein on Taouarta peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Visiting workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Visiting workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Pockets in pegmatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Pegmatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small pockets in the pegmatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small pockets in the pegmatite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

?Actinolite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

?Albite with which green titanites are usually associated in that quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Time to go to the second quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

And again picturesque walk. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Breathtaking landscapes. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Second quarry on the Taouarta peak. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mining area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

And again pegmatite pockets. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Orthoclase crystals are very common there, isn`t that a nice place to collect? T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small magnetite crystal on skeletal orthoclase. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Ochre-weathering amphibole crystals with orthoclase. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Skeletal orthoclase crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Red zircon crystals up to 3 mm on orthoclase. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Freshly collected titanite crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Time to go back! T. Praszkier photo.

 

The last drive at this trip was from Imilchil through High Atlas to Marrakech. T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

House on the top of the mountain, imagine daily walk to the bottom of valley to get the water... T. Praszkier photo.

 

High Atlas, beautiful views. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible gorges and clifs close to Beni Mellal. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible gorges and clifs close to Beni Mellal, soon after I flew back from the Marrakech airport. T. Praszkier photo.




  Comments

Impressive trip and beautiful specimens. Thx for sharing.
Cesar
cmenor
2013-03-22 12:14:05

Very nice report! Again! Impressive pictures from the High Atlas Mountains! Will be very exciting to follow the future specimens collecting in that area. The potential seems very good. Thanks for sharing!

Habil
habil
2013-03-22 14:52:18

thanks! I am happy you liked it.
tomek (admin)
2013-03-23 00:11:54

I love so much yours reports. Each time you make me dream.
keep going !!!
franck69
2013-03-28 09:59:37

thanks! We wish you your dreams coming true :)
tomek (admin)
2013-03-28 20:10:36

I really enjoy your reports. You all live a wonderful life. Thank you for sharing.
jroughgarden
2013-04-01 03:12:55


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