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V 2013 – Morocco again ;-), part I

 

        So another trip to Morocco, probably it starts to be boring even to our readers, so we promise to post several reports from other parts of the world soon ;-)
     This time I travelled with my friend and preparation guy Jurek and another friend, collector, Mariusz. We started in Warsaw and flew thorough Germany to Casablanca. We landed there in the middle of the night so directly from the airport we went to sleep.
     Next morning 4x4 car was already waiting for us, we started our trip going through Marrakech to Sidi Rahal. As always, our friend Ahmed was waiting for us. First we visited quarries, Mariusz was on a geological trip in Morocco for the first time, Jurek who had been there once before also hadn`t seen a lot. There are more and more quarries there every time I visit, some of them are really long underground galleries now. We saw a few geodes in situ and after a nice walk we went to Ahmed’s house. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any good specimens, but Jurek, who is a dealer on Polish mineral shows, selected bunch of specimens for himself. From Sidi Rahal we drove to Marrakech where after checking in in the hotel we went to visit Jemaa el Fna and souk.
     We started the next day early, driving through High Atlas, Tichka pass and then turned to the picturesque spectacular old road going through Telouet to Ouarzazate. Landscapes along that road are incredible - red, orange and green colors of rocks, electric green color of trees and white houses - you want to take pictures at every place at the road. Finally we arrived to Ouarzazte, which we left soon after eating lunch. Road from there to Agdz is also spectacular, but there is no more green color of plants – it’s already the desert. What surprised me in Agdz was that all hotels were full. This usually empty place, at the end of the touristic season was completely booked! After a few hours of looking for some hotel, and visiting some really ridiculous and funny places we ended up in a very nice "oasis style" place. Next morning we started driving early to famous Bou Azzer…
     In Bou Azzer we visited a few dumps and quarries including Oumlil Est, Agoudal, Aghbar, Bouismas. After visiting localities we spent time with our local friends looking for specimens. There have not been many new things coming out recently. We bought some very good Co-calcites, roselite from Aghbar with exceptionally good, over 1 cm big crystals. There was very limited find of white scalenohedral clacites with marcasite balls on the top of them, but only 2 specimens were of quality good enough to acquire. Orange barytes are still coming from Bouismas mine, but very few of them are good quality. The biggest crystal was about 2 cm and of really electric color. The most exciting were very few specimens of an extremely lustrous and very well saturated roselites-beta from Agoudal mine. Some of them were really world class. There were also a few exceptional proustite specimens, some of them containing crystals up to 3 cm! Unfortunately majority of them were broken, just one specimen with perfect group of crystals up to 1 cm remained intact. Proustites are black but when backlighted they show deep red color. Who knows, maybe more of them will be mined soon?
     From Bou Azzer we drove to Meteorit Hotel located near Alnif on the desert, where we spent the night. Next day we started by visiting Alnif – fossils` capital. Mariusz and Jurek bought some souvenirs and then we headed to Taouz area – our main goal that day. We drove first to the Vein 12 where our friends, local miners, were waiting for us with the best stuff they collected in last weeks. Workings didn’t change a lot, just a few new holes. But some of the specimens presented to us were surprising. First of all, there was a find of small vanadinite crystals with exceptional luster and orange-red color which were well individualized and perched on black matrix – very aesthetic! Traditionally there was bunch of Fe and Mn oxides pseudo-stalactites which make your hands black and very difficult to clean. But the most surprising were very nice, intensively green pyromorphite specimens – the best I’ve ever seen from there. Some of them were coated by transparent sparkly quartz. What’s more, on some of specimens there were groups of the vivid orange, lustrous small wulfenite crystals! Some of the groups about 1 cm big, really good for Taouz. After visiting pits and buying specimens we moved to Mfis area.
     Mfis was a mining town which now is mostly destroyed, houses are collapsed etc. Just a few people still live there. Mfis area was famous for a huge, a few km long, baryte veins which were heavily mined in the French times. Nowadays there are again heavy workings there, especially in the main vein, but also in some of the smaller ones. Main vein is forming a ridge and workings are placed on the top of the hills with the beautiful view. Workings are really exceptional and very dangerous. There is a system of underground stopes, connected one to another, some of them dozens of meters high! Baryte is co-occurring with Fe and Mn oxides so when mined everything is completely black and dusty. Really dirty work. Baskets full of baryte are lifted to the surface, where they are dumped. Occasionally, pockets with baryte crystals are found. Usually they are not very good quality and almost always damaged. Rarely nice, transparent, glossy crystals forming clusters can be found there. Also some single huge crystals are known from there, they can reach even 20 cm and 5 cm in diameter. During our visit we were lucky to acquire small pocket with a few cm big barites covered with malachite sprays, quite spectacular for the locality. We also bought one big single crystal, maybe 10 cm long, with interesting green malachite phantom in it. After realizing how lucky we are that we did not have to work in such conditions we moved to the Yasmina Hotel, paradise place on the dunes.
     Jurek and Mariusz took camels and climbed on the highest dune to watch sunset. When they came back we had a cold beer; that was a hot and long day.
     Next day we drove through desert to Erfoud where Jurek and Mariusz wanted to see workshops where fossils were polished and prepared. They also bought some souvenirs and later we went to Hameda quarry. It’s been closed since last year but still quite a lot of specimens can be found there. Well developed crystals are visible in many pockets, unfortunately many places are very dangerous. After short collecting we went to Asfla – fossils paradise.
     We described Asfla in one of our previous reports – this is a famous Lagerstatte with cretaceous fossils, especially known for fish and vertebrates. We bought a few fish and we were also offered complete reptile skeleton, but we are not really fossils guys so we passed on it, however I have to admit it was really spectacular!
     Finally we arrived to Todra gorge where we spent the night. Another tourist spot for my friends ;-)
