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Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?

Posted by Patrick Haynes (2)  
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
April 27, 2010 09:18PM
There are natural hoppered and dendritic galenas. There are also skeletal galena cubes with abrasion impacts visible at 10 power. Without photomicrographs how do you know what respected mineralogists are looking at and making pronouncements about??? So a great mineralogist pronounces them real. Does that mean the ones people have made are real? Let's get real with some photos, surely the visible abrasion impacts will sort this out!!!
Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
April 28, 2010 02:02AM
Me neither, Rob. I don't attach much weight to the pronouncements of experts unless accompanied by the reasons which lead them to their conclusion, which so far no one has presented. This level of discussion is more appropriate in the field of theology.... "My authority is more respected than your authority", with no proof presented by either side.

This may be one of the longest threads ever on Mindat, but on reviewing it I find little reason for it to be this long, considering the paucity of hard data presented - just lots of opinions, and irrelevant comparisons to photos of galenas with hopper-faced crystal growths. Things I'd like to see are: photos of the minerals in situ, photos of the minerals being worked out, close ups before cleaning, SEM photos of the interior surfaces, analyses of the white powder residue inside the cavities, etc, etc. In the meantime, I'll just consider them "suspicious, but not proven either way".
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
April 28, 2010 10:27AM
Alfredo, I am so sorry that I have with my recent post and photos, I extended this thread to a point that has caused you so much pain. However I thought that a photo of the galena that was hollow that and had another solid crystal sitting over the hollow section would be of interest, without doubt this was not the case and you have treated it with a level of indifference because your mind appears to be made up - they are all fakes unless proven otherwise.

So can I take it that without a expert opinion and/or a respected authority's blessing, you must doubt all specimens and their locations. If this is the case you then must doubt the Stolzites from Tasmania because there are no photos of them insitu, or being removed, no respected authority noted their occurrence insitu, (Ralph may have but not told me), the area where they were found has been removed by mining. I am sorry but I can not provide you with any of the information you have asked for, so you and all other people will have to accept the locality information that was provided to the mineral world by a bunch of amateurs.

Sometimes one must take a "leap of faith" because solid evidence of proof is not available, otherwise we may miss the pleasure and enjoyment of something that can not be explained.

And my opinion piece is naturally formed.

Andrew T
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
April 28, 2010 11:13AM
We are right to be suspicious and to discuss things.

Remember what happened with the Himmelsfurst silver specimens? One major journal did its very best to cover up the whole thing in order to protect its advertisers, and a similar thing happened with the yellow 'Tajik' Beryl

I have had some of my main advertisers talk to me about these skeletal galenas, obviously desperate that this problem will disappear - I cannot say any of them have given me pressure to remove things because it certainly wasn't like that, but it was clear that they are unhappy. I dislike them being unhappy, and I wish there was a quick and easy answer to prove one way or the other, but I'm not going to stifle a debate because of commercial interests, even those affecting mindat directly. Thankfully all the dealers involved understand my issue entirely (and they also, like me, want to know the truth).


ps. If anyone does want to buy one now is probably the best time - with the uncertainty the dealers can't price them as high as they probably are worth. But it's a gamble, if they're proven genuine, value will skyrocket for sure.
Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
April 28, 2010 11:56AM
Andrew, your posts have caused me no pain, and I do find the photos of weird galenas to be interesting and informative, and I certainly do enjoy looking at them. I just don't believe they solve the mystery of the disputed galena crystals, because they show mostly depositional (growth) features rather than etch features. And my mind isn't made up, I clearly stated that I consider them suspicious but not proven either way, fake or natural. And that does not mean I have to doubt all specimens and all localities, only the suspicious-looking ones, which is just common sense. Most minerals don't look suspicious at all, and on other posts on this forum I have stated I believed specimens to be natural that other collectors were suspicious about. So it works both ways. And, as Jolyon pointed out, we are right to be suspicious and discuss things. Without suspicion, there would be no discussion, and without discussion no learning.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 04, 2010 02:21PM
This discussion is getting more and more interesting. So now I am wondering what would constitute proof that these are natural

One could look for indications of mechanical means of material removal through an SEM. However, this approach was discredited as proof, since an acid bath afterward could act to hide these patterns. Nature could have also provided an acid bath, so presence of etching via acid doesn’t seem to prove anything.

