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Pyrite

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Formula:
FeS
 
2
System:IsometricColour:Pale brass-yellow
Hardness:6 - 6½
Member of:Pyrite Group
Name:Named in antiquity from the Greek "pyr" for "fire", because sparks flew from it when hit with another mineral or metal. Known to Dioscorides (~50 CE) as περι υληζ ιατρικηζ and include both pyrite and chalcopyrite.


Pyrite Group.

Pyrite is a very common mineral, found in a wide variety of geological formations from sedimentary deposits to hydrothermal veins and as a constituent of metamorphic rocks. The brassy-yellow metallic colour of pyrite has in many cases lead to people mistaking it for Gold, hence the common nickname 'Fool's gold'. Pyrite is quite easy to distinguish from gold: pyrite is much lighter, but harder than gold and cannot be scratched with a fingernail or pocket knife.

Pyrite is commonly found to contain minor nickel, and forms a series with Vaesite; Bravoite is a nickeloan variety of pyrite.
It usually contains minor cobalt too, and forms a series with Cattierite. Many pyrites contain minor As, see Arsenian Pyrite. Pb-bearing pyrite has been described by Cabral et al. (2011). It can also contain traces of other metals, including gold.


Pyrite cubes in limestone, Navajún, Spain

Pyrite dodecahedron, also known as "pyritohedron", Elba, Italy

Pyrite octahedra, Huánuco, Peru

Pyrite "Iron Cross" twin, Lemgo, Germany

Pyrite dollar, Sparta, Illinois

Pyritized ammonite, Aveyron, France

Pyrite concretion, Pilbara, Australia

Elongated pyrite crystals, Lucca, Italy



Decomposed pyrite concretion

Pyrite will slowly oxidize in a moist environment, and release sulfuric acid that is formed during the process. Well crystallized specimens are generally relatively stable, while pyrite formed as sedimentary concretions has a tendency to decompose quickly.




Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Pyrite. Currently in public beta-test.

Classification of Pyrite

IMA status:Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
Strunz 8th edition ID:2/D.17-30
Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:2.EB.05a

2 : SULFIDES and SULFOSALTS (sulfides, selenides, tellurides; arsenides, antimonides, bismuthides; sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites, etc.)
E : Metal Sulfides, M: S <= 1:2
B : M:S = 1:2, with Fe, Co, Ni, PGE, etc.
Dana 7th edition ID:2.12.1.1
Dana 8th edition ID:2.12.1.1

2 : SULFIDES
12 : AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:2
Hey's CIM Ref.:3.9.3

3 : Sulphides, Selenides, Tellurides, Arsenides and Bismuthides (except the arsenides, antimonides and bismuthides of Cu, Ag and Au, which are included in Section 1)
9 : Sulphides etc. of Fe
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Occurrences of Pyrite

Geological Setting:Common in many rock types, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

Physical Properties of Pyrite

Lustre:Metallic
Diaphaneity (Transparency):Opaque
Colour:Pale brass-yellow
Streak:Greenish-black
Hardness (Mohs):6 - 6½
Hardness (Vickers):VHN100=1505 - 1520 kg/mm2
Hardness Data:Measured
Tenacity:Brittle
Cleavage:Poor/Indistinct
Indistinct on {001}.
Fracture:Irregular/Uneven, Conchoidal
Density (measured):4.8 - 5 g/cm3
Density (calculated):5.01 g/cm3

Crystallography of Pyrite

Crystal System:Isometric
Class (H-M):m3 (2/m 3) - Diploidal
Space Group:Pa3
Cell Parameters:a = 5.417Å
Unit Cell Volume:V 158.96 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Z:4
Morphology:Typically cubic or pyritohedral (pentagonal dodecahedral), and combinations are common, resulting in striated faces. Less frequently octahedral, most commonly massive, granular, and sometimes radiating, reniform, discoidal or globular.
Twinning:On [110], interpenetrating ('Iron Cross Law'). Twin axis [001] and twin plane {011}, penetration and contact twins. Twinning on (111) was described by Nicol (1904), Goldschmidt and Nicol (1904) and Gaubert (1928), all of whom considered it rare.
Crystal Atlas:
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Pyrite no.1 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.2 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.3 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.7 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.8 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.14 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.59 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.86 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.92 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.251 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Pyrite no.565 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)

About Crystal Atlas

The mindat.org Crystal Atlas allows you to view a selection of crystal drawings of real and idealised crystal forms for this mineral and, in certain cases, 3d rotating crystal objects. The 3d models and HTML5 code are kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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Epitaxial Relationships of Pyrite

Epitaxial Minerals:
Marcasite
FeS
 
2
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
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Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Horizontal Axis: ° to ° Vertical Axis: % Source Data: Filtered Data:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
d-spacingIntensity
3.13(40)
2.71(90)
2.43(70)
2.21(50)
1.92(40)
1.63(100)
1.45(30)
1.04(30)

