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Alabandite

Posted by Rock Currier  
avatar Alabandite
January 26, 2009 12:16AM
Click here to view Best Minerals A and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.


Can you help make this a better article? What good localities have we missed? Can you supply pictures of better specimens than those we show here? Can you give us more and better information about the specimens from these localities? Can you supply better geological or historical information on these localities?


Alabandite Display collections.
Mn2+S cubic
Alabandite, Uchucchacua Mine, Lima Department, Peru. ~7.5 cm across and largest crystal 2.5cm©

Alabandite is a black manganese mineral and one that most collectors don't fight over let alone know much about. The Handbook of Mineralogy that usually lists the size of the largest crystals is silent on the subject so I will say that probably the largest crystals are about in inch in diameter and are those from the classical locality of Nagyág, Romania and the recent find (2008?) at Uchucchacua Mine, Peru. The specimens Nagyág do not appear to be free standing crystals like those from the newer Peruvian locality and the specimen pictured above may be the best specimen of alabandite from anywhere. Also very desirable are the somewhat divergent radial fans of crystals from the find at Broken Hill Australia which if my memory serves me are sometimes in "fans" up to about 15 cm. They may have grown a bit in my memory and if some kind Australian chap with a ruler can measure what the largest ones are, Ill be glad to make the necessary corrections here. The Australian specimens are not very well crystallized but represent freestanding material. Mindat currently lists a few more than 200 localities for the mineral. I have selected a few of them that I consider to be the "better" localities to be listed below with some description or a picture(s). If you think other localities should be listed here, respond with a thread entry of your own and make your case and provide a good picture and we will add it to the localities represented below.
[Rock Currier, 25 January 2009]


Alabandite
Australia
New South Wales, Yancowinna Co. Broken Hill, Zinc Corporation Mine
Alabandite, 4.3 cm across.©
Alabandite ~4.2 cm across© Rob Lavinsky

Alabandite ~10 cm tall©
Alabandite on Calcite ~23 cm across©

A remarkable find of matte black alabandite in arborescent forms was found in the 1960’s on the 18th level of this mine. There were probably several hundred specimens of this material found in pieces up to about a foot in diameter. The crystal shape on these specimens is poor but the arborescent formations that the crystals make are attractive. You may find a good one for sale, but the odds are against it. Some of the specimens show steep stacked hexagonal pyramids that make up the various "ribs" and it has been suggested that the "fans" of alabandite from this locality may be pseudomorphs. Ralph Bottrill says "The Broken Hill material is complex - it probably formed as sprays of acanthine crystals of the hexagonal, high temperature polymorph (rambergite), which inverted on cooling to a mixture or crystalline and earthy alabandite. It has also been partly altered to a thin coating of rhodochrosite and haussmanite."1. So these pseudomorphs at one time may have been the finest Rambergites ever known. Albert Chapman traded a beautiful one to the British Museum of Natural History for a wonderful bournonite from Herodsfoot, Liskeard, Cornwall. Today the bournonite would probably sell for more than $100,000. Well today Albert's Herodsfoot bournonite is in an Australian museum and not likely escape any time soon, and the British Museum has one of the best of these alabandite specimen in their display. In the overall scheme of things probably not a bad deal.
1. Personal communication Ralph Bottrill 2009.


Alabandite
Peru
Lima Department, Oyon Province, Uchucchacua Mine
Alabanite, 2.5cm tall© Weinrich Minerals, Inc.
Alabandite 3.3cm tall© fabreminerals.com


Alabandite 7cm wide© Weinrich Minerals, Inc.
Alabandite & Calcite 4.9cm tall© TVM


Alabandite on Rhodochrosite, 4.5cm wide© Ed Richard


This silver mine is usually better known for its rhodochrosite specimens and various silver sulphide minerals. At Tucson 2009 Bill Pinch (Tucson, Arizona) found this wonderful alabandite specimen with Jaroslav Hyrsl who has for many years specialized in specimens from Peru. He found this specimen in a small collection of specimens from the mine and it may be the finest specimen of alabandite from anywhere. Since that time quite a few other specimens of fine alabandite crystals have been found at the mine and have appeared on the market. It is undoubtedly the best locality yet discovered for this species.


