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May-June 2010

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Collector's Note: Raspite from the Erongo Mountains

During mid-2006, one of us (UB) obtained several samples of small crystals from the Erongo Mountains in Namibia. The specimens were described as barite. The crystals are all typically prismatic and transparent to translucent; they range in size up to several millimeters in length. Most are loose and single crystals (fig. 3) but some are in small vugs imbedded in the Erongo granite matrix (fig. 4). They did not appear to resemble barite or any other known species from the Erongo (Cairncross and Bahmann 2006), so we analyzed the crystals at SPECTRAU, the central analytical facility at the University of Johannesburg. Results showed that the crystals are raspite (PbWO4). This is the first occurrence of this species from Erongo (and Namibia in general) and appears to be only the second occurrence of raspite from the African continent, the other being from the Gifurwe mine, Rwanda (Anthony et al. 1997). The mineral appears as fairly nondescript, colorless prismatic crystals and could easily be mistaken for inferior beryl or even colorless jeremejevite, so the possibility of more raspite being found may be good.

Bruce Cairncross is chairman of the Department of Geology at the University of Johannesburg and a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals.

Herman van Niekerk are senior instrument scientists at SPECTRAU, the centralized analytical facility at the University of Johannesburg.

Christian Reineke are senior instrument scientists at SPECTRAU, the centralized analytical facility at the University of Johannesburg.

Uli Bahmann is a collector of southern African minerals, with a special interest in the mineralogy of the Erongo Mountains.

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