Stones by zodiac signs

What minerals can you find on the street?

Anyone who has been at least a little interested in this amazing land probably knows that Karelia is a land of thousands of lakes, rivers and forests. However, recreational resources are not all that Karelia is famous and rich in. There are values ​​here of a different kind, perhaps more utilitarian, but no less interesting. We are talking about valuable Karelian minerals and rocks, of which more than 80 names are found on the territory of the Republic.

A bit of geology

The territory of Karelia, as well as the adjacent Murmansk region and the Scandinavian countries, is located on the Baltic crystalline shield – a fragment of an ancient geological platform that emerged on the surface of the Earth. There are only 20 such places on our planet, and each of them differs from the others in structure and time of formation. In addition, within each of these shields, geologists identify so-called “provinces” – parts of ancient continents or sutures from closed prehistoric oceans. For example, the Lahdenpokhsky region of Karelia, where our recreation center is located, is located within the Svecofennian province, the foundation of which was formed over 100 million years. And the total age of the rocks that make it up is close to 2 billion years.

What minerals and rocks are mined in Karelia?

There are so many of them that a complete review of this topic would have to write a book. Therefore, we will only talk about the most common and interesting stones. And let’s start with a rock with the funny name gabrodiabase or gabbrodolerite. This stone is quite rare in the world and is mined on an industrial scale in only three countries: Australia, Ukraine and Russia, in the Republic of Karelia. By the way, it is Karelian gabrodiabase that is considered the best in terms of its characteristics; it is durable, resistant to high temperatures, and is used in mechanical engineering, for the production of road blocks, and in construction it is used as a plinth stone. Gabrodiabase also retains heat well, which is why it is often used for heaters in baths and saunas. Granite is also mined in Karelia, and in three deposits at once: Andreevsky, Dymovsky and Kashina Gora. The color of Karelian granite varies from yellow to red, and its pattern, although quite simple, is quite attractive and harmonious. This rock is used mainly as a construction, facing and finishing material. Another common rock that Karelia is rich in is marble. Although the deposits of this stone cannot be compared in volume, for example, with those in the Urals, it is Karelian marble that is faced with a huge number of famous buildings in St. Petersburg, including the Kazan and St. Isaac’s Cathedrals, as well as the Marble Palace. By the way, the place where marble was mined for these purposes—Marble Canyon—is located relatively close to our recreation center, on the territory of the Ruskeala mountain park. True, the quarry is now flooded and is better known as Marble Lake, but there is now much more entertainment for tourists there: you can sail a boat, swim, or even dive into the depths. Another interesting mineral mined in Karelia bears the proud name of “noble stone”. We are talking about crimson quartzite, which has long been used for finishing mausoleums, sarcophagi and tombs. Crimson quartzite was also used in the construction of Lenin’s mausoleum. In Karelia, crimson quartzite is mined near Lake Onega, in the village of the same name “Kvartsitny”.

What other valuable minerals are mined in Karelia?

  • Agate. It is one of the varieties of quartz. Has an opaque structure. Agate is characterized by a high variety of colors.
  • Aventurine. It consists predominantly of quartzite with various inclusions of mica, ilmenite and other minerals. Aventurine is used mainly for making art objects.
  • Azurite. It has a bright blue hue, which is caused by copper impurities. Azurite is relatively rare. For a long time it was used to make paints.
  • Amethyst. It is characterized by a peculiar color that makes it stand out from other minerals. Amethyst does not respond well to heat.
  • Staurolite. An unusual mineral formed by combining aluminum and iron. Staurolites are distinguished by the fact that they form intergrowths of crystals that externally resemble a cross. This valuable material is present in large quantities on the Kola Peninsula.
  • Amazonite. In Russia it is mined only on the Kola Peninsula. Amazonite is characterized by a green or bluish-green hue interspersed with white or yellow flowers. Used as additives in the manufacture of jewelry.

