Here I am in Asni Morocco, Joe is to the right of the picture, Mohammad is to the left.
You may notice in an earlier blog that I wrote about Mohammad and the evening that we spent with him and his little brothers in one of those mud-walled Berber dwellings. Here he is at his job – selling crystals beside the road.
We learned from Mohammad that he got his crystals from a valley near there – a hidden wrinkle in the dry red hills that was absolutely lined with amazing crystals. Several of us hiked up into the mountains the following day and found the valley that he told us of. At the time I did not know a great deal about crystals, gems or geologic wonders and I assumed because of their color the crystals must have been amethyst. I recall the rock from Thunder Bay and to me this rock from Asni looked pretty similar. I took several large clusters of crystal with me, but as they weighed my pack down I eventually discarded them somewhere in the sands at the edge of the ocean or down toward the Sahara.
In thinking about it and knowing more (with the aid of the internet) those crystals must have been aragonite. Asni is well known for this crystal. Aragonite is a pseudomorph of calcite. This means it has the same chemical formula, but the ions are packed differently. Apparently if aragonite is heated at 400 degrees it reverts to calcite. The color that I have seen on the internet is identical to what I remember seeing in Morocco, varying from a fruity, brownish purple through to relatively milky and in the quantity that I saw, it was like an Aladdin’s cave of gems.
Mohammad had several species of rock with him, I only remember that one place he sent us to.