Skip Navigation

July-August 2017

ResizeResize Text: Original Large XLarge

Media Reviews

Mineral Observer—Mineralogical Almanac, vol. 22, issue 1. Mineral-Almanac, Ltd., Moscow, Russia; In U.S. order from Terry Huizing, 96 pages; 2017; $35 plus postage (softbound).       

Mineral-Almanac, Ltd., Moscow, Russia; In U.S. order from Terry Huizing, 96 pages; 2017; $35 plus postage (softbound).

Although Rocks & Minerals does not typically review single issues of periodicals, this particular issue of Mineral Observer deserves special consideration with respect to this year's fiftieth Denver Gem and Mineral Show—its golden anniversary. The overall theme of the issue is the three-hundreth anniversary of the Fersman Mineralogical Museum and the exhibits related to its jubilee, one of which is devoted to the gold nuggets of Siberia displayed at the exhibition of the Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation. A major article by Vasiliy N. Orlov focusing on these historic nuggets occupies pages 8–37. Thirty-eight large nuggets are described by Orlov and illustrated by Michael Leybov's color photographs, some of which are full-page.

The gold nuggets that are discussed each originated in one of Siberia's seven major regions or districts. These include Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Irkutsk, Sakha (Yakutia), Altai, Krasnoyarsk, and Khabarovsk Krai. Their placers exhibit considerable local variability; consequently, their nuggets range from almost featureless, smooth-surfaced masses (the 7.649-kilogram Vostok Nugget, for example) to those with knotty surfaces and containing significant quartz or other matrix (the 4.971-kilogram Tortoise Nugget, for example). Some of the nuggets were found as early as the 1830s, and it is surprising that they have survived intact. Orlov points out that as much as 40 percent of the gold mined in these regions was smuggled out of Russia through China and that nuggets were not preserved as specimens. In size, the nuggets vary from a whopping 12,337.8 grams (the Giant of Bodaibo) to the petite Pistol Nugget weighing in at only 92 grams. The Giant of Bodaibo is particularly important historically because it was found in modern times (22 February 1957) in old placers along the Bolshoi River of the Lena district. Its discoverer, G. G. Gilyazov, was noted for his ability to sense the location of placer gold, and the nugget is inscribed with its date of discovery and his name. As much as 25 percent of all gold grains recovered from some of these placers are described as exceeding 0.8 cm in size, an amazing degree of coarseness. In 1957 one placer operation is credited with an annual production that included four hundred nuggets each weighing more than 50 grams (1.6 ounces). Gilyazov alone is credited with the recovery of more than 100 kilograms of gold from the shaft he was working.

In addition to important historical data contained within the text, the caption for each featured nugget contains critical information that includes the Diamond Fund identification number, the weight of the nugget in grams along with its dimensions, and the date and location of its discovery. Each caption ends with a general description of the nugget giving surface features, included materials, roundness, and general shape. Another intriguing nugget is the modern discovery, in 2011, by Artel Vostok of a huge (7.649-kilogram) specimen crowning a forty-year prospecting history along rivers in Khaborovsk Krai.

This particular issue of Mineralogical Observer continues the tradition of fine photographic illustration and good, yet at times tedious English translation. It, along with other issues spanning the periodical's twenty-two-year history, is highly recommended as the only reliable, consistent source of Russian mineral specimen, locality, and historical information.

In order to rank these magnificent specimens with other Russian and worldwide gold nuggets the reader is referred to the article by Cook, Francis, and Mauthner in this issue of Rocks & Minerals (pages 318–342). For additional well-illustrated articles on Russian gold nuggets from other historical periods and districts, two earlier articles published by Mineralogical Almanac (Orlov 2008; Orlov and Taishcheva 2013) are highly recommended.


Orlov, V. N. 2008. The oldest gold nuggets from the Diamond Fund of Russian Federation. Mineral Observer—Mineralogical Almanac 13c:4–17.

Orlov, V. N., and I. B. Taishcheva. 2013. Uralian gold nuggets of the 20th century in the Diamond Fund of Russia. Mineral Observer—Mineralogical Almanac 18 (1): 44–66. 


Moore's Compendium of Mineral Discoveries: 1960–2015 (2 vols.) by Thomas P. Moore. The Mineralogical Record, Inc., Tucson, AZ; 813 pages; 2016; $399 (hardbound).


The Mineralogical Record, Inc., Tucson, AZ; 813 pages; 2016; $399 (hardbound).


This astonishing publication covers mineral occurrences discovered since 1960! That date divides the time between publication of Pough's A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (1953) and Sinkankas's Mineralogy for Amateurs (1964), both of which follow their species descriptions with lists of occurrences in Dana fashion. This compilation began by Wendell Wilson's trying to develop an index to all of the occurrences mentioned in the Mineralogical Record's “What's New in Minerals” column. Assigned to Thomas P. Moore in 2001, the project was extended to other English-language mineral magazines and journals and later to the various worldwide periodicals, thirty-one in all. State and national mineralogies were also consulted, and even dealers' old price lists and websites are referenced. The book covers 1,079 species alphabetically, and its bibliography is 83 pages long!


Moore's Compendium is a unique guide to the rich literature on mineral occurrences. It is neither absolutely comprehensive, because it does not treat microcrystalline minerals, nor definitive, because it can only be as accurate as the references from which it draws. Undoubtedly it perpetuates errors that were in original sources, and it necessarily overlooks significant occurrences not yet recorded in the literature. Moore's Compendium and The Handbook of Mineralogy are the foundation of my mineralogical library. 





In this Issue

Taylor & Francis Group

Privacy Policy

© 2018 Taylor & Francis Group · 530 Walnut Street, Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA · 19106