General information and occurrence
The amber ascertained in Poland occurs in the Paleogene formations (in situ accumulations) and the 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 the areas of Pomorskie and Lubelskie Voivodeships.
The in situ amber accumulations in the Paleogene 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 Paleogene amber-bearing sediments occur shallower – on the depth to 20-30 m. The Górka Lubartowska deposit (the Parczew delta) is formed by silty-sandy deltaic sediments of the 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 Paleogene sediments is the Możdżanowo region near Ustka – the amber-bearing sediments are represented by sands and gravel of the 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 spotted in the sediments relocated by the glacier and post-glacier rivers from the degraded Paleogene 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.
Resources and output
Anticipated economic resources as of the end of 2021 decreased by 92.27 tonnes (it means by 2.6%) in comparison with the previous year and amounted to 3,488.57 tonnes of amber. The resources drop was a result of the exploitation and the resources updating of the Górka Lubartowska deposit. In 2021, the exploitation (in spite of 7 valid concessions for the following deposits: Górka Lubartowska VIII, Górka Lubartowska IX, Górka Lubartowska-Leszkowice, Górka Lubartowska-Niedźwiada, Leszkowice 1, Niedźwiada II and Niedźwiada III) was carried out only from the Górka Lubartowska-Niedźwiada deposit. The output from this deposit amounted to 17.40 tonnes of amber (by 43.4% more than in 2020). The ongoing exploitation demonstrated that the amber productivity is bigger than assumed in a geological documentation and in a deposit development plan (the resources growth by 20.00 tonnes). In the Leszkowice 1 deposit, the subject of the concession is limited only to glass sands. The resources drop was also the result of the boundaries and resources updating of the Górka Lubartowska deposit (the decrease by 90.74 tonnes) after the allocation of a new Niedźwiada III deposit from the Górka Lubartowska deposit. The Niedźwiada III deposit is a stratabound, nest-lenticular deposit, with amber-bearing series built of the clayey and sandy Eocene glauconite-bearing sediments. Except of amber, there were also sand, gravel and glauconite-bearing sediments documented in the deposit. The documented anticipated economic resources of the Niedźwiada III deposit amount to 5.68 tonnes of amber and the anticipated sub-economic resources – 1.16 tonnes. The top of the glauconite-bearing formation with amber in the Niedźwiada III deposit occurs at a depth from 11.9 m b.s.l. to 19.2 m b.s.l., whereas the deposit bottom is delineated by the top of the Cretaceous deposits – located at a depth from 20.5 m b.s.l. to 26.0 m b.s.l. The average content of amber in the deposit is estimated at 38.3 g/m2. The exploited commodity can be used in the jewelry industry and cosmetic, medical or chemical industries.
According to the information collected by PGI-NRI from the Marshals of Lubelskie, Pomorskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeships, in 2021 there were only 57.5 kilograms of amber exploited during geological works under the approved geological works projects in the area of Pomorskie Voivodeship. Moreover, the collected information show that there were 2 new geological works projects for the prospecting and exploration of amber deposits approved in Pomorskie Voivodeship, whereas in Lubelskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeships in 2021 there was not any new decision approving the geological works project for the prospecting and exploration of amber deposits issued by Marshalls.
At the same time, according to the information gained from the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance, in 2021 there were140 kilograms of amber confiscated 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 711 kilograms in 2021.
Additionally, it is estimated (however this assessment is very approximate) that the amount of amber collected on the Baltic beaches may amount to 5-6 tonnes per year.
Table 1 shows the current state of identification and management of resources of amber in Poland.
The prospective resources of amber are difficult to be 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.