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Mindat Adventure tour. Science and minerals of Switzerland. August 2019

Last Updated: 17th Mar 2019

Introduction

Last year we successfully completed a Mindat Adventure tour to Swiss Alps. The positive feedback from the participants of previous Mindat Adventure and other groups inspired our team to suggest the new journey to Switzerland. We changed the program and made it more flexible for people of any age and interests.

Participants of the Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018 in the inner part of the Lengenbach quarry
Participants of the Goldschmidt Field Trip to Swiss Alps nearby the Tchappina Village. August 2017.
Participants of the Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018 in the inner part of the Lengenbach quarry
Participants of the Goldschmidt Field Trip to Swiss Alps nearby the Tchappina Village. August 2017.
Participants of the Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018 in the inner part of the Lengenbach quarry
Participants of the Goldschmidt Field Trip to Swiss Alps nearby the Tchappina Village. August 2017.


Unfortunately, Switzerland is not the cheapest place in Europe by far, but it has an incredible amount of things to offer. Best trains (that are always on time), breathtaking views of mountain peaks and gorges, well-known scientific laboratories (e.g. CERN supercollider facility or Swiss Light Source) and geological variety that can hardly be compared to any place on Earth. Our team has been organizing geological tours in Switzerland for years by now and this allows us to combine most scientifically interesting objects with popular attractions - and present to you in this tightly packed 4 or 8-day adventure. Unique minerals, stunning sceneries and detailed introduction to the geological setting will make this tour attractive to the mineral collectors, geologists and adventurers.

Typical landscape of Switzerland from the window of the train on the way for quartz collecting nearby the Tchappina Village.


The highlights of the forthcoming trip are:
1. Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory in Clays
2. Lengenbach quarry and a new mineralogical museum in Canton Valais, located inside the real mountain.
3. Fianel Mn mine or Druntobel (depending on the participant’s choice)
4. CERN - biggest hadron collider in the world or famous Paul Sherrer institute including Swiss Light Source / Neutron Source
5. Riburg's Salt Industry
6. Faldbachtal, Wannigletcher, Gorb Mountain and other mineralogical localities

Moreover, participants of this trip will have the possibility to explore some points of geological and scientific interests that are usually closed to the public or individual travellers.



We will be adding some secrets and specific facts from the geology of Switzerland and also about local traditions, customs and laws that are usually hard to find in open sources to the The MinDat.org community page on Facebook. Occasionally we will have short quizzes, and the ones who give the right answers first will receive big clusters of quartz as a prize (see photo below).


Quartz specimen for the winner of the quiz

Switzerland


Here is an overview of this event. As you can see, the program of some days may vary depending on the participants' choice. In case if we will have enough people one guide will help to explore the mineralogy of localities with easier access, the other - harder ones. The chance to find something rare is higher on the localities from the second column, however, it may be difficult to reach some of them by foot.

Map of the points of interests. Mindat Adventure 2019 in Swiss Alps.

For the last three days, we have an extra option of visiting some localities using a pre-booked helicopter (depending on the weather conditions). Otherwise, we will be voting for the most appropriative program for these days during each dinner.




Yellow boxes in the table show the days devoted to the exploring of Swiss science and green ones are the collecting days. The program contains two parts. The second part of the trip is prepared for more experienced mineral collectors. We will live in Zurich during the first four days and in the most mineralogical Canton in Switzerland - Valley during the second part of this tour. In the first part of the trip we are going to visit some points of interest accompanied by the professional geologists and geochemists who will also be on a tour in Switzerland in August.

Preliminary program of the field trip


Program


24th of August (SA)

The short introduction to the field trip will be provided on the way to the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory (FMT) that is located near St-Ursanne at a depth of around 300 meters below the surface near the Mont Terri motorway tunnel. Numerous international organisations are involved in a wide range of experiments (including geological and geochemical ones) in the Opalinus Clay. Then we will visit well known Zurich viewpoint called Lindenhof and small mineralogical shop with local specimens. After that, we will finish the day at the historic restaurant “Zeughauskeller” in the centre of the city.



