The first diamond of Yakutia was found in the Suntar region on the Vilyui River in a place called Sokolinaya spit 70 years ago . On the eve of the anniversary date, at the invitation of the Vilyui geological survey expedition 18 veteran geologists and scientists from various institutions of the country gathered in Mirny to go to the place of the historical event. At the ceremony, geologists recalled old friends and shared plans for the future. They presented letters of thanks to the veterans and prepared a small festive program. The last time geologists gathered in full force on the Sokolinaya spit, exactly 20 years ago.
In August 1949, 6 km from the village of Krestyakh, the Amakinskaya exploration expedition (since October 1, 2017, is part of the Vilyui exploration expedition ALROSA) discovered the first 22 crystals of Yakut diamonds on the Sokolinaya spit. Since then, Sokolinaya spit, the first to discover the diamond secret of the northern bowels, has become a symbol of geological luck. Sokolinaya spit entered the history of world diamond mining.
The study of the diamond content of the territory of Yakutia started in the basin of the upper Vilyui in 1948 by the Vilyui party of the Tunguska expedition, led by Grigory Khaimovich Feinstein.
In early June 1949, the Vilyui party No. 1 of the Amakinskaya expedition started working. This party was tasked with conducting detailed geological and exploration work in the area between the Vilyuchans in the west and Suntar in the east. At the same time, the party had to take several large-volume samples, enrich them on the spot and find out the prospects of the region for diamond bearing.
Testing and enrichment of the Vilyui party was carried out at four sites. The first site was located on the right bank of Vilyui, 25 kilometers below the upper Meik (Oyusut). Two kilometers below there was the second section, behind it, ten kilometers downstream, there was the third site. In all these areas the results of testing for diamonds were negative.
The fourth site chosen was not far from the Krestiah nasleg. Here channel pebble deposits formed a rather large scythe adjacent to the right bank. In August 1949, this spit had a length of more than 2.5 kilometers and a width of up to 400 meters. It was here that on August 7, 1949, the Yakut diamond No. 1 was discovered weighing about 5 milligrams, which is a colorless fragment with a small part of the remaining face. Thus, the Sokolinaya diamondiferous placer was discovered.
Enrichment specialists E. M. Pauler, A. N. Lisitsyn, I. F. Kochetkov, foreman Yu. I. Khabardin, collectors K. D. Urbanovich, V. G. Urbanovich, Mineralogist V.A. Kadnikova, radiologists L.P. Storozhuk, G.P. Perfilieva, S. Sadovnikov, laboratory assistant Z. Lisitsyna, radio operator and radiologist G.A. Pavlov and others took part In the field work on the Sokolina Spit in 1949.
Feinstein sent to Irkutsk a radiogram about the find. Here is how Mikhail Odintsov himself, the technical director of the Tunguska expedition, described it:
- Vilyui party G.X. Feinstein completed the work without finds and we started thinking of topping the work in Vilyue in order to thereby strengthen the work on Yerema for the next year. But here came a radiogram from Feinstein: “A deer died near the village of Krestyakh,” which meant “a diamond was found.” The next day, the second radiogram was recieved: "Three deer died." What a miracle! I sent Feinstein a telegram: “Confirm the deer’s death, explain the situation” and got the answer: “The deer’s death was established by the veterinarian Kadnikova, I think it’s the beginning of the epidemic”. V. A. Kadnikova is a mineralogist of the party, “an epidemic is beginning” - that means a placer has been found. We must fly to Feinstein, watch diamonds, if all this is true, we must not stop but expand the work in Vilyue!
So, the first diamond in Yakutia was found by Feinstein's party in a ditch No. 9 on a spit with the Yakut name Aryy Chai, which geologists called Sokolinaya, located six kilometers above the village of Krestyakh, Suntarsky district, on August 7, 1949. By mid-September, 22 diamonds had been mined from ditches No. 9, 10, 11. Due to the onset of frost, the washing of the samples was completed in order to start it over next year.
Some “adventures” also came into the picture. When Feinstein came to see the diamond and the mineralogist was taking it out of the with trembling hands the diamond seemed to jump out of the bag and fall. An urgent command was "don’t move, only watch." The entire floor was gradually examined but there was no diamond. After a long search, they could finally find it. It was no wonder not to notice it: the size of the stone 1x1x1.2 mm, and it weighed only 5 mg!
The find of the first diamond was the start of an avalanche of finds, discoveries and changes. On March 17, 1949, the Tunguska expedition was renamed Amakinsk based in Irkutsk, and on December 30, 1949, by order of the USSR Minister of Geology, four complex parties were transferred from the Irkutsk Geological Department to the direct subordination of the 3rd Main Geological Department of the Ministry of Geology and Protection bowels of the USSR. At the same time, the Irkutsk Geological Administration left the geological mapping of diamondiferous regions of Western Yakutia, for which a special Northern Expedition was created.