     Next two days we spent in Imilchil area which recently has been producing very interesting specimens. We have our team working there and recently they were really lucky. First we drove through the Ait Hani area. We purchased new production from the pegmatites in the area (described in previous report – see here). Quite aesthetic groups of the green-brown and white prehnite with green epidote were collected in Bou Tamatrine pegmatite. Also very nice specimens were produced from Tisktenigidar – brown titanites with green epidote and transparent quartz.
     From there we drove to Imilchil area to show to my Polish friends some nice landscapes and geological curiosities – spectacular faults and folds. We sent the night in Ches Bassou Auberge inside which was as cold as always no matter what part of the year it is ;-)
     Next day we visited new locality producing very good quality magnetites – crystals up to 4 cm, black and lustrous and also green apatites with flat termination. This place is located a few km from the famous Tizi’n’Ouazane, it is called Bou Trgine and it is located close to Tighadouine village. This locality about 3 years ago produced very nice augite crystals. Now there are 2 groups working with quite professional equipment and some nice things started to come out. After visiting workings we had a very nice walk in this marvelous mountainous area. Driving further to the North we stopped to visit new location with very unusual mineral for Morocco – datolite. Specimens known from there are surely the best found in Morocco. Place has to remain a secret for now… sorry for that.
     Another place which has to be a secret is a big area which we discovered by chance with hundreds of well preserved dinosaurs track-ways. They are in all sizes and kinds, area is big and has a great potential. Probably next year we will organize scientific expedition to describe them. In the same layers we found bones and dermal plates of the crocodiles and one complete specimen as well! We had to leave it covering it with dirt, it will wait for the next year expedition.
     Finally we arrived to Anemzi, main goal of that day. Our team working there for last months was not very lucky, but finally in February and March they reached a good zone. We described some of the specimens in our previous report (see here) but now they were really high quality. Some of green apatite crystals were very gemmy, a few cm big, standing up on feldspars, very exciting. There were produced from two zones, unfortunately looks like both of them are pretty much gone. As far about 50 good quality specimens were produced and hundreds of medium quality. Some of them are associated with weathered calcite scalenohedrons, others with hematite. Specimens definitely need heavy trimming and cleaning but there is a great potential in them! Hopefully we will have the first batch ready for the Sainte Marie show. Coming back to the workings, we visited them to the bottom, some of the holes are about 20 meters and apatite can be still found in them. In some parts of the pegmatite there are masses of huge calcite crystals, what a shame that they are not better quality!
     After visit in Anemzi we went to Midelt – almost like home for me ;-)
     We decided to stay in the area of Midelt till the end of the trip – there was a lot to see in the area and we were tired changing place each day. So for next 3 days we were making trips and visiting friends, dealers etc.
     First of our Midelt days we spent in Mibladen area, for Jurek and Mariusz it was the first time when they visited this world famous locality. We spent some time in Les O, Les Dalles, T-Ouest, and finally ACF. The most interesting were probably the latest finds of reticulated cerussites in T-Ouest mine, some really nice ones as well as glossy “classic” cerussites from Les Dalles. But probably the most exciting were specimens of deep-orange wulfenite on baryte from Les Dalles mine. We bought form our miner-friends bunch of really aesthetic specimens, very good for the locality. The only problem with them is that they are crazy fragile. Luckily at least the best ones we took in hand luggage to Poland and they survived travel. This afternoon we spent with my great friend Mohammed Laaroussi and his family looking at stones and eating delicious food.
     Next day we went to Kerrouchen, and there was a surprise again. There was quite a lot of people working there and pits get deeper and deeper each time. What was surprising, we bought a flat of very nice specimens! First time in my 13 year history of travelling there, well over 30 visits in the mine! It was a rule that the locals had only low end specimens, but not this time. In the flat there was very nice group about 4 cm high built by sharp azurite crystals partly covered with malachite and one quite big geode with nice crystals.
     After visiting quarries we went to visit famous agate field. We selected some agates, it is always fun to cut them and see what is inside! By the way in this report we publish photos of some of the agates collected earlier this year which we just received from the polishing.
     We spent the afternoon visiting friends and some stores in Midelt. We didn’t find much, but a few nice barites from Nador, new smithsonites with malachite and azurite on dolomite from Bou Bekker, several very nice electric-green fluorites from El Hammam covered with sparkly quartz surprisingly almost clean of damage. There were also some proustites from Bou Azzer area but really crazily prized so we passed on them.
     Last day in the area we spent traveling to visit Aouli mining town, and further to the Sidi Ayed. Recently there are quite heavy workings there for azurite and malachite. They are never really high quality but it is fun to see colorful dumps and walls of the mine covered with shades of blue and green. Place where the local team has been working recently is a kind of suicidal locality – huge chamber where they have a camp, kitchen and beds have large and very thin celling which can collapse any moment…. I hope that they won’t be there when it happens because they are really nice guys! After collecting a few bits we started moving back to Midelt where repacked our goods for the whole afternoon.
     Next day in the morning, after saying good bye to friends we started our travel back to Casablanca. We decided to go through Middle Atlas to show it to Mariusz and Jurek. There was heavy fog so in fact we didn’t see almost anything but in Azrou area we stopped to take a few photos of monkeys living there in cedar forest. We still had a lot of time so we spent a few hours visiting Fes, buying some souvenirs and drinking last mint tea. We arrived to Casablanca in the evening and still had about 6 hours to the flight which took off at 1am… Than we had to change a plane at 7am and finally, very tired arrived to Warsaw. Jurek still had 6 hours by train to his place and Mariusz had to go to work that day. I was so happy that I do not have a “real work”.
   

