Varuträsk


DESCRIPTION

The varuträsk pegmatite is situated 11 km west of Skellefteå in Västerbotten. It is close to the road and have been restaurated to a mineral park. Collecting is allowed against a fee whenever the park is open. (11.00-19.00 30/5-30/8)
The pegmatite was first mined for quartz and feldspar, later on for caesium and beryl. When the mine was closed in 1946 it was the biggest mine of caesium in the world.
Among the Swedish collection sites, this one is the primary site for pollucite, cassiterite and lepidolite.

Visits

1995 My first visit here was together with some friends. Nisse Blix talked about a place with many interesting minerals. By then I didn't know how many times I would return to this place. The first visit resulted in some tourmalines, both green and red ones and lepidolite in fine and coarse crystals.
1996 Two visits this year. I started to search for the uraninite. I had heard that it was black and I tried to find some black mineral. It only resulted in schorl, cassiterite and a piece of tantalite (Allright, not so only).
1997 I really don't know how many times I visited Varuträsk this year. I worked alot in Lövånger, and since it's just 50 km more I made some evening trips here. I even was here with Nisse Blix and a 60W UV-lamp. Wow, everything was florescent, but every time something was standing out it proved to be mold or some other form of biology.
Well, my interest in rare minerals had made me read up a little, and I was beginning to find the phosphates in Varuträsk. I also hunted for the uraninite and pollucite, but without any luck.
(It was later I realized with the help of Antti Hulterström that I had collected pollucite without knowing it.)
98-05-30 Today the Varuträsk mineral park grand opening was held. With speach by the landshövdingen of Västerbotten and some artists performing it was a very stylish opening, but I can't say so much about it, since I was busy at the dump piles.
The day resulted in a couple of nice specimens. One big aggregate of varulite, a big cassiterite and some with nice crystal form, microlite and finally I managed to find the uraninite!
The day ended with a guided tour in the mine. What an experience. It lasted for only 20 minutes, but it was interesting to watch the inside of the pegmatite. Banded structures in the wall of lepidolite and rubellite, big green tourmaline crystals and the cavities filled with clay minerals all made the fee very worthwile.
At the end of the day I had the honor and joy of talking to one of the workers of the mine. He told me some stories of the mine, how they built the road to the mine of mostly pollucite. (at that time caesium was priced at twice the proce of gold)
98-06-13 According to tradition this should be a bad luck day, but with number 002 at my day collecting license I went at work at the waist rock piles.
Since the rain we had at Björkdal earlier that day hadn't stopped we saw a lot of oncosine lying around and I collected a number of fine species. Soon I also found a big lepidolite crystal.
Happy with my findings I walked up to the eastern dump pile to look for the rare phosphates. The first thing i saw was a rock with some black mineral in it. I put down my bag and went back for the black mineral. When I picked it up I realized that it was the biggest cassiterite I ever seen. What a day!

Litterature

Geologiska Föreningens i Stockholm Förhandlingar. (GFF)
About 900 pages about minerals from Varuträsk in volume 57-64,66-67.
I have compiled a more complete index.

Varuträsk is also discussed in these publications :

  • MinMag 43:227, 48:443
  • AKMG 2, nr2, (41, 51, 62)
  • SGU C779, 22
  • SGU Årsbok 45, 189
  • AMG 2, 9
  • NRM, In the collection of Nordiska RiksMuseet

Die Mineralien und Fundstellen von Schweden, Hans-Jürgen Wilke (1997)
Pg 153-154

Map : 22K NO

Mineral assemblage Albite, alluaudite, amphibol, apatite, arsenic, arsenopyrite, beryl, biotite, bismuth, cassiterite, columbite, cookeite, dickite, elbaite ( verdelite, indigolite, rubellite ), eosphorite, ferrisicklerite, hagendorfite, halloysite, heterosite, illite, kaolinite, kasolite, lepidolite, lithiophilite, lithium muscovite, lollingite, manganapatite, manganotantalite, mangualdite, meta-autunite, microclinperthite, microlite, montebrasite, montmorillonite, muscovite, nacrite, oncosine, petalite, pollucite, polylithionite, purpurite, quartz, rubellite, rubidiummicrocline, spodumen, stibarsen, stibiconite, stibiomicrolite, stibiotantalite, topaz, tourmalin, triphylite, triplite, uraninite, uranophan, vivianite.

