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Arsenic in all its forms

Last Updated: 22nd Jun 2019

By cédric LHEUR

Presentation of the exhibition

"Arsenic in all its forms"

Cédric LHEUR

address : Tellure Mine Park, 68160 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines

Visible until November 2, 2019

Free entry.

Why such an exhibition in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace? And why not? Native arsenic exists in large quantities in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines which is often unknown to the general public. Some will learn that Gabe Gottes was the only mine that was exploited in the world solely for arsenic metal, between 1932 and 1940 (several tens of tons of arsenic were produced there). Some veins of Neuenberg (southern sector of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines), and in particular the Saint-Jacques vein, contain a procession of so-called "primary" minerals (sulphides and sulphosels) containing arsenic: proustite, xanthoconite, lautite, löllingite, rammelsbergite, safflorite, skutterudite, etc.

Native arsenic, some primary minerals and carbonates are also at the origin of a number of secondary minerals that have contributed largely to the celebrity of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.

They are minerals belonging to the group of arsenates, mainly calcium, magnesium and ca-magnesian. These minerals were formed in old mining works. The runoff of water on the walls, the leaching of the ore bodies and the particular conditions of the abandoned works were favorable to the formation of a whole anthology of arsenates.

The exhibition also shows other aspects such as the old or current use of arsenic. The evocation of arsenic undoubtedly refers to the resounding criminal and judicial cases : Mithridate, BORGIA, Giulia TOFANA, Marie LAFARGE, Marie BESNARD, etc.

Have not writers like Agatha CHRISTIE used the "king of poisons" with delight in their police intrigues? Before the toxicological detection means of the mid-19th century (MARSH test), arsenic was the poison of choice, its use was so widespread that it was nicknamed the "powder of succession".

The exhibition is decorated in nice display cases and there are a lot of fine mineral specimens shown.
Quite a lot from Ste Marie and from other well known arsenic localities too.

A unique opportunity while visiting the mineral show !

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