Habach valley, Hohe Tauern, Salzburg, Austria

The first emerald deposit in Europe was discovered in the middle of the 17th century (1797 in some reports) in the Habachtal valley in the Eastern Alps (Legbach Scharte area, Salzburg). It was mined with little success in 1860-75 and 1896-1906).

Emeralds are found predominantly in the biotite rock, which formed at the contact of the metamorphosed ultramafic rocks with the garnet-mica schists, as well as with the migmatites and granitic veins. Occasional crystals of low-quality emerald formed in the chlorite and tremolite talc schists in close proximity to the biotite rock. The crystals are small, some reaching 2.5 cm in length and 1.5 cm across. Their habit is short columnar, prismatic, flattened pseudorhombic crystals are also common. The colours are spotted or zoned from light to dark green. Gas-liquid and solid inclusions of various minerals are characteristic for beryls from this area. As a result they are very seldom suitable for cutting.


Ref: E.Ya. Kievlenko, Geology of gems, 2003, pp. 84 - 85.

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