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Fluorite, United Kingdom

Posted by Jesse Fisher  
avatar Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 12:54AM
    
Click here to view Best Minerals Fluorite and here for Best Minerals F 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?
(hint, hint...Helen, I know you're watching!)


Fluorite
United Kingdom
England

© Jesse Fisher, 2009

Fluorite, Eastgate (Blue Circle) Cement Quarry, Weardale, County Durham, England. Crystal is 2.5 cm on edge.

There are several mining districts in the United Kingdom (all in England) that have produced notable fluorite specimens. These include the polymetallic deposits of Devon and Cornwall, the lead-fluorspar deposits of the Peaks District in Derbyshire, and the North Pennines Orefield, centering around the Weardale region in County Durham and spilling over into portions of Cumbria to the west and Northumberland to the north. Of these, the Weardale region is perhaps the best known because of quantity and overall quality of specimens produced from the mines there.

The North Pennines Orefield, England

The mineralization of the North Pennines Orefield is a classic example of the Mississippi Valley-Type base metal-fluorspar-barium ore deposits and bears striking resemblance to the fluorspar deposits of Southern Illinois. Mining in the region is documented back to the 13th century and may stretch back to the Roman Era. Prior to the late 19th century mining was primarily for lead and to a lesser degree iron, silver and zinc. A collapse in the international lead market in 1880 forced closure of many of the mines and resulted in mass immigration of local inhabitants to Australia, New Zealand, and the Western US.

During the 20th century industrial demands for fluorspar, and to a lesser extent barite caused a resurgence of mining in the region and it was during this period that many of the specimens in modern collections were recovered. As with many other developed countries, by the end of the century the high costs of mining meant that raw materials could be imported more cheaply from places such as China, and the last commercial mines in the Weardale region closed in 1999. While there are dozens, if not hundreds of mines and prospects in the region that have produced the odd specimen, only a few stand out, and I will focus on those that have produced what I think of as "world-class" specimens.

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Northumberland, East Allendale, Allenheads Mine (Beaumont Mine)
© 2006, Jesse Fisher

A cluster of pale lavender twinned fluorite crystals up to 1.5 cm on edge, along with sphalerite and minor siderite. 13x7x6 cm overall size. Specimen recovered from the Diana Vein during the British Steel period of operation in the 1970s.

Photo 2
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The Allenheads Mine was one of the most prolific lead mines in the region during the early to mid-19th century. Despite this, few identifiable specimens from the mine survive. In the late 1960s the mine was reopened under the name "Beaumont Mine" by British Steel for fluorspar. The mine was not an economic success and closed in 1981. Some excellent specimens of pale lavender twinned fluorite, associated with sphalerite and siderite were recovered from the Diana Vein during this period.

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Cumbria, Alston Moor District
© 2009 Jesse Fisher

A mound of lustrous, intensely purple penetration twin fluorite crystals up to 2.6 cm in size. 11x10x6 cm overall size. Specimen is from the Philadelphia Academy of Science, Dr. T. B. Wilson collection (n. 26657) dating from around 1860.

Photo 2

Sometime during the mid 19th century there appears to have been a find of lustrous, intensely purple twinned fluorite at an unknown location in the North Pennines. Specimens bearing a strong resemblance to each other, and likely from the same occurrence can be found in the Natural History Museum, London, The Huntarian Museum in Glasgow, The Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, and in the now deaccessioned part of the collection from the Philadelphia Academy of Science. The acquisition of all specimens can be dated to 1850-1860 and none bear any more exact location information than "Cumberland" or "Alston Moor." This attribution is likely due to the fact that the local mineral dealers of the time mostly worked out of the village of Alston. If "Alston Moor" is correct, the Rotherhope Fell Mine is a possibility. It is equally possible they could have come from an unrecorded mine in Weardale, to the east. Regardless, they are some of the most beautiful purple fluorites to have come from the region.

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Blackdene Mine
© Jesse Fisher, 2009

A purple twinned fluorite crystal, 2.2 cm on edge, sitting on a cluster of smaller opaque fluorite crystals. 7x5x5 cm overall. Recovered in 1965 from the Slitt Vein

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The Blackdene Mine, located near the village of Ireshopeburn has a recorded history as a lead mine back to the early 17th century. It was reopened during the 20th century for fluorspar and was most productive between the mid-1960s - 1980s when operated by British Steel. The mine was a prolific specimen-producer and is primarily known for clusters of purple twinned fluorite crystals, often associated with galena, calcite and/or quartz. Other colors including greens and yellows were also found on occasion.


Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Rookhope, Boltsburn Mine
© 2008 Jesse Fisher

A large penetration-twinned fluorite crystal, 7 cm across, with a fine coating of siderite and quartz on a couple faces. Likely recovered circa 1920.

Photo 2
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Photo 4
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The Boltsburn Mine is located in the village of Rookhope along a northern tributary to the River Wear. The mine was principally active between 1892 and 1931. The ore deposits, which were found in highly developed metasomatic replacement horizons, known locally as "flats," were incredibly rich in both galena and fluorite. Because of this, the Boltsburn was one of the few mines that remained economic after the lead market crash. The mine was a prolific source of fluorite specimens, which occurred in clusters of gemmy twinned crystals reportedly up to 10 inches (25 cm) on edge. Many of these crystals were of optical quality and it is likely that the best were sold to German firms for use in precision optical instruments. The most common color for fluorite from the mine is lavender to wine-purple, though a wide variety of colors were produced. Specimens from the mine can still be found in many public and private collections, and an excellent suite can be seen in the Sir Arthur Russell collection, housed in the Natural History Museum, London (unfortunately, not on display).

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Cumbria, Alston Moor, Nenthead, Brownley Hill Mine
© 2008 Jesse Fisher

A cluster of untwined, amber-yellow fluorite crystals up to 3 cm on edge, from the Jug Vein, Brownley Hill Mine. Small chalcopyrite crystals are present on some crystal faces. 10x6x5 cm overall size.

The Brownley Hill Mine, located near the village of Nenthead was worked for lead ore during the 19th century, and later for zinc. The mine closed in 1936. The mine is on the margin of the fluorite zone, centering on Weardale to the east. While the mine has produced some interesting specimens of amber-colored fluorite (primarily from the Jug Vein), it is best known as the type locality for Alstonite.

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Cambokeels Mine
© Jesse Fisher, 2009

A cluster of pale aqua-blue penetration twin fluorite crystals up to 2.4 cm across, with minor white crystalline quartz and fine grained pyrite. 6x5x4 cm overall size. Found 1987 in the 320 level, Zinc flats, Slitt vein.

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The Cambokeels Mine, also called Cammok Eals, is located near the village of Eastgate. It was established as a lead mine during the 19th century and reopened during the mid 20th century for fluorspar. It's most productive period was in the 1970s and 1980s during which time it became the deepest mine in the region. It is primarily known for specimens of colorless to very pale blue twinned fluorite, usually associated with quartz. On several occasions cavities of lavender-purple fluorite were found as well. Besides fluorite, the mine produced excellent specimens of calcite and pyrrhotite. Closed in 1989.


United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Eastgate Cement Quarry
© 2007 Jesse Fisher

A gemmy penetration-twinned green fluorite crystal, 2 cm on edge, associated with galena on limestone matrix.

Also known as the Blue Circle Quarry, this was a large open-cast quarry worked for limestone, which was used to manufacture cement on site. The quarry was opened in the mid-1960s and closed in 2004. The cement plant has since been demolished and the site is being reclaimed. While in operation the quarrying intersected one or more mineralized veins, which yielded a sporadic supply of crystallized fluorite specimens, primarily green in color to weekend visitors and entrepreneurial quarrymen.


Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Rookhope, Frazer's Hush Mine
© 2009, Jesse Fisher

A purple fluorite penetration twin, 2.5 cm on edge, on a matrix of fine grain sphalerite and galena. 10x7x5 cm overall size. Recovered from the 340 level, Greencleugh vein, in 1988.

The Frazers Hush Mine was established on the site of some old lead workings in the upper reaches of Rookhopeburn during the 1970s. The mine was not known as a great specimen producer until a major cavity of lustrous, deep purple twinned fluorite crystals was encountered in 1987. The mine eventually joined up underground with the neighboring Groverake Mine, both of which closed in 1999.

United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Heights Mine and Quarry
© 2008 Jesse Fisher

A transparent, deep green twinned fluorite crystal, 2.5 cm on edge, perched a triangular piece of ironstone matrix. 5.5x4.5x3.5 cm overall. Specimen recovered from the North Vein in 1977.

