Swiss Alps and Lengenbach – August 2019

Swiss Alps and Lengenbach – August 2019

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Date(s) - 24/08/2019 - 27/08/2019
All Day

Hotel Olympia



Last year we successfully completed a Mindat Adventure tour to Swiss Alps. The positive feedback from the participants of previous Mindat Adventure and other groups inspired our team to suggest the new journey to Switzerland. We changed the program and made it more flexible for people of any age and interests.

Participants of the Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018 in the inner part of the Lengenbach quarry


Unfortunately, Switzerland is not the cheapest place in Europe by far, but it has an incredible amount of things to offer. Best trains (that are always on time), breathtaking views of mountain peaks and gorges, well-known scientific laboratories (e.g. CERN supercollider facility or Swiss Light Source) and geological variety that can hardly be compared to any place on Earth. Our team has been organizing geological tours in Switzerland for years by now and this allows us to combine most scientifically interesting objects with popular attractions – and present to you in this tightly packed 4 or 8-day adventure. Unique minerals, stunning sceneries and detailed introduction to the geological setting will make this tour attractive to the mineral collectors, geologists and adventurers.

Typical landscape of Switzerland from the window of the train on the way for quartz collecting nearby the Tchappina Village.

The highlights of the forthcoming trip are:
1. Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory in Clays
2. Lengenbach quarry and a new mineralogical museum in Canton Valais, located inside the real mountain.
3. Fianel Mn mine or Druntobel (depending on the participant’s choice)
4. CERN – biggest hadron collider in the world or famous Paul Sherrer institute including Swiss Light Source / Neutron Source
5. Riburg’s Salt Industry
6. FaldbachtalWannigletcherGorb Mountain and other mineralogical localities

Moreover, participants of this trip will have the possibility to explore some points of geological and scientific interests that are usually closed to the public or individual travellers.


Here is an overview of this event. As you can see, the program of some days may vary depending on the participants’ choice. In case if we will have enough people one guide will help to explore the mineralogy of localities with easier access, the other – harder ones. The chance to find something rare is higher on the localities from the second column, however, it may be difficult to reach some of them by foot.

Map of the points of interests. Mindat Adventure 2019 in Swiss Alps.

For the last three days, we have an extra option of visiting some localities using a pre-booked helicopter (depending on the weather conditions). Otherwise, we will be voting for the most appropriative program for these days during each dinner.



Yellow boxes in the table show the days devoted to the exploring of Swiss science and green ones are the collecting days. The program contains two parts. The second part of the trip is prepared for more experienced mineral collectors. We will live in Zurich during the first four days and in the most mineralogical Canton in Switzerland – Valley during the second part of this tour. In the first part of the trip we are going to visit some points of interest accompanied by the professional geologists and geochemists who will also be on a tour in Switzerland in August.


24th of August (SA)

The short introduction to the field trip will be provided on the way to the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory (FMT) that is located near St-Ursanne at a depth of around 300 meters below the surface near the Mont Terri motorway tunnel. Numerous international organisations are involved in a wide range of experiments (including geological and geochemical ones) in the Opalinus Clay. Then we will visit well known Zurich viewpoint called Lindenhof and small mineralogical shop with local specimens. After that, we will finish the day at the historic restaurant “Zeughauskeller” in the centre of the city.


Some visitors of Mont Terri Rock Laboratory

Some geologists, working inside the underground laboratory


25th of August (SU)

On the second day, we will be able to collect some minerals at the Lengenbach quarry. This is the mineralogical paradise of the country. More than 160 mineral species have been found here. We are going to find some rare As-Tl-bearing-sulfosalts in sugar-like dolomite on the dumps or even in the inner part of the quarry together with the local miner and the member of the Lengenbach Community. The short slide show about the mineralogy of the open-pit will be provided by Dr Thomas Raber during our lunch in “Bergkristall” Restaurant located in the typical and small Swiss village. By the way, the small towns of Valais and particularly Binn and Fald villages have been known since the Middle Ages (14th-15th century). Nothing changed in this region since the old days and no wonder that they are very popular for filming.

One of the most Tl-rich part of the Lengenbach quarry, prepared for digging

Participants of the Mindat Adventure to Swiss Alps examine the samples for sale from Lengenbach quarry in a local restaurant

A huge sample of baumhauerite with pyrite and realgar collected during Mindat Adventure in Swiss Alps 2018. The sample was tested using XRD by John Attard’s Mineral.