In 1949, the leadership of the Amakinsk expedition, renamed from the Tunguska expedition, did not have long-term work plans in Western Yakutia. And in November 1949, after the decision of the Yakutsk regional committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on the creation of a stationary party of the Amakinskaya State District Administration in the village of Kresty and the development of year-round geological exploration for diamonds in the republic. M. M. Odintsov and G. Kh. Feinstein drafted a master plan for the search exploration work in Western Yakutia for 1950-1955, as well as for 1950 in the Vilyui river basin. Thus, it was precisely thanks to the risky decision of the Yakut authorities that the Amakinsk expedition was able to set up its base in Yakutia ahead of schedule and immediately begin further deployment of prospecting for diamonds.
Grigory Khaimovich Feinstein was born on May 1, 1914 in Buryatia in the village of Domna-Eravno. Since 1930 he worked as a tractor driver and an elementary school teacher. He graduated from Irkutsk State University. In 1938-1940 he worked as a reservoir geologist at the Irkutsk Geological Administration where he met M. M. Odintsov. In 1940-1945 he served in parts of the Trans-Baikal Military District where he went from a private to a senior lieutenant. Since 1947 he was the head of the search party of the Tunguska expedition. In August 1949, the first diamonds in Yakutia were found on the Vilyuy river by the collective of the party led by him.
In 1950-1961, he was a chief geologist of the complex party of the Irkutsk Geological Administration, Senior geologist, head of the research and production party of the Amakinskaya expedition, in 1961-1964 - head of the research and production party of the Thematic expedition, in 1964-1989 - head of the department, senior researcher at the East Siberian Research Institute of Geology, since 1989 was retired. Feinstein died on June 22, 2000. He was awarded the Lenin Prize for discovering an industrial diamond deposit in the YASSR, the Order of Lenin, many medals and the badge "Excellent exploration of mineral resources."
Krestyakh is a village in Suntar ulus. The lowest temperature in the Krestyakh was registered in January 1966 and amounted to −62.7 ˚C. The village is located on the left bank of the Vilyuy river, 95 km from the ulus center of the village. It was founded in 1873. The village is located 150 km away from the city of Mirny. In 1987 a museum of discoverers of Yakut diamonds was opened in there. Since 1994 Sokolinaya Spit with the remains of the first enrichment factory was declared a monument of history and culture of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). 3 obelisks were erected and a geological dugout was reconstructed in honor of the discoverers of the Yakut diamonds.
In industry, the main jewel is people. Thanks to work, Olga Omukchanova gave a solid chunk of her life to work on the Amakinsk expedition, and even more than that - she was literally born in geological exploration.
Hello Olga Vasilievna. Tell us, how and when did you start working in diamond mining?
- I started working in the Amakinskoye exploration expedition in the village of Nyurba in 1980. I began to work as a cartographer, and completed a category II cartographer as Botuobinsky Geological Survey Expedition. I graduated from the Novosibirsk Topographic College. I spent almost 40 years working for ALROSA. Since January of this year I have been on a well-deserved rest.
What tasks did the management set for you?
- The tasks were only professional: to draw up and submit geological reports and projects, to publish various reliable maps, plans, sections, drawings that vary in scale, content and purpose, to deliver all this on time and with quality.
Which way do you think your life is related to diamonds?
- As you know, the first diamond was found in 1949. I had no plans then, the world lived without me, because my parents had not yet met and had not married. My father, Prokopyev Vasily Evseevich, graduated from the Aldan Polytechnic College in 1956 with a degree in mining. He began to work in the Amakinsk expedition. In 1957 my parents met and got married and I appeared in March 1958. The baby delivery was performed by a paramedic named Olga Ulyanova, I was named in her honor. The place of my birth in the passport says the village of Muna of the Zhigansky district. But there is no mention of such a settlement, it was a temporary geological village in the present Muno-Tyung field. Geologists who knew me said that the remains of this geological village have been preserved.
What was the atmosphere in the team?
- I was lucky to work for ALROSA. This is such luck which is not given to everyone. I mean not only the material side, but also other aspects. I have many friends and acquaintances I keep in touch with. Any person has a hobby. For me it is embroidery. The second hobby appeared exactly 20 years ago: for 20 years I have been a member of the editorial board of the Vilyui Zori drafts. I was close friends with the editor of the almanac with the writer and poet Mary Mikhailovna Sofianidi, which I am proud of. I have been preparing books for publication for many years, mainly the memoirs of geologists. This is editing, design and more. At present, the memoirs of Valentin Krivonos, the famous geologist, pioneer of deposits, who devoted 55 years to geology, as well as the memoirs of Vasily Trofimov, veteran of ALROSA, are being printed.