Historical information

This particular specimen was recovered from the Burra Burra Copper Mine in Burra, South Australia.

Otherwise known as the 'Monster Mine', the Burra Burra Copper Mine was first established in 1848 upon the discovery of copper deposits in 1845. Within a few short years, people from around the world migrated to Burra to lay their claim in the copper economy. By April 1848 the mine was employing over 567 people and supporting a population of 1,500 in the local township. Up until 1860, the mine was the largest metals mine in Australia, producing approximately 50,000 tonnes of copper between 1845 to its closure in 1877.

The Burra Burra Mine was also famous for a number of other specimens, including; crystalline azurite, cuprite, and botryoidal and malachite.

Significance

This specimen is part of larger collection of significant geological specimens in the Burke Museum that was collected from around the world between 1868-1880. A large percentage of these specimens were collection as part of the Geological Survey of Victoria 1852-1974. The Geological Survey of Victoria was an organisation founded in response to the Victorian gold rush to explore the geological and mineral resources and to record a detailed map of the state. It was headed by British geologist, Alfred Richard Cecil Selwyn (1824-1902), who was responsible for issuing over 60 geological maps during his 17 years as director. These maps were all hand-drawn and coloured and became the benchmark for accuracy for geological mapping. Collecting geological specimens was an important part of mapping and understanding the scientific makeup of the earth. Many of these specimens were sent to research and collecting organisations across Australia, including the Burke Museum, to educate and encourage further study.

Malachite is considered a rare gemstone in that the original deposits for the stones have been depleted leaving behind very few sources. In addition, the use of Malachite as gemstones and sculptural materials remains just as popular today as they were throughout history. It is quite common to cut the stone into beads for jewellery. The fact that Malachite has such a rich colour and one that does not fade with time or when exposed to light makes it particularly rare.

Physical description

A solid hand-sized copper carbonate hydroxide mineral with shades of blue and light green throughout.

Malachite is typically found as crystalline aggregates or crusts, often banded in appearence, like agates. It is also often found as botryoidal clusters of radiating crystals, and as mammillary aggregates as well. Single crystals and clusters of distinguishable crystals are uncommon, but when found they are typically acicular to prismatic. It is also frequently found as a pseudomorph after Azurite crystals, which are generally more tabular in shape.