Ruby deposits are the primary gem source in Central and South-East Asia. They are highly prized and have a special character: the rubies always occur as inclusions in marble. Geologists from the IRD and CRPG/CNRS (1) have investigated the tectonic and geochemical mechanisms involved in their formation and established a new model of how they generated. It involves feeder fluids resulting from solution of layers of salts present in the marble formations. These hot fluids were brought into circulation at the time of the Himalayan chain orogeny and provided the conditions for mobilization of the constituent elements of ruby and its crystallization within the marble. This genetic model gives the partner countries valuable information on the structure and geochemistry of ruby formations and tools necessary for improved targeting of prospection for this rare and highly sporadic type of mineral concentration.
Ruby is mineralogically the chromiferous variety of corundum gemstone, in other words an aluminium oxide in which some of the aluminium ions have been substituted by chromium. Chromium contributes, along with vanadium, another metal constituent of ruby, to the crystals red colour.
The most prized ruby deposits are those of Central and South-East Asia, like in the celebrated Mogok deposit in Myanmar (ex-Burma), from which the highest gem-quality rubies are extracted, reputed for their intense "pigeon blood" colour and their transparency.
Bénédicte ROBERT | EurekAlert!
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