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The Mineralogy of Sulfur

General Properties
Atomic Number:16
Standard atomic weight (Ar):32.065(5)
Electron configuration:[Ne] 3s2 3p4
Sulphur - S8
Atomic Properties
Electronegativity (Pauling scale):2.58
Atomic Radius:88 pm
Ionic Radius:184 pm (-2)
Van der Waals Radius:180 pm
1st Ionization energy:1000 kJ/mol
1st Electron affinity:-200 kJ/mol
Oxidation States:-2,-1,1,2,3,4,5,6
Physical Properties
Standard State:solid
Bonding Type:covalent network
Melting Point:388 K
Boiling Point:718 K
Density:1.96 g/cm3
Main isotopes of Sulfur
Isotope% in NatureHalf LifeDecay typeDecay product
Main ions of Sulfur
NameIonExample minerals
sulfideS2-Galena, Sphalerite
disulfideS22-Pyrite, Marcasite
hydrogen sulfate (bisulfate)HSO4-
hydrogen sulfite (bisulfite)HSO3-
sulfateSO42-Gypsum, Baryte, Celestine, Anhydrite
Other Information
Year Discovered:Ancient
Recognised as an element:1777
Recognised By:
Antoine Lavoisier
Named For:from the Latin word sulphurium: "to burn yellow"
CPK color coding:#FFFF30
External Links:WikipediaWebElementsLos Alamos National LaboratoryTheodore Gray's
Simple Compounds
Nitridestetrasulphur tetranitrideS4N4+3
Fluoridessulfur difluorideSF2+2
disufur difluorideFSSF+1
sulfur hexafluorideSF6+6
sulfur tetrafluorideSF4+4
disulfur decafluorideS2F10+5
sulfur difluoride sulphideSSF2+2,+4
Chloridessulfur dichlorideSCl2+2
disulfur dichlorideClSSCl+1
trisulfur dichlorideS3Cl2+1,+2
sulfur tetrachlorideSCl4+4
Iodidesdisulfur diiodideS2I2
Oxidessulfur dioxideSO2+4
sulfur trioxideSO3+6
disulfur oxideS2O+1
disulfur dioxideS2O2+3
Sulfur as a chromophore in minerals and gems
S3-Blue colour of lazurite (according to Platonov et al, 1984)
S2-Yellow hues in lazurite - green tones are a combination of S-3 and S-2.
SO4-Ion radical also proposed as a source of blue coloration in lazurite (Samoilovich)
Mineral Diversity of Sulfur
1. Elements 2 valid mineral species
2. Sulfides And Sulfosalts 485 valid mineral species
3. Halides10 valid mineral species
4. Oxides 14 valid mineral species
5. Carbonates 13 valid mineral species
6. Borates4 valid mineral species
7. Sulfates 347 valid mineral species
8. Phosphates, Arsenates, Vanadates27 valid mineral species
9. Silicates 39 valid mineral species
10. Organic Compounds4 valid mineral species
Total:945 valid species containing essential Sulfur
Geochemistry of Sulfur
Goldschmidt classification:Chalcophile
S6+ is one of the eight most abundant solutes in average river water.
S6+ solute can be a limiting nutrient in the growth of bacteria.
S6+ solute is a macronutrient on land.
S6+ is essential to nutrition of at least some vertebrates ('essential minerals').
S2- forms minerals with Cu+.
S2- forms minerals with Ag+.
Elemental Sulfur in Nature
Found as native element:SulphurS8
Elemental Abundance for Sulfur
Crust (CRC Handbook)3.50 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Kaye & Laby)3.0 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Greenwood)3.40 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Wänke)8.81 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Sea Water (CRC Handbook)9.05 x 10-4mass per volume fraction, kg/L
Sea Water (Kaye & Laby)9.0 x 10-4mass per volume fraction, kg/L
The Sun (Kaye & Laby)4.5 x 10-1atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Kaye & Laby)5.2 x 10-1atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Ahrens)5.15 x 10-1 (13%)atom mole fraction relative to Si=1 (% uncertainty)
Element association of Sulfur in the Mineral World
This table compares the known valid mineral species listed listed with Sulfur and the other elements listed based on the official IMA formula. Note that unlike other sections on this page this includes non-essential elements.