Lengenbachite. Picture width 4 mm. Collection and photograph Stephan Wolfsried


The guided tour in the new (opened in September 2018) mineralogical museum “Strahlermuseum in Naters” constructed inside one of the real mountains also already confirmed for this day.


Entrance to the new museum of mineral diggers in Switzerland

Westward view of the Binntal from Turbenalp. Amir Akhavan’s photo

26th of August (MO)

On Monday the participants will have two options. First is quite physically demanding and involves climbing and collecting at the abandoned Fianel iron and manganese mine where four new minerals were found. The Fianel Fe-Mn deposit is of syn-sedimentary to the diagenetic origin, embedded in Triassic marble belonging to the Starleranappe. It underwent multiphase Tertiary metamorphism, ranging from conditions under blue-schist – to green-schist facies. The lenticular ore body (60 x 60 x 20 m) of Fianel was mined for iron until the end of 19th century, however, it is still possible to find rare or even new minerals here.


Red fianelite micro aggregates in open altered fracture. Some ansermetite is visible in the upper left corner. Photo by Roberto Bracco

Dark red crust of ansermetite. Photo by Roberto Bossi

The other locality is easily accessible Druntobel. It is a narrow and steep gorge north of Sedrun (just a few hundred meters from the centre of the village), which leads up to the locality “Cuolmda Vi”.Clefts in amphibolite and gneiss. This is the type locality of mineral titanite.


View on Sedrun Village from Druntobel. Photo by D.Tonkacheev. July 2013

Druntobel. August 2012. Amir Akhavan’s photo


This is an excellent historic example of Titanite from Switzerland, a twinned crystal, with excellent lustre. The crystals grade from green to gemmy brown, at the apex. Associated with Adularia, which makes a nice contrast. This specimen is from 1882 and was part of the Bement collection, which was eventually donated to the American Museum in New York. This piece made its a way to Larry Conklin’s collection, the last collection label.

Map of the Druntobel region with a marked position of the locality. We will have such maps available for all of the participants of the field trip.

27th of August (TU)

After a hard mineral collecting day, we will explore the possibilities of performing geological research at Swiss Light Source and Neutron Source with an experienced guide. All of these facilities are part of the Paul Scherrer Institute. It is the largest research centre for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland.


Guided tour for the participants of the Mindat Adventure 2018 at the Neutron Source of Paul Sherrier Institute, Switzerland.

View on the PSI from the helicopter. May 2014. Photo

The second option is CERN – a well-known centre for particle physics, located not far from Geneva Airport on the border of Switzerland and France. This is probably the most expensive scientific centre in the world. It is located on the border of Switzerland and France, just beside the Geneva Airport. Nowadays, it contains four rims. The main line, where the protons are accelerating up to nearly the speed of light and collapsing is 27 kilometres long. One of the detectors was built on the depth of 97 meters in a chamber with dimensions of 35*45*50 meters. It is well known to public due to the histories devoted to the generating of “dark matter” /”black holes”, etc.


Model of the accelerating ring in the museum of CERN

Atlas experiment control room

Then we will move to the suburbs of Basel SBB where we will have a tour of the Riburg saltworks which offers a variety of memorable experiences. A cutting-edge evaporator hall, drilling sheds and two awe-inspiring Saltdomes are waiting for us. The Riburg saltworks has been operating since 1848. Nowadays it specialises in the production of loose salt. The facility can produce as much as 50 tonnes of salt per hour. You will see one of Europe’s largest evaporators in this saltworks. As well as the operational plant in the evaporator hall, you will also explore two former drilling sheds.


Riburg’s Salt Industry

Salt dunes inside the Riburg Salt Industry

The second part of our Adventure will be held closer to the Alps in the countryside of Switzerland. We will live in a small hotel in Canton Valais (type locality for 65 minerals), not far from Binn Valley – the mineralogical paradise of Switzerland located near the border with Italy. The main feature of this part of the journey is the possibility to use a helicopter except routine hiking for mineral collecting at high altitude in case of good weather conditions. We are going to examine the minerals, hosted in various rock types and explore the diversity of the mineralogical paragenesis of a small part of Switzerland.

28th of August

1st option: Visiting the localities of Feldbach Valley (Fäldbach Valley).

The Fäldbachtal (Feldbachtal) is a high valley running parallel to the valley of the Binn river, following the general bedding of the rocks. The underlying rocks are mostly made of relatively soft calcite-rich mica schists (Bündnerschiefer) and glaciation led to rounded surface morphology. There are several zones with alpine-type fissures.