Tomasz Praszkier

 

 See Moroccan specimens in our store

 

Area of our trip. Google Maps.

 

We lended in Casablanca and drove to the Sidi Rahal. Google Maps.

 

Settelments near the quarries in Sidi Rahal. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Basalt quarries in Sidi Rahal. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Going up on the dumps. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Mariusz in the front of entrences to the underground workings. J. Jaszczyszyn photo.

 

Old workings partly filled with dumps. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Amethyst druse in situ. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Same day we arrived to Marrakech. Google Maps.

 

Jemaa el-Fnaa - every time breathtaking, I love this place. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Jemaa el-Fnaa - every time breathtaking. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Almonds, dates, figs on Jemaa el-Fnaa. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Next day we drove through High Atlas visiting several great spots. Google Maps.

 

On the way through High Atlas. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

First mineral "shops". M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Village in High Atlas. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Nice place to live... M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

View to the deep valley in High Atlas. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

The road we have climbed up with. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Tichka pass at 2260 meters above the see level. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Triassic sedimentary rocks rich in salt with grey basalts. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Incredible landscapes in the Telouet area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible landscapes in Telouet area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Deep gorge in sedimentary rocks in Agdz area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Spectacular bedding in Agdz area. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Famous Bou Azzer was our next stop. Google Maps.

 

New plate at the main entrance to Bou Azzer mining center. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Mining center in Bou Azzer and famous shaft no 3. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Shaft of the Bouismas mine famous for silver minerals. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

New barytes from Bouismas mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Aghbar mine. G. Bijak photo.

 

Exceptional roselite crystals about 1,5 cm bi,g from Aghbar mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Big roselite crystals from Aghbar mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Agoudal quarry and Agoudal mine headframe visible in the background. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Mariusz and Jurek collecting in Agoudal quarry. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Deep trench in the quarry with well visible erythrite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Dump rich in erythrite remains. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Cobaltocalcite found on the dump. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Selecting cobaltocalcite specimens from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Incredible color! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Well crystallized cobaltocalcite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Great cobaltocalcite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Another well crystallized cobaltocalcite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Twinned white calcite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New white calcites with marcasite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New white calcites with marcasite from Agoudal mine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Roselite with exceptional gemminess and color from Agoudal mine - rare locality for this species. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Visiting Oumlil Est quarry. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Oumlil Est quarry. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

In the Oumlil Est quarry. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Taouz and Mfis area was our next goal. Google Maps.

