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Minerals of the Oumjrane area, Morocco, part II

GO BACK TO PART I of the article

 

DIOPTASE
   A few years ago, before mines were re-opened, a small find of the tabular baryte with white edges was made in the Oumjrane area. Specimens had blue-green coatings and groups of micro-crystalline dioptase crystals. This is the first time dioptase was reported from Morocco. Unfortunately only around 5 specimens were collected from this find. Research by author in the field after this find was unsuccessful and exact location remains unknown.

   

Dioptase on baryte, size 3.5 cm, found in 2012 in the workings in Oumjrane area
(exact location unknown). Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

  

Dioptase on baryte, size 7 cm, found in 2012 in the workings in Oumjrane area
(exact location unknown). Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

 

 

The best specimen from the find, dioptase on zoned baryte crystals, size 12 cm, found in 2012 in the workings in Oumjrane area (exact location unknown). Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

 

GALENA
   Good crystals of galena are quite un-common in the area. It usually occurs as anhedral masses, but in some pockets it is quite well formed. Usually crystals have medium to good luster and reach no more than 1-2 cm. In some exceptional situations elongated twinned crystals can reach up to 4 cm. Smaller crystals are usually very sharp. The most common crystallographic forms are cuboctahgedrons. Frequently galena crystals are coated at one side by marcasite micro-crystals.

  

Parallel growth of galena partly coated by marcasite, size 4 cm, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Galena crystals on quartz, partly coated by chalcopyrite, size 6.5 cm, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Galena crystals on quartz, partly coated by chalcopyrite, size of crystal 2 cm,
found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Twinned elongated galena crystals on quartz, partly coated by marcasite, FOV 4.5 cm,
found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. J. Praszkier photo.

  

Cuboctahedral galena on quartz with chalcopyrite, main crystal approx 1 cm, found in 2015 in
Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Galena crystals on quartz, main crystal approx. 1.2 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Sharp cubocatehdral galena crystals on quartz, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Lustrous galena crystals, size 4.5 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen.

 

MALACHITE
   Malachite is not found in important specimens in the area. It occurs as partial pseudomorphs after azurite, crusts or as coatings on native copper.

 

Malachite in situ in the old workings in Bou N`has. J. Praszkier photo.

   

Freshly collected (2010) malachite from Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen.
J. Praszkier photo.

   

Specimen of baryte partly coated by malachite, size 5.5 cm, found in 2014 in Bou N`has mine. Fabre Minerals specimen and photo.

   

Malachite partly coating an arborescent copper specimen, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. J. Praszkier photo.

   

Close-up of malachite partly coating an arborescent copper, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

   

Malachite coating a spinel law twin of copper, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

  

Acicular malachite collected in 2010 in Oumjrane old azurite workings. Spirifer specimen.
J. Praszkier photo.

 

Azurite on malachite, specimen 4.5 cm, collected in 2010 in Oumjrane old azurite workings. Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

 

MARCASITE
   Marcasite is one of the best minerals found in the Oumjrane – Bou N`has mines. It occurs usually as small sparkly bladed crystals, reaching no more than 5 mm, on quartz, baryte and other species. Occasional marcasite is found in much bigger crystals, with very sharp form and luster. The biggest once can reach up to 3 cm, and in such cases flat crystals are usually distorted with parallel growth. Sometimes marcasite is also formed as rosettes, clusters or fans. In a few specimens marcasite is found epitaxicly on pyrite cubes what gives very unusual form. The luster of the crystals is usually superb; very bright.

 

Lustrous blades of marcasite on baryte, size 5 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Marcasite crystals on baryte, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Close-up of marcasite crystal, size approx. 1 cm. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Extremely lustrous parallel aggragates of marcasite blades, size 4.3 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Extremely lustrous cluster of marcasite, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. J. Praszkier photo.

 

  Blady marcasite crystals, parallel growth, size 6 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Fabre Minerals specimen and photo.

 

Unusual specimen of marcasite growing syntaxially on pyrite cubes, size 8 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. J. Praszkier photo.

 

PYRITE
   Pyrite is very common in the Oumjrane – Bou N`has area. It forms the oldest parts of veins as a solid masses but can also commonly be found as well-developed crystals. It is usually found as simple cubes, frequently distorted, with well-developed parquet pattern on its faces. Crystals reache up to 4 cm, and usually is around 2 cm. The color is yellowish-golden with superb metallic luster. More rarely crystals have rounded edges and corners. As described in “Baryte” section in one of the finds pyrite masses are casts after well-developed baryte crystals.
 

