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aphane da ate opali yatann (Yeni


Karamanca-aphane-Ktahya) ssta
madencilik tarihesi ve evre ekonomisi iin
nemi [Gemstone mining history and its
importance for enviro...
Conference Paper October 2009

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aphane Da Ate Opali Yatann (Yeni Karamancaaphane-Ktahya) Ssta Madencilik Tarihesi ve evre
Ekonomisi in nemi
Gemstone Mining History and its Importance for
Environmental Economics of the aphane Mountain Fire Opal
Deposit (Yeni Karamanca-aphane-Ktahya)
Murat Hatipolu
Dokuz Eyll University, MYO, Gemology and Jewellery Programme, zmir
E-Mail: murat.hatipoglu@deu.edu.tr

Necdet Trk
Dokuz Eyll University, Department of Geological Engineering, zmir

H. Baki Buzlu

Dokuz Eyll University, IMYO, Gemology and Jewellery Programme, zmir


ZET Ssta ticaretinde kullanlan Trkiyenin en deerli ikinci endstriyel hammaddesi
olan ate opallerini (kuvars grubu) ieren maden yata, aphane ve Simav ileleri (Ktahya)
arasnda ve Yeni Karamanca Kynn yaklak kuzeyindeki, aphane Danda bulunmaktadr.
Simav Grabeninin kuzey blou ierisinde yer alan bu yatak, ayn zamanda hemen dousundaki
aphane alunit (ap) cevher yata ile de komudur.
Jeolojik adan, ate opalleri byk Simav Fayn enine kesen K-G uzanml tali bir fay
zonu boyunca ykselmi hidrothermal silisik asite zengin sularn, riyolit ve peklemi tflerin
gaz boluklar ierisinde dk scaklk ve basn koullarnda kelimiyle olumulardr.
Gemolojik malzeme adan, aranan renk ve byklk zelliklerine sahip ate opalleri ieren
bu yatak, Trkiyede tektir. Ayn zamanda, mineral rezervi bakmndan da Dnyada,
Meksikadan sonra ikincidir.
Bu blgedeki ate opallerinin varl, Lidyallar dneminden beri bilinmekle beraber,
modern anlamda 19.yyda Alman madenciler tarafndan yakn civardaki alunit (ap) madeninin
kartlmas srasnda fark edilmitir. zellikle 1914 ve 1919 yllar arasnda Trk kyllerle
birlikte Alman madenciler tarafndan bu yatak iletilerek nemli miktarlarda ate opalleri
Almanyaya gnderilmitir. Hem ate opali materyalinin hem de alunit cevherinin iletilmesi
sresince, madenci olarak alan kyllerin kazanc sayesinde, blge ekonomisine nemli gelir
gelmitir. Yatak daha sonra II. Dnya Savann bitimine kadar kaderine terk edilmitir.
Savatan sonra gnmze kadar eitli zaman dilimlerinde, Trkiyede bu tan gemolojiksel
hammadde deeri bilinmedii iin, yksek miktarlardaki ate opali rnekleri, zellikle Almanya
bata olmak zere birok lkeye yollanmtr. Mnih (Almanya), Bazel (svire) ve Tucson
(A.B.D.) mineral fuarlarnda, mineral koleksiyoncular ve mineral mzeleri tarafndan gzellii
ve enderlii kefedilen bu talar, byk deerler karlnda alc bulmulardr.
Gnmzde bor maden sahasym gibi Etibank tarafndan elde tutulan bu yatak,
iletilmemektedir. Bununla beraber, aphane Da ate opali ssta yatann iletilmeye
almas durumunda, hem evre kyllere hem de Trkiye iin nemli bir gelir kayna
olacaktr. Ancak yatan, mevcut maden kanununa gre 5.Grup ssta iletme sertifikasyla
iletilmesi yasal zorunluluktur.
Ate opallerinin yer ald yatan
sadece 5.000.000 m2lik bir alannda, 10 m derinlik de
3
ortalama
tenr miktar, 30-40 gr/m olarak tespit edilmitir (opalin zgl arl yaklak 2.1
gr/cm3tr). Buna gre aphane Da ate opali yatann grnr rezervi yaklak 1.750 ton
ssta hammaddesidir.
Dnya ssta piyasasnda ate opalleri iin hammadde deeri, 5.000-10.000 kg/ABD
Dolardr. Ortalama deer gz nne alndnda, yatan toplam deeri yaklak 13 milyar
USDolar olarak ortaya kar ki, iletilmesi durumunda blge ekonomisine yapaca katk

