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Sphalerite

This page kindly sponsored by David Mustart
Formula:
ZnS
System:
Isometric
Colour:
Yellow, light to dark ...
Lustre:
Adamantine, Resinous
Hardness:
3½ - 4
Name:
Named in 1847 by Ernst Friedrich Glocker from the Greek σφαλεροζ "sphaleros" = treacherous, in allusion to the ease with which dark varieties were mistaken for galena, but yielded no lead. Originally called blende in 1546 by Georgius Acricola (Georg Bauer). Known by a variety of chemical-based names subsequent to Agricola and before Glocker including "zincum".
Dimorph of:
Sphalerite Group.

Sphalerite, also known as Blende or Zinc Blende, is the major ore of zinc. When pure (with little or no iron) it forms clear crystals with colours ranging from pale yellow (known as Cleiophane) to orange and red shades (known as Ruby Blende), but as iron content increases it forms dark, opaque metallic crystals (known as Marmatite).
Very rare green crystals owe their colour to trace amounts of Co (Henn & Hofmann, 1985; Rager et al., 1996).

Sphalerite may also contain considerable Mn, grading into alabandite. Samples containing up to 0.36 apfu (atoms per formula unit) Mn (21.4 wt.% MnO) have been described by Hurai & Huraiová (2011).

Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Sphalerite.

Classification of Sphalerite

Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
2.CB.05a

2 : SULFIDES and SULFOSALTS (sulfides, selenides, tellurides; arsenides, antimonides, bismuthides; sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites, etc.)
C : Metal Sulfides, M: S = 1: 1 (and similar)
B : With Zn, Fe, Cu, Ag, etc.
2.8.2.1

2 : SULFIDES
8 : AmXp, with m:p = 1:1
3.4.4

3 : Sulphides, Selenides, Tellurides, Arsenides and Bismuthides (except the arsenides, antimonides and bismuthides of Cu, Ag and Au, which are included in Section 1)
4 : Sulphides etc. of Group II metals other than Hg (Mg, Ca, Zn, Cd)
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Physical Properties of Sphalerite

Adamantine, Resinous
Diaphaneity (Transparency):
Transparent, Translucent
Colour:
Yellow, light to dark brown, black, red-brown, colourless, light blue. green
Streak:
Pale yellow to brown.
Hardness (Mohs):
3½ - 4
Hardness (Vickers):
VHN100=208 - 224 kg/mm2
Tenacity:
Brittle
Cleavage:
Perfect
Perfect {011}
Fracture:
Conchoidal
Density:
3.9 - 4.1 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.096 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Crystallography of Sphalerite

Crystal System:
Isometric
Class (H-M):
4 3m - Hextetrahedral
Space Group:
F4 3m
Cell Parameters:
a = 5.406Å
Unit Cell Volume:
V 157.99 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Z:
4
Twinning:
{111}

Crystallographic forms of Sphalerite

Crystal Atlas:
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Sphalerite no.1 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.3 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.9 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.13 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.33 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.46 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.53 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Sphalerite no.162 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
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Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.

Optical Data of Sphalerite

Type:
Isotropic
RI values:
nα = 2.369
Birefringence:
May show strain induced birefringence
Max Birefringence:
δ = 2.369 - Isotropic minerals have no birefringence
Surface Relief:
Moderate

Chemical Properties of Sphalerite

Formula:
ZnS
Essential elements:
All elements listed in formula:
Common Impurities:
Mn,Cd,Hg,In,Tl,Ga,Ge,Sb,Sn,Pb,Ag

