The Geological Phenomenon of Marra Mamba Tiger Eye, W.A

The Geological Phenomenon of Marra Mamba Tiger Eye, W.A

The Marra Mamba Tiger Eye is a geological curiosity, exhibiting a chatoyancy that has captivated both the scientific community and gemstone enthusiasts. This rare variant of Tiger Eye is exclusively found in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara region in Western Australia.

Geological Composition and Formation

Marra Mamba Tiger Eye is a silicified rock, primarily composed of quartz, that has undergone pseudomorphosis, replacing the fibrous mineral crocidolite (blue asbestos). The chatoyancy effect, or ‘cat’s eye’ phenomenon, is due to the reflection of light off the parallel intergrowths of quartz crystals and altered amphibole fibers, which have mostly transformed into limonite.

The formation of Marra Mamba Tiger Eye dates back to the Precambrian era, over 2.7 billion years ago, during a time when the Earth’s atmosphere was largely anoxic. The emergence of photosynthetic bacteria led to an increase in atmospheric oxygen, which, when dissolved in seawater, reacted with iron from submarine volcanic activity. This reaction precipitated iron oxide on the seafloor, forming banded iron formations (BIFs). Subsequent geological events, including burial, heating, and the infiltration of sodium-rich solutions, resulted in the crystallization of these layers and the formation of riebeckite. Over time, the fibrous riebeckite crystals were replaced by silica, with fine dusts of yellow goethite, giving rise to the characteristic silky luster of Tiger Eye.


Color Variations and Mineralogy

Marra Mamba TigerEye is distinguished by its rich tapestry of colors. Unlike the standard golden hues of traditional Tiger Eye, Marra Mamba boasts an array of colors including reds, blues, yellows, golds, and greens. This kaleidoscope is a result of various mineral inclusions within the stone, creating patterns that are as unique as they are beautiful.

The distinct color variations in Marra Mamba Tiger Eye are attributed to the presence of different minerals:

  • Quartz (SiO2): Forms the bulk of the stone, providing the base for the chatoyant effect.
  • Goethite (FeO(OH)): Imparts the yellow hues.
  • Hematite (Fe2O3): Responsible for the red coloration.
  • Riebeckite (Na2Fe2+3Fe3+2Si8O22(OH)2): Contributes to the blue shades.
  • A mixture of blue riebeckite and yellow goethite: Creates the green tones.
  • Hematite and Magnetite (Fe3O4): Add black streaks to the stone.

Scientific Significance and Applications

The scientific significance of Marra Mamba Tiger Eye lies in its ability to provide insights into the geochemical conditions of early Earth and the processes that led to the formation of BIFs. Its unique properties also make it a valuable material for various applications, including ornamental uses and as a lapidary rock.

Marra Mamba Tiger Eye’s scientific allure is rooted in its complex formation history and the intricate interplay of minerals that give it its mesmerizing appearance. It remains a subject of study for geologists and a prized possession for collectors worldwide.


Metaphysical Properties

Beyond its physical allure, Marra Mamba Tiger Eye is believed to possess metaphysical properties. It is said to clarify the mind, replace negativity with positivity, and promote calmness and stability. 



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