Alabandite
Romania
Hunedoara Co., Sacarîmb (Sãcãrâmb; Szekerembe; Nagyág),

Alabandite crystals up to ~2 cm©



This is the type locality for alabandite. Sometimes they produced large somewhat rough black isometric crystals (not free standing) up to almost 3 cm were found. If you like good crystal shape over pretty arborescent forms, you will want to try for one of these. I think a hen’s tooth or chicken lips would be easier to find.
[Rock Currier, 25 January 09]

Alabandite
Russia
Eastern-Siberian Region, Saha Republic (Sakha Republic; Yakutia), Oimyakon ulus, Suntar-Khayata Range,Kongor river, Vysokogornoe Mn deposit
Alabandite, 2x2 cm specimen.© Paul Bongaerts
Alabandite ~1.7 cm across© CCURTO2008


Alabandite, ~7cm across© Pavel M. Kartashov


The MinDat description of the locality says: ...veinlets of pure alabandine in granite host rock become pure rodochrosite ones in shist host rocks.
[Rock Currier, 25 January 09]


Alabandite
Sweden
Dalarna, Hedemora, Garpenberg, Garpenberg Norra Mine (Garpenberg North Mine)
Alabandite, large crystal ~2mm.© Knut Eldjarn
Tiny Alabandite xl on Pyrrhotite & Calcite mm.© AÖ

The crystals from this locality are found up to about 5mm. They are found scattered on calcite crystals with pyrrhotite, rambergite and other sulfides. The locality is a scarn that is mined for base metals. The specimens were mostly found about 1995 to 2000. Some collectors had a good relationship with the mine management and the management put some of the material out on the dump for collectors to collect and it was from this dump material that most of the specimens were produced. Only a few hundred specimens were produced.
[Rock Currier & Knut Edljarn, February 09]

The associated minerals together with the alabandite crystals on calcite crystals are pyrrhotite, asphaltum, pyrite(?), and cubanite but NOT rambergite. As far as I know- most of this material came from deep levels~800 m (my own selfcollected are from 790).

Rambergite occurs in small cavities together with fluorite, apofyllite, calcite, barite, sphalerite, galena, samsonite, pyrargyrite, pyrrhotite and small amounts of freibergite. ( transl from summary descr: [www.nrm.se]). The 2 Rambergite crystals I have occur in a diopside-rhodo skarn.

The phrase "and the management put some of the material out on the dump for collectors to collect" is somewhat imprecise. The dumps was created as an intermediate storage for the mine, not intended for collectors but the management did allow collecting if one asked for permission.
[Aksel Österlöf 2012]



Alabandite
Tanzania
Manyara Region, Simanjiro District, Lelatema Mts, Merelani Hills (Mererani)

Alabandite 3cm wide© Marin Mineral



Alabandite
USA
Arizona, Cochise Co, Tombstone Hills, Tombstone Dist., Tombstone, Lucky Cuss Mine (Escondido Mine; Escondido claims; McCann Mine; Wedge Mine)

Alabandite 2cm wide© JF Carpentier 2007


In the American Museum of Natural History, probably part of the Bement collection are several specimens of alabandite that have pure cleavable masses of black alabandite up to a bit more than 2 inches across.1 It would be very nice to know more about the alabandites from this locality, like what mine they came from, their geological setting, the minerals they formed with, etc, but since the mines in that district have been closed for so long and the specimens are more than 100 years old it is more than likely that the person(s) who collected them and knew about them are long dead. There is a reference to Alabandite for the Lucky Cuss mine that dates back to 1892, so we have already lost whoever could tell us about those specimens.2
1. Demetrous Pohl, personal communication February 2009. 2. Mineralogy of Arizona, Anthony, Williams, Bideaux & Grant, 3rd edition p.104.