Optical Data of Pyrite

Type:Isotropic

Chemical Properties of Pyrite

Formula:
FeS
 
2
Simplified for copy/paste:FeS2
Essential elements:Fe, S
All elements listed in formula:Fe, S
Common Impurities:Ni,Co,As,Cu,Zn,Ag,Au,Tl,Se,V

Relationship of Pyrite to other Species

Series:Forms a series with Cattierite (see here)
Member of:Pyrite Group
Other Members of Group:

- +
Aurostibite
AuSb
 
2
Cattierite
CoS
 
2
Dzharkenite
FeSe
 
2
Erlichmanite
OsS
 
2
Fukuchilite
Cu
 
3
FeS
 
8
Gaotaiite
Ir
 
3
Te
 
8
Geversite
PtSb
 
2
Hauerite
MnS
 
2
Insizwaite
Pt(Bi,Sb)
 
2
Krut'aite
CuSe
 
2
Laurite
RuS
 
2
Penroseite
(Ni,Co,Cu)Se
 
2
Sperrylite
PtAs
 
2
Trogtalite
CoSe
 
2
Vaesite
NiS
 
2
Villamaninite
(Cu,Ni,Co,Fe)S
 
2
Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping):

- +
2.EB.05aAurostibite
AuSb
 
2
2.EB.05bBambollaite
Cu(Se,Te)
 
2
2.EB.05aCattierite
CoS
 
2
2.EB.05aErlichmanite
OsS
 
2
2.EB.05aFukuchilite
Cu
 
3
FeS
 
8
2.EB.05aGeversite
PtSb
 
2
2.EB.05aHauerite
MnS
 
2
2.EB.05aInsizwaite
Pt(Bi,Sb)
 
2
2.EB.05aKrut'aite
CuSe
 
2
2.EB.05aLaurite
RuS
 
2
2.EB.05aPenroseite
(Ni,Co,Cu)Se
 
2
2.EB.05aSperrylite
PtAs
 
2
2.EB.05aTrogtalite
CoSe
 
2
2.EB.05aVaesite
NiS
 
2
2.EB.05aVillamaninite
(Cu,Ni,Co,Fe)S
 
2
2.EB.05aDzharkenite
FeSe
 
2
2.EB.05aGaotaiite
Ir
 
3
Te
 
8
2.EB.10bAlloclasite
Co
 
1-x
Fe
 
x
AsS
2.EB.10dCostibite
CoSbS
2.EB.10aFerroselite
FeSe
 
2
2.EB.10aFrohbergite
FeTe
 
2
2.EB.10cGlaucodot
(Co
 
0.50
Fe
 
0.50
)AsS
2.EB.10aKullerudite
NiSe
 
2
2.EB.10aMarcasite
FeS
 
2
2.EB.10aMattagamite
CoTe
 
2
2.EB.10eParacostibite
CoSbS
2.EB.10ePararammelsbergite
NiAs
 
2
2.EB.10fOenite
CoSbAs
2.EB.15aAnduoite
(Ru,Os)As
 
2
2.EB.15aClinosafflorite
CoAs
 
2
2.EB.15aLöllingite
FeAs
 
2
2.EB.15aNisbite
NiSb
 
2
2.EB.15aOmeiite
(Os,Ru)As
 
2
2.EB.15cPaxite
CuAs
 
2
2.EB.15aRammelsbergite
NiAs
 
2
2.EB.15aSafflorite
CoAs
 
2
2.EB.15bSeinäjokite
(Fe,Ni)(Sb,As)
 
2
2.EB.20Arsenopyrite
FeAsS
2.EB.20Gudmundite
FeSbS
2.EB.20Osarsite
(Os,Ru)AsS
2.EB.20Ruarsite
(Ru,Os)AsS
2.EB.25Cobaltite
CoAsS
2.EB.25Gersdorffite
NiAsS
2.EB.25Hollingworthite
(Rh,Pt,Pd)AsS
2.EB.25Irarsite
(Ir,Ru,Rh,Pt)AsS
2.EB.25Jolliffeite
NiAsSe
2.EB.25Krutovite
NiAs
 
2
2.EB.25Maslovite
PtBiTe
2.EB.25Michenerite
PdBiTe
2.EB.25Padmaite
PdBiSe
2.EB.25Platarsite
PtAsS
2.EB.25Testibiopalladite
PdTe(Sb,Te)
2.EB.25Tolovkite
IrSbS
2.EB.25Ullmannite
NiSbS
2.EB.25Willyamite
(Co,Ni)SbS
2.EB.25Changchengite
IrBiS
2.EB.25Mayingite
IrBiTe
2.EB.25Hollingsworthite
2.EB.25Kalungaite
PdAsSe
2.EB.25Milotaite
PdSbSe
2.EB.30Urvantsevite
Pd(Bi,Pb)
 
