Saturday, 26 July 2008

2008 LENGENBACH - The Year of the Book

Like every year, David Hospital and I have been in Switzerland, in the Binn valley (Binntal). We have had the chance to visit the Binn mineral show (July 20th). David and I both decided to spend some days there. We went out last July 17th from Barcelona to Geneva by flight and then, after three hours drive, we arrived at Binn. We get Binn in the afternoon and we went directly to the small Pius restaurant in Imfeld where we reach Ralph Cannon, who works in the Lengenbach quarry (from now LGB) during the skilful season. He told us that next day he would be in the quarry.

The next day we went to the small quarry where Peter Strunz was helping Ralph in the consolidation walls tasks for next extraction works. We give Ralph a hand but we only could see they were working an area where we only saw “tourmalines” and some quartz crystals.

The next day attended the meeting of the Verein Lengenbach Freunde (VFL) or LGB Friends Association that since this year we are new members. We are the only members that are not either from Swistzerland, Austria or Germany. The association has 60 members (2007) giving their support to the LGB mineral research. We didn’t understand anything about the meeting conferences because they were German spoken, but we must thank one of its members, Thomas, for their translations on what they were talking about and voting. The new two “foreign” members were kindly accepted and everyone applauded the new way to expand its membership and nationalities represented. After the meeting Dr. Stefan Graeser made a guided tour (in German!) at the LGB mineral showcases in the Binn museum. Dr. Graeser, aware of our linguistic ignorance, gave us all kinds of post explanations in excellent English language, a luxury. Following the visit and for our stomach enjoyment there was an excellent cheese “raclette” with potatoes and good wine... and after the lunch they share out few rich-sulfosalt dolomite batches to the members. It was a surprise which minerals could appear from these samples.

The reason for our trip was the Binn mineral show that would take place on Sunday, but we enjoyed soon the mineralogy of this area as one of the most recognized Binn strahlers, André Gorsatt, put up for sale much of their material. We were able to buy some uncommon minerals from the area as: Cafarsite, Davidite, Senaite, Crichtonite or Asbecasite and other more usual but also very nice as: Rutile, Hematite and of course, excellent Anatase specimens from Gorb, along with several LGB pieces. Another reason for our trip was the presentation of the new book (in German!): Faszination Lengenbach (1958-2008) (Authors: Graeser, Cannon, Drechsler, Roth & Raber, ISBN 978-3-940814-16-6, Kristallografik Verlag, 2008). This book, with 192 color pages, has been published to celebrate 50 years (1958-2008) from the exploitation of this unique quarry by various communities: the Arbeitsgemeinschaft LGB (AGL, 1958-1997), the Interessengemeinschaft LGB (IGL, 1998-2002) and currently the LGB Forschungsgemeinschaft (FGL, 2002-present). The book contains many photographs, some of them from our own archive, about the deposit and the mining works. In addition, you could find the most complete information about Lengenbach: geology, geochemistry, working methods, identification and mineral catalogs, curiosities... there is a comprehensive index of all species found in LGB, with many information and photos. Given our "insistent" request to publish this book in English we have begun to talk to the editor to manage the idea and edit, at least, a short supplement with English texts, but we would like to publish all the book in English. It depends on mineralogical English spoken community: you decide! A book highly recommended.

The Mineralienbörse Binntal was held on Sunday. We saw a lot of alpine material as each year, but there were not many novelties. A beautiful and perfect shape Sphalerite crystal (17 mm) almost black on a LGB Dolomite gray matrix. Also an exceptional well defined and bright Tilasite 6 mm crystal, a very rare arsenate (CaMg[F/AsO4]) from the Wanni glacier (Wannigletscher, Binntal, Valais, CH). Individualized Magnetite crystals, very bright and with exceptionaly sharp faces and edges from Lercheltini area (Binntal). As a novelties, we could talk about some Bornite old samples (they said) coated by Malachite and with some Silver wires from Ausserbinn area. Each year we enjoy the excellent specimens of Rutile and Hematite iron-roses. Also the yellow to honey color Fluorite cubic crystals from Orismühle Quarry (Basel-land, CH) with Calcite scalenohedral crystals. From Lengenbach Grube we would like to emphasize on the new Quadratite crystals, small crystals but high price. Some interesting samples of Sinnerite, Hatchite-Wallisite, Liveingite or Baumhauerite, which LGB is type locality. Some new specimens of Mimetite and Baileychlore, recently analyzed. We were talking with Dr. Graeser about the new article about Struvite-(K) from LGB.

The next day, before leaving Binntal to Barcelona, we made one last visit to the Toni Imhof mineral shop. Toni, always a gentleman, surprised us with some old specimens from LGB quarry with an excellent quality, which almost makes us miss our flight to Barcelona. Binntal is always a surprise and we will try to come back soon.

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