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The Heights Mine, near the village of Eastgate, was originally established as an iron mine sometime around 1850 and worked until around 1870. The resulting underground workings were a popular, if not dangerous destination for weekend collectors during the 1960s - 1970s, and it is during this time that many of the specimens the mine is known for were recovered. An open-cast quarry worked for crushed stone now occupies the site and over the past 20 years has destroyed much of the old mine workings. Despite the fact that the quarry management is "unsympathetic" toward mineral collectors, new specimens still occasionally find their way out. There are three specimen producing veins that have been worked by the mine, and while the greens are the most famous, the mine also produces a wide variety of other colors.


United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Cumbria, Scordale, Hilton Mine
© 2008 Jesse Fisher

A gemmy, penetration-twinned yellow fluorite crystal, 2 cm on edge, on a bed of smaller yellow fluorite crystals and some ironstone matrix. 4x4x4 cm overall.

Photo 2

Located along the escarpment that defines the western boundary of the North Pennines, the Hilton Mine has produced some of the finest yellow-amber fluorite in the region. The mine was first developed for lead during the 19th century and then worked for barite and witherite during the early 20th, closing prior to the second world war. During the 1960s - 1970s it was the site of much amateur collecting and many excellent specimens of fluorite were recovered. The area around the mine is now part of a military maneuvers range and access to the mine is forbidden.

United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Rogerley Mine
© 2007 Jesse Fisher

A plate of dark green fluorite, 15 cm across, containing numerous sharp penetration-twinned crystals up to 3.8 cm on edge. Recovered from the Jewel Box Pocket, August 2007.

Photo 2
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The Rogerley Mine was developed in the 1970s on a mineralized vein discovered in a disused limestone quarry located near the village of Frosterley by local collectors Lindsay Greenbank and Mick Sutcliffe. The mine was worked for fluorite specimens by the partners on a weekend basis until the mid-1990s, when it was turned over to a group of American collectors who have operated the mine on a seasonal basis since. The mine accesses a series of mineralized flats which have produced a fair amount of green fluorite, much of simply average quality. During the summer of 2007 a new mineralized zone was encountered that has yielded specimens of a much higher quality.


United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Cumbria, Alston Moor, Rotherhope Fell Mine
© 2006, Jesse Fisher

A well-formed penetration-twinned fluorite crystal, 3 cm in size, perched on a wedge of white crystalline quartz, with a few small galena crystals. Likely recovered from flats in the Tynebottom Limestone circa 1930.

Photo 2
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The Rotherhope Fell Mine (also known as Rodderup Fell), near the village of Garrigill, was first worked for lead in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the early 20th it transitioned to zinc and fluorspar, closing in 1947. During the late 1920s - early 1930s a series of mineralized flats were encountered that produced fluorite specimens rivaling those from the Boltsburn in quality. Most were purple twins with well developed internal color zonations, usually associated with quartz, calcite and/or galena. One cavity yielded a number of exceptional fluorite specimens colored amber over purple core. Many are preserved in the Russell collection at the Natural History Museum, London.

Fluorite
United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, Northumberland, East Allendale, Spartey Lea, St. Peter's Mine
© 2009, Jesse Fisher

A mound of large, untwined amber/yellow fluorite crystals up to 5 cm on edge, with a partial overcoat of fine white crystalline quartz. Recovered in 1996.

Photo 2

The St. Peter's Mine is located in East Allendale about half way between Allenheads and Allendale Town. Discovered in 1902, it was worked for lead up to 1946. During the 1930s a large cavity of bright green fluorite associated with galena was discovered. The majority of it was acquired by Sir Arthur Russell and is now in the Natural History Museum, London along with the rest of his collection. During the mid-1990s a group of local collectors received permission to collect in the mine and though they never found the source of the green fluorite, recovered some very good specimens of amber-yellow fluorite, often associated with quartz and siderite. The project was recently abandoned because of safety concerns in the old mine workings.

United Kingdom
England, North Pennines, County Durham, Weardale, Middlehope Shield Mine, White's Level
© 2005, Jesse Fisher


Photo 2

The earliest documented find of fluorite specimens in the Weardale region occurred in 1818 at White's Level, along Middlehopeburn just north of Westgate. The specimens are plates and clusters of twinned green fluorite, the color of which has usually faded from exposure to sunlight over time. Though often mislabeled as "Heights Mine" the specimens can be identified by the tan, sandy-textured matrix and unusual rounding on the cube edges. The find must have been substantial as specimens are still found almost 2 centuries later in many public and private collections.

