The amber ascertained in Poland occurs in the Tertiary formations (in situ accumulations) and Quaternary formations (secondary accumulations). The amber occurrences within the beach zone of the Baltic Sea (especially the eastern part) are the subject of collectible and “professional” gathering (so-called amber divers). Aside from these occurrences, the amber deposits are also located in Pomorskie and Lubelskie Voivodeships areas.
The in situ amber accumulations in the Tertiary sediments are connected with the northern marginal zone of the Eocene Sea. In the northern zone (the so-called chłapowsko-sambijska delta) the Chłapowo vicinities are of the best exploration status – the amber-bearing sediments (the so-called “blue earth”) occur on the depth between 60 m and 130 m. In the southern zone of the Eocene Sea (the so-called Parczew delta) in the vicinities of Parczew the Tertiary amber-bearing sediments occur shallower – on the depth to 20 m - 30 m. Górka Lubartowska deposit (the Parczew delta) is formed by silty-sandy deltaic sediments of Upper Eocene in age, containing amber. The amber-bearing layer occur below a building sands deposit of about 12 m of the average thickness. The third amber occurrence in the Tertiary sediments is Możdżanowo region near Ustka – the amber-bearing sediments are represented by sands and gravel of Upper Eocene in age. They form the glacial ice float within the Quaternary sediments. The amber-bearing series is characterized by the average thickness of 1.98 m and is located at the depth of about 11 m
The Quaternary amber-bearing accumulations can be detected in the sediments relocated by the glacier and post-glacier rivers from degraded Tertiary deposits, mainly the chłapowsko-sambijska delta sediments. The amber concentrations are also encountered on the Baltic beaches from Kołobrzeg to the eastern border of Poland on the Vistula Spit where amber occur in beach fossil sediments and on recent beaches.
The prospective resources of amber are difficult to assessed due to the insufficient paleogeographical and facial exploration of the amber-bearing sediments. Locally, it is also difficult because of the resources impoverishment or depletion as the result of the illegal exploitation*. The possibility of development the prospective area of the Eocene primary amber accumulations is unlikely – due to the deposit layer depth below 100 m and the potential conflict between the exploitation and the environment. The nest and stratabound-nest types of the amber accumulations within the xenoliths of the Paleogene amber-bearing sediments and within the Pleistocene and Holocene fluvioglacial and fluvial sediments are of the small size and characterized by the irregular occurrence. Therefore, their resources are unlikely to be documented. In fact, as the reserve base of amber, there can be the prognostic resources within fine-grade Eocene sediments considered – occurring in the northern Lubelszczyzna area. The maximum magnitude of these resources can be evaluated at 22 thousand tonnes. The significant amber occurrences can also be expected within the Quaternary sediments in the area of the Gdańsk shore, especially in the regions of the traditional exploitation on the Vistula river delta.
Anticipated economic resources as of the end of 2019 increased by 220.24 tonnes (it means by 16.6%) in comparison with the previous year and amount to 1,546.65 tonnes of amber.
The resources growth was the result of the documentation of 2 amber deposits in Lubartów county: Brzeźnica Leśna (298.02 tonnes) and Górka Lubartowska IX (47.97 tonnes).
Brzeźnica Leśna deposit was documented in Lubartów county north of Niedźwiada town, in the vicinity of Górka Lubartowska amber deposit. The amber from Brzeźnica Leśna deposit occurs as the accompanying raw material with glauconitic sands and silts. It is occurring in the form of nests or elongated lens within the Eocene glauconitic series (the so-called Siemień formation), formed as gray-green clays, grits or sometimes sands. The amber is detected within the whole glauconite-bearing formation thickness and the amber-bearing horizon is of 5 m to 16 m thick and occurs on the depth between 4 m and 17 m. The 97% (the percentage by weight) of the raw material obtained from this deposit can be used in the jewelry and the remaining 3% (the percentage by weight) in the medicine, in the cosmetic or the chemical industries. Górka Lubartowska IX deposit was documented south of Górka Lubartowska amber deposit and almost its whole area was previously covered by the geological documentations of natural aggregates deposits: Górka Lubartowska IV and Górka Lubartowska VI. Górka Lubartowska IX deposit is the stratabound type deposit of a minor area, the nest-lenticular form, in which the amber crumbs occur accessorily within the Eocene glauconitic series (the so-called Siemień formation) formed as clays, grits or fine- and medium grained sands. The glauconitic amber-bearing horizon, occurring at the depth of about 11 -15 m, is of about 4 – 8 m thick. The 81% (the percentage by weight) of the raw material obtained from this deposit can be used in the jewelry and the remaining 19% (the percentage by weight) in the medicine, in the cosmetic or the chemical industries.
The drop of the domestic amber resources (125.68 tonnes) was the result of the Przeróbka – SL deposit resources settlement. After the deposit exploitation was abandoned, the remaining resources amounted to 17.05 tonnes of amber – so the original information both on the amber quality and on the deposit resources have not been confirmed.
In 2019, the exploitation of amber was carried out only from Górka Lubartowska-Niedźwiada deposit (in spite of 3 valid exploitation concession for: Górka Lubartowska VIII, Górka Lubartowska-Leszkowice and Górka Lubartowska-Niedźwiada deposits). The output amounted to 0.07 tonnes of amber. In Leszkowice 1 deposit, the subject of the concession is limited only to glass sands.
According to the information collected by PGI-NRI from Marshals of Lubelskie, Pomorskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeships in 2019 there were the following amounts of amber exploited during geological works under the approved geological works projects: 227 kilograms in the area of Pomorskie Voivodeship, 196.95 kilograms in the area of Lubelskie Voivodeship and 74.0 kilograms in the area of Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. In the area of Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship in 2019 the amber was not obtained during the prospecting-exploring geological works.
Moreover, the collected information show that there were 3 new geological works projects approved in Lubelskie Voivodeship (in the vicinities of Brzeźnica Leśna, Górka Lubartowska and Niedźwiada), whereas 1 project approved in 2018 was still valid (in the vicinities of Górka Lubartowska). Moreover, there was 1 valid, active geological works project for prospecting and documenting of sands, amber and glauconite in Niedźwiada. The project was approved by the decision of the Minister of the Environment. In Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship no new geological works projects was approved, whereas 9 projects kept their validity (the vicinities of Babigoszcz, Budzieszewice, Rarwino, Stawno, Szumiąca). There were 7 new geological works projects for the prospecting and exploration of amber deposits accepted in Pomorskie Voivodeship. In turn, the Marshal of Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship did not issue any new decision approving the geological works project for the prospecting and exploration of amber deposits.
At the same time, according to the information gained from the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance, 1,049 kilograms of amber were in 2019 confiscate by the Customs and Tax Service on the Polish external borders (road, marina and aerial border crossings). The total amount of confiscated amber sold during the auctions organized by the Chamber of Tax Administration amounted to 584 kilograms in 2019.
Additionally, it is estimated (however the assessment is very approximate) that the amount of amber collected on the Baltic beaches is of 5-6 tonnes per year.
Table 1 shows the current state of identification and management of resources of amber in Poland.
Prepared by: Dariusz Brzeziński, Krzysztof Szamałek
* Kramarska R., Kasiński J.R., Słodkowska B., 2020 - Bursztyn, sukcynit (amber, succinite). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 371-377. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.