Relationship of Sphalerite to other Species

Other Members of Group:
2.CB.05aColoradoiteHgTe
2.CB.05aHawleyiteCdS
2.CB.05aMetacinnabarHgS
2.CB.05cPolhemusite(Zn,Hg)S
2.CB.05bSakuraiite(Cu,Zn,Fe)3(In,Sn)S4
2.CB.05aStilleiteZnSe
2.CB.05aTiemanniteHgSe
2.CB.05UM1998-15-S:CuFeZnCu2Fe3Zn5S10
2.CB.05aRudashevskyite(Fe,Zn)S
2.CB.10aChalcopyriteCuFeS2
2.CB.10aEskeborniteCuFeSe2
2.CB.10aGalliteCuGaS2
2.CB.10bHaycockiteCu4Fe5S8
2.CB.10aLenaiteAgFeS2
2.CB.10bMooihoekiteCu9Fe9S16
2.CB.10bPutoraniteCu9(Fe,Ni)9S16
2.CB.10aRoquesiteCuInS2
2.CB.10bTalnakhiteCu9(Fe,Ni)8S16
2.CB.10aLaforêtiteAgInS2
2.CB.15aČernýiteCu2(Cd,Zn,Fe)SnS4
2.CB.15aFerrokësteriteCu2(Fe,Zn)SnS4
2.CB.15aHocartiteAg2(Fe2+,Zn)SnS4
2.CB.15aIdaiteCu5FeS6
2.CB.15aKësteriteCu2(Zn,Fe)SnS4
2.CB.15aKuramiteCu3SnS4
2.CB.15bMohiteCu2SnS3
2.CB.15aPirquitasiteAg2ZnSnS4
2.CB.15aStanniteCu2(Fe,Zn)SnS4
2.CB.15cStannoiditeCu6+Cu22+(Fe2+,Zn)3Sn2S12
2.CB.15aVelikiteCu2HgSnS4
2.CB.15cUM2006-11-S:CuFeGeZnCu8(Fe,Zn)3Ge2S12 (?)
2.CB.20ChatkaliteCu6FeSn2S8
2.CB.20MawsoniteCu6Fe2SnS8
2.CB.30ColusiteCu12VAs3S16
2.CB.30GermaniteCu13Fe2Ge2S16
2.CB.30GermanocolusiteCu26V2(Ge,As)6S32
2.CB.30NekrasoviteCu26V2(Sn,As,Sb)6S32
2.CB.30StibiocolusiteCu13V4(Sb,Sn,As)3S16
2.CB.30Ovamboite Cu20(Fe,Cu,Zn)6W2Ge6S32
2.CB.30MaikainiteCu20(Fe,Cu)6Mo2Ge6S32
2.CB.35aHemusiteCu6SnMoS8
2.CB.35aKiddcreekiteCu6SnWS8
2.CB.35aPolkovicite(Fe,Pb)3(Ge,Fe)1-xS4
2.CB.35aRenierite(Cu,Zn)11(Ge,As)2Fe4S16
2.CB.35aVincienniteCu7+Cu32+Fe22+Fe23+Sn(As,Sb)S16
2.CB.35aMorozeviczite(Pb,Fe)3Ge1-xS4
2.CB.35bCatamarcaiteCu6GeWS8
2.CB.40LautiteCuAsS
2.CB.45CadmoseliteCdSe
2.CB.45GreenockiteCdS
2.CB.45Wurtzite(Zn,Fe)S
2.CB.45RambergiteMnS
2.CB.45Buseckite(Fe,Zn,Mn)S
2.CB.55aCubaniteCuFe2S3
2.CB.55bIsocubaniteCuFe2S3
2.CB.60PicotpauliteTlFe2S3
2.CB.60RaguiniteTlFeS2
2.CB.65ArgentopyriteAgFe2S3
2.CB.65SternbergiteAgFe2S3
2.CB.70SulvaniteCu3VS4
2.CB.75VulcaniteCuTe
2.CB.80EmpressiteAgTe
2.CB.85MuthmanniteAuAgTe2
3.4.1Niningerite(Mg,Fe2+,Mn2+)S
3.4.2Oldhamite(Ca,Mg)S
3.4.3MátraiteZnS
3.4.5Wurtzite(Zn,Fe)S
3.4.6StilleiteZnSe
3.4.7GreenockiteCdS
3.4.8HawleyiteCdS
3.4.9CadmoseliteCdSe

Other Names for Sphalerite

Name in Other Languages:
Bosnian (Latin Script):Sfalerit
Catalan:Esfalerita
Czech:Sfalerit
Finnish:Sinkkivälke
Hungarian:Szfalerit
Italian:Sfalerite
Japanese:閃亜鉛鉱
Latvian:Sfalerīts
Lithuanian:Sfaleritas
Low Saxon:Sphalerit
Norwegian (Bokmål):Sinkblende
Norwegian (Nynorsk):Sinkblende
Polish:Sfaleryt
Portuguese:Blenda
Romanian:Blendă
Simplified Chinese:闪锌矿
Slovak:Sfalerit
Swedish:Zinkblände
Traditional Chinese:閃鋅礦

Other Information

Health Risks:
No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.

