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Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?
  
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Oct 13, 2021 13:39    Post subject: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

In Tucson 2020 these 'silvers' were seen in one single room. Them looks exceptional although at the same time them looks very weird. Out of curiosity I bought some from a Russian dealer who told me, after insisting a lot, that they came out in the 'Udokan' area in Russia.

On my return to Barcelona I had them analyzed and the result indicated that it was an alloy of anthropogenic origin, which in a way confirmed my suspicions (and those of others who saw them). With the result in hand, I contacted the dealer who sold them to me and he defended with great energy the natural origin of these 'silvers'. After more than a year of thinking about the subject, that dealer insisted that more tests were necessary and him accepted that the result that the tests gave with another prestigious analyzer of his convenience would be the final one, so they were sent to another analyzer of United States of great prestige and that he knew. The result came, it fully confirmed the first analyzes, but the dealer continues to maintain that they are natural and has provided images and videos of the place where he says these 'silvers' are found. The images shows these 'silvers' growing like mushrooms on rocks with associated sediments (and which he says them are granodiorites) which could indicate that they were formed somehow accidentally or by smelting elsewhere and that over time they have been formed. randomly deposited in an arid rock, with no silver veins or any trace of silver. As the responses of the dealer who sold me are always that for him they are totally natural and since we cannot move forward, I have decided to raise the issue in the two FMFs, this one and the Spanish one, and we will see if with the contribution of everybody we can clarify this topic, mostly because I think that it is very useful to make it known especially for future buyers potentially interested in these 'silvers'.

At the moment I am posting some images of these alleged 'silvers' as well as copy of the first analysis made by Dr. César Menor-Salván and throughout the progress of this thread I will be posting more information, always with the corresponding authorizations from the authors.

From here I cordially invite the Russian dealer to participate in the issue and present here his arguments as well as his photos and videos of what he says is the place where these 'silvers' are.



Natural or anthropogenic from Udokan.jpg
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Natural or anthropogenic from Udokan.jpg



Natural or anthropogenic from Udokan (2).jpg
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Natural or anthropogenic from Udokan (2).jpg



Alleged Silver.jpg
 Description:
Example of the first analysis from Dr. César Menor Salván with the letterheads, etcetera...
The paper is on Word format and at the next better images will be not visible these letterheads, etcetera... because this Forum works with jpg, but them are there...
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Alleged Silver.jpg



Alleged Silver (1).jpg
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Alleged Silver (1).jpg



Alleged Silver (2).jpg
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Alleged Silver (2).jpg



Alleged Silver (3).jpg
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Alleged Silver (3).jpg


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Bob Morgan




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PostPosted: Oct 13, 2021 14:14    Post subject: Re: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

I saw some unbelievable gold and silver crystals in a Russian Minerals room. There were even combinations of the two metals in oriented zones. They were expensive enough not to tempt me to buy them. I was told they were not part of that dealer's stock, that the person selling them was just showing them in that room.
I mentioned them later to someone who'd seen them. He said they were crafted, and he was someone who I thought should know about such things.
When I went back the next day the person with the crystals had gone.
I don't know if this was the same person who sold your silver, but it's a good idea to be wary of fakes.
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Roger Warin




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PostPosted: Oct 13, 2021 14:21    Post subject: Re: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

Hello Jordi,
What amazes me is the morphology of the cubic crystal. It is typically dendritic, which corresponds to rapid crystallization. I think the man is always in a hurry.
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Cesar M. Salvan
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PostPosted: Oct 13, 2021 15:33    Post subject: Re: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

I always find interesting such 'detective' problems. When Jordi sent me the samples, the impression at hand was non-natural. The analyses showed copper-silver alloys with phase segregation and copper enrichment in the surface. The separation in copper-enriched and silver-enriched phases is typical of diffusion in a melt and relatively fast cooling, which are evidenced also by bubbles, the formation of hollow crystals, and associated dendritic growths.