Löllingite

Löllingite crystals as long thin blades. The longest crystal are about 8 cm long, 4 mm wide and 1 mm thick.
Bought in Långban in 1998.
Litterature : GFF 64:277
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Uraninite and Gummite

Small cubes of uraninite with yellow secondary uranium minerals as yellow coatings in the stone around it. The matrix consisting of fine grained cleavelandite and is damaged by the radiation around the uraninite.
Together with it is also lepidolite, cassiterite, quartz and verdelite.
The yellow minerals surrounding the uranite is gummite and uranophane.
Collected 1998-05-30.
Litterature : SGU C779:22
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Cassiterite

Cassiterite with biotite.
This is about the biggest sample of cassiterite from Varuträsk that I have seen. That doesn't mean that it's the finest :-) but It's my prime specimen yet.
Collected 1998-05-30.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 41k)
Cassiterite

Cassiterite in clevlandite and quartz.
An easy way to separate cassiterite from columbite is to measure the electrical conductivity in the sample. Columbite is an isolator (>10Mohm in 1mm) where cassiterite is a good conductor (15-30 ohm in 1 mm). Sulphides is yet a step down, in the area of 5-10 ohm in 1mm.
Collected in the summer of 1995.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 41k)
Cassiterite

Cassiterite in clevlandite and quartz. Together with manganeese apatite and verdelite.
A nice sample but a lousy picture. The cassiterite is the black mineral on the top of the stone. It shows nice crystal forms, which is typical for the cassiterite in Varuträsk.
Collected in the summer of 1997.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 41k)
Columbite

Columbite in quartz. This sample is an insulator (>10Mohm at 1mm). It is a very effective way of separating it from cassiterite, which is a good conductor (<40ohm at 1 mm).
Columbite occurs in clean columbite but also as a solid mixture in cassiterite. Up to 32 percent of cassiterite could be present, giving some changed properties, as a redder streak color.(GFF 63:300)
The radioactivity at one cm distance is about 0.15 mR/h, about twice as the wall at the quantum physics lab at the university.
Collected in the summer of 1996.
Litterature : GFF 60:216
(300 dpi, 800x600, 41k)
Microlite

Microlite as small rounded grains in a fine grained mix of cleavelandite.
There are also cassiterite and a larger part of smoky quartz to the left.
Some of the grains may be uraninite, but I haven't tested for radioactivity yet.
Collected 1998-05-30.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Hagendorfite

There is a 3-4 cm nudule containing hagendorfite and it's associated oxidation products. Associated with the phosphates it seems to lie a small amounts of lollingite, but I'm not shure about it.
Found at the lepidolite pile, south of the road.
Collected 1998-05-30.
Litterature : GFF 59:78, MinMag 43:227
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Montebrasite or Amblygonite

Probably montebrasite (most commonly of the two phosphates) in a crystal chunk. If it's montebrasite or amblygonite isn't easy to find out.
The right side represents the top of the crystal. The other sides are fresh fractures and cleavages.
Litterature : GFF 59:455, GFF 62:332
Collected 1997.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Lepidolite

Lepidolite in mica form.
Collected in the summer of 1995 and 1996
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 44k)
Lepidolite

Lepidolite in massive form is easily found in Varuträsk.
Collected in the summer of 1995.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 59k)
Lepidolite

Two big lepidolite crystals, found in the dump pile in front of the cafeteria.
Both about 2 cm in diameter and 1 cm thick.
Collected 1998-06-13.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, 59k)
Muscovite

A nice thick mica book. The crystal shows a nice triangular shape.
Litterature : GFF 62:184
Collected 1998-08-08.
(150 dpi, 800x600, k)
Spodumene

The crystal is slightly bend and it's hardness is between feldspar and quartz. I think it's spodumene, but I'm not totally shure.
Collected in the summer of 1995.
(300 dpi, 800x600, 44k)
Kaolinite

Kaolinite on cleavelandite (albit). The orange mass have a hardness of about 2 and it dissolves slightly in water. The feeling is like clay.
The sample is not radioactive.
Collected in the summer of 1995
Litterature : GFF 63:49
(300 dpi, 800x600, 66k)
Montmorillonite

