A remarkable discovery of electrum on the island of Sylt, northern Germany, and its Scandinavian origin

Schlüter, Jochen; Schuth, Stephan; Fonseca, Raúl O. C.; Wendt, Daniel

An electrum–quartz pebble with a weight of 10.4 g was discovered in a cliff of Saalian glaciogenic sediments on the west coast of the German North Sea island of Sylt in 2012. It has a roundish water-worn appearance and consists of intergrown electrum and milky quartz. It is the largest known electrum find in Germany, and regarding its weight it also ranks amongst the largest gold finds discovered in Germany. We document and characterize this unusual discovery. Furthermore, an attempt is made to investigate its provenance. Therefore, reference samples of southern Scandinavian gold and electrum deposits and occurrences have been studied and compared to the Sylt find. The Au–Ag content determined by electron microprobe (EMP), trace element signature measured by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and Pb isotope compositions by multi-collector ICP MS (MC-ICP-MS) suggest a southern Norwegian origin. The most probable source might be the Kongsberg ore district or an adjacent, yet undiscovered, mineralization in the Oslo region.

In general, Saalian glaciogenic sediments in Schleswig-Holstein (northern Germany) are dominated by rocks of Swedish provenance. Due to the intake of older Elsterian sediments by younger Saalian glaciers, southern Norwegian rocks are also not uncommon in Saalian sediments. A Saalian ice advance or a combination of Elsterian and Saalian ice advances might have provided a transport mechanism for an electrum sample from a south Norwegian mineralization to the island of Sylt.



Schlüter, Jochen / Schuth, Stephan / Fonseca, Raúl O. C. / et al: A remarkable discovery of electrum on the island of Sylt, northern Germany, and its Scandinavian origin. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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