Dolomite, Pyrite, Sphalerite
Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 03.08.2021 | Filed under:

Dolomite, Pyrite, Sphalerite

Specimen # 200290
Mineral: Dolomite, Pyrite, Marcasite
Location: Nanisivik Mine, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
Size: 11.4 x 5.9 x 3.8 cm


This is quite a specimen – there is a lot going on here – it does not fit in the title! The  rhombohedral dolomite crystals have a layer of calcite microcrystals on them, and on top of the calcite is a dusting of tiny sparkling sharp marcasite and pyrite crystals. There is a beautiful bladed pseudomorph of pyrite after marcasite (right hand side, first photo – also in photos 2 and 6). Several sphalerite crystals are also dusted with the marcasite and pyrite crystals. And then somehow there are cubic and pyritohedral pyrite crystals that are not dusted. Rather than describe it all in detail, I’ll let the photos do the talking for this one. It’s in excellent condition, one rub on a dolomite. From the Steve Szilard collection, this is one cool specimen, from a great far north Canadian locality.

About Steve Szilard (click here)


About the Nanisivik Mine

The Nanisivik Mine is in the far north, near the northernmost edge of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, at 73 degrees north latitude. It operated from 1976 to 2002, and was an important producer of exquisite pyrite specimens, along with beautiful specimens of other sulphide minerals, and quartz, dolomite and calcite. The mine’s location made for some extreme conditions. Weeks of total darkness in the winter could see temperatures down to -50C (-58F). In the summer, while the outdoor temperatures could be +10C (50F), the temperature in the mine was -15C (5F) thanks to a 500 metre-thick permafrost layer. The vugs containing crystals were ice-filled, and collecting involved the use of ice picks. This was challenging, but at least the ice protected the crystals during collecting. Specimens were removed with the ice remaining attached, and then melted gradually at the surface to expose the crystals. Collecting was usually impossible during summer months because the underground walls would become coated with thick layers of frost and ice (like the inside of a freezer), obscuring any chance of seeing crystal vugs. Today, the mine is most broadly remembered for the spectacular complex pyrite crystals it produced.

There is a great article on the locality:

Gait, R.I, G.W. Robinson, K. Bailey and D. Dumka, 1990. Minerals of the Nanisivik Mine, Baffin Island, Northwest Territories.* Mineralogical Record 21: 515-534.

(* this region of Nunavut was formerly part of the Northwest Territories)