Stibnite (February 15th, 2016)

Here we go! Mineral Monday again, and this week we have Stibnite (Sb2S3).

Stibnite is actually a fairly common mineral in hydrothermal systems, although it is rarely found in large deposits. It was highly prized in ancient times as when it was crushed and mixed with animal fats, it formed ‘kohl’ used by many in the ancient Middle East as make-up! It was at one time also used in flash photography, but both of these practices were abandoned once people realized how toxic antimony is to humans. Today, stibnite is used in fireworks to create trails of stars in pyrotechnical displays.

This sample is from the Horne Lake area of Vancouver Island. The local geology consists mainly of limestones from ancient coral reefs that were subsequently intruded by magma and hot, mineral rich fluids.

Horne Lake is famous for the Horne Lake Caves National Park – often described as the best in Canada! Visitors can go to the park and take self-guided tours around the caves, seeing the rocks, fossils and minerals all underground. The Park is located about 23km west of Qualicum Beach. The caves were likely known by First Nations, although they were not officially discovered until 1912 by a local geologist, when the area was opened for logging. The streams in the caves were initially dammed to provide drinking water for the ‘logging donkeys’ that were being used at the time to haul lumber.

By 1945, the caves became well known by people looking for adventure filled day trips, but did not become a National Park until 1971.

Horne Lake itself is named after Adam Grant Horne, an immigrant from Edinburgh in Scotland, who arrived in 1851 and worked as a labourer. In 1856 Horne led what is thought to have been the first crossing of mid-Vancouver Island by a European. He was to ascertain whether a trail existed from the present location of Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island’s east coast in the hopes of establishing trade with the Nuu-chah-nulth who lived on the west coast. At the mouth of the Qualicum River, Horne’s party and their native guides observed a large fleet of Haida canoes approaching and hid in trees unable to warn the villagers of the impending attack. Afterwards, they observed the attackers as they left holding human heads. When they came to the mouth of the river, they came upon the charred remains of the village of Saatlaam and the mutilated bodies of its inhabitants. A chilling tale of the area for sure!

Specimen Information

Store: Pacific Museum of the Earth, University of British Columbia
Collection: UBC Geological Museum Collection
Accession #: 588
Primary Mineral: Stibnite
Secondary Mineral: n/a
Site Locality: Horne Lake
Location: West of Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Special Features: n/a