Дата публикации: 24 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Liliya ZHDANOVA, Irina ASTAKHOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №6, 2014, C.76-82
Номер публикации: №1637750270


by Liliya ZHDANOVA, chief curator, Irina ASTAKHOVA, junior research assistant, A. Chernov Geological Museum, Institute of Geology, Komi Scientific Center, RAS Ural Branch (Syktyvkar, Republic of Komi)


The Geological Museum named after the discoverer of the Pechora coal basin Alexander Chernov, Dr. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.). was established 46 years ago as a division of the Institute of Geology, Komi Scientific Center, RAS Ural Branch. Decades later due to the collection, expedition and research work the museum became the biggest storehouse of rock material collected by scientists in the north-east of the European Russia and reflecting a diversity of the geological structure and mineral wealth of this vast territory. The monographic and exposition funds as well as archives of the museum contain above 165,000 exhibits combined into 750 collections.




The history of our scientific and educational center goes back to 1968, when the USSR Academy of Sciences passed a resolution which supported organization of the Geological Museum at the Institute of Geology, Komi Branch. However, this idea started to carve its way long before the above decision.


In the mid-1950s Alexander Chernov, the then head of the geological sector of the institute proposed creating a republican museum which would display the mineral wealth of the North-East of the European Russia. He noted: "The mission of the museum is to arouse interest among the local population in inanimate nature in general and in own territory in particular and also to acquaint people with the practical importance of different objects of inanimate nature and its intrinsic processes." Chernov was supported by Mark Fishman, Dr. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.), who took charge of the said Institute of Geology in 1961. He recalled in one of his articles: "The necessity of establishing a museum was discussed many times. It was even envisaged in the institute's structure. But practical steps were taken only in the 1960s. By the time of the institute's foundation in 1958, it already accumulated substantial collections of various rock materials kept by the institute members. Unfortunately there was no system of storage and inventory of the collections. The collections of the retired members were often lost. But sometimes they were unique and of high scientific value. Therefore, measures should be taken for conservation of the collections". Such idea materialized in 1961 when Fishman arranged a storeroom for minerals which became a basis for the present Geological Museum.

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On December 25, 1969, the institute's director issued an order for combining of subject collections at the disposal of the institute members under the supervision of a special museum commission headed by Fishman. It included Nikolai Yushkin, Dina Tomova, Boris Goldin and other leading scientists and specialists. Since then there started the process of a long and laborious collection and formation of expositions based on an idea of a regional orientation.


The first curator of the funds Dina Tomova was concerned with sorting out of the rock material and classification of the collections (monographic, working and archives). As to their registration, the commission decided to do it according to the rules of the Paleontological Museum of the USSR Academy of Sciences, as its structure of record keeping and storage of samples served fully the purpose of the Syktyvkar museum.


The fund started from samples collected during the expeditions headed by Academician Nikolai Yushkin. In 1967, he studied tungsten mineralization in the Polar Ural and handed 4 collections including 170 samples over to the museum. Yushkin made a substantial contribution to creation of the mineralogical fund by replenishing it all the time with material collected during his long-term field studies of many years. The museum displays his rare finding, i.e. samples of the Arctic amber from sediments of the Peschanaya River (Pai-Khoi mountain range, Yugorsky Peninsula). It includes 16 samples consisting mainly of small yellow-orange rounded grains of mineral combined into one collection. Thanks to Yushkin's travels and business trips the museum received also other valuable samples from the deposits

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of the Southern Urals, Far East, Karelia, Kola Peninsula and from foreign countries.


At first the samples were demonstrated at temporary specialized exhibitions timed for conferences, meetings and city shows. The stationary part was opened in the entrance hall to the 20th anniversary of the institute in May of 1978. Later on a hall of 50 m2 area was provided to the museum. A large geological map of minerals was its main exhibit. Along its perimeter were located stands with characteristics of separate regions of the republic (Novaya Zemlya, Pai-Khoi, Polar, and Northern Ural, Timan, Russian Platform) and their mineral wealth. Besides, separate expositions were devoted to minerals of great national economic importance. The showcases with semi-precious stones and quartz druses were installed in the hall center. By that time the stock included 204 collections with 13,500 samples of rocks, minerals, paleontological debris, preparations and microsections.


In the 1980s the Institute of Geology moved to a new building. The enlarged museum received a new impetus for development. Its collection was replenished with 200 exhibition samples such as quartz druses and crystals, cal-cites, sphenes and other minerals. At that time the museum obtained the piezooptical rock crystal Vityaz (weighing 1,350 kg) from the Dodo deposit, Neroysk crystal-bearing field of the Polar Urals, which became the museum's visiting card. It occupies a place of honor in the entrance hall of the institute.


Today our collection numbers above 165,000 storage units, including specimens, microsections, preparations and samples. The substantial part is located in an area of 350 m2 in the exhibition halls devoted to the history of geological studies in the territory of the Komi Republic, the minerals, the structure of the Earth crust and evolution of the organic world, lithology, petrography, mineralogy and semi-precious stones. In 2005-2007 one more hall was opened and named "Noah's Ark". The hall demonstrates above 500 graceful stone figures of animals, birds and insects from the private collection of Alexander Borovinskikh.