Alabandite
USA
New Mexico, Sierra Co. Grandview Canyon District, Grandview Mine

Alabandite FOV 1.4mm© 1


We need someone to tell us about the Alabandite specimens from this locality.



Click here to view Best Minerals A and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 49 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2014 10:44PM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Alabandite
January 26, 2009 03:30PM
    
Coarse-crystalline material from Nagyag (TL of alabandite), associated with rhodochrosite: [www.mindat.org]
avatar Re: Alabandite
January 28, 2009 01:18AM
    
avatar Re: Alabandite
January 28, 2009 09:52PM
    
Are The Broken Hill Alabandite fans pseudos after something? They look like it, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with Broken Hill to make any suggestions.
avatar Re: Alabandite
February 04, 2009 12:03AM
Thanks all for your suggestions. You will note that I have added a picture of alabandite and rhodochrosite from Roumania. I will shortly upload a picture of big alabandite crystals in matrix of a specimen that I photographed in the British Museum years ago and that will replace the picture of the massive alabandite from this famous locality though I will still keep it as a linked image. I have often wondered if the fan like alabandites from Broken Hill might be pseudomorphs, but like Rob, I don't know enough about them to speculate. Perhaps when we put this out on the general website, some of the Australian guys will step up and help us out.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
February 05, 2009 09:09PM
    
Dear Rock,
look this [www.mindat.org] I made improvements in the locality.
avatar Re: Alabandite
February 21, 2009 12:04AM
    
[www.mindat.org]
Nice specimen
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 12, 2009 09:38AM
The Broken Hill material is complex - it probably formed as sprays of acanthine crystals of the hexagonal, high temperature polymorph (rambergite), which inverted on cooling to a mixture or crystalline and earthy alabandite. It has also been partly altered to a thin coating of rhodochrosite and haussmanite.

Regards,
Ralph
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 12, 2009 11:56PM
    
Last night I finally opened my Minerals of Broken Hill and was really impressed. As Ralf mentions what you are looking at is a pseudo. The book says the interior is an earthy green black Alabandite. The word "earthy" certainly suggests a pseudomorph and the book has three idealized diagrams of hemimorphic (!!!) hexagonal xls that could be seen in the Alabandites as mentioned by Rock. The book says these are quite rare with only two very small locations in the mine.

I have seen a couple of these specimens and unfortunately any hexagonality was imaginary on those. Oddly Alabandite has a Galena structure and Rambergite a Wurtzite stucture. Changing the coordination number of the Mn from 4 in Rambergite to 6 in Alabandite should be quite disruptive and could well lead to the earthyness of the Alabandite.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2009 04:46PM by Rob Woodside.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 12:49PM
Thanks all for your comments for improvements on the article. I have changed out some images and added some new ones and well as changing the text where needed.

Pavel, I have linked your two new images alabandite to the Vysokogornoe Mn information. Is Oimyakon ulus correct? ulus? Can you give us any other information about this locality? Is there a mine there? How abundant is the alabandite? Any crystallized specimens from the deposit?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 02:59PM
    
Hi Rock,

The Lucky Cuss mine at Tombstone is cited in the Mineralogy of Arizona with a reference going back to 1892. I absolutely LOVE the specimen photos! I hereby nominate you as President of the Dark Minerals Lovers Society---we could meet in some dimly-lit room at the Tucson Show and discuss our fascination with alabandite, arsenic, manganite, pyrolusite and stibarsen. We could bow in reverence to a large English kidney ore, rub a little "wad" under our eyes and hold a social teallite party. We could sneer about tourmaline collectors and brush aside any excitement over new rhodo finds in China.

Anyway, I loved the photos and the accompanying text---the Peruvian alabandite is unreal and the Broken Hill piece leaves me with mangano-envy! Great stuff.


Dana
Queen Creek, AZ
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 06:15PM
    
Rock , I tweeked your Rambergite to point out that it doesn't occur in good xls and the alabandites were the finest Rambergites known.

