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Yes, photo shows largest quartz crystal cluster in world

A photo of an enormous cluster of crystals has been doing the rounds on Facebook in South Africa. 

Its caption reads: “The world's largest quartz crystal was discovered in 1985 at the bottom of a 45 metre deep cave in the Otjua mine near Karibib in Namibia. It weighs 14 tons and took three years to excavate and remove.”

The photo was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. We took a closer look.

On display at museum in Namibia

Quartz is a widely distributed mineral that is made up primarily of silicon dioxide, according to Britannica. 

There are a number of different varieties, usually named according to their colour, such as purple quartz or amethyst, yellow quartz or citrine, grey or smoky quartz, and pink or rose quartz. 

A reverse image search of the impressive specimen traces the photo back to Kristall Galerie, a gemstone museum in Swakopmund, Namibia.

The massive quartz cluster is on display at the museum.

Dr Gabi Schneider, then director of the Geological Survey of Namibia, wrote in 2000 that the cluster was a “giant quartz crystal from the Farm Otjua” in the Karibib district of Namibia.

According to the museum, the cluster was discovered in 1985, weighed 14,100 kilograms – just over 14 tonnes – and “excavation lasted five years”.

The Facebook post is largely accurate, though it understates how long it took to excavate the massive crystal. – Taryn Willows

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