Some visitors of Mont Terri Rock Laboratory
Some geologists, working inside the underground laboratory
Some visitors of Mont Terri Rock Laboratory
Some geologists, working inside the underground laboratory
Some visitors of Mont Terri Rock Laboratory
Some geologists, working inside the underground laboratory


25th of August (SU)



On the second day, we will be able to collect some minerals at the Lengenbach quarry. This is the mineralogical paradise of the country. More than 160 mineral species have been found here. We are going to find some rare As-Tl-bearing-sulfosalts in sugar-like dolomite on the dumps or even in the inner part of the quarry together with the local miner and the member of the Lengenbach Community. The short slide show about the mineralogy of the open-pit will be provided by Dr Thomas Raber during our lunch in "Bergkristall" Restaurant located in the typical and small Swiss village. By the way, the small towns of Valais and particularly Binn and Fald villages have been known since the Middle Ages (14th-15th century). Nothing changed in this region since the old days and no wonder that they are very popular for filming.

One of the most Tl-rich part of the Lengenbach quarry, prepared for digging
Participants of the Mindat Adventure to Swiss Alps examine the samples for sale from Lengenbach quarry in a local restaurant
One of the most Tl-rich part of the Lengenbach quarry, prepared for digging
Participants of the Mindat Adventure to Swiss Alps examine the samples for sale from Lengenbach quarry in a local restaurant
One of the most Tl-rich part of the Lengenbach quarry, prepared for digging
Participants of the Mindat Adventure to Swiss Alps examine the samples for sale from Lengenbach quarry in a local restaurant
A huge sample of baumhauerite with pyrite and realgar collected during Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018. The sample was tested using XRD by John Attard's Mineral.
Lengenbachite. Picture width 4 mm. Collection and photograph Stephan Wolfsried
A huge sample of baumhauerite with pyrite and realgar collected during Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018. The sample was tested using XRD by John Attard's Mineral.
Lengenbachite. Picture width 4 mm. Collection and photograph Stephan Wolfsried
A huge sample of baumhauerite with pyrite and realgar collected during Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018. The sample was tested using XRD by John Attard's Mineral.
Lengenbachite. Picture width 4 mm. Collection and photograph Stephan Wolfsried


The guided tour in the new (opened in September 2018) mineralogical museum “Strahlermuseum in Naters” constructed inside one of the real mountains also already confirmed for this day.



Entrance to the new museum of mineral diggers in Switzerland
Westward view of the Binntal from Turbenalp. Amir Akhavan's photo
Entrance to the new museum of mineral diggers in Switzerland
Westward view of the Binntal from Turbenalp. Amir Akhavan's photo
Entrance to the new museum of mineral diggers in Switzerland
Westward view of the Binntal from Turbenalp. Amir Akhavan's photo


26th of August (MO)



On Monday the participants will have two options. First is quite physically demanding and involves climbing and collecting at the abandoned Fianel iron and manganese mine where four new minerals were found. The Fianel Fe-Mn deposit is of syn-sedimentary to the diagenetic origin, embedded in Triassic marble belonging to the Starleranappe. It underwent multiphase Tertiary metamorphism, ranging from conditions under blue-schist - to green-schist facies. The lenticular ore body (60 x 60 x 20 m) of Fianel was mined for iron until the end of 19th century, however, it is still possible to find rare or even new minerals here.



Red fianelite micro aggregates in open altered fracture. Some ansermetite is visible in the upper left corner. Photo by Roberto Bracco
Dark red crust of ansermetite. Photo by Roberto Bossi
Red fianelite micro aggregates in open altered fracture. Some ansermetite is visible in the upper left corner. Photo by Roberto Bracco
Dark red crust of ansermetite. Photo by Roberto Bossi
Red fianelite micro aggregates in open altered fracture. Some ansermetite is visible in the upper left corner. Photo by Roberto Bracco
Dark red crust of ansermetite. Photo by Roberto Bossi


The other locality is easily accessible Druntobel. It is a narrow and steep gorge north of Sedrun (just a few hundred meters from the centre of the village), which leads up to the locality "Cuolmda Vi".Clefts in amphibolite and gneiss. This is the type locality of mineral titanite.



View on Sedrun Village from Druntobel. Photo by D.Tonkacheev. July 2013
Druntobel. August 2012. Amir Akhavan's photo
View on Sedrun Village from Druntobel. Photo by D.Tonkacheev. July 2013
Druntobel. August 2012. Amir Akhavan's photo
View on Sedrun Village from Druntobel. Photo by D.Tonkacheev. July 2013
Druntobel. August 2012. Amir Akhavan's photo


