Minerals with legends of desire, love and death

"We think we know our planet. Detailed maps, aerial photos and satellite images give us the impression, albeit false, that there is no place on Earth unexplored. But who knows what's under our feet?" In this way, researcher at the German Geoscience Center Brian Horsfield draws attention, in the latest international scientific drilling plan, to the poor knowledge of geological diversity. The Department of Crystallography of the University of Seville has wanted to bring this world closer together with an initiative that humanizes the rocks by detailing legends that associate some minerals with stories of desire, love and death and that have served to elevate them to symbolic and mythological objects.

Ana María Alonso, researcher and president of the Geological Society of Spain (SGE), admitted during a visit to the litoteca de Peñarroya (Córdoba) on the occasion of the last scientific session of the SGE, that there is more general awareness about biodiversity and the threats it suffers than on geodiversity. Fernando Muñiz, professor of Crystallography and Mineralogy at the University of Seville, had an idea to break that distance during his work in Chile: to collect in some marks the Museum of Geology of the academic entity the stories linked to minerals that, in some cases, have become national symbols and, in others, have fed popular legends for centuries. "The idea is to read through reading," says Muñiz. These are some of the stories compiled with the collaboration of the department in which he works now, the late Emilio Galán (University of Seville) and other geologists of Ibero-America:

Fire opal. Museum of Geology of the University of Seville

Fire (Tectosilicate). A Mexican legend tells that a butterfly wept for its ephemeral life while envying the ancient survival of the stone and that it, in turn, lamented its underground existence, hidden and motionless with no other fate than to become dust. Nature caused both to speak and the insect told the mineral what rivers, forests and other beings were like while the rock revealed the secrets of the subsoil. The butterfly wanted its wings to turn to dust and stone it. Meanwhile, the rock dreamed of time making it land and from it a flower was born that would become a butterfly. Nature was sympathetic and to fulfill his wishes he created the opal,

Rhodochrosite

Rodocrosite (Carbonate). Popular belief places the origin of this stone, considered a symbol of Argentina, in the Inca warrior Tupaa Qanai, who broke the barrier formed with a lake and rocks to shield the place where the priestesses of the sun met. The Usta (princess) Aklla and Tupaa Qanai fell in love and fled the shrine to found the Diaguita peoples with their children. The Incas never hunted them down, but the curse led the princess to death and the warrior slept forever on a rock. From Aklla's tomb came petrified roses of the color of blood and the stone became a symbol of forgiveness and love,

Bolivian.

Bolivianite (Tectosilicate). The Spanish soldier Felipe de Urriola raised the wrath of the Ayorean people by marrying and pretending to return to his country with Princess Anahí, who died in the arms of his beloved by helping him escape from death. De Urriola managed to return to his land and carried with him a strange purple and yellow gem unique in the world and became a symbol of divided love,

Olivine.

Olivino (Nesosilicate). The mineral takes its name from that of the niece of Lanzarote Tomás, El Viejo. The young woman, with brown skin and green eyes, lost a sheep while collecting flowers and found her dead on a cliff. When he returned to the rest of the cattle, Olivina wept green tears that petrified the beach and formed a rock symbolizing goodness,

Andalute.

Andalute (Nesosilicate). During the wars between Mapuche and Spaniards, an Araucan warrior captured a young Spanish Christian with which he lived, against the will of the Toquis (military chiefs). After a battle, the man was captured, but the chiefs of the village near the Laraquete River told the woman that his beloved had died in the contest. She, desperate, wandered the mat and wept tears that turned into crosses as she fell into the water. A machi (shaman) picked up the stones and held a ritual that allowed the liberation of man and marriage,