yadsnamaz.
Anahtar Kelimeler: Ate opali, Kymetli endstriyel hammadde, aphane Da ate opali
yata, Ssta madencilii, Ktahya.
ABSTRACT
Fire opals (quartz group) being used in gemstone trade, which are the second one of the
most important industrial rough material of Turkey are found in the aphane Mountains where
is situated between aphane and Simav Districts of the Ktahya Province, and nearly in the
North of the Yeni Karamanca Village. At the same time, this deposit is in north block of the
Simav Graben, and is also adjacent with aphane alunite ore deposit in its near the east.
In the view of the geological formation, the fire opals were formed as a result of the
precipitation of the silicic acid rich hydrothermal solutions raising thoroughly a secondary fault
zone with N-S striking crosscutting the great Simav Fault, under relatively lower pressure and
temperature conditions, in the gas cavity and vacancies of the rhyolite and consolidated tuffs.
In the case of gemological material, this deposit including the fire opal gem roughs with
being in demand for their size and color saturation is the unique in Turkey, and at the same
time, is the second one after Mexico according to their mineral reserve.
The existence of the fire opals in this region, even though they have been known since the
Lydia Period, was in perceptible
by German miners during the extraction of the alunite ore in
the near vicinity at the 19th century in the meaning of modern. Especially, between 1914 and
1919, the fire opal deposit was exploited by German miners together with Turkish villagers,
and the gem roughs in a huge amount were exported to Germany in those times. Environmental
economics was gained with large working moneys of the Turkish miner villagers during
exploiting of both fire opal gem material and alunite ore. Then, the deposit was abandoned until
the end of the World War II. In the various time portions from the War I to the present day,
because of being unknown their gemological rough material value in Turkey, fire opal gem
roughs in many amounts have been illegally exported to mainly Germany and other countries.
The fire opals, which were discovered their beauty and rarity by the mineral collectors and the
mineral museums, were expensively sold in especially Munih (Germany), Basel (Switzerland),
and Tucson (USA) mineral fairs.
Now, the deposit held as if it is a borax ore field by Etibank (the official mining company)
have been not already exploited. However, if the aphane Mountain fire opal deposit is
exploited by somebody, its economics would be an important source of income for both near
villagers and Turkey. However, the deposit must be exploited with a 5th Group mining licence
according to the current Turkish mining law.
It is determined that the average tenor is 30-40 gr/m3 in only surface width of 5.000.000 m2
of whole deposit and in depth of 10 m (specific gravity value is about 2.1 gr/cm3 for opal).
According to this, visible reserve of the aphane Da fire opal deposit is about 1.750 tons for
gem rough.
In the world gemstone market, rough price for fire opals is the ranging 5.000-10.000 kg per
USDollars. If it is considered the average price, total value of the deposit is accounted as about
13 billion USDollars, so, its addition to the environment economics of this value is pretended
not to see if it is exploited.
Keywords: Fire opal, Precious industrial rough material, aphane Mountain fire opal
deposit, Gemstone mining, Gemstone mining

1 INTRODUCTION
Opal (SiO2.nH2O) is an amorphous (opal-A)
or poorly crystalline (opal-CT and opal-C)
hydrated silica. Both volcanic-igneous (opalCT and opal-C) and sedimentary origin (opalA) opal formations are very widespread in
nature. Therefore, natural hydrous silica
phases are subdivided into three well-defined
structural groups; opal-C (disordered cristobalite), opal-CT (disordered stacks of
cristobalite and tridymite like layers) and
opal-A (highly disordered, amorphous), even

if opals -CT and -C form is a continuous


series. These silica phases are main opalline
quartz building phases. Opal is not a pure
form of silica as it contains water as a
component, and some impurities and trace
elements can also enter its structure as
coloration agents. (Elzea and Rice, 1996;
Gaillou et al., 2008; Jones and Segnit, 1971).
Although various types of opals are found
as formed in volcanic-igneous rocks at low
and moderate temperatures, the formation of
fire opals is rare in nature. There are only a
few locations in the world reported to have