The petalite in Varuträsk is almost always altered at the surface to montmorillonite as showed by another sample. This is a sample of cleavelandite with montmorillonite on the top. If the montmorillonite comes from the cleavelandite or some other rock, I don't know.
Collected in the summer of 1997. Litterature : GFF 63:49
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Elbaite (Verdelite)

Two hexagonal green tourmalines. The crystals seems to have been crushed some times. It seems like they are lying on the host quartz rock.
Litterature : GFF 61:67, GFF 61:68
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Elbaite (Verdelite)

A small section of a bicolored tourmaline in cleavelandite.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Elbaite (Verdelite)

This is an example of the bi colored tourmalines from Varuträsk. It consists of a core of rubellite and an outer layer of verdelite.
Unfortunately the top have been damaged, but it gives us a chance to study how the layers have grown. The top is perfectly terminated with a flat surface [110] ???. If I get some time and/or interest from people I will make an inlay of the top, showing the cross section of the crystal.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Elbaite (Indigolite)

Indigolite or blue elbaite. A lithium containing tourmaline.
The indigolite crystals rests on a matrix of cleavelandite and some spodumene.
The crystal spray is about 6 cm long, but individual crustals are about 3 to 6 cm.
(200 dpi, 800x600, k)
Pollucite

A piece of massive pollucite. It wasn't until I borrowed a piece that I learned to recognise pollucite. It is very similar to quartz, making it hard to find even if there is a lot lying around.
This piece shows a good indication, a thin vein of oncosine (fine grained lepidolite) as the lilac coloring in the center.
Litterature : GFF 60:619
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Muscovite (Var: Oncosine)

A nice lilac oncosine specimen. Oncosine is a finegrained variety of muscovite.
Collected 1998.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Manganapatite

Manganapatite in a matrix of muscovite or gray lepidolite.
Litterature : GFF 57:693
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Albite

Albite in the form of clevlandite. This sample shows the typically sun feather form of cleavelandite. The crystal plates are up to 25 mm in size.
Between the cleavelandite is an unknown finegrained mineral with low hardness. I suspect it to be the gray variant of oncosine or microcrystalline muscovite.
Litterature : GFF 64:19
Collected in the summer of 1997.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Albite

This is another type of albite, called albitite. It consists of a grainy mass of albite crystals.
Litterature : GFF 64:19
Collected in the summer of 1997.
(200 dpi, 800x600, k)
Cookeite

The rubellites are sometimes transformed into another mieral, cookeite. This is a school book example. Here we have a rubellite which is almost transformed into cookeite, only small rays remains of the rubellite.
Totally three rubellites have been transformed in this sample.
Litterature : GFF 59:262
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Cookeite

Possible cookeite.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Unknown phosphate

Some unknown phosphate mineral in cleavelandite. Cassiterite to the left.
The phosphates in Varuträsk could be parted in two groupes. Those with blue tourmaline around them and those without.
This one have a rim of small blue tourmaline crystals.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Heterosite

Heterosite is the third phosphate in the series ??? -ferrisicklerite - heterosite.
This sample contains of an about 5 mm big brown nodule above the blue tourmaline. The color is not seen, since it is the raw surface with only a scratch on the surface (barely visible).
Up to 30 cm aggregates of heterosite have been found in Varuträsk.
Litterature : GFF 63:117
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Unknown

This could be some radioactive mineral. I don't know yet.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Triphylite

Possible triphylite.
The surface is weathered dark brown, but to the left side I have removed some of the surface to reveal the grayish surface of triphylite. The sample shows some of a crystal structure and are surrounded by a thin rim of muscovite (seen as a white line along the edge.
Collected 1996.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Lithiophilite

Lithiophilite as a cm big brown-yellow nudule. Note the rim of blue tourmaline around it.
In quartz and cleavelandite.
Collected 1997.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)
Lithiophilite

Lithiophilite in a 4 cm big nudule. It is mixed up with some other mineral I don't know yet.
To the left is an weathered surface, to the right it's fresh.
In quartz and cleavelandite.
Collected 1998.
(200 dpi, 800x600, k)
Garnet (Almandine ?)

Garnet together with schorl. There is no reports in the litterature about garnets from Varuträsk, but here is the proof.
I have been told that the locality lies in the western quarry, and that they are not hard to find.
As a gift from Tord Andersson.
(300 dpi, 800x600, k)

If you have some questions, suggestions or comments you are welcome to write me a line or two.
Locality index. Main index.


axelsson@acc.umu.se