I'm Maurice de Graaf I live in the Netherlands and work in the field of geo-informatics (GIS). I collect minerals since the age of four. At that age it all began with me discovering a box of rocks in the attic. The rocks belonged to my great grandfather. After adding at first useless pieces of concrete, brick and whatever I could find as a kid I finally grew into a more scientific collector. The concrete and bricks soon made way for more natural stuff and a mineral collection was born.
To me books and publications are as important as mineral specimen. They are my 2D and 3D library. Although my collection is a world wide collection and contains samples from all continents I got somehow interested in Russian mineralogy in particular. After the fall of the iron curtain it became more easy to get Russian samples on the western market. Not soon after scientific references of Russian mineralogy became more readily available. Why not the other ex Soviet states? I agree there is no good reason for leaving them out. Most other ex Soviet states like Ukraine, Kirgizia, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan have very interesting mineralogical sites also. The problem is that with Russia alone I have already well over 1000 localities in my database, of which many require further investigation, often yielding even more localities!
I thought it is time to compile a sort of review about Russian mineralogy. This is a risky business, because there are probably people out there who know a great deal more about certain subjects than I do. That is great because I hope to learn from this site also. I'm counting on your feedback. Corrections and additions are always welcome. Of course I did not think of all the information myself. The bulk of the information comes from several reference books and a huge pile of articles listed in the further reading chapter, experience in collecting and contacts to Russian geologists, collectors and volcanologists. Smaller references and credits are given at the bottom of each section.
One friday the 13th of my life
If you have any suggestions, additions or corrections you can mail me.
A picture of me at Timonovsky hotsprings, Kamchatka. Me in the Dolina Geyserov. My somewhat uneasy pose
Hot mineral rich water colors the rock behind me is caused by the BIG bear about 50 meters behind me!
yellow, when it flows into the Upper Avacha Fortunately she had more appatite for Russian berries than
river below me. for a Dutch rockhound. Kamchatkan brown bears
are the biggest bears around.
The mineral pictures on my site are not always of the high standard as I would like to see them. First of all taking good shots of specimen is quite a time consuming task. So here I did save some time, which is used for adding more info to this site. But I also favored to show the minerals as they are. The great mineral pictures made by the best photographers like Jeff Scovil or Eddy Van der Meersche usually depict very high class specimen and are not representative for the (affordable) material on the market or the stuff you dig up yourself. If you think you have some great pictures laying around of Russian minerals, you are always welcome to contact me to see if they are an addition to my site. And if you happen to be Jeff Scovil or Eddy van der Meersche or you just take similar good pics. They are of course welcome also. :-)
Instead of the time consuming task of providing maps of all localities I decided to add a link to Google Earth for many localities (well, I hope it will be many after some time...). I do my best to place the links as close to the real thing as possible, but not all localities are visible from space, so don't enter the coordinates into your GPS and expect to find the locality. It is just meant as illustration, not as tour guide. If you notice an error and you know the correct locality let me know.
In order to work with Google Earth, you first have to install the program via earth.google.com. Once that is done just click on the "" logo at the locality description and enjoy the flight!
I plan to make this site into a 'complete' survey of Russian mineralogical sites. Besides adding many more localities with pictures of both the locality itself and it's minerals, I will work on more geological maps. Behind the screens I'm working on a geology chapter, discussing the regional geology of the entire country. This site is permanently under construction and new information is added almost daily.
One word of caution for those of you who want to travel to Russia. Russia can be the worst addictive drug around. Many people who visited the country are seriously affected by it for the rest of their lives. So before taking the step of going to Russia, make sure you have seen all other places you wanted to see, because after the first visit you will only go to Russia again! No white beaches, lazy chairs, colorful cocktails and palm trees anymore. From then on it will be the muddy mosquito infested tundra's and the endless taiga of white birches. You want to eat perashki, cherniki, borsch, pelmeni and drink kwas instead of pizza's, steaks, hamburgers and cola.