fire opals; Mexico, Brazil, Hungry,


Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Slovakia, and the USA
(Erel et al., 2003; Fritsch et al., 1999, 2002
and 2006; Gaillou et al., 2008; Gbelin,
1986; Koivula et al., 1983; Ostrooumov et al.,
2007; Ramirez, 1995; Rondeau et al., 2004).
The fire opal deposit in the Ktahya region of
Turkey is the unique fire opal deposit in the
Anatolian land, which has been mined for a
long time to make gem objects. However,
there are only three studies reported on the
fire opals from Turkey (Anda et al., 1976;
Esenli et al., 2001, Hatipolu, 2009).
In this study, we mainly aim the
announcement of the existence, mining
history and economics of the currently
unexploited Anatolian fire opals to be
precious industrial gem rough material, in
addition, contributing their mineralogical
aspects and also geological formation.

2 LOCATION
Anatolian fire opals deposit are found in the
aphane Mountains where is situated
between aphane and Simav Districts of the
Ktahya Province, and nearly in the North of
the Yeni Karamanca Village. In addition, this
deposit is in north block of the Simav Graben,
and is also adjacent with aphane alunite ore
deposit in its near the east.

3 MINERALOGICAL ASPECTS
Anatolian fire opals have various colorations;
brownish-red, deep or light orange, yellow
and colorless.
They contain mainly moganite and quartz
inclusions (Hatipolu, 2009). Inner structure
of the fire opal investigated by a scanning
electron microscopy consists of nono-sized
(10-60 nm in size) silica opal building
components (Hatipolu, 2009).
The refractive indices of the fire opals are
measured to be between N=1.408-1.414 for
the transparent samples and N=1.428-1.436
for the translucent samples having massive
zoned inclusions. However, the refractive
index of the transparent colorless sample is
found to be N= 1.392.
The specific gravity values of the fire
opals are found to be between SG=1.98-2.08
for the transparent samples and SG=2.122.17 for the translucent samples depending on
massive zoned inclusion contents.
The fire opals do not give out any

fluorescent colors when exposed to long (366


nm) and short (254 nm) wave ultraviolet light.
However, the transparent white variety of the
fire opals, which has good play-of-fire in
sunshine, indicates strong whitish-green
fluorescence in short wave ultraviolet light
and weak whitish-green fluorescence in long
wave ultraviolet light.
The dimensions of the fire opals in this
deposit vary from the size of a lentil to a
walnut (2 mm to 40 mm in diameter). They
are generally found as chick-pea shaped
nodules.
In the region, there are also a number of
alunite ore deposits and mines not far from
the fire opal deposit. Thus, the effect of the
alunite mineralization (KAl3(SO4)2OH6) is
also reflected in the chemical contents of the
Anatolian fire opals, with higher ratio of
Al2O3 and Fe2O3 (Anda et al., 1976).
The thermogravimetric (TGA) tests show
that total mass loss percentage for the fire
opal was found to be less than 8%, in contrast
to those of other common and sedimentary
opals (up to 21%), in addition, that care
should be taken not to exceed temperatures
above nearly 342 oC for fire opals during the
gem cutting and polishing processes, because
the value is the starting points of
decomposition.

4 MINING HISTORY
The most famous deposits of fire opal which
was explored around 1860s are in the state
of Queretaro in Mexico. These deposits also
are the most commercially viable and produce
what has become known throughout the
world as Mexican opal (Koivula et al., 1983,
Gbelin 1986, Spencer et al., 1992, Ramirez,
1995).
It is officially known that the fire opals in
Turkey have been mined as gemstone for
over 100 years in this region, even though the
existence and/or mining of them have been
known since the Lydian Period.
Legends holds that the Lydian mined opal
in Turkey in ancient times, and it was worked
by the Genoese 550 years agothere is still
one mine called the Genoese mine in the
region. Commercial mining of alunite was
commenced in the 1850s. However, during
this period some mining companies,
especially those based in Germany realized
the gemological importance of the fire opal
deposits nearby. Both reports from local
people and historical documents establish that
the Germans intensively mined fire opal from

the galleries and fracture zones that were


opened during World War I between 1914
and 1919. Mining continued intermittently in
the 1940s, 1950s and 1980s (Anda et al.
1976, Esenli et al. 2001). Millions of tons of
rhyolitic waste can be seen today as evidence
of past episodes of intense mining activity in
search of fire opal. Local free-lance miners
still recover it from the dumps and sell it
abroad, where it is unfortunately still
marketed as Mexican opal, although some
collectors are aware of the true locality
(Fischer, 2007).