United Kingdom
England, Cumbria, West Cumbrian Iron Ore Field, Egremont, Ullcoats/Florence Orebody
© 2009 Jesse Fisher


Photo 2
Photo 3
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Although the West Cumbrian (Cumberland) Iron Ore Fields are best known for their spectacular specimens of calcite and barite, several mines near the village of Egremont have also yielded some very nice specimens of cubic, sky-blue fluorite, associated with quartz, dolomite, and/or hematite. These mines, the Florence, Ullcoats, and Beckerment were primarily active between 1900 - 1968, though the Florence mine survived at a low level of activity until 2007. All three mines accessed the same orebody and in later years were joined up underground into one large mining complex. Specimens can be found attributed to all three mines, but this likely just indicated which shaft the specimen was brought out through, as they are otherwise indistinguishable.

References

Dunham, K. C., 1990, Geology of the Northern Pennine orefield, v. I, 2nd Ed. British Geological Survey, London, 299 p.

Fisher, J., and L. Greenbank. 2003. The Rogerley mine, Weardale, County Durham, England, UK Journal of Mines and Minerals, 23:9-20.

Fisher, J., 2004. Fluorite from the North Pennines Orefield, England, Rocks & Minerals, 79(6):378-398.

Fisher, J., 2005. Les gisements de fluorite des Pennines du Nord, Weardale, Angleterre, Le Règne Minéral, 66:5-27. (in French)

Symes, R. F., and B. Young, 2008, Minerals of Northern England, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, 208 p.



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



Edited 17 time(s). Last edit at 07/26/2010 06:52AM by Rock Currier.
avatar Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 17, 2009 07:09PM
See Jesse Fisher's good article below that is under construction.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2009 01:08AM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 18, 2009 10:46PM
Rock,
So do other countries get their own fluorite threads, or do they all get combined eventually?
Ralph. Its a tricky one but I just hope we dont start international incidents with every country demanding their own fluorite thread etc, or it could get messy.
Ralph


Ralph,
Our current thinking is that some minerals are so huge that a single thread for them all will make the article a mile long and in these cases like for Gypsum, Calcite, Fluorite, Barite and Quartz (there may be more later), for each of those minerals, there will be a separate thread for each country producing significant fluorite specimens. Quartz and Calcite are the monsters and we are still trying to figure out what to do about them. Any suggestions?

I don't think we need to worry about every country wanting their own thread. Even if we gave each country its fluorite thread, there are not all that many countries. For a mineral like quartz, that is exactly what will have to happen. The way we handle it is to tell them:

OK if you want your own thread, come on in her and get your but to work! Upload some pictures and generate some content. When we get it into shape with the format of the other articles, we will post as the official thread. Of course you will be expected to listen to the rude comments of others telling you what mistakes you have made and how you should be doing it their way instead of the way you would like, and if their comments have merit, inspite of their rudeness you will need to be polite and incorporate their ideas into the article and more than that, give them credit for their good ideas.

I have found that this seldom fails to dampen the enthusiasm of those that think they can do it better than you.

Rock

Regards,
Ralph



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2009 01:15AM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 18, 2009 11:22PM
    
Actually I think Jesse is interested in doing that. There is a limit as to how long an individual thread can be (azurite is close to maximum length - 64000 characters)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2009 01:54PM by David Von Bargen.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 19, 2009 07:58AM
    
I think the UK and several other countries (like France, Spain, Germany, USA, Mexico, Namibia/South Afrika, Russia) should indeed get a thread of their own for the reason that these countries have so many outstanding localities delivering even so many distinctly different specimens (f.i. Switzerland should not, not because of the quality but rather because most of the Fluorite occurs in the same habit and colour)

Quartz will be very huge this way so maybe you could divide the Quartz page into bigger geographic regions, like f.i. Northern Europe, Central Europe etc and make an extra page for especially prolific sub-regions like f.i. The Alps

