2014, April, Fluorite, Mauterndorf
One Sunday in April 2014, I was out and about when suddenly I had an urge to take a look at the nearby Mauterndorf quarry. The quarry wasn't supposed to be busy, and the weather was fine. In rather cool weather, with light frost in the mainly shaded area, I managed to reach the upper area of the quarry from the car in forty minutes. My attention quickly focused on a spot where someone apparently had already been investigating. I unpacked my tools and began working. I soon had in my hands a few pieces of some very likeable blue-green fluorite.
The finding place that was modified by me
In the early afternoon I packed up the pieces I found and headed home. I immediately cleaned the fluorite and to my surprise, these proved to be excellent quality.
Detailed view of the site: the fluorite was embedded between the limestone
A fluorite found on the collector's tour, 5 x 4.5 x 4 cm
I liked the fluorites so much that a few days later I drove to the owner of the quarry to ask him if I could officially search there (and to have my earlier find belatedly “approved”). I introduced myself and explained my wishes to the owner. He was not happy to hear that I had been in his quarry; this was not a good start. I explained to him that I was in the quarry just once. And that I came now to get approval for that which I already had found and to obtain permission to search again and/or buy the the material I find. The owner related to me his various difficulties with individual collectors. Among other things, he had a sculpture made by an artist using material from the quarry. The artist used light colored limestone from the quarry that displayed some colored mineralization as inclusions. Some crazy collector couldn’t keep his hands off; the sculpture was accordingly damaged. The owner was understandably very upset. At the end of an hour of conversation, the owner agreed to load the desired material onto a truck with an excavator and deliver it to an address of my choice. Surprised at the generous offer, I agreed. Now it would be just a matter of paying an hourly rate for the excavator and the delivery to get my hands hopefully on some more of that wonderful fluorite. The owner said he would let me know when the time was right for him. I drove home very happy, even without working up a sweat in the quarry.
About two weeks later, the owner called me. I showed up at the appointed time and found a truck already waiting for me. We drove the truck to the site where an excavator stood ready and immediately started to work after a short consultation.
A large excavator was used to work on the site; the truck was waiting in the background
The cleft was scraped out with a "thorn".
With its large shovel, the excavator soon proved not fit for the task. The cleft was too narrow and the rock was very hard. Its shovel was replaced with a thorn to scrape out the inside of the rift. Again, unexpected difficulties: the adjacent rock turned out to be very hard and the cleft narrowed downwards. Two hours passed quickly. The result was very sobering. Relatively little usable material could be salvaged and the hard rock precluded any fast progress. The operator of the excavator could not offer much more time; he was needed elsewhere. Disappointed, I gave up the search. The recovered material was loaded onto the truck. He drove to my house and unloaded the material in my garden and drove away.
Then began the task of dispersing the pile of rubble and searching thoroughly for fluorite. I was already dejected from the disappointments at the quarry. But when I sat in my garden and searched a pile of rubble for fluorite, I nevertheless had to laugh over a situation that surely many mineral hunters have experienced. After about three hours working through the pile, my suspicions were confirmed: the pay-off was rather modest. I found only a few good pieces; some of them additionally were damaged. My “success” was sobering in relation to the costs incurred. Still, I had tried a new strategy and of course it might well have yielded better results.
Not a common occurrence: searching for fluorite in your own garden
A handful of beautiful fluorites pulled fresh from my garden
The bill was paid and I visited the owner again. I thanked him for his willingness to help and gave him a fluorite from Weisseck. The owner was delighted with the gift and assured me that he would let me know if fluorite came to light again. As it turned out that was my one and only attempt. I heard that fluorites were again found later and I managed to get some pieces for my collection. In the meantime, the find-area is said to have been completely dismantled, so no new specimens can be expected.
For me, these fluorites are very special. On the one hand, these fluorites are from the Lungau region, but do not come from the more well-known fluorite sites on the Weisseck or from the Riedingsee. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the intense colors combined with excellent transparency and etching. Most pieces have been found as single etched crystals. The etching on each piece varies. Some of them no longer have a crystal structure; others are only slightly etched thereby making it possible to see clearly both the crystallization and the parqueted structure on the faces. There are also pieces that are rounded like pebbles. These pieces were most likely especially exposed to the water, or had settled in a trough where the water flowed resulting in the pieces being "tumbled." All the specimens have very good gloss, ranging from a satin to a high gloss.
Fluorite with nice zonal color structure, 5.3 x 3.5 x 2.7 cm
The fluorites are mainly crystallized as cubes, but sometimes in the shape of the cuboctahedron. The surfaces of the cubes originally showed a parqueted structure, which on some of them is still clearly visible. Some fluorites possess sharply finished edges, while others show a frequently stepped edge structure, which is often optically intensified by lighter inclusions. Increased edge growth with a lighter color is rare, but clearly visible in a few individual specimens. The most dominant colors in the fluorites are blue, green and cyan in various shades. An intense violet color is also present on a few rare select pieces. The fluorites are all transparent and show their intense colors much more with transmitted light. A blue or green zonal structure is often observed. On some pieces there is a green center and an outer blue zoning that is detached at the edges. This creates a green triangle at the corners, reminiscent of the Mercedes logo. Matrix pieces are a rarity. Most of the matrix pieces show an intense orange-brown limestone matrix, partly lime sinter has also settled in this color. This gives a very good contrast of blue-green fluorite. The intensity of the etching also varies with the matrix pieces.