PARACALE TEKTITES

Paracale area, Camarines Norte, Bikol Region, Philippines

ABOVE:  A map of the Philippines from Beyer, H. O. 1962, with an arrow pointing to Paracale in Camarines Norte, Philippines - Home of the Bikolites. 

Paracale appears to be the most prolific of tektite sites in the Philippines. Most the Philippinites on the market will have come from this area. It is home to the large Bikolite tektites first found by van Eek and described by Beyer. There is also an abundance of smaller specimens, including perfect biscuits coming from this region. Most have very prominent U-grooves. U-grooves formed by the chemical etching, in the soil, of paper-thin thermal expansion cracks, formed as the tektite re-entered the atmosphere. The U-grooves occur on the anterior and the smooth side is the posterior. Beyond about 90g Biscuits give way to breadcrusts. These are commonly grooved all over and spherical. Above about 350g (gradational) the tektites found are always smooth spheres. Shells, shed from these smooth spheres are also found. It is believed that the largest specimens are the most thermodynamically unstable. Rarely 'Anda'-type sculpture can be found on specimens from the Paracale area - and when found it can be spectacular!

Paracale is a gold mining area. The tektites are found as a by-product in the hunt for gold. I am told that all the tektites come from a very close proximity to Paracale and not further afield. I am sure tektites are elsewhere, but the lack of mining means they are not found. According to one contact the rock (which I understand to be gravels, but really a bit of a mixture and clay-rich in places) is dug out of alluvial deposits by JCB the tektites are then found. The deposits are also worked in the sea at depths I understand to be 15-25ft. Here people work underwater for up to 40 minutes at a time using an air compressor for oxygen supply. They cannot see a thing underwater and simply shovel the gravel into buckets that are raised to the surface and onto make-shift rafts. This is highly dangerous work. Tektites are then also found as a by-product to the gold. I have not seen any of these operations first hand and have been advised not to go to the area. The town of Paracale is basically fine (I was told you will "probably" be OK) but it is unlikely that you'd be welcome near the mines. Poverty is high and if buying tektites people know you have cash (as there are reportedly no cash points), so the chances of being robbed are high. However, I would like to express that most Filipino's, despite the poverty, are very good and friendly people. Foreigners going to Paracale will often arrive unannounced, buy the tektites and get out of the town the same day. People speaking Tagalog, or who look local probably stand a better chance there.

 

ABOVE:  Typical smaller specimens from the Paracale area. These include biscuit forms, dumbells and teardrops. Grooving in smaller specimens is always on one side only - the anterior.

ABOVE:  The grooved anterior of biscuit-form tektites, some becoming oblong. The largest specimen here is 81g. Biscuits don't really get any bigger than 90g.

ABOVE:  Posterior surface of biscuit-form tektites seen above.

ABOVE: Typical breadcrust specimens. These specimens are all around the 200g mark. Beyond about 350g breadcrusts are not found. The breadcrust shell is always lost and leaves a smooth body.

ABOVE:  A 245g breadcrust specimen in the collection of Desmond Leong. This specimen has lost half of it's shell, probably from the anterior.

ABOVE:  A 239g 'Hamburger' specimen in the collection of Desmond Leong and a poorer 196g specimen in my collection. Hamburgers are a form of breadcrust.

ABOVE:  As the size increases 'half-soccer balls' are seen. Grooved on one side, smooth on the other. This specimen is 306g.

 

    ABOVE:  The exterior and interior of three shells. As the size of the tektite grows, these shells are always lost leaving a smooth sphere as shown below.

ABOVE:  Two smooth spheres 351g on the left (has a few shallow polygonal grooves) and 532g on the right.

ABOVE:  'Anda'-type sculpture has developed spectacularly in some rare specimens from the Paracale area / Bikol Region. This specimen is 370g. The Anda sculpture develops due to etching in the soil.

ABOVE:  The occasional specimen will show stretched bubbles, these formed early on in the ejection phase as the viscous molten tektite was stretched.

ABOVE:  Occasionally some finely-grooved and chipped specimens are seen. These are usually small - these weigh 44g, 24g and 28g. One can only assume they were extracted from a different source and rock type.

ABOVE:  Finally I wanted to show you this specimen. In the Davao section I commented on these swirls with material fractured away behind them. This swirl, or large navel, appears to show fractured material behind it, creating a crescent shape.

NEW:  I recently acquired (May 2008) two smooth spheres (145.4g and 158.5g) from the Pantnanongan Island (Polillo group of islands), via Infanta, Quezon. As the crow flies, this is not too far from Paracale - the tektites certainly look similar. If I acquire more I may do a page for this new locality.

I have also recently acquired a variety of gravels and clays, together with the tektites, from Paracale. I hope to examine these at a later date. My feeling is that these will likely give little information as to how sculpture relates to lithology. The one from gravels is certainly more sculptured than those from clays, but the probability is that these specimens have been reworked numerous times.

  

Hope you enjoyed these tektites!