 

Desertous lendscapes in the vicinity of Taouz. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

On the way to the ancient engravements. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Ancient engravements. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Ancient constructions. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Inside ancient constructions. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Miners` houses and workings in Vein 12 near Taouz. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Miner. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Miner. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New workings in Vein 12 which produced pyromorphite. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Jurek examining workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mn-Fe oxide pseudostalactites in situ. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mn-Fe oxide pseudostalactites in situ. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Hematite and Fe-oxides in situ. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Inside of the miners` house. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Some of specimens selected by us. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

 Vanadinite, unususal form for the locality. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Well developed vanadinite crystals on Mn oxides. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Super-glassy vanadinites on black matrix. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Super-glassy vanadinites on black matrix. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Super-glassy vanadinite on black matrix. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mn mineral, needs to be analyzed. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Classic Mn-fe oxide pseudostalactites. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New pyromorphite with electric color, very good for the locality. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New pyromorphite from Taouz. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Exceptionally big wulfenite for the Taouz locality. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Landscapes in Taouz area. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Mfis - old mining town, almost completely abandoned. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Mfis village with dunes behind. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Some of the buildings are still inhabited, owners use solar power. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Old mining buildings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Old workings in baryte veins. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Heavily mined baryte veins. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Heavily mined baryte veins. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Miners working for baryte in the main vein. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Basket going up from the "hell" - wokings are extremeley deep. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Miners lifting up the baskets full of baryte. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Here it is! T. Praszkier photo.

 

Some baryte for you my friend? T. Praszkier photo.

 

Unusual find of baryte covered with malachite crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Finally we arrived to Yasmina Hotel - our oasis on the desert. Google Maps.

 

Sand dunes with palm trees. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Comfortable bench on the dunes. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Camels are ready. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mariusz trying to climb the camel. T. Praszkier photo.

  

Jurek and Mariusz on camels ready to go. T. Praszkier photo.

 

On their way to the top of the dune to watch sunset. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Sunset from the top of the dunes. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Yasmina hotel - paradise on the desert. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Next day we drove thourgh Erfoud to Hameda quarry. Google Maps.

 

Workings in Hameda. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Fluorite coated with quartz in situ in the pcoket. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Fluorite coated with quartz in situ in the pcoket. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Fluorite in situ. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Fluorite coated with quartz in situ in the pcoket. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Fluorite in situ. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Next that day we visited Asfla near Goulmima town. Google Maps.

 

Asfla village. M. Oleszczuk photo.

  

Vertebrate fossil. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Big fish fossil. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

It was such a bigggggggggggg fish ;-) M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

We bought some heavy stuff in Asfla ;-) M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

We spent the afternoon in Todra george. Google Maps.

 

In the Todra gorge. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

We spent next days in the Imilchil area. Google Maps.

 

Berber women in traditional clothings. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Incredible view to the deep valley with magmatic intrussive rocks the are of Ait Hani. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Two localities in the valley producing good quality specimens (see more details in the last report). T. Praszkier photo.

 

New titanites with epidote and quartz from Tisktenigidar. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New titanites with epidote from Tisktenigidar. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New prehnite from Bou Tamatrine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New prehnite from Bou Tamatrine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

New prehnites with epidote from Bou Tamatrine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Huge fold in the Imilchil area. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Should we try to push it? Unusual rock, Imilchil area M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Again nice place to live - on the top of the mountain. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Incredible landscapes, Imilchil area. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Berber women on mules. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Local transport. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

We are almost packed, just two more beds and off we go... On the market in Imilchil. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Tom pretending to be Moroccan ;-) M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Next day we headed first to Tizi`n`Ouazane area. Google Maps.

 

On the way through High Atlas. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

On the way through High Atlas. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Tilmi village close to Tizi`n`Ouazane pass. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Map showing new locality - Bou Trgine - for magnetite and apatite close to the Tizi`n`Ouazane pass. Google Maps.

 

Location of Bou Trgine workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Super nice walk to the workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Super nice walk to the workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Beautiful flowers. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Workings in Bou Trgine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Workings in Bou Trgine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

View from the workings of Bou Trgine with Tizi`n`Ouazane workings marked. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Quite heavy mining for apatite and magnetite. M. Oleszczuk photo.

 

Pumps are quite advanced equipment for mineral mining in Morocco. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Small pocket with magnetite crystals. T. Praszkier photo.

 

In Bou Trgine workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Mechanical equipment is used in the workings. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Magnetite from the dump. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Nice gemmy apatite crystal with flat termination and yellowish color typical for the locality. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Magnetite recently mined in Bou Trgine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Huge crystal of the magnetite recently mined in Bou Trgine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Apatite recently mined in Bou Trgine. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Big crystal of apatite from Bou Trgine, note the flat termination. T. Praszkier photo.

 

Crystal is partly hollow inside. T. Praszkier photo.

 

GO TO PART II


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