View towards East-North/East. August 2018. Photo A.Akhavan

Large twinned rutile crystal from the collection of the private mineralogical museum of Andre Gorsatt

For mineral collectors, this valley is well-known for unusual shaped Quartz together with beautiful Rutile-xx in single xls, twins and radial/wheel formed aggregates. Some quartz formed a characteristic shape called “Tessin Quartz Habitus”. The valley is also famous for twinned rutile specimens, so-called “Knierutil” in German(“knee rutile” in English) as well as circular rutile twins.

Rutile. Crystal lenght 10 mm.

Quartz crystal with frozen surface and clear sidecar crystal

You can also find white Albite-xx and Siderit-xx together with the Quartz. The Quarz-xx are usually growing on Calcite-xx. Less likely is the possibility to find tourmalines of Schorl-Dravite series, Emerald and Spessartine. There is also a Dolomite outcrop which contains a lot of Magnetite, Pyrite and Tourmaline not far from the main pits.

More photos of the recent finds are available here.

The second option is more physically demanding and involves climbing Gorb Mountain, famous for anatase crystals and also for some rare minerals including cafarsitefetiasitegraeseritexenotime, etc.

View towards the peak of Gorb. Classic locality for Anatase, Rutile, Magnetite, Xenotime, Graeserite and other minerals.

A perfect 3 mm Anatase Crystal. FOV 4*3 mm

Gorb 24th of July 2012

Graeserite – bended needles up to 1 cm long from classic locality

29th of August

Next day will be devoted to absolutely different type of mineralogy.
The thing is that Ritterpass and Wannigletcher are the localities of the same type, however, it is much easier to get to the first one and the zone of mineralogical interest is much smaller. They are now both famous for the recently discovered REE-paragenesis, which is bound to quartz-feldspar nodules and not to Alpine-type fissures as the localities of Feldbach Valley visited earlier.

Ritterpass in 2015

Rare specimen of well-crystallized gramaccioliite-(Y) in a dissolution cavity of a large titanite crystal

Frank de Wit trying to get some water from the glacier

Some cafarsite specimens from the collection of local mineralogical museum of Andre Gorsatt

Asbecasite – one of the minerals that has been found on Wanni Glacier. FOV 3 mm.

Monazite-(Ce). FOV 2.5 mm.

30th of August

Next day will be devoted to ultramafic mineral assemblages.

Geisspfad area is a famous region for several mineralogical spots. First of all, it is the type locality of mineral preiswerskite which is relatively easy to find here. The host rock for Geisspfad Pass serpentinite with pargasite-rich rodingite veins.

Zuesee-Geisspfad region

Preiswerskite. FOV 7 mm.

The second option will be visiting Lotchen Valley with the opportunity to collect classic alpine variety of actinolite-tremolite series mineral called byssolite.

The Lötschen valley (Lötschental) is a northeastern side valley of the Rhône valley. Its rock formations belong to the Aar Massif, of which it more or less represents the western end. Granite only occurs at higher elevations in the southeastern part of the valley, whereas its northern and western parts are dominated by overlying schists. These rocks are surrounded by amphibolites, in which most of the minerals are found.

Lotchen Valley

Byssolite from Lochen Valley. The colour is caused by the presence of Fe.

31st of August

On the last day of the Adventure, we will have a slide show in “Bergkristall” restaurant, prepared by Mischa Grumbach – well-known mineral collector and photographer in Switzerland. The subject of the slide show will be devoted to the mineralogy of REE of the region. It will be possible to identify some self-collected minerals and buy some rare samples of local minerals from an expert in the mineralogy of the region.

The return ride to Zurich takes ~3.5 hours from this region.


Useful remarks

1. Do not forget to have your passport or ID card during the adventure!

2. Please, do not forget to fill in a special form (link will be provided by e-mail) after the field trip registration ends.

3. Switzerland has a specific power socket outlets. Usually you can ask for the adaptor at the reception, however, it is better to have one of two adapters in your luggage.

4. Do not forget to take comfortable and waterproof shoes, geological hammers, and raincoats to this trip.

5. Please, note, that hotels in Zurich are quite expensive. Please, let us know in advance if you need an additional booking at the same hotel.

6.Airport (or “Flughafen” in German) was built not far from Zurich centre (app. 15 minutes by the train and app. 30 minutes by the tram #10). A single journey costs 6.80 CHF. Usually, trains and trams depart every 20-30 minutes from the Central Station. There is an automatic locker room for the luggage at the Central Railway Station and Airport. You may use this web page to plan your trip from Airport to Zurich


Bookings are closed for this event.