GTK’s annual layman’s sample competition is now on. GTK grants a cash reward to the people who sent the most promising samples during each year. The national award ceremony is held at the end of each year, usually in the region where the person receiving the grand prize lives. The competition aims to raise awareness of geology as a hobby and to encourage rock enthusiasts to send their samples for testing at GTK’s layman’s samples office. Each sample we receive gives us valuable data on the bedrock we live on, and the locations of possibly valuable minerals. All it takes to win is to send in a good sample!

Samples of ore, industrial minerals, construction stones and gemstones are all accepted to participate in the layman’s sample competition. The total size of the prize pool is €15,000. The prizes by ranking are: 1st prize €4,000, 2nd prize €3,000, and 3rd prize €1,500. The prizes for the young sample senders’ category (under 16) are 1st prize €1,000, 2nd prize €500 and 3rd prize €250. The remainder of the total prize pool will be divided to prizes of €500–€100, which are awarded according to the quality and significance of the samples received. The final prize amounts are decided annually by the GTK according to the amount and quality of the samples received that year. Evaluation criteria for the samples include location – whether the sample is found in area the GTK is already interested in and researching, or if the area is a new discovery or if it has restrictions – the quality of the sample and its analysis results, and whether the sample was taken from a boulder or bedrock, among other things.

Samples taken by hired contractors, from locations already being investigated or that have previously been sent to other similar competitions are excluded from the layman’s sample competition. The prizes can be awarded for samples that provide valuable new data on a previously studied area.

See the Instructions tab on this website for instructions on delivering samples If you wish to include your sample in the young senders’ category, please include this information in your parcel.

Currently GTK’s main interests in the research of raw material deposits in the Finnish bedrock lie in battery minerals, and a four-year project was recently launched to research and map out Finland’s battery mineral reserves. The project specifically focuses on researching and mapping deposits of lithium, cobalt and graphite. Bedrock and geophysical terrain surveys, research on the moraine geochemistry and deep drilling are all currently conducted at selected locations. We invite all amateur geologists to send us more samples that can be analysed and studied for potential battery mineral discoveries. Battery mineral samples will also be prioritised when evaluating samples for the layman’s sample competition.

Ullavan Läntän spodumeenipegmatiittia, jota käytetään litiumin lähteenä.Kuva: Jari Väätäinen, GTK.Spodumeeni, Kaustinen. Kuva: Jari Väätäinen, GTK.
Grafiitti, Hyypiä, Kiihtelysvaara. Kuva: Jari Väätäinen, GTK.
Kobolttihohde. Viljakkalan Haveri. Näytteen pituus 14 cm. Kuva: Jari Väätäinen, GTK.

Spodumene contains lithium. Spodumene is a mineral belonging to the pyroxene group that occurs as flat prismatic crystals that are often vertically striped. It can be yellow, greenish or even reddish in colour. The upper left sample is from Ullava and the lower sample was found in Kaustinen. Spodumene’s cleavage is perfect in one direction and parting in two directions. Its Mohs hardness is 6.5–7.5 and density around 3.1. Its lustre is vitreous. Spodumene occurs in granite pegmatites as crystals that vary in size from a few centimetres to up to a metre at times.

There are around 30 known dykes of pegmatite with spodumene in Finland. The most significant deposits are in the Kruunupyy–Ullava region. The lithium contained in spodumene is used as anode material for lithium batteries, and as a raw material in the ceramics and glass industries. It is also used to produce lithium salts. The transparent variants (green and purple) are for jewellery.

Graphite occurs as small hexagonal micaceous crystals, or groups of them, and as massive graphite. Graphite is dark grey or almost black in colour, and its crystals have a metallic lustre. However, massive graphite has more of an earthy lustre. The Mohs hardness of graphite is 1–2. Its surface has a slippery feel to it, and it stains. Graphite has a dark grey streak, and it is flexible but does not bounce back if bent. Its density is 2.2. Molybdenite closely resembles graphite, but is bluer in colour. Graphite is very electrically conductive. It can be found in schist, gneiss and plutonic rocks. There are several small deposits of graphite in Finland that have been excavated in the past. It is used in the steel and foundry industries, as an insulator for valves in high-pressure and high-temperature processes, in electrodes and as a lubricant and even fuel. The grade of graphite in a deposit must be over 10% and the size of the crystals must be over 0.1 mm for the deposit to be viable for excavation. Graphite in black schists is usually too fine for efficient use.

Cobaltite is silvery white with a hint of red, and it has a metallic lustre. Its streak is grey or black, Mohs hardness 5.5 and density 6.3. Cobaltite is softer and redder than pyrite. Cobaltite occurs in nickel-copper-platinum ores and, for example, in the Haveri mine’s gold deposit (with other arsenide minerals) in Viljakkala.