is a dark/yellowish brown or almost black ferruginous (containing
iron) sediment rich in manganese and has been used since ancient
times as a pigment. The
deposits are generally earthy and friable.
The commercial deposits are widespread but generally
occur as small lenticular bodies in depressions on top of the
Upper Pillow Lava and at the base of the Perapedhi Formation.
Although the majority of the deposits are only 2 to 3 m
in thickness, large deposits exceeding one million tonnes have
historically been found. Minor
deposits also occur as inter-lava horizons within in the pillow
lava sequence of the ophiolite.
was initially thought to have been derived from weathering of
iron-bearing minerals and manganese in the underlying pillow
lavas. However, all
of the field evidence is consistent with an origin of umber as a
chemical precipitate, which originated in the widespread
activity of submarine thermal springs during the waning stages
of Upper Pillow Lava volcanism.
Large volumes of metalliferous (containing metals)
solutions were exhaled into oxidizing seawater, followed by
umber precipitation. Umber
deposition has often been tectonically controlled and most
deposits occur along fault zones.
umber is excavated sporadically and transported to the factory
for grinding and packing. Burning can also be undertaken to
modify the colour and the burnt and unburnt mineral can be
blended to achieve the required shade. It is primarily used as
an industrial pigment and has excellent stability. It has also
been used for centuries as an artist pigment and in ceramics and
pottery, although these uses are subsidiary.
ochre deposits are limited and directly associated with the
sulphide deposits. Ochre
is mainly composed of iron oxides and hydroxides that give its
characteristic yellowish colour.
Ochre forms during the submarine oxidation of massive
The third natural pigment found in Cyprus is the so-called terra verde (green earth). It has a characteristic green colour and is composed of the mineral celadonite. It is a product of the alteration of the Lower Pillow Lavas which is found in irregular veins.