2020, April, Pyrite, Rutile, Quartz, Zederhaustal, Lungau, Salzburg, Austria



Anton Baier, a good collector friend from Zederhaus, was in the Zederhaus Valley in April 2020 to look for minerals. Completely unexpectedly, he came across an area of green schist that was not shown on the geological map. A small plateau struck him as suspicious: the rock looked drained out and many areas were heavily oxidized on the surface. He turned a few stones over and immediately saw small crystallizations.  His attempt at an excavation was immediately thwarted by the still frozen ground. Two weeks later he was back, now with better tools. After initial attempts to excavate yielded little of interest, Anton tried again, this time digging deeper. One of the first loosened stones showed an approx. 2 cm long rock crystal of excellent quality. Shortly afterwards he found the first crack: about 1 meter long, 60 cm deep and 10 cm wide - completely filled with clay. This made crystal recovery difficult, but the contents of the cleft were breathtaking! Some quartz crystals showed inclusions of golden rutiles even as they were being extracted. An absolute novelty for the Lungau! That is why every piece, no matter how inconspicuous, was carefully packed and carefully cleaned at home. By doing this he was able to discover some great rutile specimens. The rutiles were often hidden under calcite, which he removed with dilute hydrochloric acid. The rutile tufts were several millimeters long and the contrast with the slate makes the pieces extremely attractive. Faden quartz, phantom quartz and many chloritized rock crystals up to 7cm also provided further beautiful assemblages. Some smaller cleft pyrites of excellent quality were also recovered on that day.

1 Rutilquarz, Zederhaus, 7 x 3.5 x 3.5 cm (1).jpg

The best rutile quartz from this site, Find and collection: Anton Baier , 7 x 3.5 x 3.5 cm

During further inspections, Anton dug the place up to a width of approx. 5 meters and was able to discover smaller clefts again and again. Then he came to a larger block. Below he was able to discover a 15 cm green schist plate with chloritized quartz crystals and a 1.5 cm tall pyrite crystal. Adding to the excitement, he uncovered loose pyrite crystals up to 3 cm.

2 Pyrit, Frühjahr 2020 (7).jpg

Freshly recovered phantom quartz with beautiful rutiles that are still hidden under the clay. Find and collection: Anton Baier, 8 x 5.3 x 4.5 cm

Anton decided to inform his collector friends of the "Lungauer Stoafexn" Hans Lasshofer and Reinhold Bacher. The plan was to dig to the right of the large block, as he suspected there could well be something interesting there. A few days later we were at the site. The three of us started digging up the hard rubble-strewn ground. We were amazed when we turned over a large stone, and the entire back was covered with countless pyrite crystals. With our combined forces, we uncovered a large section of ​​the site in order to be able to work better. After about an hour of strenuous work and at a depth of about half a meter we came across grown green schist. We could already see some signs of a small cleft between the still loose boulders. Mostly they were smaller fissures or cracks that were covered with light-colored clay and calcite crystals. With a little luck there were also rock crystals, and when we discovered a crystallized pyrite, we became especially happy. Rutile could not be identified because of the clay. Right next to the wall of green schist, we exposed a larger cleft that was completely filled with dark chlorite. Individual loose pyrites with an edge length of up to 5 cm were stuck in the chlorite. The crystals were well protected in the chlorite and showed a beautiful golden brown patina with an excellent shine.

3 Pyrit.jpg

Larger pyrite in the dark chlorite, which is still waiting to be recovered

4 Pyrit, Frühjahr 2020 (3).jpg

A particularly beautiful large pyrite with even proportions

So Toni was right in his assumption that there was still another area to be found here. As it turned out, this location was actually the most successful area for finding Rift Pyrites. We will always remember the next few hours as the core of one of those “very special days” when one beautiful piece was replaced by the next beautiful piece. This wonderful situation arose from coming across several chloritized fissure cracks coming to light in the green slate at regular intervals of approx. 15 cm. On such special days, you lose track of time as it flies by. In preparing for transport home, we had to choose very carefully which items to pack and take with us. The remaining pieces were put aside for later removal. At Toni's home, we celebrated the find with a tasty snack. We postponed cleaning and dividing-up the specimens to another day because even with our enthusiasm still high, we had worked for hours and it was already very late.