Shungite is a symbol of Karelia

But this rock is from a completely different “opera”. The famous shungite is a stone that is found only in Karelia and in no other place on Earth. It is not surprising that it has many interesting and beneficial properties for humans. So, in addition to the traditional construction industry, where shungite is used as a finishing material, this stone can be used for filtering and purifying water, as well as for non-traditional medicinal purposes. There are no official scientific studies confirming the healing effects of shungite products, but this does not prevent enterprising people from making souvenirs, various kinds of talismans, amulets and even cosmetics with shungite crumbs from this stone. Well, the famous shungite pyramids are generally credited with almost universal properties: they will purify water, are suitable for massage, and protect from the harmful radiation of modern technology. At the same time, it cannot be said that assumptions about the medicinal properties of this mineral are not based on anything. The fact is that in 1985, researchers Robert Curl, Harold Kroto, Richard Smalley and Heath and O’Brien identified a unique molecular compound of carbon atoms, called fullerene, in honor of the architect Richard Fuller, who created his geodesic domes in the form of convex closed polyhedra . And this is what a fullerene molecule looks like. The applied significance of this discovery is quite large; for example, doped fullerene compounds have superconducting properties. At the same time, the implementation of such projects is still far away, since pure fullerenes are quite rare in nature. Interestingly, natural fullerenes were found precisely in samples of Karelian shungite, and after the laboratory synthesis of this molecular compound. From a medical point of view, it is important for us that fullerenes are powerful antioxidants, theoretically capable of prolonging life. At least in rats and flatworms, since this kind of research has not yet been carried out on humans. There are also sources claiming that fullerenes may be promising from the point of view of creating new antiallergic drugs, but no specific developments have been made yet. In any case, shungite products are one of the most common souvenirs in Karelia. In our opinion, you shouldn’t expect any miraculous healing effect from this mineral, but if using a shungite pyramid makes it easier for you to work near a computer, then why not?

Mineral Museum at Owl Mountain

If the topic of Karelian minerals interests you, we recommend visiting the Mount Owl Museum, dedicated to this topic. Or rather, the museum was originally created as a military historical museum, which is largely due to its location – it is located inside a real military bunker built by the Finns during World War II. However, over time, the idea arose to supplement the exhibition with a collection of local minerals, and now the museum has created an entire geological hall for this purpose. “Filin Mountain” is located 21 km from the “Lumivaara” recreation center if you drive towards Lakhdenpokhya, exit onto the Sortavala highway A-121, and turn towards Lake Paikjärvi. For more information about “Owl Mountain” and how to get there, see here.

Search for minerals. Tens of thousands of people in our country are engaged in this necessary, difficult, interesting work. Among them are many experienced subsoil explorers, honored discoverers of valuable deposits. But for some stone hunters, their “geological experience” amounts to only one or two trips.

Participants in the mass geological expedition – schoolchildren and students, tractor drivers and turners, hunters and cattle breeders – came out to help geologists in their difficult search.

Searches are different. You can search at random, hoping for a happy accident. And sometimes this is beneficial. But, of course, a search based on a deep understanding of the patterns of mineral occurrence is a thousand times more fruitful. A geologist needs not only strong legs, inquisitive eyes, and dexterous hands – he needs a rich store of knowledge. And without knowledge, even a lucky chance may be in vain. If a valuable mineral falls into the hands of an ignorant person, he will not recognize it and will throw it away.

Therefore, accumulating geological knowledge is now one of the main tasks of the geotour participants. Knowledge multiplied by mass production will bring a rich “harvest” of minerals.

This issue in our magazine opens the “Page of the Geohiker” – a correspondence school for amateur geologists. In the first lesson we will tell you what to do in cases where.

It happened on a hot summer day. The geologist, returning from the route, bent down to drink at the stream, and suddenly noticed at the bottom a beautiful translucent pebble that stood out among others with its blue color.

“This is an alien stone,” the geologist decided. “I’m curious where the stream brought it from?” And the geologist went upstream. The further he moved from the place of discovery, the more often he came across fragments of the blue rock that interested him. Soon the stream led the researcher to the mountain. When he climbed almost to the very top, he saw stone ridges – bluish-blue. After a short examination, the geologist was convinced that in front of him was corundum, one of the hardest minerals after diamond.

This is how a corundum deposit was found in Kazakhstan; it was named Semiz-Bugu, which in Kazakh means “Blue Rocks”.

Did the stream turn out to be an accidental assistant to the geologist? How did blue fragments of corundum end up in the stream? What forces separated them from the monolithic blue-gray ridges?

The secret is revealed simply. The sun, water and wind caused the destruction of the stone ridges. In geology, such processes are called weathering. And rock fragments formed as a result of weathering are very often carried away by water flows into river valleys.