2
2.EB.35Rheniite
ReS
 
2
Related Minerals - Hey's Index Grouping:

- +
3.9.1Pyrrhotite
Fe
 
1-x
S (x = 0 to 0.17)
3.9.4Marcasite
FeS
 
2
3.9.5Greigite
Fe
2+
 
Fe
3+
2
S
 
4
3.9.6Mackinawite
(Fe,Ni)
 
9
S
 
8
3.9.7Smythite
(Fe,Ni)
 
3+x
S
 
4
(x=0-0.3)
3.9.8Achavalite
(Fe,Cu)Se
3.9.9Ferroselite
FeSe
 
2
3.9.10Frohbergite
FeTe
 
2
3.9.11Löllingite
FeAs
 
2
3.9.12Arsenopyrite
FeAsS
3.9.13Gudmundite
FeSbS
Related Minerals - Dana Grouping):

- +
2.12.1.0Pyrite Group
AX
 
2

Other Names for Pyrite

Synonyms:
Alpine DiamondBrass BallsCopperas StoneIron PyritesKaltschedan
LebereisenerLebereisenerzLeber pyritesMarcasitesMundic
PyritesSideropyriteSvovl KisVitriolkiesXanthopyrites
Other Languages:
Basque:Pirita
Bosnian (Latin Script):Pirit
Catalan:Pirita
Czech:Pyrit
Danish:Pyrit
Dutch:Pyriet
Esperanto:Pirito
Estonian:Püriit
Finnish:Rikkikiisu
French:Pyrite
Galician:Pirita
German:Pyrit
Eisenkies
Hexaedrischer Eisenkies
Schwefelkies
Sideropyrit
Greek:Σπίνος
Hebrew:פיריט
Hungarian:Pirit
Italian:Pirite
Japanese:黄鉄鉱
Lithuanian:Piritas
Norwegian (Bokmål):Svovelkis
Vasskis
Norwegian (Nynorsk):Svovelkis
Polish:Piryt
Portuguese:Pirita
Romanian:Pirită
Russian:Пирит
Sicilian:Petra fucali
Simplified Chinese:黄铁矿
Slovak:Pyrit
Slovenian:Pirit
Spanish:Pirita
Pyrita
Sideropyrita
Swedish:Pyrit
Svavelkis
Traditional Chinese:黃鐵礦
Turkish:Pirit
Ukrainian:Пірит
Varieties:
Arsenian PyriteAuriferous PyriteBravoiteCayeuxiteCobalt-nickel-pyrite (of Vernadsky)
Cobaltoan PyriteCupriferous PyriteGelpyritHengleiniteNickelian Pyrite
Thallian Arsenian Pyrite

Other Information

Special Storage/
Display Requirements:
Many pyrites will tarnish over time, and some will even break down due to hydrous iron sulphates and other phases. This can be mitigated somewhat by storage in low-humidity environments, but is hard to stop once started. See: http://www.mindat.org/mesg-19-170458.html
Special Storage/
Display Requirements from:
Porphyry quarry,..., Rebecq, Walloon Brabant Province, BelgiumCrystals quickly decay when exposed to moisture in the air.
Health Warning:Some fine-grained pyrite is metastable and may alter to melanterite, which contains sulphuric acid. Always wash hands after handling, especially decrepitated material. Avoid inhaling dust when handling or breaking. Never lick or ingest.

References for Pyrite

Reference List:

- +
Goldschmidt, V. and Nicol, W. (1904) Spinellgesetz beim Pyrit und über Rangordnung der Zwillingsgesetze. Neues Jahrb. Mineral. 2, 93-113.

Nicol, W. (1904) Spinel twins of pyrite. Amer. J. Sci. 167, 93.

Gaubert, P. (1928) Sur un cristal de pyrite, maclé suivant la loi des spinelles. Bull. Soc. Fr. Minéral., 51, 211-212.

Onorato E. (1931) Determinazione delle forme dirette ed inverse nella pirite. Periodico di Mineralogia – Roma pp. 13-16.

Grillo E. – (1932) Distinzione tra pirite e marcasite con H2O2. Periodico di Mineralogia – Roma pp. 84-86.

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: 282-290.

Love, L.G. and Amstutz, G.C. (1966) Framboidal pyrite in two andesites. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Monatshefte: 3: 97-108.

Love, L.G. (1971) Early diagenetic polyframboidal pyrite, primary and redeposited, from the Wenlockian Denbigh Grit Group, Conway, North Wales, U.K. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology: 41: 1038-1044.

Berner, R.A. (1970) Sedimentary pyrite formation. American Journal of Science: 268: 1-23.

Yund, R.A. & H.T. Hall (1970) Kinetics and mechanism of pyrite exsolution from pyrrhotite: Journal of Petrology: 11: 381-404.