practical information about the page
One look at the map reveals Russia is a pretty big place. As most countries Russia is devided into a sort of provinces. Some of these provinces are more autonomous than others and that is reflected in the name. There are individual republics, within Russia called 'Respublika', like for instance Respublika Sakha, also known as Yakutia. There are also krajs like Primorskyi Kraj, Okrugs like the Koryakski Avtonomyi Okrug and Oblasts like the Magadan Oblast. All these are political borders and geology does not stop at political borders. Therefore it is often difficult to attribute a locality to a certain district or province. The famous mines of Berezovsk are located in the Srednyi Ural by most references, but they are politically in the Sverdlovskaya oblast. I decided to divide my website in more geological and topographical area's like "Ural" and "Transbaikal" instead of in political area's. Because sometimes localities have a similar name but different location it can be the cause of mix ups.
This bring me to the spelling. Russia uses a different alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet. The transcription of this sometimes gives rise to confusion. The Russian letter 'X' is pronounced as a soft G sound like in the Scottish Loch. This sound is not present in English, but uniformly transscribed as 'Kh'. It can be found in the world famous Khibiny massif. Sometimes it is transcribed as "Ch". That is wrong because 'Ch' stands for the [tsj] sound as in Chernobyl. The Russian have a soft sign. A soft sign is pronounced as a small pause in the word. In transcription it is shown as a ' in the middle of the word, like "Slud'yanka" or "Okt'yaberski". Then there is the problem with the 'e'. In Russian the 'e' is mostly pronounced as 'ye'. That is why in transcribtion you might find both Yekaterinburg and Ekaterinburg. And to make things more complicated does cyrillic have a character 'ë' which is pronounced as [yoh]. But in many cases the yoh sound is just transcribed as ye, giving rise to confusion. Finally there is the issue of the endings. Russian grammar has many endings. In Soviet times many mines where named after October, "Okt'yabr". Mostly the name is used as adjective of the noun mine, mountain, deposit etc. In such cases it gets an ending. Usually these endings are transcribed as -skoye, -skaya, -ski, -ye or -yi. This would make names like Okt'yabrskoye or Okt'yaberski or Okt'yaberskaya. Which one is correct depends on what is called Okt'yavbr. If it is for instance a river (reka) then it would be Okt'taberskaya reka. The lesson is don't pay too much attention to the endings.
Below a few Russian words to make maps and locality names a little more understandable:
|Bolshoi||great||compared to Nizhnaya or Malaya|
|-chorr||mountain||Eweslogchorr in Saami language of Kola|
|dalny||far away||If dwellings called 'Dalny' appear, you are in the middle of nowhere. Dalnegorsk (Far away mountain)|
|gora / gory||mountain||Zolotaya gora|
|gorki||hills||Magnitogorsk (magnetic hill)|
|khrebet||mountain range||Verkhoyansk Khrebet|
|kop' / kopi||mine or quarry||115 kop|
|log||hole||Sukhoi Log, Krivoy Log|
|malaya||small / little|
|more||sea||Belomorsk (town at the White Sea)|
|novo||new||Novoshakhtinsk, Novo Tolbachik|
|okrug||sort of province|
|oleni||reindeer||Oleni Ruchei, Olenegorsk|
|ostry||pointed (hill)||Ostry Tolbachik|
|pereval||(mountain) pass||Pereval quarry|
|ploskaya||flat (hill)||Plosky Tolbachik, Mount Ploskaya|
|pri||before (= west of)||Pribaikal, Priamur'e|
|reka||river||Belorechensk (White river)|
|slyuda||mica||Slyuda mine in Kovdor, Sludyanka, Slyudorudnik|
|tundry||tundra||also used for mountain ranges in the north like Khibiny Tundry|
|ugol||coal||Vostsibugol, company name "East Siberian Coal'|
|Ust-||estuary||Ust-Kamchatsk, near the estuary of the Kamchatka river|
|verst (versta in Russian)||1.06679999675266 kilometer||old Russian distance measure used in older publications|
|zapovednik||national park||Kronotsky zapovednik, Ilmeni zapovednik|
|zheleznyi||iron||Zheleznyi quarry (Kovdor)|