Origin of Amber
The Baltic Gold (succinate), also called the Northern Gold, is not the only type of amber. This semi-precious stone is found not only on the Baltic seashore, but also in other parts of the world. Due to the different climate, formation period and types of trees, the age and characteristics of amber found elsewhere differ significantly. In this post, we would like to share our knowledge about the origin and characteristics of this natural phenomenon.
How amber was formed
People have been amused by the beauty and beneficial properties of amber for ages, but they have been also curious about the mysterious appearance of it. The only ancient Romans, apparently, were not mistaken about its origin as they were the only ones who referred to amber as the sap stone (Latin: succinum). However, only a few centuries ago the true origin of amber was revealed. Only in the second half of the 19th century scientists were able to finally agree on the origin of amber.
Amber has been made in four stages all over the world. The first stage was the extraction of resin from trees. On the second stage resin must have got into soil that was dry enough but well ventilated, sandy and rich in oxygen. Under these conditions, resin hardened and became more resilient. The third stage was exposure to water. Stiffened resin was washed out of sand and transferred to the water. In the sea, where the last stage of the formation of amber began, resin deposits on the seabed covered with sandy sediments. Over millions of years the planet‘s waters have washed the coasts of different countries, so amber is found both on the seabed and on the land.
Amber Age and colours
Every Lithuanian seems to know how the Baltic amber looks like. It features deep yellow and orange tones, though white or black amber nuggets also occur. The period of formation of succinate dates back to over 40-50 million years ago. The amber that was formed about 85 million years ago in Japan is characterised by caramel colour. However, Japanese amber lags behind what is found in Lebanon. The age of stiffened resin pieces in this region is 120-130 million years old. The amber of New Jersey (USA) frequently appears in reddish and darker shades than succinate, while amber found in Alaska is distinguished by its exceptional transparency and intensive shades, from honey yellow to black tones.
Undoubtedly, the most impressive and most noteworthy are transparent amber nuggets with inclusions. In addition to the remarkable beauty they depict, they also provide invaluable and perfectly preserved information about the flora and fauna as well as the climate conditions that existed millions of years ago. In the clear drops of amber you can find anything: a variety of plants, pollen, soil fragments, bacteria and microorganisms. But a specific focus is given to live beings trapped in resin fossils forever. In about 80% these are arthropods and winged insects: spiders, scorpions, ticks, centipedes, cockroaches, praying mantises, termites, bugs, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, various butterflies and ants. And they only represent a small part of living creatures embedded in amber that were attracted to the amber wood forests by the smell of their resin. In rare cases, other inclusions may be found, such as worms or terrestrial molluscs. There were a few instances where lizards, bird feathers or various mammalian hair were found in amber. The Palanga Amber Museum exposes two unique examples of a small reptile’s moult remains.
If this post was interesting to you, be sure to visit the Palanga Amber Museum. We have unveiled only a small part of the secrets of amber, and the exposition of the museum not only gives a detailed account of the origin and history of amber, its spread over the world and various amber properties, but also complements the theory with living examples. In addition, it holds one of the most impressive collections of inclusions in the world. It is absolutely impossible to convey this miracle in words. You must see it with your own eyes.