There have been thoughts of looking for acid etch patterns in order to determine if acid was "painted" on the faces to get these patterns. Again, nature could have provided acid, so evidence of acid etching wouldn't prove anything.

If tests could determine that acid had indeed been present ONLY on the etched portions of the crystal and not the outsides of the same crystal, that would be suspicious I assume.

John Rakovan did a wonderful talk at the Rochester Symposium on determining if gold crystals were real or faked. He used xrays on some pieces and determined them to be faked because the resulting pattern showed multiple crystals (polycrystalline) instead of a single crystal. He realized however, that xrays on gold could not penetrate very deep, so he did a deeper scan using neutrons (at a military collider). The deeper scan conclusively showed the pieces to be a single crystal. The multiple crystal effect was only a surface effect – probably caused during a beating, as would happen if it tumbled down a river or stream For more information, look at the article in Rocks & Minerals (January/February 2009). I wonder if microabrasion would cause the same effect. Since galena is also malleable, maybe the same tests could be used. Unfortunately, I think John’s opportunity to use a military neutron collider was a once in a lifetime experience.

So is there anything we could look at to be conclusive about this from the acid/mechanical perspective?

Another idea has been proposed by Jolyon in an earlier post. This idea is that as the crystals formed, the solution changed composition. This change afforded something (a different metal ion? other impurities?) that were incorporated in the crystal structure that made the outer portions of the crystal more stable than the inner portions. If these crystals were forming as hoppered, maybe, just maybe you could get these patterns. If this were the route, possibly a microprobe analysis of the features could tell us if the composition were slightly different? I am not sure that microprobe would tell the whole story though ... do we know enough about how galena dissolves in different solutions and the rate of dissolution to be able to do a useful analysis?

Another thought had been offered relating to other minerals involved in the specimen. Quarts growing through the holes, for example. We could remove the quartz and look for glue. If the quartz goes through the holes in the galena AND it is not glued in place, does that help prove anything? There are also pieces that seem to have some kaolinite on the galena. So how is that attached and how did it get there? Maybe that would afford us something to research.

Another "proof" would be photos of the pieces in sito. However, it seems to me that this is the easiest falsify. Photoshop or staging of the already prepared pieces in a mine would be the counter claim.

So what tests could be used to prove or disprove that these were made by nature. It has been said many times that what nature can do to these pieces, man can do as well. So is there any conclusive tests short of shipping a bunch of mineralogists to Bulgaria to study them in suto - and pay them enough so they could be bought by unscrupulous miners?


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2010 01:27AM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 04, 2010 06:39PM
Spherical impressions visible at 10 power could be significant!!! Could they arise from anything other than an air blown abrasive??? Pictures please!!!!
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 04, 2010 09:23PM
I don't have any pieces yet, but I have access to some if we can come up with some tests worth doing on them. I could do a microscopic examination and post pictures. Certainly is there are the indentations that would be indicative, but lack of spherical indentations would prove nothing right?

avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 04, 2010 10:00PM
The stepped CLEAVAGES and not dissolution features was what I was looking for in Tucson. The spherical abrasion impacts were just icing on the cake. I didn't realize that Galena was that malleable to leave them!!! Pictures of the sharp cleavage steps should be sufficient to debunk these. So please make some photomicrographs, then others can judge.
Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 04, 2010 11:58PM
A simple way is to go to the mine and recover material in situ! - not put back in situ though ;)
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 05, 2010 08:37AM
I have like Alfredo been very open-minded as to the authenticity of the reverse skeletal galenas from Bulgaria. But since this thread has been public of Mindat for nearly half a year now - with NO evidence of their natural origin forthcoming, I am becoming more sceptical. Specimens seem to be trickling out, so it was probaboly not a stash from a log-time-ago find. Therefore I am sure that there are people out there who know the answer to the question and they are probably also aware of this discussion. It should have been in their interest to present some additional information -i.e. pictures of the specimens in situ or at least before cleaning etc. Such "proof" may of course also be faked, buit as long as there seems to be a complete silence along the chain of supply for these specimens, I have become very sceptical about their origin.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 05, 2010 09:12PM
I think I have been able to confirm that I have access to specimens and a mineraligy lab in which to do tests. The only tests I have seen mentioned that could be performed are microscopic and possibly SEM examination. And if I am understanding correctly, these wouldn't convince people of anything.

