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IV 2010 - Morocco part I

Not more than a week had passed from my return from Bombay and I was already in Morocco – for the second time this year. This trip abounded in some ``untypical`` events that finally changed our plans in the way that I am writing this text going on the ferry from Barcelona to Genoa… but let me start from the beginning.

The group that took part in this trip was unusually numerous – almost the whole team of Spirifer Minerals – Krzys, Asia, Agata, Grzegorz, Krzysztof, me and additionally my two aunts, who wanted to visit Morocco making use of our experience in this country. Because of the big number of people and various plans of individual groups we moved independently with three cars. All started according to plan – we set off from Warsaw to Bergamo – a charming Italian town where we spent the first day of the trip. From there we flew directly to Fez. It is one of the most interesting cities in Morocco, its beautiful and extremely complicated medina is supposed to be the most complicated part of the city that has been ever built on our planet. Thousands of little shops, handicraft workshops, traditional tanneries (that look like they were straight out of the Middle Ages), mosque, fountains and madrasahs make an extraordinary atmosphere of this city.

We spent the first day in Fes where we had many problems with the cars (we should have used the same car rental as we always used to) after that we set off to Midelt (the center of mineral-dealing in Morocco) thorough the middle Atlas watching on the way the relics of cedar forests where numerous monkeys live. We spent two next days on visits in our friends dealers and exploring the neighboring localities. Of course we visited also the vanadinite workings in Mibladen – and there we had a great luck – we saw a geode with barite and vanadinite in situ. It is really a superb feeling when at the end of cramped narrow and stuffy tunnel you see a geode sparkling with hundreds of crystals of vanadinite on barite – it looks like a hidden treasury!

We also visited the mine with cerusite and wulfenite in Mibladen and the outcrop with dinosaurs tracks – discovered by our friends from Jura Park Explorer Team. The next locality we saw was Sidi Ayed (which is usually confused with Aouli) from where the famous yellow fluorites malachites and azurites come from. Although the miner that used to work there has been closed for many years the local miners go down to the old shaft as well as explore the surface workings in search for specimens. From Midelt we set off to Imilchil – we took a new road (which is not finished yet) through Tounfit – it is one of the best one in terms of beautiful views in Morocco. We visited workings on Tizi-n-Ouazane and we checked some pegmatite veins exposed in the vicinity. Unfortunately lately the production in Imilchil has decreased significantly and apart from single apatites and titanites almost nothing is found there. From Imilchil we went through the famous gorges – Todra and Dades to arrive finally to our friend – Ben who runs a little guesthouse on the desert in Mcissi ("Tomboctou").

It is the place where you can drink the best orange juice in the whole country! We spent the next few days in the area of Mcissi and Erfoud visiting Erg Chebbi (beautiful dunes) Hameda mine (so called Jorf) and Taouz. In Taouz we had an opportunity to see how hundreds of specimens of pseudo-stalactites of minerals of Mn are being completely destroyed during a very unprofessional extracting. Apart from that any spectacular specimens have been found there recently.

In Hameda we visited the workings where we could have a look at dozens of geodes with fluorite crystals – unfortunately it is practically impossible to extract those specimens without specialist equipment because hardness of the rock.

To my displeasure in the meantime Asia had to go back home to continue her medical studies. In the same time we also got to know that there was national mourning announced because of the plain crash in which the president and considerable part of the government died. We spent the next two days visiting some incredible places - Aferdu El Mrakib – Devonian coral reef – prepared by the recent weathering processes in the way that it forms the highest hill within many kilometers radius. Getting there is not easy – the reef is located in the middle of the desert very close to the borderline of Algeria, but when you finally climb to the top of it the view is amazing – from one site there is a hamada stretching away to the horizon and from on the other site there are encroaching dunes (blown here from the Algerian Sahara) and hills with layers forming fanciful patterns. Additionally the awareness that you stand on the reef from 400 m. years ago protruding in the middle of desert intensify the feeling of fabulousness of this place. The whole area is strewn with thousands of corrals but there are also layers with numerous trilobites and one of the oldest trees know on Earth.

