Mineral of the month - Shungite
Taos Rockers' mineral of the month is the non-crystalline carbon mineraloid known as Shungite. The term Shungite was first used in 1879 and was named after the locality it was originally described from - the Shun'ga area, Shun'ga village, Onega Lake, Karelia Republic, Northern Region, Russia.
- Mineral: Shungite
- Chemistry: C (non-crystallized Carbon)
- Class: not applicable
- Crystal system: amorphous
- Color: Black to brown
- Refractive index: unreadable
- Luster: Vitreous
- Specific gravity: 1.85 to 2.00
- Streak: Black to brown
- Mohs Hardness: 3.5 - 4
- Cleavage: none
- Fracture: Uneven, Conchoidal
The term Shungite is used to name the mineraloid (the elementary noncrystalline biogenic carbon with a metastable structure incapable of graphitization) and is also used as a term to describe the sequence of metamorphic rocks from the Karelia region of Russia containing such carbon. There are several types of Shungite based upon the percentage of organic carbon contained:
Type 1 Shungite (silver shungite or elite) occurs as a black vitreous mineral with a semi-metallic, silvery sheen and conchoidal fracture. It contains 98% organic carbon, and is relatively scarce - accounting for 1% of the shungite found. It occurs in very narrow veins (less than 40cm/16in).
Type 2 Shungite (black shungite) occurs as a black mineral which can be shaped and polished. It contains 50-70% organic carbon.
Type 3 Shungite (gray shungite) contains 30-50% organic carbon with abundant quartz.
Other classifications based on carbon content divide the types from Shungite-1 through Shungite-5 and can be further subdivided based upon their luster - bright (or lustrous), semi-bright, semi-dull and dull (matte).
The deposit of Shungite in Karelia was formed about 2 billion years ago and extends over 9,000 sq km ( 3,475 sq miles). The deposit has been estimated to contain more than 250 gigatonnes of carbon reserves. The deposit is found within a sequence of Palaeoproterozoic metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks - the main accumulations are concentrated in 9 layers, ranging in thickness from 5 meters (16 ft) to 120 meters (400 ft) . The sequence is dated by a gabbro intrusion, which gives a date of 1980±27 Ma, and the underlying dolomites, which give an age of 2090±70 Ma 9 and demonstrates a significant difference between shungite & petroleum/coal (200-250 Ma).
Shungite contains trace amount of fullerenes - C60 molecules shaped like a soccer ball or geodesic dome (named after Buckminster Fuller). Scientific confirmation of the occurrence of fullerences appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Science in 1992. The creation of nanotubes of fullerenes and formation of superconducting compounds from them offer exciting possibilities in the field of nanotechnology.
Since the early 18th century, Shungite has been used as a folk medical treatment. Peter the Great built Russia's first spa in Karelia to make use of the water purifying properties of shungite and used it to provide purified water for the Russian army. The anti-bacterial properties of shungite have been confirmed by modern testing. Research conducted in Russia indicate that fullerenes in aqueous solution (ie water) "normalize cellular metabolism, increase enzymatic activity, stimulate the ability of tissues to regenerate, increase the resilience of the body's cells, possess anti-inflammatory properties and foster the exchange of neurotransmitters...Natural fullerenes also act against toxins and can neutralize toxins found in the body." Fullerenes also seem to be effective in excessive exposure to heat (as in fevers) and in radiation therapies.
Shungite has been used since the middle of the 18th century as a pigment for paint (carbon black). Shungite is widely used in metallurgy, water purification, thermolysis and as a sorbent for removal of pathogenic bacteria and heavy metals from contaminated water. In the 1970s, shungite was used in the production of an insulating material (shungisite).
Once considered as an example of abiogenic formation, Shungite's biological origin has been confirmed. Shungite appears to have two modes of occurrence - disseminated within the host rock and as mobilized material. Shungite is found directly above deposits that were formed in a shallow water carbonate shelf through non-marine evaporitic environments. The organic-rich sediments were probably deposited in a brackish lagoonal setting during active rifting. The mobilized shungite (bright lustrous Shungite) appears to represent migrated hydrocarbons found as either layers/lenses conformable with the host rock layering or as cross-cutting veins. Shungite can also occur as clasts within younger sedimentary rocks.
It was believed, until recently, that Shungite was to be found only in the Karelia region of Russia. Additional deposits (albeit small) are now know in Austria (Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol) Democratic Republic of Congo (Haut-Katanga); India (Andhra Pradesh); Russia (Chelyabinsk Oblast &; Zabaykalsky Kral) and in the USA (Michigan).
Only Shungite from the Karelia region of Russia is available at Taos Rockers.
Regina Martino, in her book on Shungite says "...modifying the influence of electromagnetic radiation is something shungite knows how to do very well and much better than other stones because shungite does not become saturated, does not take on a negative charge, and powerfully keeps on transforming the radiation into biocompatable elements..." Martino summarizes her own and Russian research supporting the findings that Shungite is the natural substance to mitigate the effects of electromagnetic radiation.
References: mindat.org; wikipedia.org; Shungite: Protection, Healing and Detoxification - Regina Martino; webmineral.com and geology.com.