Origin and features of Baltic amber
Amber is a fossil resin from the ancient trees, Pinus Succinifer, a member of the Pine family which became extinct a long time ago. This mineral may be white, yellow, greenish, blue, red, but the yellowish gold variations, which shine in the sun, are the most common. That is precisely why amber is often called a solar stone.The mineral is amorphous, soft (rigidity 2.2 – 2.5), and is easy to planish (flatten) and polish. Its density is 1.05 – 1.096 g/ml. In regard to the classification, this mineral represents the group of flammable minerals and humus carbon. In regard to the chemistry it is a compound of organic acids with a representative formula C10H16O.
Some “bony” variations of amber have less carbon than yellow limpid variations; it may be because of the accumulation of bigger amounts of resin. Oxygen forms small bubbles inside amber. The limpid yellow amber may have up to 6,000 small bubbles in 1 cm3; the opaque amber may have up to 900,000 in 1 cm3. The implication is that transparency of the stone is proportionate to the amount of oxygen bubbles in it.
Amber softens at 150° temperature and melts at 300°. It is flammable and releases the smell of pine resin. This mineral has dielectric features and preserves warmth. Pieces of amber can be found in nature. The diameter can vary from 1 to 10-20 cm and more. Really massive pieces up to 10 kg are also possible. There are various shapes of those pieces: drops, icicles, formations of irregular shapes, spongy discs or rounded shapes.
Tacit and Pliny the Elder who were naturalists in the first century AD mentioned amber in their works. Later, M. V. Lomonosov wrote about it in his work “About Strata of the Earth”. Up to now there are gaps in the interpretation of the origins of amber. For instance, there is no consensus about the place where those trees grew.
The fact is that 50-60 million years ago, when the Scandinavian Peninsula bordered the Eastern Baltic coast, amber forests grew on the North Sea cost. The climate there was the same as in Africa now. The lush flora greened in the subtropical and tropical paleogene forests: palms, cypresses, magnolias, oaks, conkers, firs, pines, spruce. Various herbage, mushrooms, moss and ferns were involved in the formation of the cover of the earth. Amber pines grew in those forests.
Those pines used to fill entire groves. Trees used to break during hurricanes and storms. Sticky resin used to flow from the broken trunks and the gigantic drops of resin accumulated on the bark. In the course of time those drops used to come unstuck and dropped on the ground. Hurricanes were not the only reason for the resin flow, called succinosis, but climate changes as well. Resin – succinite drifted to the south when it got into the water.Today amber is found in different forms, but not in its origional state as resin. It is the product of the resin from the ancient pines no longer to be found; amber is a mineral which formed because of manifold changes over a long period of time. Minerals which have formed this way are called succinit, and only Baltic succinit may be called amber. Amber has different names depending on its origins e.g. Romanian succinit – romanite, Sicillian succinit – simetite & Burmese succinit - birmite.
Succinit is quite local to the territory of the North Sea coast, near the Canadian coasts, in Transnistria, in Carpathians and in other regions. Nevertheless, amber is unique in the Kaliningrad region and on the Lithuanian coast. Up to 80% of the world's resources of this stone can be found in these regions.
Fragments of both plants and animal life have been found in the limpid formations of amber. The exploration of amber helps to identify the conditions for how this stone was formed as well as adding to our understanding of the Earth's timeline.
Amber is an organic mineral. It is the name for the tacky & hardened resin mined today which has lost almost all of its moisture. Conifers which were washed into the sea after severe rain, eventually sunk to the sea bed and rotted leaving brown carbon which itself would decay and the resins (amber) are all that remain of that era.
Today, it is possible to find pieces of amber, which weigh up to 4-7 kg. Amber is a semi-precious stone, but it is not very durable. To extend its longevity, it should be stored in a dark and damp environment prior to processing.