5 GEOLOGICAL FORMATION
Turkey, on the Minor Asia land, quite
possibly has the greatest resources of natural
gemstone material in the whole of Europe, the
Middle East, and North Africa. This directly
results from the fact that the Anatolian plate
sits at the intersection of the four other
continental plates. As a consequence,
magmatic and volcanic activity directly
related to the active tectonic zones near the
plate boundaries have been ongoing, virtually
continuously, since the Mesozoic Era.
The Anatolian fire opal samples are found
in partially altered rhyolitic lavas and
siliceous solidified tuffs (Anda et al., 1976;
Esenli et al., 2001, Hatipolu, 2009). It is
likely that hydrothermal fluids caused the
alteration and accumulation in the rhyolite
and tuff host rocks in the formation of the
nodule shaped Anatolian fire opals. Rock
forming minerals such as quartz, feldspars,
amphiboles
and
micas
experienced
hydrothermal alteration, releasing silicic acid
(H4SiO4) into the solution during the
deposition of the opals. Thus, the dissolved
silicon ions were transported through the
cracked zone. These fluids then combined
with ground waters. The co-action of silicic
acid (H4SiO4) must have also been present
during the formation of the fire opals, which
coagulated as colloids into the vesicles and
pores of both the altered rhyolite and
siliceous solidified tuff, as nodules from the
size of a lentil to a walnut in a relatively low
pressure and temperature environment with
sufficient pH conditions.
In the area there is a large tectonic belt
trending in a west-northwest/east-southeast
direction, which is about 100 to 120
kilometers long and 40 to 50 kilometers wide.
The Simav, Gediz, and Emet Faults lie within
this belt and these faults form the boundaries
of the grabens in the same region (Ik, 2004).

It was observed during the field studies that


the Anatolian fire opal occurrences are
related to the small N-S extending transfer
fault which cuts across the NW-SE running
Simav Fault.

6 ECONOMICS
Although the geological history of Anatolia
has not produced deposits of precious
industrial rough materials such as diamond,
ruby, sapphire, emerald, alexandrite, or topaz,
it has produced many occurrences of
relatively semiprecious industrial rough
materials as gemstones that have been traded
worldwide. Consequently, fire opals (quartz
group) being used in gemstone trade, which
are the second one of the most important
industrial rough material of Turkey.
According to the detailed geological field
investigations made in the region, visible
reserve of the aphane Da fire opal deposit
is about 1.750 tons for gem rough. It is
determined that the average tenor is 30-40
gr/m3 in only surface width of 5.000.000 m2
of whole deposit and in depth of 103 m
(specific gravity value is about 2.1 gr/cm for
opal). Thus, it can be stated that Turkey is the
second important fire opal producer in the
world after Mexico.
In the world gemstone market, rough price
for fire opals is the ranging 5.000-10.000 kg
per USDollars. If it is considered the average
price, total value of the deposit is accounted
as about 13 billion USDollars.

7 CONCLUSIONS
Hydrothermally deposited Anatolian fire
opals are found as nodules within the
shrinkage and dehydration cracks of rhyolitic
lavas and siliceous solidified tuffs, and their
occurrences are related to the small N-S
extending transfer fault which cuts across the
NW-SE running Simav Fault.
Visible reserve of the aphane mountain
fire opal deposit is over 1.750 tons for gem
rough, and total value of the deposit is
accounted as over 13 billion USDollars.
According to this fire opal reserve, Turkey is
the second important fire opal producer in the
world after Mexico.
During the extraction with mining methods
of the opals, any dangerous residues are not
left to the environment.

The deposit must be exploited with a 5th


Group mining licence according to the current
Turkish mining law.
Now, the deposit held as if it is a borax ore
field by Etibank have been not already
exploited. However, its economics would be
an important source of income for both near
villagers and Turkey, if the aphane
Mountain fire opal deposit is exploited by
somebody.

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