We spent the next day in the region of Oumjrane visiting local workings with azurite – unfortunately it turned out that also this locality had not produced any good specimens lately.

In the same time we started receiving alarming the information about the eruption of the Icelandic volcano and ash clouds that paralyzed the air transport in the whole Europe. At first we were sure that this problem was none of our concern because our plane was supposed to take off in a few days… but it turned out later that we were wrong.

From Oumjrane we set off to our favorite locality – Bou Azzer. As usually we were welcomed there by a lot of good information – because of the increasing price of the ore all the mines in the region are being reopened.  About previous finds you can read here and here. The works have been lately started in the Oumlil East and the Agoudal Centre quarries, and the mine Tamdrost is being prepared to be re-opened soon! What is more we managed to get some very interesting good specimens there. Although the Shaft 1 stopped producing erythrites (a scandal broke when it turned out that the miners blast in search for erythrites instead of doing it in the ore deposit zone) the new specimens of this mineral had been found in temporarily opened quarry Agoudal Centre where an spectacular ore vein is mined. The specimens from this locality are characterized by the best possible color, luster and transparency. Apart from that also roselite, β-roselite and a few rare, unidentified yet minerals occur there. Unfortunately the quarry is supposed to work only for a few months, so the amount of the specimens produced there will surely be very limited.

From Bou Azzer we moved to Marrakech where we spent another day getting you know that the situation with airplanes traffic was getting worse and our flight would be probably cancelled.

Later we set off to Kerrouchene visiting on the way a beautiful waterfall – Cascade d`Ouzoud (110 meters high).

We arrived to Kerrouchene quite early, which made it possible to finally got to know how it looks. For some reason normally we always got there in the middle of the night :-) The sunlight let us watch how tens of specimens are destroyed there as a result of careless mining… a very sad view for a mineral collector.

We spent the next day in Midelt with our friend Mohamed Laaroussi preparing the specimens for export. We already knew that our flight had been cancelled but unfortunately we had to appear in person on the airport in Fes to get some information about the possible alternatives.

And finally we spend the whole day only to get to know that the next free flight to Bergamo is expected to take off on 27th (the original one was planned for 20th) and how to get to Warsaw? All the flights were cancelled and the coming ones were 100% booked for two weeks ahead. In such situation we decided to go to Europe on a ferry from Tanger through Barcelona to Genoa and later by car to Warsaw. Because the next available ferries (getting the tickets was not easy) sailed away in a few days our trip to Morocco was a bit longer than we expected.

As we did not want to waste that additional time we set off to the east end of Morocco – to Touissit and Bou Bekker.

Those mines were closed in Jun 2002 and the great specimens that were produced there don’t have to be introduced to anybody. In Touissit there are where the mine was situated was totally cleared and smoothen and the shaft was dismantled later the housing estates were built there – the only remains after the mine are giant dumps.

While in Bou Bekker although the mine is closed the illegal mining is still going on – over 200 people works here everyday at the highest level of the mine which is accessible easily from the surface. They mine the ore only with their hands – selling the galena, malachite and azurite to the collection point near the mine. The output is transported on the donkeys. This mine is a really incredible place – there are tens of people with their donkeys traveling on the main `underground road` through huge stopes. You feel as though you were at the busy street in the center of a big city :-)

Unfortunately the specimens here are not as spectacular as those from Touissit. There are mainly dolomite with brochantite and sometimes gypsum occurring in numerous geodes. Unfortunately the specimens of ``gypsum horns” are getting rarer and rarer lately. Even though it was really worth to see this unusual miner revived by the ``illegal`` miners.

