In Search of Dark Crystals

By Jason McAllister

For decades, amateur fossickers have been travelling to an obscure little reserve near Mooralla in Victoria in search of doubly terminating smoky quartz crystals.

Many travel great distances to acquire one of these little beauties which at first glance appear jet black but upon closer inspection reveal themselves as clear crystals filled with dark, smoky whirls and clouds. What is also interesting is that they are doubly terminating, meaning that the crystal forms a point at both ends. The smoky quartz crystals at Mooralla were formed around 40 million years ago inside gas bubbles contained within a viscous lava known as rhyolite. These bubbles solidified into geodes which can be cracked open, revealing sparkling crystal clusters.

The crystals typically vary in size from a few millimetres up to 10 centimetres and are classified as specimen quality rather than gem quality. However, a beautiful crystal glinting in the sunlight sure looks like a gem and Mooralla is the only place in Australia with this type of quality crystal.

The full article can be found in the July 2011 issue of Gold Gem and Treasure. Subscribe now.

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