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Mineralpedia Details for Sphalerite

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Sphalerite

Sphalerite

Due to the mineral occasionally being mistaken for galena but generating no lead, Sphalerite was named for the Greek word sphaleros, meaning “treacherous.” This important zinc ore forms during low- to high-temperature hydrothermal settings as well as in coal, limestones, and some other sedimentary deposits. A highly common mineral, but a few localities produce fine crystals including Germany, colorless crystals from Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Romania, transparent crystals from Spain, England, Canada, the USA, Mexico, and Peru. Sphalerite is pyroelectric, generates a charge when heated. It can fluoresce under ultraviolet light, particularly specimens from Franklin, New Jersey in the USA which fluoresce orange and sometimes blue under long-wave ultraviolet light. It is also triboluminescent, meaning Sphalerite will generate light when broken.

Ref. Handbook of Mineralogy, Anthony et al (1995) and MSA at http://www.handbookofmineralogy.org/pdfs/sphalerite.pdf

Formula
ZnS 
Crystal System
Isometric 
Crystal Habit
Euhedral Crystals, Granular, Colloform 
Cleavage
Perfect, Perfect, Perfect 
Luster
Resinous - Greasy 
Color
brown, yellow, red, green, black 
Streak
brownish white 
Class
Isometric - Hextetrahedral 
Fracture
Uneven 
Hardness
3.5-4 
WebMineral
View Sphalerite 
Mindat
View Sphalerite 

SPHALERITE from Green Co., Illinois, United States

SPHALERITE
            from Green Co., Illinois, United States

Absolutely perfectly formed modified tabular Sphalerite crystals with beveled edges in a cluster to 1.5cm set nicely on Limestone matrix with water clear Calcite rhombs.

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Sphalerite from Lengenbach quarry, Binn Valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Sphalerite
            from Lengenbach quarry, Binn Valley, Wallis, Switzerland

One of the better Sphalerites we have seen from Lengenbach. A deep golden yellow-brown Sphalerite crystal to 7mm embedded in sugary white Quartzite matrix with minor Pyrite.

Although the Sphalerite crystal is partial, it's redeemed by the superb luster and color and because it has a tag from the 'Naturhistorisches Museum Bern' with a corresponding catalog number 9164 glued to the bottom of the specimen.

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Sphalerite from Camp Bird mine, Ouray Co., Colorado, United States

Sphalerite
            from Camp Bird mine, Ouray Co., Colorado, United States

Jet black and very lustrous Sphalerite crystals to 7-8mm.

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Sphalerite from Bachelor mine, Creede dist., Mineral Co., Colorado, United States

Sphalerite
            from Bachelor mine, Creede dist., Mineral Co., Colorado, United States

Gemmy yellow-green crystals of Sphalerite to 8mm.

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Sphalerite from Balmat, St. Lawrence Co., New York, United States

Sphalerite
            from Balmat, St. Lawrence Co., New York, United States

Old piece with yllow-green Sphalerite crystals to 3mm.

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Sphalerite from St. Joe No. 3 mine, Balmat, St. Lawrence Co., New York, United States

Sphalerite
            from St. Joe No. 3 mine, Balmat, St. Lawrence Co., New York, United States

Greenish yellow, gemmy Sphalerite crystals to 7mm on water clear Quartz in a large 5cm pocket with Pyrite/Galena matrix.

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Sphalerite from Cavnic, Maramures Co., Romania

Sphalerite
            from Cavnic, Maramures Co., Romania

Large 1cm plus deep yellow to green Sphalerite crystals on Quartz.

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Sphalerite from Thomaston Dam RR cut, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, United States

Sphalerite
            from Thomaston Dam RR cut, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, United States

This locality has been known for quite sometime amongst mineral collectors. The conventional wisdom was that these were Wurtzite crystals. According to Mindat, since 1962 these crystals were thought to be Wurtzite, until 1973 when Dunn said they were Sphalerite pseudos after wurtzite. Most recently, these crystals were shown by RRUFF to be polysynthetically twinned Sphalerite.

They are basically hexagonal stacked plates, much like Wurtzite crystals. Really, it's academic, but they are really nice micro crystals.

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Sphalerite from Emperius mine, Creede, Mineral Co., Colorado, United States

Sphalerite
            from Emperius mine, Creede, Mineral Co., Colorado, United States

Excellent crystals of both green and yellow Sphalerite crystals to 3mm. Galena as well as Pyrite are also present.

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