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Patrick Gundersen's Blog

Collecting in Harts Range, Australia 2009 - Part 1 Sceptre Quartz

17th Sep 2009

Harts Range 2009

The Harts Range lies approx 200km north east of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia and due to its remoteness, extent and arid location, remains relatively un-explored. Commercial mineral exploration has been mostly limited to the mining of Mica bearing pegmatites around the 1930's. Small scale mining of mineral specimens/lapidary rough such as Ruby, Garnet, Beryl, Iolite, Epidote and other semi-precious stones has occurred sporadically over the last 20 years.

The Harts Range remains a favourite destination for many collectors and lapidary clubs, with its lure of fine specimens and huge variety of minerals that can be found. The specimens that were abundant 30 years ago have now been picked clean from the mine dumps and outcrops, so a little more hard work or exploring is required to turn up some nice material.

Having visited the areas several times before and also now operating a mining claim in the area, I set off to explore some of the more remote parts of the range. I was particularly interested in collecting the elusive sceptre Quartz crystals that were first discovered by the Aboriginal people who had a vast knowledge of minerals in the area. Armed with a GPS and geological maps I headed for prospective outcrops of Amphibolite rock in the vicinity of Harding Springs on the eastern edge of the Hart's Range . The sceptre-bearing Quartz veins tend to form as isolated, shallow "lenses" in the host rock and the vughs, although small, can yield an amazing array of distorted Quartz formations. Very few signs of crystalline Quartz are visible on the surface, making it challenging to locate a productive deposit. Due to the lack of rainfall and vegetation, anything exposed on the surface has been subjected to tens of thousands of years of harsh heat and extreme cold, causing the Quartz to fracture and break down into tiny shards. Often the only trace of a potential deposit is slivers of shattered clear quartz. To add to the challenge, many of the quartz veins in the area are solid masses of glassy quartz with no crystal pockets, and so the surface can be littered with glassy fragments that gets ones hopes up, but leads to nothing!

After a day or so of digging un-productive quartz veins, I finally hit a pocket of very large milky quartz crystals, some of which were nearly 2 feet long but badly weathered and fractured. About to give up, I dug a little further on the pocket and all of a sudden some nice smoky elestial Quartz and partial sceptres started appearing. These were perfectly formed and extremely lustrous, and within minutes I was finding some beautiful larger sceptre crystals, many with veils of Amethyst (see photos below).

Some of the crystal pockets, although only meters away from each other, produce totally different formations of crystals.
In the same area that I found the above specimens, other quartz veins contained vughs of double terminated clear Quartz. Many of these had beautiful internal air-pockets and the occasional water-bubble inclusion. Another pocket in the area produced small clusters and single clear Quartz crystals covered in micro crystals of gemmy Epidote.
(see photos right)

Over a period of a week, I explored further afield with some rather interesting finds including pockets that produced some nice "reverse" sceptres and odd crooked formations!
(see photos below)

Several other crystals were found, some of which are pictured on my Mindat page. With many other places to explore and other minerals to find, I reluctantly left those endless hills of quartz veins in search for Beryl bearing pegmatites. Stay tuned for Part 2 - Aquamarine from the Harts Range.

(Specimens and Photos: P.Gundersen)

Blog has been viewed at least 13551 times.


Beautiful pieces Patrick, and a great article too.
I am an amethyst locality collector, and do not have one from there.
PM me if you would be willing to trade "prefered" or sell one.

Adam Kelly
19th Sep 2009 5:38pm
I tried to look at your beryl photos by going to your homepage, and looking at your photos.
None showed up, when I tried to look at them by locality it didn't work either.
Keep in mind I'm an idiot with computers, but I tried it a few different ways a few different times

Adam Kelly
19th Sep 2009 10:43pm
Hi Adam,
Thanks for the comments, nice to hear from you.
Regarding the Beryls, I just checked my home page, and the photos are all there (try searching Mindat for Aquamarine in Australia and make sure you click on the link to the photos near the bottom of the locality list).
I couldnt find your contact details, so please send me an email via my home page so that I can get in touch.
Thanks, Patrick

Patrick Gundersen
20th Sep 2009 12:12am
Patrick, beautiful pieces. You must have had a blast! Waiting for the aqua article.


Jonathan Woolley
20th Sep 2009 1:38am
Patrick, beautiful pieces. You must have had a blast! Waiting for the aqua article.


Jonathan Woolley
20th Sep 2009 1:38am

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