The first data column contains the total number of minerals listed with Sulfur and the element listed for that row.

The second data column lists this number as a percentage of all minerals listed with Sulfur.

The final data column compares this percentage against the percentage of all minerals that contain the element listed in each row.

Click on a heading to sort.
ElementValid Minerals listed with element and Sulfur% of S mineralsRelative to % in all minerals
Oxygen1741 minerals with S and O52.30%32.75% lower
Hydrogen1406 minerals with S and H42.23%22.13% lower
Copper864 minerals with S and Cu25.95%103.74% higher
Iron723 minerals with S and Fe21.72%2.04% higher
Lead718 minerals with S and Pb21.57%117.43% higher
Arsenic503 minerals with S and As15.11%27.16% higher
Antimony476 minerals with S and Sb14.30%199.04% higher
Aluminium446 minerals with S and Al13.40%31.36% lower
Sodium412 minerals with S and Na12.38%33.43% lower
Silver412 minerals with S and Ag12.38%270.95% higher
Bismuth356 minerals with S and Bi10.69%158.36% higher
Calcium328 minerals with S and Ca9.85%58.48% lower
Potassium305 minerals with S and K9.16%0.49% higher
Chlorine232 minerals with S and Cl6.97%3.07% lower
Zinc220 minerals with S and Zn6.61%30.43% higher
Magnesium211 minerals with S and Mg6.34%50.52% lower
Nickel183 minerals with S and Ni5.50%83.40% higher
Silicon177 minerals with S and Si5.32%80.62% lower
Thallium169 minerals with S and Tl5.08%295.20% higher
Mercury134 minerals with S and Hg4.03%127.89% higher
Uranium133 minerals with S and U4.00%20.87% lower
Nitrogen131 minerals with S and N3.94%86.92% higher
Manganese125 minerals with S and Mn3.75%65.04% lower
Carbon124 minerals with S and C3.72%50.64% lower
Tin117 minerals with S and Sn3.51%103.08% higher
Fluorine102 minerals with S and F3.06%59.50% lower
Tellurium88 minerals with S and Te2.64%13.35% lower
Cobalt72 minerals with S and Co2.16%73.18% higher
Selenium71 minerals with S and Se2.13%6.61% lower
Phosphorus71 minerals with S and P2.13%81.26% lower
Germanium61 minerals with S and Ge1.83%211.23% higher
Vanadium55 minerals with S and V1.65%62.05% lower
Cadmium51 minerals with S and Cd1.53%218.03% higher
Chromium49 minerals with S and Cr1.47%14.95% lower
Platinum42 minerals with S and Pt1.26%102.04% higher
Rhodium36 minerals with S and Rh1.08%256.55% higher
Iridium33 minerals with S and Ir0.99%177.81% higher
Molybdenum33 minerals with S and Mo0.99%18.29% lower
Barium33 minerals with S and Ba0.99%77.69% lower
Indium27 minerals with S and In0.81%224.71% higher
Gold26 minerals with S and Au0.78%32.65% higher
Boron26 minerals with S and B0.78%84.53% lower
Palladium24 minerals with S and Pd0.72%43.09% lower
Yttrium22 minerals with S and Y0.66%71.51% lower
Iodine21 minerals with S and I0.63%17.86% higher
Strontium18 minerals with S and Sr0.54%78.20% lower
Titanium16 minerals with S and Ti0.48%92.78% lower
Tungsten15 minerals with S and W0.45%43.88% lower
Bromine13 minerals with S and Br0.39%45.92% higher
Cerium13 minerals with S and Ce0.39%86.32% lower
Niobium12 minerals with S and Nb0.36%87.45% lower
Ruthenium12 minerals with S and Ru0.36%68.37% higher
Gallium11 minerals with S and Ga0.33%164.58% higher
Osmium9 minerals with S and Os0.27%89.41% higher
Beryllium9 minerals with S and Be0.27%87.48% lower
Caesium8 minerals with S and Cs0.24%46.12% lower
Rhenium6 minerals with S and Re0.18%405.11% higher
Neodymium6 minerals with S and Nd0.18%68.43% lower
Zirconium3 minerals with S and Zr0.09%95.96% lower
Lanthanum3 minerals with S and La0.09%91.85% lower
Gadolinium1 mineral with S and Gd0.03%68.37% higher
Dysprosium1 mineral with S and Dy0.03%15.82% lower
Thorium1 mineral with S and Th0.03%95.68% lower
Periodic Table
1H 2He
3Li 4Be 5B 6C 7N 8O 9F 10Ne
11Na 12Mg 13Al 14Si 15P 16S 17Cl 18Ar
19K 20Ca 21Sc 22Ti 23V 24Cr 25Mn 26Fe 27Co 28Ni 29Cu 30Zn 31Ga 32Ge 33As 34Se 35Br 36Kr
37Rb 38Sr 39Y 40Zr 41Nb 42Mo 43Tc 44Ru 45Rh 46Pd 47Ag 48Cd 49In 50Sn 51Sb 52Te 53I 54Xe
55Cs 56Ba 57La 72Hf 73Ta 74W 75Re 76Os 77Ir 78Pt 79Au 80Hg 81Tl 82Pb 83Bi 84Po 85At 86Rn
87Fr 88Ra 89Ac 104Rd 105Db 106Sg 107Bh 108Hs 109Mt 110Ds 111Rg 112Cn 113Nh 114Fl 115Mc 116Lv 117Ts 118Og
58Ce 59Pr 60Nd 61Pm 62Sm 63Eu 64Gd 65Tb 66Dy 67Ho 68Er 69Tm 70Yb 71Lu
90Th 91Pa 92U 93Np 94Pu 95Am 96Cm 97Bk 98Cf 99Es 100Fm 101Md 102No 103Lr
Default Categories CPK Electronegativity Atomic Radius Lowest Oxidation Highest Oxidation Crustal Abundance Goldschmidt Mineral Species Minerals with S Relative Frequency
Phosphorus << Sulfur >> Chlorine

