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Mineralogical Almanac  

Min Almanac_#7

Kukisvumchorr Deposit: Mineralogy of Alkaline Pegmatites and Hydrothermalites
by Igor V. Pekov and Alexander S. Podlesnyi

Mineralogical Almanac, volume 7, Association Ecost - Moscow and Ocean Pictures Ltd. - Denver, 2004. 168 pp., 111 color plates, soft cover. Price: $45

The data on the mineralogy and the history of the exploration of Kukisvumchorr apatite deposit in Khibiny Mountains have been summarized in this issue. Kukisvumchorr deposit is actively operated since 1929 by Kirovskii Mine, the first mine at Kola Peninsula. A complex of alkaline pegmatites and hydrothermalites of the Kukisvumchorr stands out even against a background of mineralogically unique Khibiny massif. It is real reserve of rare minerals; many of them occur here as nice large crystals. All 212 present-day known mineral species and more than 20 pegmatites have been described, 111 color plates, 110 b/w photos, 125 crystal drawings, geological schemes and pegmatite sections are given. The issue contains 312 chemical analyses of 165 minerals
and 163 references.

Supporting organizations:
Lomonosov Moscow State University, JSC Apatit

 

Editorial:

This issue of the Mineralogical Almanac is about the extraordinary complex of pegmatites and hydrothermalites of the Kukisvumchorr deposit in the Khibiny alkaline massif, Kola Peninsula, which has no analogues anywhere in the world. The workings and dumps of the famous Kirovskii apatite mine, which covers the area of only a few square kilometers, yielded more than 200 mineral species. One half of these minerals are represented by rare and extremely rare species. The main section of the issue describes the mineral diversity of the Kukisvumchorr deposit and characterizes the most interesting minerals. A large number of pegmatites and hydrothermalites are described in detail. Special attention is paid to the brightest events in the history of the discovery, study, and development of the deposit. Publication of this section was preceded by long and tedious work in libraries and archives. Illustrations to the issue include color and black-and-white photos of mineral specimens, pictures and drawings of pegmatite veins, crystal drawings, geological schemes, and historical photographic documents.

The authors of the issue have been intensely studying the Kukisvumchorr pegmatites and hydrothermalites for many years. Igor Pekov, an acknowledged expert in the mineralogy of alkaline rocks, spent more than 10 years studying this object, discovered 6 new minerals in this depopsit, and published more than 40 scientific papers on Kukisvumchorr. Alexander Podlesnyi, an amateur mineralogist and high-level mineral collector, has been working at the Kirovskii Mine since 1977. For almost a quarter of a century, he has been putting together a detailed systematic collection of minerals and mineral assemblages, meticulously exploring all newly uncovered pegmatites and hydrothermal veins. Due to his enthusiastic efforts, rich and unique mineralogical material from operating mines has been preserved and made available for research. This issue is the result of the collaborative work of both authors. We hope it will attract attention of professional and amateur mineralogists and also the readers who are interested in history of geosciences and mining industry.

Acknowledgements. Many thanks extended to Terry E. Huizing (Cincinnati, Ohio) - Representative of Mineralogical Almanac in United States of America and Canada and our friends Irena and Eric Rook (Tucson, Arizona) and Irina and Gregory Abramov (Denver, Colorado) for their continuing help and support of our publishing activity.

Introduction:

The Khibiny alkaline massif at the Kola Peninsula is one of the most amazing mineralogical objects over the world. The number of mineral species known at Khibiny is close to 450, with more than 70 of them were first discovered here. Due to the unceasing attention of researchers, the number of publications on this remarkable massif is very large. Nevertheless, every year results in new exciting discoveries.

The giant apatite deposits of Khibiny have been developed for seventy five years. The economic development of the massif was started in 1929, when the first mine was opened at the Kukisvumchorr deposit, on southern part of Mountain Kukisvumchorr. This first mine in the Soviet Union situated above the Arctic Circle was originally named Apatitovyi Mine and then was renamed Kirovskii Mine in 1935. The Kirovskii Mine was the only working industrial source of apatite in Khibiny for more than twenty years.