References for Sphalerite

Reference List:
Agricola (1546): 465.

Wallerius (1747): 248.

Bergmann (1782).

Glocker (1847): 17.

Headden, William Parker (1906), Mineralogic notes, III, phosphorescent zinc blendes: Colorado Sci. Soc. Proc.: 8: 167-182.

Brown, J.S. (1936) Supergene sphalerite, galena, and willemite at Balmat, NY. Economic Geology: 31: 331-354.

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.: 210-215.

Smith. F.G. (1955) Structure of zinc-sulfide minerals. American Mineralogist: 40: 658-675.

Rigault G. - (1956) Gallio e Indio nella blenda. Periodico di Mineralogia – Roma pp. 43-78.

Fleet, M.E. (1975a) Thermodynamic properties of (Zn,Fe)S solid solutions at 850°C. American Mineralogist: 60: 466-470.

Fleet, M.E. (1977b) Structural transformations in natural ZnS. American Mineralogist: 62: 540-546.

Fleet, M.E. (1977c) The birefringence-structural state relation in natural zinc sulfides and its application to the schalenblende from Pribram. Canadian Mineralogist: 15: 303-308.

Schaefer, S.C. (1978) Electrochemical determination of the Gibbs energy of formation of sphalerite (ZnS). U.S. Bureau of Mines, Report of Investigation 8301, 16 pp.

Togari, Kenji (1978): Colour of Sphalerite. Jour. Fac. Sci., Hokkaido Univ., Ser. IV, vol. 18, no. 3, Mar., 1978, pp. 283-290.

Acta Crystallographica (1980): A36: 482.

Augustithis, S.S. and Vgenopoulos, A. (1982) On the hawleyite-sphalerite-wurtzite-galena paragenesis from Ragada, Komotini, (Rhodope) North Greece. Special Publication of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits: 2: 413-417.

Schaefer, S.C. and Gokeen, N.A. (1982) Electrochemical determination of the thermodynamic properties of sphalerite, ZnS (beta). High Temperature Science: 15: 225-237.

Henn, U. & Hofmann, C. (1985): Green sphalerite from Zaire. Journal of Gemmology 19, 416-418.

Rager, H., Amthauer, G., Bernroider, M., Schürmann, K. (1996): Color, crystal chemistry, and mineral association of a green sphalerite from Steinperf, Dill syncline, FRG. European Journal of Mineralogy 8, 1191-1198.

Bawden, T.M., et al. (2003): Extreme 34S depletions in ZnS at the Mike gold deposit, Carlin Trend, Nevada: Evidence for bacteriogenic supergene sphalerite. Geology 31, 913-916

Lusk, J. & Calder, B. O. E. (2004): The composition of sphalerite and associated sulfides in reactions of the Cu–Fe–Zn–S, Fe–Zn–S and Cu–Fe–S systems at 1 bar and temperatures between 250 and 535 °C. Chemical Geology, 203, 319-345.

Deore, S. and Navrotsky, A. (2006) Oxide melt solution calorimetry of sulfides: Enthalpy of formation of sphalerite, galena, greenockite, and hawleyite. American Mineralogist: 91: 400-403.

Cook, N. J.; Ciobanu, C. L.; Pring, A.; Skinner, W.; Shimizu, M.; Danyushevsky, L.; Saini-Eidukat, B.; Melcher, F. (2009): Trace and minor elements in sphalerite: A LA-ICPMS study. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 4761-4791.

Hurai, V. & Huraiová, M. (2011): Origin of ferroan alabandite and manganoan sphalerite from the Tisovec skarn, Slovakia. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie - Abhandlungen, 188, 119-134.

Internet Links for Sphalerite

Specimens:
The following Sphalerite specimens are currently listed for sale on minfind.com.

Localities for Sphalerite

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.
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