British Classic Mineral Specimens

Greenlaws Collapse Cavities

This is the best photo I've seen to date of one of these huge Greenlaws 'collapse' cavities. Taken by Adam Pacey at the weekend, it shows a partly washed out cavity, with rubble at the top, clay in the middle, and groups of fluorite specimens both on the floor, and in the middle, which have fallen off what was once the roof before a second phase of fluids dissolved the wallrock and allowed the crystals to drop.

If you look carefully at the end of the cavity you will see crystals facing both upwards, AND downwards, with a thin layer of clay between them. Collecting these without further damage, is an art form.

This cavity took all day, for three people to work - and there is still more left in there. It's careful, hard work - wet too, with water and mud flying everywhere.

This explains why it is so hard to collect perfect specimens with no damage - the vast majority of pieces have rapidly descended from the roof of the cavity at some stage in their life - and this photo dramatically demonstrates this. The cavity is about 5 foot long - crystals on the floor are up to 4" across:

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