Miniere di Argento Vivo

Levigliani Quicksilver Mine


Useful Information

Location: Near Levigliani, 48km from Lucca, 57km from Pisa.
Autostrada A12 Genova-Rosignano exit Versilia. 20kms to Levigliani across Querceta, Seravezza, Ruosina, and Retignano. At the turnoff to Levigliani from SP9.
Mine tickets at the ticket office of the Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane near the church at the town center.
Open: Mid-APR to mid JUN Sat, Sun 14, 14:30.
Mid JUN to JUN daily 14, 14:30.
JUL daily 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.
AUG daily 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.
SEP to OCT Sat, Sun 14, 14:30.
[2020]
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children (5-14) EUR 6, Children (0-4) free, Disabled free, Speleologists EUR 6, Soldiers EUR 6, Locals EUR 6.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6, School Pupils EUR 6.
Combi ticket (Cave + Mines + Museums): Adults EUR 18, Children (5-14) EUR 13, Children (0-4) free, Disabled free, Speleologists EUR 16, Soldiers EUR 16, Locals EUR 16.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 16, School Pupils EUR 13.
[2020]
Classification: MineMercury Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension:
Guided tours: L=600m
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography: P. Orlandi, A. Dini, F. Olmi (1998): Grumiplucite, a new mercury-bismuth sulfosalt species from the Levigliani mine, Apuan Alps, Tuscany, Italy Canadian Mineralogist: 36: 1321-1326.
Address: Miniere di Argento Vivo, Via nord 27, 55040 Levigliani LU, Tel: +39-0584-778405. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1153 first written mention.

Geology

The mines were mining cinnabar, a red crystal which is the main quicksilver ore. It is mercury sulfide HgS, and the quicksilver is extracted by heating it. But there are also pure droplets of quicksilver which can be seen on the quartz veins in the mine.

Another quite common mineral in the mine is Calomelano (english Calomel), a mercury halide (Hg2)2+Cl2. It is a secondary mineral which forms as an alteration product in mercury deposits.

Recently a new mineral was discovered in the mine, which is now called Grumiplucite (HgBi2S4), after the amateur mineralogical organization Gruppo Mineralogico e Paleontologico Lucchese. It has slender grey-black prismatic crystals, with a metallic luster. It was approved in 1997 and the type material is conserved by the Museo di Storia Naturale e del Territorio, Pisa University (n° 4262). It has since been found in the cinnabar mines in Rudňany, Slovenija.

The ores are found in phyllitic and metavolcanic rocks of Middle to Upper Ordovician age. They were intensely deformed and metamorphosed during both the Hercynian and the Tertiary Appenninic orogenies. The ore was formed during a syn-tectonic and syn-metamorphic process of mineralization. The ore is probably pre-Hercynian and survived Hercynian and Alpine tectono-metamorphic events.

Most interesting from the mineralogical view is the Cavetta tunnel, where some quartz-carbonate veins contain widespread cavities. The cavities are filled with native mercury and small crystalls of cinnabar, pyrite, mercurian sphalerite, and more. During the 18th century some very large cavities containing about 1 ton of native mercury were found.


Description

The Miniere di Argento Vivo (Quicksilver Mine) or (Levigliani mine) were mined for almost 2,000 years. The oldest remains in the mine are from Roman times. The first half of the tour follows a historic tunnel which was dug in the antique. Then it goes up a shaft and the tour returns to the surface in the upper tunnel which represents the more recent mining technology. This tunnel has a narrow gauge railway for the transport of ore in mine carts.