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Pyrite with 20+ elements, micro-fossils and more??

Posted by Ken Jones  
Ken Jones June 26, 2012 03:45AM
I have been trying to figure out this rock for almost two years, I have sent samples to the USGS, have posted photos on several websites and have emailed several scientist with a PHD and so far no one can explain this rock or why all this strange stuff is in this rock. The matrix appears to be glued together with what I have been told is amber or some sort of tree sap (according to the USGS). At the microscopic level the rock is littered with micro structures, metallic spheres, colorful grains and I come across two micro fossils which I am told might be conodont elements. The USGS analysis confirmed that the rock was pyrite but the xrf and edx scan confirmed that there was much more to it. I had been told that an electron scan would for sure solve the mystery but instead all they did was deepen the mystery. I tried to post the actual readouts from the scan on here but could not because they are not image files so I have to write in all the elements.
The elements found to make up the items that I sent to the USGS are, carbon, sulfur, iron, quartz, albite, gypsum, titanium, phosphorous and pure aluminum. The xrf scan detected gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, nickel, cobalt, zinc, iron and copper. The edx scan detected sulfur, iron, carbon, oxygen, silicon, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, palladium, aluminium, chromium and pure tungsten. The rock also has this reddish-pink stuff in it that I am told has to be realgar (arsenic). The xrf and the edx scans were not complete scans of the rock, they just scanned a few areas.
The rock stats are as follows:Color-yellow in room light, tin white in sun or bright light, Luster-metallic, Transparency-opaque, Crystal System-isometric and irregular, Crystal Habit-various, Cleveage-indistinct, Fracture-conchoidal to uneven, Hardness-7.5, Specfic Gravity-5.1-5.3 ?, Streak-dark gray to black.
There's a lot more to tell about this rock but I don't want to put anyone to sleep reading this so I will end here. I am posting this to see if anyone out there has ever come across anything like this.
Thank you,
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Ken Jones June 26, 2012 03:59AM
Here are some photos showing the odd shapes of the the crystals with some odd patterns on their faces. It appears that most of the crystals on top of the rock show odd shapes, while the crystals inside of the matrix appear to show typical pyrite shapes. The crystals on the outside are highly reflective while the crystal on the inside of the matrix are not, they are coated with some sort of colorful grainy substance.
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 26, 2012 08:33AM
Looks like a fairly standard piece of pyrite to me, similar to that bought in bulk from Peru.

The additional elements are not surprising - most minerals contain trace amounts of many additional elements.

The growth patterns you see on the piece are quite normal for pyrite too.

Peter Nancarrow June 26, 2012 10:17AM
As Jolyon says, it looks like a very ordinary cluster of pyrite crystals, similar to those which are very abundant in Peru and sold in their thousands at mineral shows for a few dollars.

You list: "carbon, sulfur, iron, quartz, albite, gypsum, titanium, phosphorous and pure aluminum" as being found in the specimen, but don't say what method was used to detect these, or their relative proportions. Also ", nickel, cobalt, zinc, iron and copper. (detected by XRF) and "sulfur, iron, carbon, oxygen, silicon, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, palladium, aluminium, chromium and pure tungsten" detected by EDS.

It really isn't very meaningful to have long lists of elements and minerals found in a specimen without any information as to the "scale of scrutiny" or quantification of the components listed. By that I mean for instance, were the analytical scans done on the whole specimen, on one or two small chips from it, simply by randomly scanning a small area, or pointing the elctron beam at various points? What were the apparent relative proportions of those components at each of the points analysed?

That is an extraordinarily wide-ranging list of components from what looks like a fairly ordinary pyrite specimen, and without the sort of analytical technique information asked for above, or quantification of the data, any interpretation is little more than guesswork, and to be frank, not really worth the effort or expense for such a specimen.

However, as an exercise, here is an example of a few steps one might take to begin to untangle such a chaotic mass of data from a specimen which made such work worthwhile:

1) It is quite obviously and unequivocally a "common pyrite" specimen. Hence expect Fe and S to be by far and away the predominant elements present in any bulk analysis of such a specimen.

2) In your first list, quartz, albite and gypsum are not elements, but minerals, none of which is rare, and all of which commonly occur associated with pyrite. They will account for the Al, Si, O, and Ca, found in the specimen. C, if locally associated with Ca and O, probably represents calcite. If not associated with any element heavier than Na, then it's probaly organic. The K is also likely to be present in feldspar.

3) Regarding the ". . . reddish-pink stuff in it that I am told has to be realgar (arsenic)" There is absolutely no evidence for that. Realgar is certainly not the only red mineral, and none of the analytical scans detected arsenic! -think again.

4) The specimen may have been muddy when found (extraneous mud is a common first source of contamination). Dust from anything else which had previously been in the same bag, box, or wrapping paper used is another common source. Cleaning materials might introduce surface traces P, Cl, or B etc.