Cheers

Harjo
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 09:57AM
Jessie,
Thats really good stuff and great pictures. Now comes the nasty nitpicking hard part. Are you ready for some red ink? I always hate this job. I find the most fun is learning new stuff and writing it up, but hate the endless tweaking and formatting. But I think the formatting is necessary. Imagine what chaos there would be if all the authors of Dana over the years were not constrained to using the same agreed upon format.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2009 10:33AM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 03:42PM
    
Rock,

I've written how many articles? Dealt with how many editors? Had how many thesis advisers with how many red pens while in university? Actually, I recall one who insisted on using blue, just to be different. Al least in computer format I don't have to worry about not being able to reading your handwriting. It's kind of embarrassing to have to go knocking on one's adviser's door and ask for a translation of his scribbling.

Today, I'm up to my eyeballs in tax accounting spreadsheets (personal and two businesses). I'll get back to this when I get sick of that. In otherwords, pretty soon.

Jesse
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 04:03PM
    
I will look if I can add some stuff over time, you're always free to use one of my photo's if necessary (or desired) for the article of course...
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 04:28PM
    
How about "Blue John"? (yes, I know - lapidary material - ugh)
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 05:00PM
    
I have some specimens from the Castleton area that have not the obvious "Blue John" relation, might be intresting?
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 07:27PM
    
Blue John is from the Peaks District in Derbyshire. Different place than the North Pennines Orefield.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 20, 2009 11:33PM
What? No cornish fluorite?

We need some better cornish fluorite photos - that's for sure.

Best I could come up with were 29417,133140 and 134278 - we need more.

Jolyon
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 21, 2009 01:06AM
Jessie, Already you can see how badly you screwed up. All the good suggestions that are coming in. You are going to have to go ahead and do the rest of the United Kingdom, right? And use pictures from other people and some of their ideas and text? And give them credit too? You can'e expect to hog the whole of the United Kingdom or yourself can you? Great pictures by the way. We really need several more for each of the mines you covered. They don't necessarily have to appear in the article, but can be linked. Oh yes, by the way you should not spend more than 60 hours a week on this stuff.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2009 01:19AM by Rock Currier.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 21, 2009 06:16AM
    
Don't worry Rock, I've got plenty more pictures of this northern stuff, and I'll get to them soon.

I'm not really up to speed on the south, however. If Fearless Leader would like something on Cornwall and Devon, I suggest harranging Ian Jones about it. A few pints of Fullers at the Churchill Arms should make him more pliable

Cheers
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 21, 2009 09:35AM
    
I haven't got my books and data here at the moment, but I would be more than happy to say something on the Nenthead mines (Brownley hill mine/ Rampgill mine/...). I could use following pictures, but I don't know if they are good enough to e used in the article.

Yellow fluorite with blue zoning on Quartz partially covered by Sphalerite. From recent finds at the Boundary Cross vein in Rampgill mine.© PM 2008


Small colourless to purple cubes with modified crystal corners on a Sphalerite matrix. Recently recovered by mine explorers in an unknown part of the Rampgill mine© PM 2009


I am not up to speed yet with the BBcodes from the forum, so help there is welcome...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2009 07:52PM by David Von Bargen.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 21, 2009 11:13AM
    
ok, i give in - will cull my lapis article and add something about devon and cornwall soon as i have a moment.

the south-west has an equally striking combination of colors and crystal habits as the pennines and deserves more recognition. they are a lot less common unfortunately.

photos might be a bit of a problem, will see if i can get a few taken next time i'm in the bm.

"a few pints of fullers" - mmmm!
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 21, 2009 12:17PM
Philip, Yes, the pictures are good enough. Probably more than good enough compared to some of the rubbish I have been using. Yes, jump in and help create some content. Remember we need to stick to the format.

I am glad you posted your stuff, I could tell he was weakening and you pushed him over the edge.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 22, 2009 08:09PM
    
Excellent collection of photographs and excellent writing Jesse!

Cheers

Harjo
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 23, 2009 04:23AM
    
Hello Harjo,

Flattery may not get you everywhere but at least somewhere near the fluorite. Are you going to make it back again this summer to dig some more? At least you now know better than to leave your finds with us to sort out when it all gets to California.

cheers,
Jesse
avatar Re: Fluorite, United Kingdom
March 23, 2009 11:27AM
    
Hahaha, yes I'll try to come over, maybe around the 18th of July, hope we can have a few pints together!
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