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Delusive, sneaky, deceptive, uncertain ... What makes sphalerite deserved such adjectives? For a very long time, geologists couldn’t identify this mineral. Finally, the study confirmed that it is a zinc ore.

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Delusive, sneaky, deceptive, uncertain ... What makes sphalerite deserved such adjectives? For a very long time, geologists couldn’t identify this mineral. Finally, the study confirmed that it is a zinc ore. As a result of rubbing sphalerite against a porcelain plate, gives off the scent of hydrogen sulfide. Sphalerite is also the source of silver, which, especially in the past, there was no shortage in Olkusz mines (Olkusz ores was used for making first Piast silver coin).
Presented specimen is unique on the global scale, it have three polished surfaces and it comes from the area of occurrence holomorphic zinc and lead ores. It was excavated in the Pomorzany mine.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Zinc and lead minerals

Sandstone with mudstone intercalations and marl with marly limestone deposited first in  shallow then in a deeper basin in the Triassic. A carbonate complex, build mainly of limestone and partly of dolomite developed in the Middle Triassic. 

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Sandstone with mudstone intercalations and marl with marly limestone deposited first in  shallow then in a deeper basin in the Triassic. A carbonate complex, build mainly of limestone and partly of dolomite developed in the Middle Triassic. There are high amounts of zinc and lead ores in dolomites (Olkusz, Trzebionka).
Polish deposits of zinc and lead ores exploited in the past and nowadays are connected with Silesian-Kraków Triassic dolomites (ore-bearing dolomite). Mining exploitation was carried out in the area of: Bytom, Tarnowskie Góry, Olkusz, Jaworzno and Chrzanów. In the 2nd half of the 20th century the mines: Trzebionka (1962), Olkusz (1968) and Pomorzany (1974) were opened. The mines Pomorzany and Olkusz were merged into one enterprise Olkusz-Pomorzany in 1976. Trzebionka mine is successively liquidated, the final close out is planned in 2009, so it can be worth to collect available specimen of galena, sphalerite, marcasite, barite, gypsum and cerusite  from that locality. Polished cross-sections through  collomorphic aggregates of sphalerite including galena crystals and marcasite are really valuable for collectors. The name schallenblende” was characteristic for the terminology concenring deposits from Upper Silesia and it is used in scientific terminology and among collectors. The scientific investigations which have been carried on for a long time allow to confirm that Upper Silesian occurrences of zinc and lead ores correspond to the Alpine ones, spreading from France through Italy (Salafossa, Raibl) and Austria (Bleiberg) up to Slovenia (Mezica). They are of the same age and occur in the same geological formations. They also correspond to American deposits (Mississipi Valley Type) which was confirmed at the Geological Congress in London in 1952.

Elaborated by the Geological Museum at the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection of the AGH University of Science and Technology, © all rights reserved

See also:
Marcasite from “Pomorzany” Coalmine
Sphalerite from “Pomorzany” Coalmine
Sphalerite
Sphalerite— Galena
Calcite with marcasite

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About the devil who wanted to hide the silver mines near Olkusz

One of the legends of the town of Olkusz, passed down by generations, tells the story of the silver mines, to which the town owed its prosperity. One day, the devil decided to fill up the excavations that were so valuable for the inhabitants of the region.

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One of the legends of the town of Olkusz, passed down by generations, tells the story of the silver mines, to which the town owed its prosperity. One day, the devil decided to fill up the excavations that were so valuable for the inhabitants of the region. He took sand from the Baltic Sea in a huge sack and set off towards Olkusz. Along the way, when he lowered his flight near Błędów; the sack caught the church tower and all its contents spilled out, creating the Błędowska Desert. The devil, discouraged by this mishap, according to the proverb “Where the devil himself fails, he sends a woman”, used a river to implement his plan... the river Baba [a pun here: Baba is a not-too-flattering expression for “woman” in Polish], which soon flooded the mine tunnels.
According to historical sources, the rising water level in the rock excavations and the insufficient scope of the drainage system posed a serious problem for local miners from the fifteenth century onwards. The Baba River flooded the Pilecka adit in 1679. Its flood waters also destroyed the Ponikowska adit in 1703 (both adits finally collapsed in 1712).
However, the devil’s plan was not eventually brought to fruition – the mines excavating lead and zinc ores still operate in Olkusz region to this day. In the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums you can see sphalerite and marcasite (Markasyt, “Pomorzany” Mine) from the “Pomorzany” mine which was opened in 1974.

Elaborated by: Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Sphalerite from “Pomorzany” Coalmine

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