This cluster of goethite pseudomorph after marcasite features spear-shaped marcasite crystal forms – one of the sharpest I’ve seen. The arrangement is curious, and very unusual for these – the crystals are stacked together in parallel and subparallel groups, forming book-like aggregates. In excellent condition – I can find one small chip on the piece if I search, otherwise no damage. Minor pseudomorphs after pyrite crystals are in association. A beautiful specimen.
About These White Desert Pseudomorphs
This locality has been known for a number of years and pseudomorph specimens have come out once in a while. The pseudomorphs occur within the Cretaceous Khoman Chalk, from which the White Desert derives its name. Most crystals have typically been fairly indistinct, and to date sharp specimens have been uncommon. These specimens are remarkable for their relatively sharp marcasite crystal forms in aesthetic crystal clusters.
Over the years, these pseudomorphs have been variously labeled hematite, goethite and limonite (the latter no longer a valid mineral species name, but is a term still used in reference to unidentified iron hydroxides, so its use has not been incorrect). Recent work by Hannah Allen at Hamilton College has confirmed that the White Desert pseudomorphs are predominantly goethite. The small white grains lodged in among the crystal blades are barite, calcite and gypsum. (Allen, Hannah M., Pseudomorphed Mineral Aggregates of the Khoman Chalk, Western Desert, Egypt, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 46, No. 2, p.66 (2014)).
Although pseudomorphs after cubic and cuboctahedral pyrite crystals have also been found in the Khoman Chalk, the pseudomorphs after marcasite are more dramatic. These pseudomorphs are excellent specimens featuring beautiful marcasite crystal morphology, showing habits and forms exhibited by the crystallized marcasite specimens from the famous occurrences at Cap-Blanc-Nez, Pas-de-Calais, France.