Directly from Bou Bekker we set off for a long journey back to Tanger where we got on a ferry. Even though the air transport in Europe started to normalize we were very happy we chose this mean of transport as we would have had to wait for the next free flight at least another week. Now we are planning to be at home for over a month – what recently is a long time for me - later we are leaving for the next mineral hunting – this time to Bulgaria and Kosovo!

P.S. I dedicate this report to Erik who had no luck to come to Morocco because of volcanic ash problems - next time!

Tomasz Praszkier

See our Moroccoan specimens for sale in our store.
See our Moroccoan specimens for sale on our ebay.

  

Morocco. Google Earth Map.

 

In the Old Town, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The Old Town, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Church, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Inside of a church, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Inside of a church, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Sulphur specimens in the local Natural History Museum, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Sulphur specimens in local Natural History Museum, Bergamo, Italy. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

We flew from Bergamo to Fes. Google Earth Map.

 

Medina in Fes - world most complicated fragment of a town. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The famous Bab Bojeloud in Fes - it is the entrence to medina. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The famous Bab Bojeloud in Fes - it is the entrence to medina. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

In medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

In medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

In medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

In medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

In medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

"The Middle Ages - type" tannarys in the center of medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

"The Middle Ages - type" tannarys in the center of medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Preparing leathers. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old walls around medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old walls around medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Seller of olives in Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Men selling water in medina, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Small streets of  medina at the evening time, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Small streets of  medina at the evening time, Fes. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

From Fes we moved to El Hammam. Google Earth Map.

 

Flurite coated in quartz, size of specimen 12 cm; El Hammam. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Flurite with pyrite, size of specimen 6 cm; El Hammam. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Flurite, size of specimen 8 cm; El Hammam. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Flurite with nice phantoms, size of specimen 5 cm; El Hammam. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Flurite from El Hammam in the artificial light. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Flurite specimen, from the same pocket as ilustrated above, in a backlight. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Flurite specimen, from the same pocket as ilustrated above, in a backlight. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

From El Hammam we drove through Middle Atlas. Google Earth Map.

 

The Middle Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Monkey in the cedar forest in the Middle Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Monkey in the cedar forest in the Middle Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

From Middle Atlas we arrived to Midelt area when we stayed a few days. Google Earth Map.

 

Midelt is a famous center of mineral dealing. Among many other specimens we found there very nice
hematites from Nador area. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 12 cm, Spirifer collection. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 7 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 8 cm. Coll. S. Werschky. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 5,5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Hematite from Nador, size 2,5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

We acquired also some nice siderites with quartz from Iouriren Mine, Akka area. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Siderite from Iouriren Mine, Akka area; size 3,5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Siderite from Iouriren Mine, Akka area; size 4,5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Some important localities and places in the vicinity of Midelt. Google Earth Map.

 

Entrence to the famous Mibladen village. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

View from the cerusite mining area to High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Small hill with well visible mineralised leyer (orange color), Mibladen. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

ACF Mine which serves as the locality  for sourrounding vanadinite workings. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Aerial view to so called "ACF" vanadinite workings. Google Earth Map.

 

Small shafts in the vanadinite ming area. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Miners working in the new shaft. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Digging  the shaft in search for vanadinites. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Miner just finished working in ACF mine. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Me ready to enter the underground. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Chris is getting down to have a look at vanadinite pocket. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Very dirty and happy Asia in small a tunel with vanadinte pocket at the end. Fot. T. Praszkier.

 

Very rare view - baryte and vanadinte pocket in situ. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Very rare view - baryte and vanadinte pocket in situ. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Very rare view - baryte and vanadinte pocket in situ. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Specimen extracted from pocket shown above. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Examining the vanadintes previousely mined in Mibladen. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Good quality vanadinites on baryte. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Good quality vanadinites. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The best vanadinites that we saw during this trip. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Small but very nice spcimens. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Red One! Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Very nice spcimen with good contrast - white baryte with bloody-red vanadinite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Another white and red one. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

View from Mibladen to the High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

"The core" of our team in front of the entrence to the old mine in Mibladen,
the recent source of vanadinites and cerusites. Fot. A. Leszczuk.

