Varaita Valley

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During 1998 a new finding has been made in Varaita Valley.  The mineralisation has pratically been exausted within 1999. The finding consisted in a pocket-vein of albite with exceptional crystalisations of epidotes with some quartz.

The new specimens appeared in the main italian shows only in 1999 and now we offer them to a larger selection of mineral collectionists. In this page you can find a description and some curiosities about the locality.

 

Geographical setting

Varaita Valley is a narrow and isolated valley departing from the border between Italy and France ( Agnello pass ) and continuing through the Italian Alps to the Po plain, reaching Alba, a very famous city  for the vine and the truffles . A visit to Alba is worth of the trip since this is in our opinion one of the best gastronomic places in north Italy. The Agnello pass is open only during summer ( ....when there aren't sudden snowfalls....) panorama1.jpg (13331 byte) .    This valley, a little bit isolated and out of the main itineraries has been for a long time out of the main tourism   and still now is wild and with a "genuine" nature. On the opposite part, the french side is a high quote area with no roads and few villages.  

 

 

 

Geology

From the geological point of view the area is in the western Alps (Alpi Cozie e Marittime) and the outcrops are of Permian age. The permian system is constituted by two main metamorphic lithologies:

volcanic rocks, metamorphosed in scistous rocks during the alpine orogenesis

scistous of various types

The first group is constituted by rhilitic rock metamophosed in porfiroids with muscovite and micas . On the second group there are schists with quartz and feldspars  and schists with clorite and micas with quartz and epidotes. In these lithotypes , generally very laminated and of various but generally dark colors there are some veins of albite and quartz. In this case the lenses are in a faulted zone and very tectonized.

How to reach the research area

It is very complex to reach the mineralogical locality and from the athletical point of view is very hard..... at least in our idea.....'grp01.jpg (16744 byte) . First of all our suggestion is to dedicate at least two days to this trip: the starting point ( where the road finish ) is at about 3-4 hours from the research area and the valley is very long....The ideal situation is to use more days, sleeping in a tend at high quote. To arrive to the place you have to take the road that  passes through the valley reaching the small village of Chianale at the toe of Col dell'Agnello at 1800 m above sea level. Just before the bar crossing the road to the Agnello pass that arrives to France, you have to take to the left the footpath n 18.  scavo.jpg (20019 byte)......You have to follow this for a long ( or very long, depending on your legs ....) walk until the Col Longet   ( smuggler pass ) , characterized by a small run-down house close to the footpathc. Here you must leave the footpath and rise the mountain flank. Continuing in this direction silcap.jpg (24565 byte) you'll reach an area with a lot of rocks   where you can individuate the research area , at about 3100 m above the sea level . This area is hardly visible and you have to be close to individuate it....  As we said before, you have to rise the mountain for about three hours to reach the area , starting from Chianal, even if the total time is influenced by your physical capabilities, the friends that are with you and the time is necessary to find the right direction. Thw weather is very variable, in the same day we passed from hot sun to rain, to fog and a little bit of snow ( it was in August, that in Italy is in Summer ). If you want to make this trip you provide yourself with the necessary items for high mountain and be carefull

 

The research campaign

The finding as been made by two researchers of the valley famous for this and other alpine findings. The occurrence of the mineralisation is very characteristic of the apline findings. It is a vein-pocket, filled up in this case with white to green albite, fantastic epidotes and quartz. The filling of the vein was very vacuolar in a way that you can take the material and specimens just with a small bar of with hands... The dimension of the mineralised outcrop are well visible in the pictures, where you can see two of us inside the vein. At this time it is possible to find some good material, expecially in the small discharge derived from the beginning od cultivation. Same smaller veins are present in the neighbourhouds, and there is possible to find good specimens. When picking up the minerals, consider that you have at least 3 hours to arrive to the car and iy is extremely tiring.....

 

Minerals

Epidote: common. Groups of XX very bright of light to deep green color, generally very tasparent. Max dimensions are 3-4 cm and the aesthetic effect of the deep green XX on the white crystals of albite is really nice.

Albite: common. It is the most common mineral . It is in centimetric up to 3-4 cm XX white and very bright. Sometimes some bissolite makes the XX green but very bright.

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