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Mercury is officially classed as a mineral species for historical reasons, and also because it is distinctive in its chemical and physical properties. However, because it occurs as a liquid, it does not satisfy the normal criteria to be a valid mineral. It crystallizes at -40 degrees celsius, at which point is forms rhombohedral crystals. It is usually found as small isolated drops associated with cinnabar, but it can also be found as large liquid masses in rock cavities. Mercury is often found, along with cinnabar and other Hg minerals, as a precipitate from hot springs and in volcanic regions. Because of its rarity, it is not often used as an ore of mercury.
Classification of Mercury
|IMA status:||Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"|
|Strunz 8th edition ID:||1/A.02-10|
|Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:||1.AD.05|
1 : ELEMENTS (Metals and intermetallic alloys; metalloids and nonmetals; carbides, silicides, nitrides, phosphides)
A : Metals and Intermetallic Alloys
D : Mercury-amalgam family
|Dana 7th edition ID:||188.8.131.52|
|Dana 8th edition ID:||184.108.40.206|
1 : NATIVE ELEMENTS AND ALLOYS
1 : Metals, other than the Platinum Group
|Hey's CIM Ref.:||1.12|
1 : Elements and Alloys (including the arsenides, antimonides and bismuthides of Cu, Ag and Au)
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Occurrences of Mercury
|Geological Setting:||In low temperature hydrothermal deposits associated with hot springs.|
Physical Properties of Mercury
|Streak:||Could not be powdered|
|Hardness Data:||Could not be measured|
|Density (measured):||13.596 g/cm3|
Crystallography of Mercury
|Class (H-M):||3m (3 2/m) - Hexagonal Scalenohedral|
|Cell Parameters:||a = 3.463Å, c = 6.706Å|
|Ratio:||a:c = 1 : 1.936|
|Unit Cell Volume:||V 69.65 Å³ (Calculated from Unit Cell)|
|Morphology:||liquid globules or spheres|
|X-Ray Powder Diffraction:|
Chemical Properties of Mercury
|All elements listed in formula:||Hg|
|Analytical Data:||Usually pure with a little gold or silver|
Relationship of Mercury to other Species
|Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping):|
|Related Minerals - Hey's Index Grouping:|
Other Names for Mercury
|Fluorescence in UV light:||none|
|Mercury should be coated with a plastic material or placed in a sealed container since the mercury will vaporize over time.|
|Health Warning:||Contains mercury - always wash hands after handling. Avoid inhaling dust of associated rock or matrix when handling or breaking. Never lick or ingest. Vaporizes with toxic vapours, do not inhale vapours and store under cover.|
References for Mercury
Murphy (1931) Journal of the Institute of Metals, London, Proceedings: 46: 507.
Stenbeck (1933) Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie, Hamburg, Leipzig: 214: 16.
Palache, Charles, Harry Berman & Clifford Frondel (1944), The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana Yale University 1837-1892, Volume I: Elements, Sulfides, Sulfosalts, Oxides. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. 7th edition, revised and enlarged, 834pp.: 103.
Acta Crystallographica (1957).
Anthony, J.W., Bideaux, R.A., Bladh, K.W., and Nichols, M.C. (1990) Handbook of Mineralogy, Volume I. Elements, Sulfides, Sulfosalts. Mineral Data Publishing, Tucson, AZ, 588pp.: 323.
Internet Links for Mercury
Localities for Mercury
The map shows a selection of localities that have latitude and longitude coordinates recorded. Click on the symbol to view information about a locality. The symbol next to localities in the list can be used to jump to that position on the map.