Cluster of extremely lustrous cubic pyrite crystals, size 7 cm, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Cluster of extremely lustrous cubic pyrite crystals, size 9 cm, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Cubic pyrite crystals on quartz, size 7 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Extremely lustrous cubic pyrite crystals on quartz, size 8 cm, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Unregular, rounded pyrite crystals on quartz with baryte, size 11 cm, found in 2013
in Bou N`has mine.
Fabre Minerals specimen and photo.

 

Unusual pyrite "cast" after baryte crystals, size 8.5 cm, found in 2013 in Bou N`has mine. Fabre Minerals specimen and photo.

 

QUARTZ
Quartz is a very common mineral in the deposit, but it does not form good crystals or important specimens. Usually it is formed as a drusy coating with a few mm crystals in white to gray color. This kind of quartz is frequently matrix for other crystals giving good contrast to pyrite, marcasite, etc.

 

Unusual perimorphose of drusy quartz after unknown cubic mineral (?fluorite) with chalcopyrite, size 13 cm, found in 2011 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. J. Praszkier photo.

 

Extremely lustrous marcasite on drusy quartz, size 6 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Chalcopyrite and sphalerite on drusy quartz, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

SIDERITE
   Siderite is quite rare in the Oumjrane area. There was one major find made at the begging of mining operations (end of 2011, begging of 2012) which produced number of good quality specimens. Siderite crystals were discoidal shape (very flat rhombohedrons) forming clusters. Crystals reach up to 2-3 cm. The color is from yellowish to brown. A small number of specimens have iridescent making them very colorful. Some of the specimens have marcasite and/or pyrite growing on siderite.

 

Specimen containing sharp siderite cyrstals, size 9.5 cm, found in 2012 in Bou N`has mine. Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

 

Rosette of discoidal siderite crystals with marcasite, size 5.5 cm, found in 2011-2012
in Bou N`has mine.
Fabre Minerals specimen and photo.

 

Partly iridescent discoidal siderite crystals with pyrite, size 8.5 cm, found in 2012
in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. J. Scovil photo.

 

Close-up of the specimen pictured above, note the iridescence caused by Cu and/or Fe oxides thin coating. Spirifer specimen. G. Bijak photo.

 

SPHALERITE
   Sphalerite was very rare in the early days of mining, but in late 2014 and 2015 several pockets with well-formed crystals were found. The majority of the crystals were up to 5 mm, but some reached up to 2.5 cm. Some of the small crystals are very gemmy with good red color visible without strong back lighting. Some of the bigger crystals are completely black when lighted from the front, but when backlighted reveal good red-orange color and good gemminess. The majority of the crystals are in tetrahedral form, usually with very well developed parquett pattern of their surfaces and some small overgrowth of second generation. The second generation crystals are not gemmy, and can be easily distinguished when crystal is backlighted. The best sphalerite crystals from the area are also the best known from Morocco, and only known cleiophane, which presence is surprising. Cleiophane is gemmy variety with low Fe content, what in that case is quite unusual in the deposit built in big part by pyrite and chalcopyrite.

 

Tom with specimen of gemmy red-orange sphalerite crystals on quartz, found in 2015
in Bou N`has mine.
J. Praszkier photo.

 

Close up of the specimen above. J. Praszkier photo.

 

Sphalerite and chalcopyrite on quartz, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Sphalerite crystals on drusy quartz, size 4 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen.
J. Scovil photo.

 

Close-up of the specimen pictured above. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Close-up of the specimen pictured above with backlighted crystals, black zones are syntaxial growths of second generation sphalerite. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Sphalerite and chalcopyrite on quartz, size 6 cm, found in 2015 in Bou N`has mine.
Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Close-up of the specimen pictured above, golden zones on sphalerite are epitaxial microcystalline chalcopyrites. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

Close-up of the specimen pictured above with backlighted crystals, black zones are syntaxial growths of secod generation sphalerite. Spirifer specimen. M. Wikiera photo.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

   Although modern mining in Oumjrane – Bou N`has is relatively new, it has already produced many fine specimens, including the first well crystallized native coppers found in Morocco. These specimens have enriched the diversity of well-developed mineral species known from the country. It remains unknown if additional copper-rich zones exist, but for sure we can expect many fine specimens from the area in the future.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

   I would like to thank to Dr. John Rakovan from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA for his review of this manuscript and to Jordi Fabre for use of his photos.

 

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