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July-August 2016

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Connoisseur's Choice: Reinerite, Tsumeb, Namibia

The Tsumeb mine in northern Namibia is renowned for its wide assortment of secondary minerals, many of which occur as abundant, large, and colorful crystals that grace collections worldwide; others, of course, are somewhat less conspicuous and relatively rare. Tsumeb's unique endowment of secondary minerals owes much to two important factors. Firstly, the primary sulfide mineralization chemistry is not only diverse, but also a little unusual; by the standards of most base-metal deposits it is somewhat deficient in iron and highly enriched in arsenic. Secondly, the pipelike deposit, which was mined to a depth of 1,700 meters, is hosted by a sequence of karstified dolostones that provide a unique “plumbing system” allowing oxidizing groundwater from the earth's surface to penetrate to great depths.

Dr. Malcolm Southwood has collected minerals for more than thirty-five years and is a mineralogist by training. His special interests are the minerals of southern Africa and southwest England.

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