Most widespread minerals containing Sulfur
This list of minerals containing Sulfur is built from the locality database. This is based on the number of localities entered for mineral species and is therefore slanted towards minerals interesting to collectors with less coverage of common rock-forming-minerals so it does not give an undistorted distribution of Sulfur mineral species. It is more useful when comparing rare species rather than common species.
NameFormulaCrystal SystemMindat Localities

Localities with greatest number of different Sulfur mineral species
map should go here
2Clara Mine, Oberwolfach, Ortenaukreis, Freiburg Region, Baden-Württemberg, Germany108 S minerals
3Lengenbach Quarry, Fäld, Binn, Goms, Valais, Switzerland101 S minerals
5Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona, USA94 S minerals
7Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia91 S minerals
8Jáchymov, Karlovy Vary District, Karlovy Vary Region, Czech Republic88 S minerals

Important ores of Sulfur
Most sulphur is produced by desulfurization of petroleum products and cleaning of sulfur from smelting smokestack, but some sulfur is produced from roasting pyrite FeS2 and native sulphur is still mined in some parts of the world.
NameFormulaCrystal System

Spotted a mistake/omission? - These pages are a work in progress, so please send all comments/corrections to Thank you.

Constants and physical property data from:

David R. Lide (ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Edition. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida (2005).
Kaye and Laby Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants (2005). Section 3.1.3, Abundances of the elements
A. Earnshaw, N. Greenwood, Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, (1997)
Thomas J. Ahrens (ed.), Global Earth Physics : A Handbook of Physical Constants, American Geophysical Union (1995)
L.B. Railsback, An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions : Geology 31:9 p737-740 (2003)
Emsley, J. Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. New York: Oxford University Press (2001)
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