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6th Dec 2019 23:20 UTCGareth Evans

Shown is a reagent bottle containing electrolytic grade iron (99.99%). Iron in its pure form is not easy to get, as the metal is quickly alloyed with other elements to make a wide variety of steels.

6th Dec 2019 23:22 UTCGareth Evans


Iron is another chemical element that produces a large group of naturally occurring minerals along with an even larger group of synthetic chemical compounds. One of the most important iron compounds is haemoglobin. It is the iron-containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein in the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of almost all vertebrates. Life on earth depends on the ability of this protein to carry oxygen. At the heart of the protein is the chemical element iron.

However, for a star iron is death. Once the star has exhausted all its nuclear fuel, and the core becomes rich in iron the star cannot overcome the force of gravity. The core contracts rapidly to form a neutron star and the star explodes as a supernova. This is the fate for a giant star which before collapse had a total mass of between 10 and 29 solar masses. The explosion releases many chemical elements to the universe including iron. see the Crab nebula above.

The Crab Pulsar (PSR B0531+21) is a relatively young neutron star. The star is the central star in the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the supernova SN 1054, which was widely observed on Earth in the year 1054. Discovered in 1968, the pulsar was the first to be connected with a supernova remnant.

6th Dec 2019 23:24 UTCGareth Evans


Campo del Cielo meteorite, Gran Chaco, Doce de Octubre Department, Chaco Province, Argentina. Dimensions: 100 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm.

This is an Iron meteorite I obtained from a US vendor about 15 years ago. I cleaned it electrolytically, and after 15 years it shows very little rust. I cut it in half using a ‘diamond’ wire saw. I etched the slices using Ferric Chloride to reveal the beautiful Widmanstatten pattern.

6th Dec 2019 23:25 UTCGareth Evans

A pristine and large single crystal of pyrite from Ampliación a Victoria Mine, Navajún, La Rioja, Spain - acquired in 2012. Dimensions: 60 mm x 60 mm x 55 mm.

Ex Noble Collection.

6th Dec 2019 23:26 UTCGareth Evans

A large cabinet specimen of Pyrite on Hematite from the Rio Mine, Rio Marina, Elba Island, Livorno Province, Tuscany, Italy. Dimensions: 120 mm x 100 mm x 80 mm, Largest Crystal Size: 55 mm; Weight: 1700 g

6th Dec 2019 23:51 UTCScott Rider

Gareth, very good write up!!  Iron really is quite an amazing element, the fact it provides us with the ability to live, yet, it causes a star to die (if enough iron is in the core), is quite amazing!! The Rio Mine is one of my favorites for pyrite!!  I have one in my collection that looks almost just like yours.  Got to love the contrasts of hematite and the pyrite!

Honestly, you should see about converting this into one of the articles for MinDat.  I don't know how you'd do that but it deserves to be in that section!!

7th Dec 2019 00:12 UTCGareth Evans

Many thanks for your kind words. I plan to write a few more articles but at my age I work at two speeds – slow and stop!

As collectors of minerals it is easy for us to overlook the fact that although minerals are natures art, the ingredients to produce the art were forged in the bellies of dying stars or from the collision of neutron stars and other astronomical events. For me the chemical elements are a window into the mind of God.

7th Dec 2019 00:13 UTCGareth Evans

Shown above is a small portion of my Ferrocene (500 grams).

Ferrocene is a remarkable stable synthetic organometallic compound consisting of two cyclopentadienyl rings (C5H5-) bound on opposite sides of a central iron atom. It is an orange solid with a camphor-like odour, that sublimes above room temperature, and is soluble in most organic solvents. It is unaffected by air, water, strong bases, and can be heated to 400 °C without decomposition.

I plan to grow very large crystals of this remarkable organometallic compound.

7th Dec 2019 01:21 UTCAlan Pribula

One of the best ways to grow crystals of ferrocene is by sublimation and deposition.  If you spread the ferrocene powder in a thin layer in a petri dish, cover it with the top, and then place it on a hotplate set at a high enough setting, the ferrocene sublimes and re-condenses on the cover in beautiful crystals.  I imagine that you can grow crystals (and maybe even larger ones than by sublimation) from an appropriate organic solvent as well, but sublimation is fast and easy.

7th Dec 2019 02:04 UTCGareth Evans

I am in the process of making a vacuum sublimation unit from borosilicate glass, so I can create some large seed crystals. These crystals will be used to grow the large crystals.

7th Dec 2019 02:29 UTCGareth Evans

The sublimator I plan to make will look something like the above diagram. It will contain a large cold finger into which I can place liquid nitrogen, dry ice or a mixture of ice/salt. I should be able to sublime some very large (~ 2 mm) seed crystals.

