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 Post subject: The Knappenwand Epidot Mine
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:20 am 
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Location: Hohe Tauern N.P., Austria
As I already posted in the thread about the Habachtal Emeralds, Austria is not blessed with many gemstone deposits. Actually there is only one more location of major international interest. I want to give you a short introduction of the "Knappenwand" mine.

The "Knappenwand" Epidot Mine
("Knappenwand" translates "wall of miners")

Located in the Untersulzbach - Valley which is a part of "Hohe Tauern" national park. Originally discovered by Alois Wurnitsch, a famous local crystal hunter in 1865, the mine produced the most beautiful and big epidote crystals worldwide many of which are now part of museum collections all over the world. Small scale mining continued over a period of about 100 years and left a cave in the steep rock wall that measures about 25 x 10 x15 meters. Today the site is open for visit from june to october, all rockhounding there is prohibited. One can only look into some clefts of the epidote amphibole where those crystals are mined. A group of local professionals keeps the mine safe and carries out some very small scale cleft mining.

The only possibility for rockhounds to find some crystals is to look through the rubble below the site. Since dynamite was used in the fifties and sixties to broaden the entrance of the cave, pieces of epidote where spread downwards, although most pieces are cracked, one can find crystals up to 3 cm there.

Nowadays only a few Epidotes a year are unearthed. This, together with the beauty and size of the specimens originating from this location, brought the prices to unbelievable sums. But, as always with top specimens, there seem to be enough collectors willing to pay the price. Regarding the use in Jewellry, crystals are only used as rough pendants, since the faces seem to be polished by nature already and prices of rough specimens exceed the prices of cut (pakistani) stones by far.

The mineral association in the clefts is Byssolithe, Apatite (colourless), Asbestos. Specimens are beloved because of their attractive geometric composition.

If you want to visit the place when youre in austria, it´s about 4 hrs of walk from the entrance of Untersulbachvalley.

Satellite map with the tour:

http://www.hohetauern.at/dmdocuments/2008_Dateien/Erlebnis/Salzburg/lehrwege/Schaubergwerk_Hochfeld_und_Knappenweg_Untersulzbachtal.jpg



Epidote agregate measuring 7 by 4 cm

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Epidote aggregate 5,8 cm


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Epidote aggregate in hand
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Palagems has a Knappenwand epidote as featured specimen this month, for a second time since 2007. Also some more english information linked there as well as a beautiful painting of the specimen.

http://www.palagems.com/mineral_news_2009_v2.htm#featured_december

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:36 am 
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The finest epidotes which all other are compared to are from austria..only the pakistani ones come anywhere close

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:37 am 
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Thanks for that Nikolaus, definitely sounds like its worth a visit one day.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:47 pm 
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8) those are beautiful epidote specimens, beautiful dark green!! enjoyed the article from palagems, too!! thanks for sharing with us these beauties, nikolaus!! epidote is also a beautiful stone when faceted, and under appreciated. 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Here are two more fine pieces from the Knappenwand: Mined in 2004 the first one is a exquisite cluster of apatite and epidote. Unfortunately without size, but as I know pieces from the mine I would estimate 8 by 8 cm size.

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Pic and collection by the Hofer brothers

The second one is a very large and extremely shiny and beautiful crystal cluster. Remember, the colour is green, but since the Knappenwand Epidotes are that large, the green seems to be black. A true museum piece.

Image

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Last edited by Nikolaus Lackner on Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Knappenwand Epidot Mine
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:11 am 
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The following Pictures come from Erwin Burgsteiner, a collector and explorer of both worlds:

The written word as well as the crystallized rock.

The Vereinigte Mineraliensammler in wich Erwin plays a central role, too have a german site, and with a little navigation one will find a very nice pictured article on the history of the Knappenwand mine.
http://www.mineraliensammler.com/

For those, who can´t read in german, I just relink the pictures here and translate the subtitles attached to them.

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The Dreamspecimen from 2003
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Knappenwand 1909
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The cleft from inside around 1930
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Karl Wurnitsch (On the scaffold) Hubert Russegger and OSR Erwin Unterwurzacher (the juvenile)
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Peter Trojer und Karl Wurnitsch (seating) in the 1930ies
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Construction of a hut in the 1970ies
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"Knappenwand-era" of the Viennese Museum of Natural History, in the Middle 1980ies
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Hannes Hofer und Franz Gartner in the new built adit (2001)
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Hannes Hofer cleans the ground inside the Knappenwand, to be able to follow the rock formations
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Here the apliteband is stretching to around 1 meter

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 Post subject: Re: The Knappenwand Epidot Mine
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:40 am 
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Excellent report.


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 Post subject: Re: The Knappenwand Epidot Mine
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:01 am 
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8) hi, nik!! enjoyed reading about you and your excellent report on the knappenwand epidote mine in the palagems news this morning!! :shock: wow @ the landslide!! 8)


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 Post subject: Re: The Knappenwand Epidot Mine
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:57 pm 
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thanks for sharing an informative report on Epidote.

HUK

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