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In the footsteps of Fersman's expedition

Important fact in the history of the Khibiny massif was on 20 June 1920 when Aleksander Karpinsky, the President of Academy of Sciences and Aleksander Fersman, academician organized expedition to Murmansk region. The Civil war was on the wane and Aleksander Fersman remembered with warm at heart that time. He told how they arrived to Imandra railway station, their place of destination late at night. They had to collect wood in the forest as the engine run out of fuel. They were lucky as the polar sun lighten everything around. The sun went under the mountains for a while only to have some rest. This was reason to climb on one of the nearest hills named Mannenpakh located in the north-west of the Khibiny tundra.

Expedition of Alexander Fersmana in Khibiny

Being the only mineralogist among participants of the expedition, Aleksander Fersman was impressed by all minerals found by his fellow travelers and given to him for study. There were a lot of them - aegirines, astrophyllites, eudialytes and eucolites. He made immediate conclusion that the Khibiny is a storehouse of different stones, unexplored land with a lot of secrets and incredible discoveries. Since the fame of the Khibiny rang through the country.

The first young explorers of the Khibiny massif were the representatives of the small excursion from Leningrad school №168 in 1924. The first discoveries for further studies were made not only by scientists but by other citizens like leaders of this excursion - professor Gennady Boch and Boris Zemlyakov, assistant from Forest Institute, Geology Department. After excursion schoolchildren wrote reports and pictures for municipal exhibition. As it turned out later about 20 of 85 minerals found during expedition were known.

Imandra station - Mannepakhk - Putelichorr mount

In the station Imandra one can enjoy with a sinking heart the beauty of the mountain passes - representatives of the northern part of the Khibiny. Snow-capped mountains of Chasnachorr met the gaze of excited visitors, mountains that are located in the opposite side of wonderful valley Idichjok. The circuses strike and frighten by cutting into rockmass and perpendicular cliffs.

In the station Imandra one can see with the naked eye significant descending to the north - Chorrgorsky pass located in the upper reach Idichjok that can be truly the main road of the Khibiny. However, the pass itself can't be seen from here. It is securely concealed behind the hills covered with forest that defends it as a sacred place against enemy invasion. And as you remember the path Aleksander Fersman made was to Mannenpakh mount.

Long and tiresome two hours of walking through the inhospitable forest - mandatory part of achieving the goal. Only somewhere on the way one can encounter green-blue rocks that are porphyrites exposed to hot magma. Its greenish color can be explained by presence of large amount of green chlorite particles and small crystals of green epidote.

If one lucked, one can see green shale rock represented by separate blocks. They also changed due to hot magma exposure from the depths of the earth that spared nothing around. It is how the Khibiny laccolite «was born».

Nepheline syenite formed as a result of moraine regression are presented as huge boulders blocking the way of the travelers. Once achieved 120 meters height over Imandra, visitors can see aureole - place of contact between ancient rocks with the new ones represented by nepheline syenite. It is where Aleksander Fersman and his companions discovered curious phenomenon of filling fractures and cavities resembling ebullient vein. Here in 1921 were discovered such unique minerals as ramsayite - black-brown crystal peculiar of charming glaze of junction points and loparite - known since Wilhelm Ramsay studies and having typical metallic lustre of black cubic crystal.

Going smoothly forward to the intended goal one can note that forests become sparse and, at last, only stone boulders can be seen everywhere. Now and then rock stones suggest that epicenter of nepheline syenites is near. It is amazing when one comes across face to face with incredibly regular-shaped rock which represents almost perfect parallelepiped. The strange feeling arises that these boulders were specially scattered around for erection stone idols.

In a distance it seems to be grey homogeneous mass but on close-up one can distinguish slightly seen particles of green-grey nepheline against the white feldspar. Black prisms and minor crystalloids are shining and add color to light-colored minerals. Those who wants can make an experiment. If take mineral and run over the porcelain plate without glazing or to scratch the mineral by knife it can be clearly seen that powder will be of greenish color. This means only one thing - mineral is the primary was aegirine.

If during the experiment you obtain grey powder, then it is arfvedsonite. Note the inclusions of red-crimson zirconium silicate mineral found here and there - it is eudialyte. It is a coarse-grained rock, individual crystals can be of 5 cm. Normal chibinite is the name as original combination given by Wilhelm Ramsay, Finnish geologist who explored this land in 19 century. Mineral formation can be referred to the earlier stage of the Khibiny laccolite development at large. Gradually, without haste formed rocks cooled down under sedimentary masses thus resulting in coarse-grain structure now. By contours of crystals of the rock under study one can determine stage by stage mineral separation.

Any self-respecting mineralogist will tell that color mineral including eudialyte, arfvedsonite and others are separated later than light-colored ones (nepheline, feldspar). Gradually achieving the top of Mannenpakh it can be observed that grain size in the rocks is decreasing.

Close at hand to Mannenpakh's peak there are pegmatite veins. It is hard to miss it - green spots on the grey chibinite.

Its beauty strikes - thin dark-green crystalloids - aegirine forms radius clearly seen by vivid glitter between light-green and white crystals of feldspar. They are unofficially called «aegirine sun» as they produce a remarkable picture at midnight.

The closer to mountain peak the more frequent veins are observed. Feldspar and aegirine are not the only minerals to find. There is aenigmatite resembling black coal. Arfedsonite as acicular crystals can be found here from time to time. Green-blue color belongs to amazonite. To get to Putelichorr's peak one has to go down Mannenpakh by 150 meters and climb over narrow stopping formed as a result of cutting of two circuses to mountain.

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