It was also found in the New Broken Hill Corpation Mine, 30m south of the boundary with the Zinc Corporation Mine, 27m above the 20th level. Photos of this occurence show two main patches of Alabandite 15 to 20 cm long and 10 to 15 cm wide resembling heaps of mud thrown against the wall. In both mines, these occurences were on open fractures lined by calcite, some pyrite, and chloritic material. In the Zinc Corpration Mine the alabandite occurred lining the walls of a vugh measuring 1.3x1x0.03 m. So these are rare specimens and there seems no way to sort out which of these vughs produced a given specimen! The Minerals of Broken Hill (pg 70) further states that the dark brown colour is "due to a surface alteration of Hausmannite over a thin layer of Rhodochrosite, but on freshly broken surfaces the Alabandite is dark olive green and earthy. Very small crystals of colourless Chabazite, pale-yellow sulphur and cream barite generally speckle the surface of the altered Alabandite."
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 09:27PM
Bob, thanks for your help. I have made a few little changes and it is now a better article. Just imagine how many more changes will be made in the future.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 10:35PM
Is it a good idea to have the alabandite photo from Peru twice? I know it may be the world's best, but is that still justification for repetition?

Jolyon
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 11:41PM
Dana,
I am getting all hot and sweaty just thinking about it. Would you like to undertake to create an article for Best Minerals for one of the minerals you mention?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 15, 2009 11:45PM
Jolyon,
I am not particularly comfortable with that either, but I try and choose the best specimen I can for the lead in image for the species. So far, that is also the only image of alabandite for Uchucchacua and until such time as we have a more generous selection of them to choose from Ill live with it. There are also a couple of other minerals where I have done the same thing. We can at any time easily switch them out for other images if we decide we just can't live with it.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 16, 2009 04:09AM
Rob
The New Broken Hill Corpation Mine and Zinc Corporation Mine worked the same deposits and merged operations, so the mine is generally now known as the ZC/NBHC mine, and this may be a better location designation. The local miners could often tell where the minerals came from to the nearest metre but as the alabandites have not been found for about 40 years or more, it may be hard to track down the exact locations now. Sadly I did not record enough of this info when I worked there 25 years ago (most went into the Minerals of Broken Hill book).
Ralph

Regards,
Ralph
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 16, 2009 09:16AM
Jolyon,
As a further answer to your concern about using the same image twice in the alabandite thread, I thought I should inform you that there is this informal rule her in the Best Minerals dungeon that who ever creates the content for a Best Mineral thread has the privilege of choosing the images that are used with it. Certainly a miserly enough perk for all the work involved.

For instance, since you are apparently interested in gypsum, if you undertake the task of creating the Best Gypsum article you will get the privilege of picking out the pictures. I have even gone to the trouble of going through all the gypsum pictures on mindat and selecting all the better ones. I have placed them in the gypsum thread and you can use them or not to get started on the article. What's that you say? You have your hands full already trying to keep mindat on line? I don't doubt it.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 16, 2009 10:04AM
I'd be delighted to take on the challenge of the gypsum article (once I have a moment of free time). I totally understand the issue about the Alabandite picture - but a question - is the intention to keep the locations listed in each article in alphabetical order (which makes sense), or to order them differently, perhaps in order of significance? In which case, the peruvian alabandite locality could be discussed first and the duplicate photo rendered unnecessary - just an idea for discussion rather than a strong opinion from me.

Jolyon
avatar Re: Alabandite
March 16, 2009 10:11AM
The current order is intended to by by country and then by state (primary political subdivision) etc. Sort of a reverse mindat locality string. The reason for that is that people using the articles will probably first look for specimens from their country and then from their state, province, county etc, etc. To order them by their "importance" is just inviting endless wrangling about which is the most important and I really don't want to get into that. Hopefully we will eventually have many good alabandite specimens uploaded to mindat and we won't have to suffer duplicate photos.

When it comes to the big minerals like quartz, I think there will be a thread for each country like Quartz, Russia and Quartz, USA and then the political subdivisions. Even so, some of the threads may become so long that they may have to be broken up into separate forums.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2009 11:17AM by Rock Currier.
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