Stichtite in Serpentine: 500 Million Years Ago
|Stichtitic serpentinite (Dundas Ultramafic Complex, Cambrian; Stichtite Hill, western Tasmania) Image credit: James St. John|
It has since been found in moderate amounts at several other sites around Zeehan, and south of Macquarie Harbour, plus a number of other parts of the world - but rarely in such rich masses as in Dundas.
Formed as an alteration product of black chromite in green serpentinite, the soft, waxy mineral is usually found as small spots, knots or veins in the serpentine, and its colour ranges from pink through lilac to a rich purple.
The rock is thought to have originally formed from mantle-derived igneous intrusions crystallising below the sea floor, which were later altered to serpentine-stichtite rocks by low temperature fluids.
Stichtite was first found before 1891 but not formally recognised as a new mineral till extensive work by William Petterd and a group of scientists in 1910.
The mineral was named stichtite after Robert Carl Sticht, an American-born industrialist and metallurgist who worked in Tasmania from 1897 until his death in 1922.
As a manager of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co., Sticht pioneered the application of pyritic smelting to copper ores and he was pivotal in developing the mining site into the functional and sustainable township of Queenstown.
Sticht was an avid collector of cultural material from Oceana, and a large collection of items acquired by him between 1897 and 1914 has been donated to TMAG.
Today, stichtite has value as a gemstone and ornamental material; accordingly, it is mined in small amounts, and carved and polished into small figurines, spheres and other objects. It can also be seen in the West Coast Pioneers Museum in Zeehan.
The above story is based on materials provided by Art Gallery. the original artical wae written by Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.