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Putorana Khebret

Norilsk is a large mining town in the polar regions of western Siberia. It is situated near the Enissei (Jenissei) river and just west of the Putorana mountains. Politically it resorts under Krasnoyarsk Oblast and it is often mentioned to be located on the Taimyr peninsula. This is at least geologically incorrect, since Norilsk is part of the Siberian platform which is separated from the Taimyr platform by the Khatanga rift zone. 

Norilsk is famous for it's nickel mines. These mines also produce vast amounts of copper as well as platinum group elements. Although collectively known as "Norilsk" there are many individual mines in the area . North of Norilsk is the almost equally famous mining town of Talnakh. The mines and smelters are operated by Norilsk Nikel, which is a world wide company by now. See their site at: .


Norilsk is located at the northwestern edge of the Siberian platform. North of Norilsk is the Khatanga rift zone which separates the Siberian platform from the Taimyr platform. To the west of Norilsk lay the Sibrian lowlands and further west the East European-Urals block. The Siberian platform, the Taimyr platform and the East European-Ural block are all cratons.

The deposit of Norilsk  is a typical utrabasic intrusion. But unlike other famous ultrabasic intrusions, like for instance Monchegorsk and Pechenga on Kola,  is Norilsk of Mesozoic age. What happened in a nutshell is that a huge mantle plume of magma intruded the existing layers of sedimentary rocks. This intrusion had three effects. Large tectonic fault lines occurred, intrusions where formed and a part of the rock reached the surface as lava and formed extrusive rocks. All these rocks can still be found. Mineralogically the Norilsk-Kharaelach fault is the most important. Along this south-southwest to north-northeast stretching fault line lay six differentiated intrusions. These differentiated intrusions are of most economical and mineralogical interest, since they contain the interesting Ni-Cu-PGE mineralogy. The five intrusions are Obechshayushchji Ruchei, Chornaya Gora, Vostochnji Norilsk, Norilsk II, Norilsk I and Talnakh. There are numerous other intrusions in the area, but they are not or less differentiated.

The differentiated intrusions consist of three phases. The upper gabbro series consists of gabbrodolerites, anorthosites and several variety's of these rocks such as pikrites, troktolites, plagiochromitites and clinopyroxenites. This upper phase is not very rich in ores. The middle phase consists of gabbrodolerite and troktolite. The lower phase consists of gabbrodolerites devoid of chromspinel. So that is for the die hard petrologists, because I just see three layers of gabbrodolerite. The main important phenomenon for us rockhounds is that in the lower sections of these differentiated intrusions lay lenses of massive ore. Fine ore particles can be dispersed in the rest of the gabbrodolerite too and some ores occurs in veins. 

The ores themselves are also differentiated. Common sulfidic ore minerals are pyrrhotine, pentlandite, chalcopyrite, cubanite, talnakhite, putoranite and mooihoekite. The differentiation between all these minerals is quite complex. Differentiation of the ores only takes place when the volume of the ore is large enough and cooling is slow. There is a trend from  sulfur rich iron sulfides like pyrrhotine to a sulfur deficient copper sulfide like Mooihoekite. After this sequence there is also a sort of hydrothermal activity depositing minerals like galena, chalcocite, bornite and platinum minerals. Since the original sedimentary rocks also contained someCarboniferous limestones, there are a few skarns in the Norilsk district.

geo-norilsk.jpg (154041 bytes)         norilsk-topo.jpg (738981 bytes)
geological map            topographical map


The mineralogy of Norilsk is pretty complicated and so far it seems impossible to list a full and complete list of the mineralogy of all the individual mines. Most interesting minerals of Norilsk are the platinum group minerals. Many of these minerals occur only as microscopic inclusions in massive copper and nickel ore. Reflective ore microscopy is needed to find them and often more advanced methods like EDX and microprobe are needed for a positive identification.

Glubokiy mine

Komsomolski mine (northeast of Talnakh)
Argentopentlandite Atokite Bornite Braggite Brucite Calcite Chalcopyrite Cooperite Cubanite Diaspore Djerfisherite Fluorapophyllite Forsterite Gold Gypsum Iowaite Kharaelakhite Ktenasite Mackinawite Magnetite Merenskyite Michenerite Millerite Mooihoekite Okenite Palladoarsenide Pectolite Pentlandite Pyrrhotite Rustenburgite Sperrylite Spinel Talnakhite Telargpalite Thaumasite Valleriite Vyalsovite

Majak mine (east of Talnakh)
 Altaite Atokite Bornite Cabriite Chalcopyrite Cubanite Djerfisherite Galena Godlevskite Magnetite Majakite Manganshadlunite Mertieite-I Palarstanide Pentlandite Platinum Plumbopalladinite Polarite Rustenburgite Shadlunite Silver Sobolevite Sperrylite Sphalerite Stannopaladinite Taimyrite Talnakhite Tetraferroplatin Thalcusite Urvantsevite Zvyagintsevite