The museum keeps important information on the history of geological studies of the European North-East. It is presented partly in a small exposition which displays routes of the first expeditions to the Pechora region and their findings and also portraits of the outstanding scientists such as Vera Varsanofyeva, Nikolai Tikhonovich, Konstantin Voynovs-ky-Kriger, Nikolai Sirin and Andrei Krems, whose works opened up potential opportunities of the Timano-Pechora region.


A separate memorial section is devoted to Alexander Chernov, the first organizer of scientific studies in the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. His name is usually linked with the discovery of the Pechora coal basin and creation of a regional school of geologists. But his sci-

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entific interests and practical results were more extensive. Along with studies of coal's Chernov paid much attention to the problems of oil-bearing capacity of the Pechora region and Timan. An appreciable part of his work is devoted to geology of the Polar Ural, the Chernyshev Ridge (the height in the north of the Ural region), the Timan Mountain Ridge and also to different types of minerals such as gold, diamonds, rock salts, etc. His last expedition was to the Pechora region in 1948. The exposition displays his writing-table, table lamp, collection of rocks, photos, field journals and scientific works.




The hall of minerals is the most imposing in the museum (~920 samples). Its conceptual idea is represented by an electrical schematic map (3 x 4 m) of the European North-East, which shows the mineral raw materials mined in the region and associated with the most important geological structures. The exhibition opens with a block of anthracides, whose mining is a basis of the Komi Republic modern economy. The Pechora basin, the second in the country as regards mineral resources, contains a whole range of coals from brown coal to anthracites, which is reflected in our exposition. The significant place here is occupied by the most valuable natural wealth on the Earth, i.e. oil and gas. Let's point out here that the Timano-Pechora oil and gas province is located in the Komi territory, which is of strategic importance in the fuel and energy complex of the North-West of our country.


The hall displays a whole range of ore mineral resources discovered in the Polar Urals, the Middle and Southern Timan. At present there are identified, prospected and assessed ore deposits of ferrous (manganese, titanium, chromite), nonferrous (bauxites, copper, polymetal), rare (tungsten, molybdenum, bismuth, niobium, tantalum), noble (gold, platinoids, silver) metals and also diamonds. Of special interest are samples of gold from placer and primary deposits concentrated in the basins of the rivers Kozhim (Kozhimskoye deposit) and Pechorskaya Pizhma (Ichetiyu).


Special attention is given to an exposition devoted to non-metallic mineral resources. They are used as agro-chemical (phosphorites, barites, mineral salts), building (limestones, clays, dolomites, gypsum, asbestos, marbles, quartzites, sandstones), piezooptical (fluorite, piezoquartz, rock crystal) and jewelry (noble and semi-precious stones) raw material.


The Chernov Geological Museum is a place of concentration of mineralogical information on the Timano-Sever-ouralsky region. The data on its underground storage places are generalized and classified, which is proved by an inven-

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tory located on the museum walls and containing information on 600 types of minerals and their varieties established in our territory. Special signs indicate those minerals which are kept in the museum collections (they make up 43 percent of the all known in the region).


The mineralogical stock includes 51 collections (6,250 units of storage). Attention is drawn first of all to unique samples with their own history. Primarily it is the rock crystal Vityaz and also the druse of piezooptical bull quartz Black Iceberg weighing 180 kg from the Zhelannoye deposit in the Polar Urals where 80 percent of all national reserves of quartz is concentrated. Gradual transition from smoke-color to practically black color (herefrom is the name) is typical of this group of crystals grown together.


Amethyst is another popular colored variety of quartz. Our exposition displays its rare sample, i.e. the Polar Ural purple-violet amethyst (9 x 7 x 6 cm) from the Khasavarka deposit which is different in color richness from similar formations of other deposits. The so-called Venus hair (21 x 9 x 7 cm) with saturated insertions of fine-needle rutile of golden-yellow color graces the exhibition. It was discovered on the hillsides of the Polar Ural (Skalistoye deposit). It is worthy of note that rutile in a 1 mm thick sample reaches the length of 100 mm.


The place of honor at the exhibition belongs to two minerals, i.e. chernovite and yushkinite, discovered at different times by Syktyvkar geologists. In the summer of 1966 the well-known specialist in petrology of magmatism and minerageny Boris Goldin, Dr. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.), discovered an yttric mineral unknown to science during his field works in the Polar Urals. But the existing methods did not allow its exact classification. His colleagues Mark Fishman and Nikolai Yushkin decided to compare this finding with artificial compounds and came to the

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conclusion that "the stranger" was identical to yttrium arsenite Y(AsO4) synthesized and described by the Italian chemists in 1934. In the course of further studies the geologists obtained necessary information to prove novelty of the Ural mineral. It was given the name "chernovite" in honor of the outstanding explorer of the Pechora region Alexander Chernov. Its sample is displayed at the museum in the form of a fragment of quartz porphyry with quartz-piedmontite veins.


