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|System:||Isometric||Colour:||Yellow, light to dark ...|
|Lustre:||Adamantine, Resinous||Hardness:||3½ - 4|
|Name:||From Greek "sphaleros", treacherous, in allusion to the ease with which dark varieties were mistaken for galena, but yielded no lead.|
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).
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. Currently in public beta-test.
Classification of Sphalerite
|IMA status:||Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"|
|Strunz 8th edition ID:||2/C.01-10|
|Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:||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.
|Dana 8th edition ID:||184.108.40.206|
2 : SULFIDES
8 : AmXp, with m:p = 1:1
|Hey's CIM Ref.:||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
|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|
|Density (measured):||3.9 - 4.1 g/cm3|
|Density (calculated):||4.096 g/cm3|
Crystallography of Sphalerite
|Class (H-M):||4 3m - Hextetrahedral|
|Space Group:||F4 3m|
|Cell Parameters:||a = 5.406Å|
|Unit Cell Volume:||V 157.99 Å³ (Calculated from Unit Cell)|
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About Crystal AtlasYou may need to scroll this box using your mouse to view the full instructions.
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. You need Java to see these. You can download Java for free - click here to download Java
The 3d models and java code are kindly provided by www.smorf.nl. You can control the movement of the models by holding down the left mouse-button over the 3d model and moving your mouse. Keyboard controls are:
|X-Ray Powder Diffraction:|
Radiation - Copper Kα
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.
Optical Data of Sphalerite
|RI values:||nα = 2.369|
|Birefringence:||May show strain induced birefringence|
|Maximum Birefringence:||δ = 2.369 - Isotropic minerals have no birefringence|
Chemical Properties of Sphalerite
|Essential elements:||S, Zn|
|All elements listed in formula:||S, Zn|
Relationship of Sphalerite to other Species
|Member of:||Sphalerite Group|
|Other Members of Group:|
|Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping):|
|Related Minerals - Hey's Index Grouping:|
Other Names for Sphalerite
|Health Warning:||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
Agricola (1546): 465.
Wallerius (1747): 248.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Togari, Kenji (1978) Colour of Sphalerite. Jour. Fac. Sci., Hokkaido Univ., Ser. IV, vol. 18, no. 3, Mar., 1978, pp. 283-290.
Internet Links for Sphalerite
|Specimens:||The following Sphalerite specimens are currently listed for sale on minfind.com.|
Localities for Sphalerite
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.