Norilsk I mine (medvezhji Ruchei, 'Bear creek', 6km south of Norilsk)
Atokite Bornite Cooperite Godlevskite Millerite Platinum Sphalerite Stannopaladinite Taimyrite Vysotskite

Okt'yabersky mine (~12km northwest of Talnakh)
Alabandite Altaite Argentopentlandite Auricupride Bismutohauchecornite Borishanskiite Bornite Braggite Cabriite Chalcocite Chalcopyrite Clausthalite Cooperite Cubanite Datolite Djerfisherite Froodite Galena Geversite Gold Heazlewoodite Hessite Hibbingite Insizwaite Kotulskite Mackinawite Magnetite Majakite Manganshadlunite Maslovite Michenerite Millerite Moncheite Mooihoekite Niggliite Owensite Palladoarsenide Paolovite Parkerite Pentlandite Pilsenite Platinum Polarite Prehnite Putoranite Pyrrhotite Radharkrishnaite Rustenburgite Shadlunite Silver Sobolevskite Sperrylite Sphalerite Sudburyite Talnakhite Telargpalite Thalfenisite Troilite Urvantsevite Valleriite Vincentite

Skalisty mine

Taimyrski mine
taimirski-mine.jpg (25741 bytes)

Talnakhskoye mine
Altaite Bornite Chalcopyrite Cubanite Djerfisherite Fluorapophyllite Galena Godlevskite Shadlunite Sphalerite Talnakhite Thalcusite

Ugolny Ruchei mine

Zapolyarni mine (4km south of Norilsk)
Chalcopyrite Godlevskite Zvyagintsevite

Norilsk (without any specific locality)
Actinolite Akermanite Albite Allanite-(Ce) Almandine Alunogene Amesite Analcime Andalusite Andesine Andradite Anhydrite Ankerite Anorthite Anorthoclase Antigorite Aragonite Arsenic Arsenopalladinite Arsenopyrite Atokite Augelite Azurite Babingtonite Baddeleyite Barite Bassanite Biotite Breithauptite Brucite Bytownite Cabriite Calaverite Chabazite-Ca Chalcanthite Chondrodite Chromite Clausthalite Clinoenstatite Clinohumite Clinozoisite Cobaltite Cobaltpentlandite Copper Cordierite Covellite Cummingtonite Cuprite Datolite Diaspore Digenite Diopside Dolomite Dravite Enstatite Epidote Epsomite Fayalite Fibroferrite Fluorapophyllite Forsterite Gehlenite Gersdorffite Geversite Gmelinite-Na Goethite Graphite Greigite Grossular Gypsum Gyrolite Halite Harmotome Hawleyite Heazlewoodite Hedenbergite Hedleyite Hematite Heulandite-Ca Hexahydrite Hibbingite Hibschite Hisingerite Hollingworthite Hydroxylapatite Ilmenite Ilvaite Inesite Insizwaite Iowaite Isoferroplatinum Isomerthieite Jarosite Kaolinite Kempite Kotulskite Laumontite Laurite Levyne-Ca Linnaeite Lizardite Lollingite Ludwigite Mackinawite Maghemite Magnesiohastingite Malachite Manganshadlunite Marcasite Maucherite Mawsonite Melanterite Melilite Meneghinite Merenskyite Mertieite-II Merwinite Mesolite Microcline Moissanite Molybdenite Monazite-(Ce) Monticellite Montmorillonite Mordenite-Ca Morenosite Natrolite Nepouite Nickel-boussingaultite Nickeline Nontronite Okenite Opal Orcelite Orthoclase Palygorskite Pararammelsbergite Pargasite Pectolite Pentlandite Periclase Perowskite Phlogopite Polydymite Prehnite Pyrolusite Pyrophanite Quartz Rammelsbergite Rhodochrosite Rozenite Rutile Safflorite Sanidine Saponite Schorl Schorlomite Scorzalite Sepiolite Siderite Siegenite Sillimanite Silver Sopcheite Sphalerite Spinel Stannoidite Stellerite Sternbergite Stibiopalladinite Stilbite-Ca Stilpnomelane Stromeyerite Stumpflite Stutzite Sulphur Sylvite Teallite Tellurobismutite Tetraauricupride Tetrahedrite Thaumasite Thomsonite-Ca Tilleyite Tochilinite Tremolite Tridymite Ullmannite Ulvospinell Vaesite Vermiculite Violarite Vivianite Wollastonite Wurzite Xonotlite Zoisite


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platinum-norilsk.jpg (22295 bytes) Platinum pyrolusite-nor.jpg (38189 bytes)
sperrylite-talnakh.jpg (14551 bytes) Sperrylite
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  drill cores
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Ore deposits of the USSR, by V.I. Smirnov, 1977, Vol II p34 - 46

Norilsk-die schwarze Perle Nordsibiriens, by J. Tvrdy and P. Kolesar, Lapis 5/95

The Norilsk Talnakh ore deposits: Russia, by J.G Foster, 2003, Geodiscovery Group, Australia