Recently, I saw pictures of the place where the silver pieces were supposedly found: an sterile outcrop in a obscure location, with silver crystals dispersed in sediment. It was pretty much obvious that the location confirmed the possible non-natural origin of the crystals. The location, moreover, made the samples even more suspicios: all the samples I examined were covered by a relatively thick alteration layer, formed mainly by silver chloride. That alteration made me think in natural alteration by brackish waters or patina formed by slag, fluxes or silver refining process where high chloride could be found. How the crystals ended there? who knows.

The shape and characteristics just told us that the samples were anthropogenic, but their formation could be not intentional. I saw on occasions interesting metal crystals formed in smelters (I attached here an example picture), but I never saw silver crystals that big.

Anyways, we do not have a smoking gun pointing to an intentional fabrication. One of the samples that I examined, though, was very suspicious: a crystal silver-copper piece attached to a piece of schist with quartz. The boundary between the piece and the 'matrix' was formed by a low melting point metal, rich in lead and antimony; the morphology of liquid metal poured on the rock piece, made me think that the silver piece was soldered to the matrix. The net contact with the rock, the metal liquid features, presence of bubbles and cracks, the segregation of metal phases... Too many indicators of, at least, a non-natural origin.

So, unless a very consistent and unambiguous geological and metal deposit contextualization of the samples appears, with the evidences so far, I considered the samples man-made. Whether they are fabricated or not, we have no means to know it.

If these pieces were natural, they would be extraordinary and very peculiar. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidences. So far, there is no evidence whatsoever on a natural origin.



plomo metal.jpg
 Mineral: Lead
 Description:
Centimeter size silver-bearing lead crystals formed in a smelter. Sample from the collection of the Museo Histórico Minero (Escuela de Minas de Madrid)
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plomo metal.jpg



2020-04-12 7B,Radius8,Smoothing4 (Mediana).jpg
 Mineral: Silver and other metals
 Description:
Contact between the silver piece and the matrix. Note the net separation of another metal phase, formed by lead and antimony, in the contact between the rock and the silver piece. Although it is not a proof of fabrication, it is highly suspicious.
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2020-04-12 7B,Radius8,Smoothing4 (Mediana).jpg



2020-04-12 8B,Radius8,Smoothing4 (Grande).jpg
 Mineral: Silver
 Description:
Surface of another examined piece of a supposed cubic crystal. Note the bubbles and the lines in the surface. The white material is silver chloride.
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2020-04-12 8B,Radius8,Smoothing4 (Grande).jpg


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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Oct 14, 2021 01:45    Post subject: Re: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

While fake minerals can and do come from most everywhere, when I was in Russia I noted more than the usual number of people selling fakes of all manner of things. If one puts the words [or something similar] 'electrochemical growth of silver wires in the laboratory' you will see papers and even videos of this quite easy process. It is interesting and enlightening how both fake and perhaps one of the mechanisms of natural silver wire growth.

Here is one video of an experiment done at the small scale. Just scale it up in size and voltage and bingo! you get the kinds of specimens Jordi has... I have long been told about fake silver wire specimens and how they could be produced and even placed on 'matrix'. Buyer beware! Caveat Emptor!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnyBldC4Ra4
(link normalized by FMF)

The hopper-growth Ag is especially suspicious to me, as are the color of the specimens - not enough tarnish, although someone could claim they cleaned the tarnish off [which I feel one should not do with natural Ag specimens usually. A few years ago someone or some group had developed a way to grow artificially large wired Ag [like Kongsberg specimens] and all were found to be fakes.

On this Forum we even have a thread on the subject: https://www.mineral-forum.com/message-board/viewtopic.php?t=249
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Oct 14, 2021 06:03    Post subject: Re: Alleged 'silvers' from Udokan?  

This reminds me of a recent case from Germany where a dealer made a lot of money selling large pieces of "native brass", zhanghengite, and other extremely rare copper-zinc alloys in previously unheard-of large sizes, the "best of the species", and from a German locality that had no other recorded Zn or Cu minerals. They were embedded in some sort of fine-grained white rock matrix, which the dealer swore was natural. Some species collectors were quite excited, although I was very skeptical, and I suppose these are more likely to be either some ancient smelter product or the result of an ancient fire disaster in a wooden building. I guess the matrix rock is the compacted insoluble remains of ashes after several centuries "diagenesis".
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