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2003, July, Rutile, Albite, Muskovite, Murursprung, Lungau, Salzburg, Austria



Much time had passed since my last visit to the Lanschützgraben. On Saturday July 19th I took a trip to along with Maria and my three sons to the Sticklerhütte. After a leisurely snack, we hiked to the source of the Mur called Murursprung (The Mur rises in the rearmost Murtal, flows through the Lungau and then continues as the main river through Styria and then through Slovenia). As the weather was nice and stable, we stayed there for a while. I had already heard of the rutile finds at the source of the Mur, but knew nothing more. I explored the area curiously, and came in the direction of a rock, as it is about 100 meters above the Mur’s origin. There I noticed a find that was freshly processed and could hardly be more than two days old. But before I could throw myself into an exploration of the site, my family insisted that it was time to head home. Even while marching back, this discovery haunted me; by the time I arrived home I knew I had to postpone my house building and return the very next day.

View from the source of the Mur (called Murursprung) out of the valley with the cloudy Weisseck in the background

Sunday was supposed to bring nice weather, so nothing could stop me. I started very early in the morning. At 7 o'clock I reached the source of the Mur. The first thing I did was to return to the find.  Here someone had worked intensively on a quartz vein, but I couldn't tell whether anything had been found. I began to examine the area and soon extracted some pieces of muscovite on the scree next to the rocks. These provided further clues for my search. Clearly intensive work had already been carried out everywhere around the site, even if several years ago. Now I began to examine the rock. Here too, many had already been busy here as well.

View of the rearmost Murtal, and in the right area of the picture is the source of the Mur

I scratched along the rock with the cleft hook. Suddenly the hook got stuck in a small hole. I examined the hole closely but couldn't see anything. Although I saw no signs, I began to chisel at this point. After just a few blows, the hole expanded into a small cavity that was filled with fine brown earth and clay. Since I couldn't see anything, I carefully felt the cavity with the straight cleft irons. In the cavity, I felt detached pieces that were embedded in the loamy earth. I loosened the first piece and fished it out with my fingers. At first, I couldn't see anything because of the earth. However, when I carefully cleaned the piece, a dark rutile glittered at me. I looked at the specimen with a happy grin. What a pleasant and unexpected surprise!

A cleft can begin so inconspicuously

Unexpected surprise: even the first piece showed a grown rutile

 I put the piece aside and considered how to proceed. I did not want to continue working with the cleft iron because I feared that it would damage any further specimens. I had no choice but to expose the cavity as large as possible by chiseling. This was a grueling job as the rock was very tough. Every time I got impatient, I looked at the salvaged rutile specimen, and I began to continue my work more calmly. Finally, I had opened the cavity so wide that I could easily retrieve the remaining loose pieces. The work was worth it, because I was able to recover 5 more beautiful rutile specimens. Then the cleft was exhausted and I couldn't find indications of any more crystals. I packed up the pieces I found well and returned home beaming full of joy and pride.

The rutiles found are up to 4 cm long and 1.3 cm thick. The tip faces are perfectly formed - but covered by a limonite-like layer. The side surfaces are high-gloss with a dark red-brown color. On some pieces with the rutile, light-colored albite and high-gloss muscovite have also grown. In other pieces, the rutile is associated with siderite.

MU 1-1, 5.2 x 3.7 x 3.5 cm(1).jpg

The first piece that was salvaged from this cleft, 5.2 x 3.7 x 3.5 cm

The best rutile specimen from this find, 11.5 x 6.3 x 5.5 cm, the rutile measures 3 cm in length

This high-gloss rutile crystal is 1.8 cm long and is the only piece from this find to show a high-gloss termination, 4.7 x 3.3 x 3 cm

MU 1-3, 4 x 3.5 x 2 cm(1).jpg

High-gloss rutile crystal with a length of 2.3 cm on light albite crystals and small muscovite tablets, 4 x 3.5 x 2 cm

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