5) Consider the fact that it is extremely unlikely to find elements such as gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, chromium and tungsten in such a specimen in anything more that the minutest traces.

6) Ask your analyst(s) for details of the analytical techniques used to gather the data (scale of scrutiny, number of scans etc), and for any information regarding at least semi-quantification (XRD count rates, EDS relative peak heights etc). Given sufficient counting time, modern XRF techniques will find a long list of trace elements in almost any specimen, most of which are very largely irrelevant to the interpretation/identification of a bulk specimen such as this in the absence of knowledge about potential sources of contamination. Unless you can be certain there has been NO contamination of the specimen, eliminate any elements listed as "trace" from further consideration.

7) Review what is left!

Good luck!

Pete N.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 26, 2012 10:22AM
Also, many pyrite specimens that are shipped from peru are packed in washing powder, soap or something similar to prevent damage during transit - and traces of these can really mess up analysis!

Ken Jones June 27, 2012 04:36AM
Thanks for the comments Jolyon and Pete and I do agree that none of this makes any sence at all but all I can do is take what other say and hope for the best with it because I lack the knowledge to argure about anything anyone says. I'm not on here to make ths thing out to be something that it is not, just trying to see if anyone else has ever come across anything like this before. I have several scientist in several countries that want me to mail them this rock to exam mostly because of thte strange stuff found inside that no one can what it is or why the stuff is even in the rock. I have been warned by many long time collectors not to let this thing out of my site until I know for sure as to what it is I'm dealing with. I even posted photos on the website of the National History Museum of London trying to ID some items. I have hundreds of photos of stuff that I'd love for someone to explain to me what it is and how it ended up inside pyrite and most of all, why some of this stuff breaks away so clean looking. I bought two pieces of pyrite, even a piece from Peru to compare notes. I have done acid testing on all three and the result from this rock are a world apart.
I don't want to waste much of your time trying to explain something that I can not, there is so much to this rock that it would be difficult for anyone to understand where I'm comimg from without seeing all that I have seen. I started a blog back in March on this thing in the hopes that someone might come across it and know something about it. Please note that I am not here for attention or to promote a blog but if you'd like to see some of the many photos, I will PM the address to you if you would like to check it out.
Best Regards,
P.S. Pete - I have not had a full scan done on the rock as of yet, just spot checks, the cost for a full scan is out of my reach at the moment but I do plan on having it done.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 27, 2012 10:45AM
I still can't see what your excitement is all about - it's a piece of pyrite - probably from peru - with some gunk in it, possibly a resin, possibly man-made.

You haven't told us anything about the history of this specimen and how it ended up in your hands.
Tim Jokela Jr June 27, 2012 04:33PM
Where is it from?

That any actual collector, with any knowledge, would indicate that this is something of value that you should not let out of your sight, is a little hard to believe. Were they actually experienced mineral collectors, or were they, say, metal detectorists, gold panners, prospectors, or UFOlogists? Or even geologists, or gemologists... they can have lots of letters after their name, but very few actually collect or study minerals to the extent that the maniacal collectors on this forum do.

We can assure you a thousand times that you have a $2 piece of pyrite, but you won't believe us.

There are no micro fossils inside of it, there is nothing unusual about some of it breaking away and looking clean... it is not in fact an alien artifact. I've seen this before, people that are new to the hobby find a piece of slag or mica, and are convinced it's gold or a priceless meteorite, or somebody sends a black rock to a dubious lab and they say it's platinum, or a vaguely round rock is surely a fossil skull.

Not unusual in other fields, eg: antiques; where somebody that has never read a book on antiques digs up an old sideboard from gramma's attic and is positive it's a priceless Louis 14th piece, when in fact it's from IKEA, and the experts explain this on Antiques Roadshow, but you can see that the person will never believe it.

Don't bankrupt yourself getting further useless analytical work done... Put the piece on a shelf and admire it, and if you're really interested, join a local rock club, go to shows, and buy some books. It's a great hobby, and you'll find many strange and wonderful minerals are out there. Start with pyrite, it's a great mineral.
Anonymous User June 27, 2012 05:15PM
Mr. Jones:
Before you asked mindat, has anyone told you that what you have is a typical Peruvian pyrite specimen? The people that you have asked - what do they believe, what do they know, and what agenda might they have?

I'm not an expert. But I'm sure that any given specimen contains (in its substance or as dirt, dust, clay, or packing soap!?!) minute traces of all kinds of strange-sounding elements. Also, I'm sure that the instruments and methods for analysis can produce readings that can be interpreted to indicate that some really exotic element is present in beyond-miniscule amount when it is not.

I have several Peruvian pyrite specimens that look just like yours. I'm sure if I asked the right people (and was willing to pay when necessary), I could get similar results to what you have. That doesn't change the fact that it is a pyrite specimen.