Sweeney, R.E. and Kaplan, I.R. (1973) Pyrite framboid formation: laboratory synthesis and marine sediments. Economic Geology: 68: 618-634.

Fleet, M.E. (1975) Structural chemistry of marcasite and pyrite type phases. Zeitschrift für Kristallographie: 142: 332-346.

American Mineralogist (1977) 62: 1168-1172.

Ostwald, J. and England, B.M. (1979) The relationship between euhedral and framboidal pyrite in base metal sulfide ores. Mineral Magmatic: 43: 297-300.

Raiswell, R. (1982) Pyrite texture, isotopic composition and availabilities of Fe. American Journal of Science: 282: 1244-1263.

American Mineralogist (1989) 74: 1168.

Schoonen, M.A.A. and Barnes, H.L. (1991a) Reaction forming pyrite and marcasite from solution I. Nucleation of FeS2 below 100° C. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 55: 1495-1504.

Schoonen, M.A.A. and Barnes, H.L. (1991b) Reaction forming pyrite and marcasite from solution II. Via FeS precursors below 100° C. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 55: 1505-1514.

Extra Lapis No. 11, Pyrite (1996).

Wilkin, R.T. and Barnes, H.L. (1996) Pyrite formation by reactions of iron monosulfides with dissolved inorganic and organic sulfur species. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 60: 4167-4179.

Wilkin, R.T., Barnes, H.L., and Brantly, S.L. (1996) The size distribution of framboidal pyrite: an indicator of redox conditions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 60: 3897-3912.

Fleet, M.E. and Mumin, A.H. (1997) Gold-bearing arsenian pyrite and marcasite and arsenopyrite from Carlin Trend gold deposits and laboratory synthesis. American Mineralogist: 82: 182-193.

Gaines, Richard V., H. Catherine, W. Skinner, Eugene E. Foord, Brian Mason, Abraham Rosenzweig (1997), Dana's New Mineralogy : The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana: 114.

Wilkin, R.T. and Barnes, H.L. (1997) Formation processes of framboidal pyrite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 61: 323-339.

Nesbitt, H.W., Bancroft, G.M., Pratt, A.R., and Scaini, M.J. (1998) Sulfur and iron surface states on fractured pyrite surfaces. American Mineralogist: 83: 1067-1076.

Schaufuss, A.G., Nesbitt, H.W., Kartio, I., Laajalehto, K., Bancroft, G.M., and Szargan, R. (1998a) Reactivity of surface chemical states on fractured pyrite. Surface Sci.: 411: 321-328.

Schaufuss, A.G., Nesbitt, H.W., Kartio, I., Laajalehto, K., Bancroft, G.M., and Szargan, R. (1998b) Incipient oxidation of fractured pyrite surface in air. Journal Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena: 96: 69-82.

Nesbitt, H.W., Scaini, M., Höchst, H., Bancroft, G.M., Schaufuss, A.G., and Szargan, R. (2000) Synchrotron XPS evidence for Fe 2+S and Fe 3+S surface species on pyrite fracture-surfaces, and their 3D electronic states. American Mineralogist: 85: 850-857.

Uhlig, I., Szargan, R., Nesbitt, H.W., and Laajalehto, K. (2001) Surface states and reactivity of pyrite and marcasite. Appl. Surf. Sci.: 179: 223-230.

Abraitis, P.K., Pattrick, R.A.D. & Vaughan, D.J. (2004) Variations in the compositional, textural and electrical properties of natural pyrite: a review. International Journal of Mineralogy Process: 74: 41–59.

Chouinard, A., Paquette, J. & Williams-Jones, A.E. (2005) Crystallographic controls on trace-element incorporation in auriferous pyrite from the Pascua epithermal high-sulfidation deposit, Chile-Argentina. Canadian Mineralogist: 43: 951–963.

Paktunic, D. (2005) Speciation of arsenic in pyrite (FeS2) by micro-XAFS. Advanced Photon Source, User Activity Report.

Blanchard, M., Alfredsson, M., Brodholt, J., Wright, K. & Catlow, C.R.A. (2007) Arsenic incorporation into FeS2 pyrite and its influence on dissolution: A DFT study. Geochem. Cosmochem. Acta: 71: 624-630.

Cabral, A.R.; Beaudoin, G.; Munnik, F. (2011) Lead in diagenetic pyrite: evidence for Pb-tolerant bacteria in a red-bed Cu deposit, Quebec Appalachians, Canada. Mineral. Mag. 75, 295-302.

Mindat.org articles about Pyrite

Article entries:
Ravneberget, Søndeled, Norway- Under constructionOlav Revheim
BiographyHasan Abbasi

Best Localities for Pyrite

Best of Species:Pyrite

Internet Links for Pyrite

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    Localities for Pyrite

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