How long the fragment’s journey was can be judged by its appearance. If the fragment is angular, it has sharp edges, then its “home” is not far away – bedrock. The noticeable roundness and smoothness of the stone indicate a longer journey. We call a well-polished stone a pebble. Pebbles are collected mainly at the mouth of a river or stream – after all, throughout the entire length of the stream, nature performs a kind of mechanical sorting of stone material according to the degree of its processing.

This feature is used when searching for minerals. If, for example, geologists find pebbles of some valuable mineral at the mouth of a river, they go to the upper reaches of the water artery and, based on the size, appearance and number of fragments, determine where their root outcrops are located. At the same time, they take into account the nature of the breed. It is known, for example, that limestone is soft, it is polished and turns into pebbles quickly, and, therefore, its deposit may be close to the mouth.

. Now it is clear to us how the stream helped the geologist discover the Blue Rocks.

Often, stone fragments form independent deposits – placers.

At the end of the last century, the valley of the small Klondike River, located in northwestern Canada, suddenly became widely known. A poor Dutch settler who lived near the river was digging a hole on the bank and came across a yellow stone that weighed about half a pound. The settler took the find home, and one of his acquaintances, seeing the unusual stone, advised him to show it to a jeweler. The stone turned out to be a gold nugget. The news of the miraculous discovery caused a “gold rush”. Hundreds of people, trying to get ahead of each other, rushed to the river.

Klondike gold was found in placers. What are placers?

These are loose or cohesive, cemented rock deposits containing grains or crystals of minerals. In placers formed as a result of the erosion of rocks by water flows, noble metals are very often found in their so-called native form (Of course, such huge nuggets as the first one found in the Klondike are very rare.). So you can find gold and platinum, precious stones – sapphires, rubies (varieties of corundum), garnets, diamonds, topazes; such valuable minerals as wolframite, cassiterite (“tin stone”), scheelite, monazite, tantalite, cinnabar and others.

Geologists distinguish several types of placers. The most common are river ones. When searching for them, they usually use the ancient, widespread method of spotting. Geologists take samples from river sediments and wash the selected material in trays or buckets. Light particles of sand and clay are carried away by water, and sediment remains at the bottom of the tray – the largest and heaviest particles. They are called concentrate. The concentrate may contain grains of useful minerals, which, as a rule, have a high specific gravity.

After washing, the concentrate is carefully placed in a jar and dried, then wrapped in a bag on which the “place of collection” and the weight of the sample are indicated.

Minerals found in concentrate can be identified by color. Gold, for example, has a characteristic yellow or pale yellow hue. Platinum is gray with a metallic sheen, cinnabar and garnets are red. Cassiterite has a pitch-black color. It is most often found in the form of irregularly shaped grains. This mineral serves as a raw material for the production of tin, and its discovery in concentrate is of great interest.

In cases where a geologist finds it difficult to distinguish minerals by their color, he can turn to other methods of determination: by the shape of the stones, by the degree of their hardness.

Often, inexperienced amateur geologists mistake yellow crystals or sparkles of pyrite for gold. In order not to make a mistake, we must remember that these two minerals respond differently to mechanical stress. Native gold is 2-2,5 times softer than pyrite; a fingernail leaves a scratch on it.

Cinnabar and pomegranates are also the same color, but in contrast to cinnabar, pomegranates form well-formed crystals, thereby justifying their name (“granatus” in Latin – “grain-like”). It is interesting to note that if garnets are found in the concentrate, this is a sign of the possible presence of diamonds in the placer. In addition to garnets, other minerals with characteristic crystal shapes can be found in concentrate.

Thus, monazite, a yellowish-brown or brown mineral, forms beautiful elongated prisms. In shape they are very similar to topaz crystals. But the color of topaz crystals is wine yellow, and they are more hard.

In order not to confuse cassiterite with minerals similar in color – for example, wolframite – they resort to a simple operation: hydrochloric acid is dripped onto the grain of the mineral and touched with a piece of zinc. If after some time a metallic tin deposit forms in this place, it means you have found cassiterite.

What to do with the concentrate in the future? It is carefully studied under a magnifying glass. Geologists count the amount of useful minerals in each sample and then create a concentrate map. To do this, dots are placed on a piece of tracing paper with the outline of the river on it, indicating the sampling sites. At each point the quantitative content of minerals in the concentrate is indicated. Such maps help geologists not only find placers, but also identify the boundaries of primary mineral deposits.

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