Yushkinite was first discovered on the Yugorsky Peninsula in the middle stream of the Silovayakha river by the postgraduate of the Syktyvkar Institute of Geology Alexander Makeev. In the winter of 1976, examining his collection of samples he drew attention to a mineral of unusual violet-pink color. But its quantity was not enough for carrying out of a full chemical analysis. At the end of the 1970s, the institute by means of a new laser microspectral analyzer managed to establish the main constituents of the element, i.e. magnesium, vanadium and aluminum. Their ratio showed the novelty of the material. It was also proved by the X-ray photograph which had no parallel among the known natural compounds. Besides, it was established that the mineral was softer than graphite, and it could be used for writing on paper as a pencil. Further studies were carried out by specialists of the Moscow Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ore Deposits. By an X-ray micro-

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probe the scientists established an exact quantitative composition of the mineral, studied its crystalline structure by the electron diffraction method and took reflection spectra by a unique instrument. It appeared that the Silovayakha finding was a representative of an extremely small group of hybrid compounds which consisted at that time only of two minerals, i.e. valleriite and tochilinite. Makeev named it yushkinite in honor of his teacher Acad. Nikolai Yushkin, who made a substantial contribution to the study of the underground wealth of Pai-Khoi.




The paleontological section of the hall "Evolution of the Organic World" discloses the history of life development on the European North-East in all its diversity: from the simplest one-cell protozoa to highly organized vertebrates. Special interest among the visitors is aroused by skulls of Pleistocene (Quaternary age of the Earth's geological development, which started 2,588 mln years ago and ended 11,700 years ago) cave bears, lions, musk-ox and other animals.


A unique paleontological exhibit of the museum is represented by a mounted composition of almost whole skull of mammoth with well-preserved teeth and ivories (total size of the construction is 130 x 65 x 70 cm) discovered in 1972 near the village of Byzovaya located on the river of the same name. This Pechora village has become the most well-known place of rarity findings in the Komi Republic, where in 1962 one of the most ancient sites of early men in the European North was discovered. Since then this village has become an object of studies by many national and foreign paleontologists. The specialists found there above 4,000 bones and ivories of animals of about 25-27 thous. years. The mammoth fossilized remains made a major part of artifacts. But the "meat menu" of the inhabitants included also woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus), horse (Equus callahussp.), bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus) and polar fox (Alopex lagopus). The mammoth skull with injuries of facial area bones received during its lifetime is one of the most interesting findings and is kept now at the museum of the Komi Institute of Geology.


Dozens of findings of the extinct ground reptiles are known in the Permian deposits of the Komi territory. Displayed in the hall is also an original of the postcranial skeleton of pareiasaurs found on the Vyatka river, Kirov Region. We got it into possession due to cooperation with the Kotelnich Paleontological Museum, Kirov Region. A practically complete well-preserved skeleton of the animal is typical of adult individual of reptile forbears, i.e. Bradysauridae


In 2009 the collection was replenished with an impression of a complete skeleton frame of Tarbosaurus (550 x 100 x 300 cm) made by order at the RAS Paleontological Institute. This reptile was found in the Cretaceous deposits of South Mongolia.




Even now our specialists carry out work in the field of geology and use of natural resources of the European North-East, the history of development of its vast territories. Owing to field studies and travels of the last years we obtained an exposition, collection and photodocumentary material about mining activities in the Komi territory. The work of many years with documents of the republican National Archives enabled us to reconstruct the history of a number of unique mining enterprises of the region. The question is, in particular, the radium works which operated in 1931-1956 in the settlement of Vodny near Ukhta. It was the only enterprise in the world where radium was extracted from underground mineralized waters. Few people know that the Izhma Helium Works existed in the republic which was constructed near Ukhta in 1949. According to different estimates it long remained a leading Soviet enterprise providing up to 70 percent of inert gas production in the country, which was necessary for national shipbuilding, aeronautics and atomic power engineering.


Besides, the museum specialists opened the unknown pages of the history of development of the Pechora coal basin, i.e. they showed that it began not from Vorkuta, as was customary to assume, but from the Yedzhyd-Kyrt mine on the Shchugor river (the middle Pechora). And the first coal shipped to Arkhangelsk in 1932 was not from Vorkuta but from Yedzhyd-Kyrt. Coal was mined there from 1932 to 1957.


The museum workers widely use in their cultural activities the archives and bibliographic documents received from the Komi Scientific Center, the Territorial Geological Foundation, the National Museum of the Komi Republic and other institutions. The museum offers different subject excursions to its visitors, including specialized ones, such as "Bioenergetic Power of Stone", "Role of Aluminum in Human Life", "Ferrous Metals", etc. The paleontological exposition is often used by teachers of the general education schools as visual aids for the course in biology. Besides, professors of the Syktyvkar State University, Komi State Pedagogical Institute and Syktyvkar Forest Institute deliver lectures for students in the museum.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 24 ноября 2021 года

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