So all I can do is get magnified pictures which may prove it is fake,

avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 05, 2010 09:27PM
That should be enough. Although it would be good to have one known to be made by air blasting for comparison. Perhaps someone who made one could send you it for photographing.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 07, 2010 11:41AM
The best way way to convince yourself that these are most likely fakes is to find some little natural cubic galena crystals on or off of matrix, or even a cubic cleavage of galena or both, get access to a micro abrasive tool, load it up with glass beads and go to work on the thing and see how easy or difficult it is to create these. Then you won't have to rely on what other people tell you. This is not rocket science. If you don't have a microabrasive tool, find one you can borrow time on. Most museums or universities with Paleo departments, fossil dealers and many serious mineral dealers have these machines. If you are in the Los Angeles area, Ill even let you use one of mine.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 04:18AM
Would you accept as proof a quartz crystal inside a hoppered galena?
I have seen them, but don't have any at this time to take a photo.
Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 07:08AM
Yes, I've seen those too, but unfortunately they don't prove the issue either way, because the quartz predates the galena. I.e. the quartz was an inclusion in the (younger) galena, and the quartz xl is exposed in the cavity when the cavity formed. Being much harder than the galena, and chemically more resistant, it is left standing in the cavity either way, whether mechanically abraded or naturally chemically etched. Now if you could find a calcite xl standing in the cavity, that would indeed prove natural origin.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 12:53PM
I think it's interesting that there hasn't been a stronger defence of these specimens - if I had been finding these and trying to sell them I would be very upset with these allegations that they are faked and I'd want to make sure I could prove to everyone that they were natural, and go out of my way to do so.

The response has been somewhat muted, to say the least. I still hope they are natural, but without proof they are still far to suspicious to accept in my opinion.

It's an interesting debate because there are several people who's opinions I trust very much (including mindat managers) who are convinced they are genuine. And several others who thing exactly the opposite. I'm really looking forward to a conclusion to this.

avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 03:22PM
Well, we are willing to give it a go. We have access to specimens for sale. Some of quartz inside, some have kaolinite. We have some labs that are willing to help out with equipment (SEM, single crystal XRD) and we have a rock scope. We am not going into this with an assumption one way or the other.

The plan is to ask mindatters for samples they have made. Make your best ones. Send us a PM and we will send our address. We will return them unharmed once the experiment is done. We will ask permission from the owner before doing any destructive tests. Also, please send a brief description of how you made them.

Then we will get the samples from the dealer who is donating some to this cause.

We will start with visual and loupe inspections to make observations and take photos.

Then we will use a scope and take pictures of each in order to determine if it is trivial to tell the difference between the known manmade specimens and the unknowns.

If necessary we will go down to the SEM level to try to see differences. We may also try to do some microprobe work to see if there is anything interesting about the composition of the galenas.

Finally, based on work that John Rakovan did, we will try to see if the galena crystals too a beating on their interior surfaces using the single crystal XRD machine (Rigaku). Based on the work he did with gold, we may be able to tell if these were exposed to repeated impacts from abrasion.

If people have thoughts on what else should be done, I'd love to hear it. If people have specs they'd like to donate to this experiment (as per the above) PM us.

We understand this will not convince everyone, nothing will. We also understand there is no way to prove these are natural - that point has been made abundantly clear. But, maybe, if the pieces that are known to be manmade means can be easily distinguished from the other specimens, the debate will be reset somewhat. Ideally we would have a team of mineralogists who are so rich they couldn't be bought off and who have no families that could be threatened by unscrupulous gangster miners, see them in situ. But lacking that, this is the only idea we have come up with.

As we get pictures and information mindat will be where we post everything. Would an article would be the best vehicle? There will be LOTs of pictures if we can get this experiment off the ground (which depends largely on obtaining a variety of known manmade specimens).

Note: We do not have permission to use a Rigaku or similar device yet, we am working on that. We do have permission to take advantage of an SEM, however.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2010 05:25PM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 03:48PM
An article would be the best way to present this! Unlike magazine articles, people can comment to them!
avatar Re: Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?
May 08, 2010 07:18PM
you mention having access to specimens with "kaolinite" inside. A SEM-picture of such material from the cavities would be highly interesting. They might turn out to be a natural clay mineral - or possibly remnants of an abrasive material... ?

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