I'm not disparaging your specimen in any way. Pyrite is one of the most collected minerals, and the specimens from Peru are very attractive. Enjoy it for what it is.
Ken Jones June 28, 2012 05:32AM
First of all I'd like to thank Pete for reminding me that the minerals that I listed are not elements so as you can see I am new to this so please bare with me as I try to explain something that I don't have a clue about. I have been reading as much as I can find and talking to anyone that will listen to try and understand all of this. As to where I found the rock, I wish I could remember but I don't, I have about 10 or so rocks that I have picked up throughout my life, most I picked up during my 20 years in the US Navy traveling around the world. A couple I've had since I was about 10 years old and I'm now 52. I just thought it would be nice to finally figure out what some of them were so I picked this one first because I knew it had to be fools gold (pyrite).
I have contacted several high profile people with PHD's on this, even someone from Nasa and most say that if it's not something man made than they simple can not explain it because of all the different metals and the micro structures. All I can do is show some of what I have seen and let the photos speak for themselves. This could be some high school kids science project that got tossed out for all I know, all I wanted to know was, what is this stuff in the rock and where can I go to read about it. I don't care if this is a worthless piece of pyrite, I just would like to know what this stuff is and why it's in what looks like everyday pyrite and so far nooooooo one can explain it. I have been told by a Professor back east that the reason that no one can say what this stuff is, is because maybe this is the first time that human eye have seen this stuff.
I have tons of photos but I can only post three at a time so I will share a few and if anyone has found anything like this in pyrite before, please let me know. The last couple of photos has a blog address where there are several photos of acid test strange results and more. If you can explain any of this, feel free to email me with info.
Thanks All,
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Ken Jones June 28, 2012 05:46AM
Some of this stuff I found after crushing crystals or fragments and some I found when I scraped out of cavities in the rock. I know this is hard to beleive but some of the crystals in the matrix appear to be made of compressed debris which has been coated or plated to look like normal crystals. I may be wrong about all of this but there are photos of some of those crystals in that blog. I can only post three photos at a time on here so it would take some time to get my point across on here but I will try.
In these photos are something that's from one of the hole in the rock where it looked as it there was something melted and splattered on the crystals in the hole. Pyrite from what I've read is not known to melt but will burn, but there was some melted metallic like substance on the crystals. This is something from that area.
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Ken Jones June 28, 2012 05:58AM
The next photos are of just a couple of the strange item I'd love to figure out, the first is what appears to be some sort of wire bundle, I have been told that it is most likely silver and I have also come across tons of wire like things throughout this rock, they are everywhere, inside the crystal, poking out of crystals, just laying within the matrix. I have seen some wire like things in the acid test I've done and they don't seem to be affected by acid or any heat that I can produce. The last two photos are of some sort of ribbon like thing which glows white when backlit, I have even come across what appears to be nano-tubes and even wires and metallic spheres. Once again, if anyone knows where I can read about stuff like this being found in typical pyrite, by all means, email me, I'd love to understand all of this.
Keep in mind that all of this stuff is very microscopic, most can noit be seen with tyhe naked eye, the photos were taken with a digital microscope at 40x-160x. A lot of this stuff will give off a pure white glow when backlit wiht a bright, I can only guess that it is because of the phosphorous that was detected in the rock.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2012 06:16AM by Ken Jones.
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Ken Jones June 28, 2012 06:11AM
The first two photos that look like a tiny tree was something that washed out of that amber like substance. I was told by the USGS that the brown substance was amber or tree sap. I read as much as I could find on amber and found that it would dissolve in alcohol so I gave it a try and soaked a piece. This is just one of many things that washed out of the amber like substance and as you may see, it too has a pure white glow when backlit.
The last photo is of something that I am told could be some sort of micro fossil, it is about 0.5mm long at my best guess. It's one of two that I am told could be conodont elements. I posted photos of both on the Natural History Musuem of London. No one can say for sure what they are and why they are in this rock. I have been told that this rock could very well be a part of earths history that very little is known about.
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Dan R. Lynch June 28, 2012 06:40AM
First, I think it's important that you read up on pyrite and its methods of formation, particularly the Peruvian pyrites, which your specimen greatly resembles. Then, unless you found this specimen yourself, assume that the piece has been cleaned, perhaps repaired (such as with glue or resin, which I am beginning to think is what your "amber" really is), and has been stored, probably in a soft material like cotton (which may account for those weird fibers you photographed). The amount of surface contaminants can be considerable, depending on how the specimen was treated and stored before you came to own it. And, as has been said by others here, minute amounts of trace elements isn't uncommon, especially in a mineral as common as pyrite.

My family owns a rock shop and we constantly have excited rock hounds coming in to show us the "meteorite" they found. These "meteorites" are invariably magnetite. What I'm trying to say is: assume your specimens are something common until proven otherwise -- not the other way around. Most of the little things you've found on this piece seem to merely be organic or other contaminants that certainly did not form with the pyrite, but came later.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 28, 2012 07:09AM
Dan has it 100% correct.
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