Siarka w zapadlisku przedkarpackim w latach 1415-1921

Tadeusz Osmólski




The present paper deals with the history of sulphur mining in Poland, from 1415 to 1921, and the history of the geological researches carried on in the mines existing at that time. Four historical centres of sulphur production have existed in the area of Poland: Cracow centre (Swoszowice, Posądza), Kielce centre (Czarkowy, Czajków), Silesian centre (Pszów, Kokoszyce) and Lwów centre (Lubień, Dźwiniacz, Truskawiec). In the period here considered the sulphur mines were situated within the Carpathian foredeep area, mainly in its northern marginal zone, except for the mines at Dźwiniacz and Truskawiec, located in the neighbourhood of the Carpathian overthrust (Fig. 1). To the oldest ones belongs the Cracow centre, where already in 1415, or thereabouts, a sulphur mine was active at Swoszowice. In the first centuries of the mine activity, sulphur was dug out by the members of a mining company. A lack of required pumping devices restricted both the sulphur production and the depth of digging. The introduction of new exploitation methods dates back to the year 1802, when a steam engine was installed for pumping purposes, and a water off-take drift was built (H. Łabędzki, 1841). The mine plans, dated 1848, show 22 productive shafts and 23 dormant shafts, the cross sections through the deposit (made by F. Ambroz in 1881) demonstrating 4 levels of mine workings. In the period from 1860 to 1884, about 20 000 t sulphur and about 800 t CS2 were dug out. Sulphur production in the period 1871-1876 made 80-90% of the total production of the then Austria empire. Both the mines and dressing plants were closed, howerver, in 1884. At Posądza, a sulphur mine and a sulphur messing plant were active in the years 1915-1921. The mine was closed as the last sulphur mine in the area of Poland, still in the period of living traditions of sulphur mining in Poland. In 1917 the production of pure sulphur was 28 t. In the Kielce centre, at Czarkowa on Nida River, sulphur exploitation began in 1795, and was continued until 1918. In the years 1899-1901, the mine production covered 100% of the sulphur used in the whole czar’s Russia (in 1900 - 1550 t, in 1901 - 2407 t). At Czajków, a village near Staszów, some attempts at exploiting sulphur were made in 1915. The first information concerning the occurrence of “sulphur ore at the earth's surface” in the vicinity of Staszów are found in B. Zatorski's publication (1897). In the Silesian centre, a small mine was active in 1878-1896 at Kokoszyce-Pszów. Here, in the years 1878 and 1879, about 6500 t sulphur ore were dug out. In the Lwów centre (the West Ukraine at present), sulphur was exploited at Lubień already in 1778 (Schneider, 1877), at Dźwinacz - in 1875, and at Truskawiec - in 1858-1887, as given among others by W. Szajnocha (1893). Based on the history of the sulphur mine at Swoszowice we may trace the evolution of exploitation methods - beginning with the primitive shafts and low drifts (1-5 feet in height) in the XVth century, and ending with the modern water off-take drifts, steam pumps, air-shafts and methods of sulphur production in the XIXth century. Primarily, the production consisted in gathering sulphur blooms on small water pools, in washing the sulphur found in the form of sulphur concretions in clays, and later on in melting sulphur in furnaces of more and more modern types, and then in refining the melted sulphur, as well. In 1875, the newest method of extracting sulphur by means of carbon disulphide was introduced for the first time by engineer Stanisław Mrowiec. It is striking in the history of the geological researches carried out in the productive mines of that time that the existing facts have been interpreted very early and explained properly. In 1815, the first geological cross section was presented of the deposit at Swoszowice (S. Staszic, 1815). The nature of the processes that lead to the formation of sulphur deposits was understood early. The theory on syngenetic formation of the sulphur deposit at Swoszowice was presented by L. Zajszner in 1850 and 1863. Z. Suszycki presented in 1876 his theory on epigenetical formation of sulphur and limestones (later called the Ratyńskie limestones), based on the observation of the deposit at Dźwiniacz. W. Kondaki (1883) gave a theory of epigenetical formation of the sulphur deposit at Czarkowy. The authors of all the theories mentioned above have rightly evaluated the relations in the system: gypsum + bitumens = sulphur + limestones, frequently giving to the bitumens the name “organic matter”.


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