This is an excellent historic example of Titanite from Switzerland, a twinned crystal, with excellent lustre. The crystals grade from green to gemmy brown, at the apex. Associated with Adularia, which makes a nice contrast. This specimen is from 1882 and was part of the Bement collection, which was eventually donated to the American Museum in New York. This piece made its a way to Larry Conklin's collection, the last collection label.
Map of the Druntobel region with a marked position of the locality. We will have such maps available for all of the participants of the field trip.
This is an excellent historic example of Titanite from Switzerland, a twinned crystal, with excellent lustre. The crystals grade from green to gemmy brown, at the apex. Associated with Adularia, which makes a nice contrast. This specimen is from 1882 and was part of the Bement collection, which was eventually donated to the American Museum in New York. This piece made its a way to Larry Conklin's collection, the last collection label.
Map of the Druntobel region with a marked position of the locality. We will have such maps available for all of the participants of the field trip.
This is an excellent historic example of Titanite from Switzerland, a twinned crystal, with excellent lustre. The crystals grade from green to gemmy brown, at the apex. Associated with Adularia, which makes a nice contrast. This specimen is from 1882 and was part of the Bement collection, which was eventually donated to the American Museum in New York. This piece made its a way to Larry Conklin's collection, the last collection label.
Map of the Druntobel region with a marked position of the locality. We will have such maps available for all of the participants of the field trip.


27th of August (TU)



After a hard mineral collecting day, we will explore the possibilities of performing geological research at Swiss Light Source and Neutron Source with an experienced guide. All of these facilities are part of the Paul Scherrer Institute. It is the largest research centre for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland.



Guided tour for the participants of the Mindat Adventure 2018 at the Neutron Source of Paul Sherrier Institute, Switzerland.
View on the PSI from the helicopter. May 2014. Photo psi.ch
Guided tour for the participants of the Mindat Adventure 2018 at the Neutron Source of Paul Sherrier Institute, Switzerland.
View on the PSI from the helicopter. May 2014. Photo psi.ch
Guided tour for the participants of the Mindat Adventure 2018 at the Neutron Source of Paul Sherrier Institute, Switzerland.
View on the PSI from the helicopter. May 2014. Photo psi.ch


The second option is CERN – a well-known centre for particle physics, located not far from Geneva Airport on the border of Switzerland and France. This is probably the most expensive scientific centre in the world. It is located on the border of Switzerland and France, just beside the Geneva Airport. Nowadays, it contains four rims. The main line, where the protons are accelerating up to nearly the speed of light and collapsing is 27 kilometres long. One of the detectors was built on the depth of 97 meters in a chamber with dimensions of 35*45*50 meters. It is well known to public due to the histories devoted to the generating of "dark matter" /"black holes", etc.



Model of the accelerating ring in the museum of CERN
Atlas experiment control room
Model of the accelerating ring in the museum of CERN
Atlas experiment control room
Model of the accelerating ring in the museum of CERN
Atlas experiment control room


Then we will move to the suburbs of Basel SBB where we will have a tour of the Riburg saltworks which offers a variety of memorable experiences. A cutting-edge evaporator hall, drilling sheds and two awe-inspiring Saltdomes are waiting for us. The Riburg saltworks has been operating since 1848. Nowadays it specialises in the production of loose salt. The facility can produce as much as 50 tonnes of salt per hour. You will see one of Europe’s largest evaporators in this saltworks. As well as the operational plant in the evaporator hall, you will also explore two former drilling sheds.



Riburg's Salt Industry
Salt dunes inside the Riburg Salt Industry
Riburg's Salt Industry
Salt dunes inside the Riburg Salt Industry
Riburg's Salt Industry
Salt dunes inside the Riburg Salt Industry


The second part of the journey is described in a separate article.

Useful remarks



1. Do not forget to have your passport or ID card during the adventure!

2. Please, do not forget to fill in a special form (link will be provided by e-mail) after the field trip registration ends.

3. Switzerland has a specific power socket outlets. Usually you can ask for the adaptor at the reception, however, it is better to have one of two adapters in your luggage.

4. Do not forget to take comfortable and waterproof shoes, geological hammers, and raincoats to this trip.

5. Please, note, that hotels in Zurich are quite expensive. Please, let us know in advance if you need an additional booking at the same hotel.

6.Airport (or "Flughafen" in German) was built not far from Zurich centre (app. 15 minutes by the train and app. 30 minutes by the tram #10). A single journey costs 6.80 CHF. Usually, trains and trams depart every 20-30 minutes from the Central Station. There is an automatic locker room for the luggage at the Central Railway Station and Airport. You may use this web page to plan your trip from Airport to Zurich

Please contact us at katya@mindat.org for prices and any additional information!

Hope to see you in Switzerland this year.




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