7th Dec 2019 02:30 UTCGareth Evans

Another cubic pyrite crystal (50 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm) from the Ampliación a Victoria Mine, Navajún, La Rioja, Spain. It is composed of two intersection pyrite cubes, one clearly dominant. The larger cube is about 40 mm on edge, and the smaller cube about 30 mm on edge.

It is quite profound to think that the iron atoms in the crystals were synthesized in a star that died long before our sun was born!

Here we see the connection very real connection between minerals, metals, cosmology and reality!

7th Dec 2019 14:47 UTCEd Clopton Expert

No mineral discussion of iron is complete without mention of native iron that occurs in the rare cases where a basalt flow contacts a coal deposit or other source of carbon that reduces some of the iron content of the lava to metallic iron.  My photo is a little thumbnail-size slab 22 mm tall acquired in 1993 from David Shannon, who gave the locality as "Huntukunski Massif, Krasnoarski Krai, USSR".  (Can some one confirm that this is the same as the Khungtukun Massif, Malaya Romanikha River, Khatanga, Taimyr Peninsula, Taymyrskiy Autonomous Okrug, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia?)  I won't clutter up the locality page with this photo because a number of far better specimens are already illustrated there, www.mindat.org/gallery.php?loc=20376&min=2047.

7th Dec 2019 19:22 UTCGareth Evans

Shown is a large crystal of Magnetite (90 mm x 80 mm x 70 mm) from the Huanggang Fe-Sn deposit, Hexigten Banner, Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, China. Though the texture is slightly granular, the faces of the crystal have a velvet like lustre that shimmers. As one would expect it is highly magnetic.

7th Dec 2019 21:18 UTCGareth Evans


I took a couple of quick photos of the Ruthenium and Osmium blocks from my periodic table of the chemical elements. The Ruthenium shown weights about 70 grams and the Osmium weighs in at about 35 grams.

Osmium is an absolutely beautiful element, and displays a very warm blue hue. It is the only element in the periodic table that has a blue luster.

Regrettably, there are not many (if any!) collector quality minerals containing Ruthenium and Osmium. The mineralogy of the Iron group is dominated by Iron.

It is said that both Ruthenium and Osmium are formed predominately in colliding neutron stars.

7th Dec 2019 22:18 UTCGareth Evans


The specimen (100 mm x 70 mm x 60 mm) shown above displays parallel and skeletal growths of octahedral hematite pseudomorphs after Magnetite. It is covered by a second generation of small laminar crystals of Hematite. It comes from the Payún volcano, Altiplano de Payún Matru, Malargüe Department, Mendoza Province, Argentina.

The specimen was photographed for the ‘what’s new at Munich 2008’ section of the magazine ‘Mineralien Welt’ and appears on page 16 of number 1/2009.

9th Dec 2019 03:40 UTCGareth Evans

British Hematite

A beautiful botryoidal hematite with an appealing luster from the Goose Green Mine, Frizington, Arlecdon & Frizington, Copeland, Cumbria, England, UK. Dimensions: 80 mm x 60 mm x 60 mm

12th Dec 2019 01:43 UTCGareth Evans

Shown are a few photos including close-ups (FOV 3 mm) of one of my Marcasite specimens from the Bou Nahas Mine, Oumjrane mining area, Alnif, Alnif County, Tinghir Province, Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco

Dimensions: 130 mm x 100 mm x 70 mm

The Marcasite crystals display hints of green, and this feature is not seen in Pyrite specimens from the same locality.

12th Dec 2019 02:11 UTCKeith Compton Manager

Nice British Hematite!

12th Dec 2019 03:17 UTCGareth Evans

Many thanks. Ralph Sutcliffe supplied the piece some years ago. It really has a beautiful luster. 


12th Dec 2019 21:19 UTCGareth Evans

Another of my favourite Iron bearing minerals is Kidney Ore. The specimen shown in the photo above comes from the Florence Mine, Haile, Copeland, Cumbria, England, UK.

Dimensions: 100 mm x 100 mm x 70 mm

Ex – Florence Mine Surveyor 1970
Ex – Ralph Sutcliffe

13th Dec 2019 22:45 UTCGareth Evans

Pyrite on Fluorite

De'an fluorite mine, Wushan, De'an Co., Jiujiang, Jiangxi, China

Dimensions: 160 mm x 80 mm x 40 mm

21st Dec 2019 23:53 UTCGareth Evans

Above is a front and rear shot of a ‘Pyrite Sun’ from Sparta, Illinois, dimensions 12 cm x 12 cm x 0.5 cm. Acquired 20/11/2019.

21st Dec 2019 23:54 UTCGareth Evans

Above is a composite photo (FOV 5 mm) showing that the cubic Pyrite crystals form spokes around the centre of the specimen. In the bottom photo it is clear that the growth occurred as individual layers of Pyrite spokes.

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