googleed3ca5fea536c11e.html South African Mineral Specimens: September 2011

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A Mineral specimen blog by which we want to share our mineral outings as well as our experiences in the Western Cape mountains.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Walking the Mountains around Ceres


We often go walking in the mountains, since we find it very destressing and enjoyable.  Also, it helps to keep us fit!  We are fortunate to have permission from several farmers in our area (Ceres) to walk their farms and mountains and look for crystals.  This is a privilege we cherish! 

We often walk rocky terrain in the mountains

More rocky terrain

Pierre, overlooking a deep gully ...

... and finding our way in the mountains

Miniature rockery

Tiny cave with small plants

A mountain dweller we saw from a distance ...

... and one from up close

Hematite stained quartz seam in a big rock

A while ago Pierre discovered a small pocket of crystals in a cavity in the rocks, and I had the privilege to help empty (most!) of it.  The opening was very small, which made it rather uncomfortable.  After removing a few small pieces, it looked like the end of the road, but I continued searching nonetheless.  It was too dark to see inside the pocket, so I used a head lamp.  Eventually I saw the shining facet of another specimen.  Getting this specimen out, required lots of patience, especially since it was quite cold that day!  After a while the front section with big crystal (the only part I could see, and which was hanging upside down) was already quite loose, but something at the back of the cavity wouldn't let go.  With my left hand I tried to protect the main crystal’s termination from damage, while I worked with my right hand.  After struggling for more than an hour (using a thin, but solid little stick to brush away soil right at the back of the long, narrow cavity), I finally managed to free it, only to find the flat section of matrix that I hadn't even been aware of!

This pocket yielded ...

... this lovely specimen! (SWCC 003)

We recently found a small pocket which yielded a few very small pieces of FADEN QUARTZ, and as far as we know, it is the first time any fadens have been found in our area – well, we haven’t heard or read of any other!  We have no idea as to how many more there are, because we took out the few that we could see.  We do hope that we’ll find more pockets of those in the future!

I have the privilege of emptying the pocket of fadens.

However, in the pocket that yielded the small faden crystals, we also found (right at the back of the pocket, slightly to the side - when we thought there was nothing more left!) an absolutely beautiful group, with a very prominent faden line.  It was totally engulfed in moist, dark brown soil.  Its base was stuck on a rock, but Pierre eventually managed to (carefully and prayerfully) chisel it free.  It’s so much different to the other small crystals, that we think it may very well be a once-off specimen!  The group rests on a matrix made up of many tiny quartz crystals, and it is a miracle that it did not break when we took it out! Below are photographs of it as and where we found it, followed by a photograph of the cleaned specimen.

The pocket in which we found the faden quartz crystals

Specimen SWCC 005, where it's stuck on a solid rock ... last it's free!

SWCC 005, after it has been cleaned!

In another place (like a miniature cave) we also found two lovely clusters (SWCC 001 and SWCC 004 on our Western Cape Page).  SWCC 001 has one small (but prominently placed) crystal with a very distinct faden line.  Here are photographs of the small cavity in which we found it (and its surroundings), and just as we got it out, followed by the photograph of after we had cleaned it.  This is followed by SWCC 004.

Rocks and shrubs in the mountains, just above the pocket (below)...

... which yielded ...

... this lovely cluster (above and below), SWCC 001

... and SWCC 004

About three weeks ago we went crystal hunting again, and found a small pocket where it was very wet.  The water kept oozing from the pocket and its surroundings, and I soon realized that it was very difficult to feel for crystals in the soggy patch with gloves on, so I took them off.  A few times I felt the sharp edges cut me, but it didn't bother me much.  I was enjoying finding the crystals, and that was exciting.  By the time we had to leave, I was rather muddy, and only realized how many cuts and grazes my hands had, after we got home and I had cleaned up.  They were quite sore for several days!   But it was worth it – I got, among others, a lovely cluster, SWCC 010.

Nice and muddy, like in childhood days

The perils of mining crystals without gloves ...

... but worth my while, finding the above specimen, SWCC 010

... in this very wet pocket

We enjoy the mountain scenery and all the beautiful plants, especially now that the winter is over.

Some plants thrive in moisture ...

... whilst others need very little water

Interesting sandstone formations

Rock overhang silhouetted against the blue sky

Thank you for taking the time to read this contribution.  I hope that you can visualize the joy and peace we experience when walking the mountains in search for crystals, and enjoying God’s creation all around us.