The underground working and quarries of the Kirovskii Mine have uncovered hundreds of pegmatites and hydrothermal bodies with diverse mineralization and continue to operate to date. The pegmatite-hydrothermalite complex of the Kukisvumchorr deposit is distinctly unusual even against the background of the unique mineralogy of the Khibiny massif. To date 212 mineral species have been found at the Kirovskii Mine. 19 of those species were first discovered here, and 39 species occur in Khibiny only at this particular locality. The most interesting specimens, including 16 new minerals, were found at deep levels of the deposit during the last quarter of the 20th century.

The close vicinity of the active tectonic zone of the large Kukisvumchorr Fault resulted in the high intensity of the hydrothermal processes at this deposit. As a consequence, pegmatites in this zone have many large open cavities, which are quite atypical of Khibiny. These cavities contain wonderful crystals of a large number of minerals. The late formations of the Kukisvumchorr deposit are represented by potassium, strontium, barium, rare-earth, titanium, and niobium mineralization with zeolites, micas, and sulfides. Carbonates are the second most abundant class (after silicates) at this deposit. Due to intense mining at deep levels, we have an opportunity to study unaltered, unaffected by weathering, assemblages of high-alkaline minerals, which are unstable under atmospheric conditions.

The Kirovskii Mine is a real mineralogical reserve, a source of rare museum-quality specimens, such as the world-best crystals of amicite, belovite-(La), kalborsite, lemmleinite-Ba, mckelveyite, nabaphite, natroxalate, pyatenkoite-(Y), and rasvumite. The individuals of canasite and Na-komarovite are unique in size. Among the collected specimens, we can see wonderful large crystals of barytocalcite, belovite-(Ce), burbankite, cancrisilite, carbocernaite, donnayite, eudialyte, ewaldite, fersmanite, hilairite, labuntsovite-group minerals, natrolite, natron, nepheline, pirssonite, pyrophanite, sodalite, trona, villiaumite, and vinogradovite. We also should note the small crystals and groups of bonshtedtite, calcio-ancylite-(Ce), delindeite, elpidite, epididymite, eudidymite, gobbinsite, mackinawite, merlinoite, neighborite, paranatrolite, sitinakite, zeophyllite in cavities, impressive spherulites of cafetite and tobermorite, abundant large segregations of delhayelite, djerfisherite, fenaksite, goetzenite, magnesium astrophyllite, shortite, rare specimens of manganokukisvumite, mongolite, murunskite, nafertisite, and nordite-(La). Such minerals as bussenite, isolueshite, kalifersite, kukisvumite, kukharenkoite-(La), shirokshinite, and tuliokite have not yet been found anywhere else in the world.

Some minerals and assemblages from the Kukisvumchorr deposit were described in detail earlier. However general mineralogical reviews on Kukisvumchorr are still absent, whereas this unique deposit definitely deserves it. For the recent several years, we conducted extensive research on this object and accumulated a significant amount of new data, which became an incentive for writing this issue.

The main section of the issue consists of mineral descriptions. The primary attention is paid to the occurrences, assemblages, and mineral morphology. The purpose and size of this issue does not allow us to include all analytical data (X-ray, spectroscopic, optical, etc.) and to address all features of mineral compositions. However, tables of chemical compositions (312 analyses, incl. 180 new ones made by the electron microprobe) are provided for 165 minerals. Goniometric measurements of the perfect crystals of a number of minerals were performed using a GD-1 goniometer by one of the authors (I.P.), and crystals were drawn from these data. Another important constituent of the issue is photography, which is inevitable in a story about such an remarkable object. The color photographs were made by N.A. Pekova and M.B. Leybov. The black-and-white images were obtained by one of the authors (I.P.) using JEOL T-100 scanning electron microscope in the laboratory of the Fersman Mineralogical Museum of Russian Academy of Sciences.

The section on pegmatites and hydrothermalites is mainly based on our field observations. Photography in underground mine was performed by N.A. Pekova.

The issue also has a special section on the history of discovery and development of the Kukisvumchorr deposit. It is based on the archival documents of 1920-1950s, including a number of rare photographs, which were kindly provided by organizations and individuals. Many of these documents have been published for the first time.

So, start your journey to one of the most extraordinary mineralogical objects of Russia Kukisvumchorr Deposit in Khibiny.

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Last update: May, 5, 2007