This find was documented in detail in a six-page report in the Lapis issue, vol. 46, No. 6, June 2021.

ZE 7-1, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 5 x 5 x 4.2 cm(1).jpg

A particularly beautiful pyrite crystal, collection: Dr. Alexander Spunda, 4.4 x 3 x 3 cm

The minerals:

From a mineralogical point of view, this deposit is primarily of interest due to the large and particularly well-crystallized cubic pyrites. But the rutile is also remarkable. Many specimens carry at least some rutile and some are even littered with innumerable rutile tufts. Rutile is believed to be the first mineral to crystallize in the irregular cracks and cavities. It is surrounded by crystal-clear quartz and also by pyrite. We suspect a biotite-rich slate, which surrounds the narrow green schist area, could be a source of titanium.

The rutile forms golden-yellow to orange-colored brush-like tufts. On some of these tufts of crystals, mostly measuring 5 - 10 mm, it is possible to discern the basic shape of thicker prisms (reddish at the base) as well as the frayed ends consisting of innumerable threads. These clusters are partially grouped into attractive "stars".

Pyrite up to 2 cm has often grown into the rock in the vicinity of the cavities. Where the pyrites have grown into the cavities of the cleft, the grooved cubes reach considerable sizes: up to an edge-length of over 5 cm. The shiny reddish surface texture could indicate lepidocrocite. Only a few specimens contained partially soft limonite. The best pyrites were embedded in chlorite.

Rock crystals up to 7 cm in length and in the alpine transition habit are water-clear and can be referred to as "rutile quartz" due to the abundantly enclosed rutile. Some beautiful chlorite phantoms can be seen. Some faden quartz was also recovered.

Calcite forms silky-matt shiny rhombohedral crystals up to 5 cm and overgrows the other minerals. Tiny adulars (max. 1 mm) were noted on some pieces. Worm-shaped dark green chlorite rests on top of quartz and rutile and partially fills cracks in the pyrite.

ZE 7-3, Pyrit, zederhaus, 8 x 6.5 x 4.3 cm(1).jpg

Pyrite, calcite, quartz, chlorite and rutile. The entire cleft paragnesis is represented here, 8 x 6.5 x 4.3 cm

ZE 7-10, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 19 x 12 x 8 cm(2).jpg

This specimen is not only convincing due to its size and form - in addition to a lot of pyrite and a lot of calcite, countless smaller rutile quartz crystals have grown on the matrix, 19 x 12 x 8 cm

ZE 7-7, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 7 x 4.5 x 3.9 cm(1).jpg

The pyrite cubes come into their own thanks to the dark chlorite, 7 x 4.5 x 3.9 cm

ZE 7-2, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 5.5 x 4 x 3.2 cm(1).jpg

Fused pyrite cubes on a light slate matrix, 5.5 x 4 x 3.2 cm

ZE 7-11, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 2.6 x 2.5 x 2.4 cm(1).jpg

Two inter-grown pyrite cubes with beautiful growth disturbances, 2.6 x 2.5 x 2.4 cm

ZE 7-5, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 11.3 x 8.5 x 6.5 cm(1).jpg

A particularly beautiful piece with pyrite cubes whose growth is based on the disruption of the slate.

ZE 7-5, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 11.3 x 8.5 x 6.5 cm(2).jpg

When viewed from the side, many densely grown rutile tufts can be seen, 11.3 x 8.5 x 6.5 cm

ZE 7-32, Quarz, Zederhaus, 5.7 x 5.4 x 4.3 cm(2).jpg

Small quartz specimen with iridescent colors, 5.7 x 5.4 x 4.3 cm

ZE 7-23, Rutil, Zederhaus, 3.9 x 2 x 1.7 cm(1).jpg

Rutile and rutile quartz on matrix, 3.9 x 2 x 1.7 cm

ZE 7-30, Rutil, Zederhaus, 8 x 5.5 x 2.6 cm(1).jpg

Rutile and quartz on matrix, 8 x 5.5 x 2.6 cm

ZE 7-8, Pyrit, Zederhaus, 8.8 x 8.8 x 4.5 cm(1).jpg

Pyrite and calcite on matrix that is bent and distorted by pressure, 8.8 x 8.8 x 4.5 cm