Mineral collecting at Chipping Sodbury Quarry

Chipping Sodbury Quarry is a large quarry in South Gloucestershire on the edge of the Mendip Hills.  Quarrying has been undertaken in this area for many years but locally, until the 1980’s, the area has also been a large producer of the mineral Celestine for the valuable element it contains, Strontium. This, and other minerals were created as a result of evaporation of lakes (Ref: avonrigscelestine). The mineralisation at Chipping Sodbury Quarry mainly occurs in ancient cave systems and may be associated with the Celestine and other minerals (Ref: habitas.org.uk).

The Russell Society has been welcome to collect minerals at Chipping Sodbury Quarry for many years with the agreement of the quarry management team. A full risk assessment is undertaken to ensure that all visits comply with the health and safety requirements.

Collecting is only allowed when the quarry is not working, often when maintenance is underway, and always with a representative of the management team.

Over the years a wide range of minerals has been collected from the limestones worked. The most common minerals are Calcite and Barian Celestine which contains strontium. On occasions the quarry has worked through concentrated mineralisation linked to the cave systems containing springs. A picture of this is shown as well as a picture of a very large specimen in the Natural History Museum in London.

The mineralisation has produced a range of sulphide minerals that include:

  • Galena
  • Chalcopyrite
  • Iron Pyrites
  • Sphalerite

In addition there have been rare occasions when fluorite has been found as both purple crystals and very rarely as bright yellow crystals.

For more information about the Russell Society please look at the web-site at http://russellsoc.org

The Russell Society encourages the responsible collection and preservation of minerals in the UK. There are six branches across the UK that organise both field trips and a range of meetings to cater for its members.

The trips to Chipping Sodbury Quarry are organised by the Southern Branch. If you are interested in joining the society to attend field trips or meetings please get in touch via the website. New members are always welcome.

At the Natural History Museum - Banded Barian Celestine with sulphide minerals. About 1 metre across.

Barian Celestine around a spring .

Baryte on iron pyrite.

Calcite on chalcopyrite. 60mm by 70mm.

Calcite on pyrite as collected in the quarry.

Chalcopyrite, calcite and baryte. 60 by 65mm.

Yellow fluroite cubes (1mm) on calcite.