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Curlew Emerald Mine, Shaw River District, East Pilbara Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 21° 34' 27'' South , 119° 17' 47'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -21.57443,119.29656
GeoHash:G#: qshv68mpg
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

The Curlew Emerald Mine is approximately 90 kilometres west of Marble Bar and 5 kilometres north of the Woodstock-Marble Bar Road, just east of the Mt Webber iron ore turn-off.

Oral history suggests the emerald location was discovered in the 1920's, but its history up to 1976 is unknown. It was mined actively between 1976-1981 by a group managed by Bill Moriarty, who is an active specimen miner in the Kalgoorlie area. The production per year was about 4.5 kilograms of facetable emerald and forty kilograms of non-facetable material. Further, each year on average 20 'king' stones were recovered, 15 to 20 carat in size in the rough. All the emerald was sold to an Indian dealer for the jewellery trade. Specimens are thought to be rare from this period as the material was sold into the jewellery and artisan trade, without provenance.

The mine was sold in 1981 to Warren and Strang (Aust.) Ltd, who mapped the deposit and conducted trial mining. In 1985, Elders Resources Ltd, purchased the mine, but found more beryl than emerald. With mining equipment at the site also in a state of disrepair, they concluded the mine would be suited more to an individual or small syndicate. No buyer was found by 1989, and the licence was given-up. The mine, and a large portion of the surrounding land appears at present (2012) to be under lease by an Australian mineral dealer.

The diggings at the mine run in a north-south direction approximately 500 metres, along the eastern flank of a valley. Small pegmatites and quartz veins with beryl mineralisation are sandwiched between splays of north-south faults, just west of the Shaw Batholith.

The eastern footwall is quartzite, and the western hanging wall is interbedded chloritic amphibolite and schist. Within the western section quartz and pegmatites, no more than 1.5 metres wide by 150 metres long, are enveloped by deformed biotite or phlogopite schists.

The dark mica schists within the quartz veins and pegmatites contain gem quality emerald crystals and green beryl. As is typical of Western Australian emerald, most of the stones are not world class, and often contain inclusions and are cloudy. Size ranges from less than a millimetre to several centimetres in diameter.

The pegmatites are composed of quartz-albite with accessory green beryl, scheelite, coarse molybdenite crystals, and fine-grained purple fluorite.
Alluvial cassiterite, monazite, formanite, and tauteuxenite has been found in the immediate area. The writer observed poor quality amazonite at the northern extremity of the deposit.

Mineral List

16 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

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Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

3200 - 3600 Ma

ID: 857831
Warrawoona Group - ultramafic and mafic rocks

Age: Paleoarchean (3200 - 3600 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Warrawoona Group

Description: Interlayered mafic and ultramafic schist, amphibolite, talc-serpentine-tremolite-carbonate rock, basalt, high-Mg basalt

Comments: meta-igneous mafic volcanic; meta-igneous ultramafic volcanic; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Meta-igneous mafic volcanic; meta-igneous ultramafic volcanic

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

3200 - 3600 Ma

ID: 3191854
Archean volcanic rocks

Age: Paleoarchean (3200 - 3600 Ma)

Comments: Pilbara Craton

Lithology: Mafic-ultramafic volcanic rocks

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

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Jacobson, M., Calderwood, M., Grguric, B.(2007): Pegmatites of Western Australia (2007)

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