 

Me and miner working with wulfenites. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Several people live underground in Mibladen mines! Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Underground home. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Baryte and galena veins. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Small pocket with baryte and cerusite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Mohamed is examining pocket in "the roof" of the mine. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Chis looking for wulfenites. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Chris hidden inside a pocket. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Chris`s feets sticking out  from the pocket :-) Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Good quality wulfenite from Mibladen, size 2,5 cm. Coll. Spirifer. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Cerusites with baryte from the recently discovered pocket. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Cerusite with baryte from the recently discovered pocket. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Dinosaur footprint in the sandstones above mineralised horizon in Mibladen. Fot. T. Praszkier.

 

Landscape on the way to Sidi Ayed. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old shaft of Sidi Ayed famous for yellow fluorites, azurites and malachites. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Old ming constructions in Sidi Ayed. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Mining carts on dumps in Sidi Ayed. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Unusual home built with... ming carts!!! Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old open pits in Sidi Ayed - fluorite, baryte and galena veins used to be mined here for the ore, now they are a source of specimens of azurite and malachite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old open pits in Sidi Ayed - fluorite, baryte and galena veins used to be mined here for the ore, now they are a source of specimens of azurite and malachite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Old open pits in Sidi Ayed - fluorite, baryte and galena veins used to be mined here for the ore, now they are a source of specimens of azurite and malachite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Asia is ready to come down. Fot.T. Praszkier.

 

Inside of the underground workings. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Pocket with baryte covered with malachite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Classic azurite and malachite in situ in Sidi Ayed. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Local nomades who look for minerals in the old mines offered some specimens for sale. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Classic azurite and malachite specimen from Sidi Ayed, size 12 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Velvet malachite specimen from Sidi Ayed. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Malachite covering fluorite cubes, Sidi Ayed, view about 4 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Classic azurite and malachite specimen from Sidi Ayed, size view about 3 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

Azurite covering fluorite cube, Sidi Ayed, crystal size 1,5 cm. Fot. G. Bijak.

 

When we visited the Midelt area we set off to Imilchil . Google Earth Map.

 

Crossroads with sign showing our "destiny". Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Grzegorz is taking picture of Jebel Ayachi. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Incredible colors of sedimentary rocks in High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Incredible colors of sedimentary rocks in High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Village in High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

I am examining pegmatite veins in Imilchil area. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Pegmatite with feldspars and magnetite. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Examining pegmatite veins. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Incredible view from Tizi-n-Inouazane where apatites, magnetites etc are mined. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Incredible view from Tizi-n-Inouazane where apatites, magnetites etc are mined. Google Earth Map.

 

Incredible view from Tizi-n-Inouazane where apatites, magnetites etc are mined. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

 Imilchil - crowded as always. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Drinking tea. Imilchil. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

On the streets of Imilchil. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

On the streets of Imilchil. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

On the streets of Imilchil. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Spectacular fold near Imilchil. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Spectacular folds near Imilchil - note Krzysztof serving as scale. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Village in the High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Village in the High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Children in the High Atlas. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

From High Atlas we moved to the famous Todra Gorge. Google Earth Map.

 

Asia on the edge of cliff above deep valley. Fot. T. Praszkier.

 

The Todra Gorge. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The Todra Gorge. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

The Todra Gorge. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Asia gets crazy! Fot. T. Praszkier.

 

Moroccoan-style refrigerator. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

On our way to Dades Gorge we passed the famous Imiter. Google Earth Map.

 

Sign informing about Imiter silver mine. Fot. J. Gajowniczek.

 

Aerial view of Imiter ming area. Google Earth Map.

 

GO TO PART II of RAPORT




  Comments

Yes! That`s what I`m talking about. These pictures are great! And that second Tizi-n-Inouazane picture is great art.
ladlestein
2010-11-03 07:54:53


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