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Black, lead gray, or gray
1 - 1½
Specific Gravity:
4.62 - 4.73
Crystal System:
Variations of the name molybdaena and molybdenite were used for lead ores by Dioscorides (50-70 CE), Pliny the Elder (79 CE), and Agricola (1556), but the modern use of molybdenite did not begin until Johan Gottschalk Wallerius wrote about molybdenite in Mineralogia, eller Mineralriket published in 1747. There was still a multiplicity of minerals receiving the same name, but modern molybdenite and graphite were the most common minerals given this name. The element molybdenum was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1778 and he provided molybdenite to Peter Jacob Hjelm who was able to isolate molybdenum in 1781. Scheele showed that molybdenite, in the modern sense, was soluble in acid, while graphite was not. From the Greek μόλυβδοζ meaning "lead", but a name having a new usage unlike that of former times.
Molybdenite is the most important ore of the metal molybdenum. Molybdenite is currently being researched as a possible replacement semiconductor for silicon in transistors in electronic chips.

Two polytypes are known: molybdenite-2H (very common) and molybdenite-3R (rare).

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Classification of MolybdeniteHide

Approved, 'Grandfathered' (first described prior to 1959)

2 : SULFIDES and SULFOSALTS (sulfides, selenides, tellurides; arsenides, antimonides, bismuthides; sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites, etc.)
E : Metal Sulfides, M: S <= 1:2
A : M:S = 1:2 - With Cu, Ag, Au
Dana 7th ed.:

12 : AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:2

3 : Sulphides, Selenides, Tellurides, Arsenides and Bismuthides (except the arsenides, antimonides and bismuthides of Cu, Ag and Au, which are included in Section 1)
8 : Sulphides etc. of Cr, Mo, W an Mn

Physical Properties of MolybdeniteHide

Black, lead gray, or gray
Pale yellow to deepish reddish brown in transmitted light
Bluish gray
1 - 1½ on Mohs scale
Perfect on {0001}
4.62 - 4.73 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.998 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Optical Data of MolybdeniteHide

Very strong

Chemical Properties of MolybdeniteHide

CAS Registry number:

CAS Registry numbers are published by the American Chemical Society

Age informationHide

Age range:
Mesoarchean to Quaternary : 2910 Ma to Ma - based on data given below.
Sample ages:
Sample IDRecorded ageGeologic TimeDating method
233.9 to 32.7 MaOligoceneRe-Os
352.9 to 52.3 MaEoceneRe-Os
461.7 to 52.5 MaPaleogeneRe-Os
574.49 ± 0.28 MaLate CretaceousRe-Os
683.38 ± 0.4 MaLate CretaceousRe-Os
792.54 to 91.93 MaLate CretaceousRe-Os
8139 ± 3 MaEarly CretaceousRe-Os
9145.65 to 144.55 MaMesozoicRe-Os
10153.8 to 152.8 MaJurassicRe-Os, U-Pb
11208 MaLate TriassicRe-Os
12240.6 ± 0.6 MaMiddle TriassicRe-Os
13307 to 305 MaPennsylvanianRe-Os
14342.9 ± 1.4 MaMississippianRe-Os
15462 ± 17 MaMiddle OrdovicianRe-Os
16528 to 464 MaPaleozoicRe-Os
171010 to 1002 MaStenianRe-Os
182051 ± 236 MaRhyacianRe-Os
192538 ± 477 MaNeoarcheanRe-Os
202692 to 2674 MaNeoarcheanRe-Os
212910 to 2730 MaArcheanRe-Os
Sample references:
1Pucher Shaft, Wolfgang Maaßen Mine field, Schneeberg District, Erzgebirge, Saxony, GermanyRomer, R.L., Thomas, R., Stein, H.J., Rhede, D. (2007) Dating multiply overprinted Sn-mineralized granites—examples from the Erzgebirge, Germany. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 42, pp. 337-359.
2Xifanping Cu-Au deposit, Yanyuan Co., Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, ChinaHou, Z., Zeng, P., Gao, Y., Du, A., and Fu, D. (2006) Himalayan Cu–Mo–Au mineralization in the eastern Indo–Asian collision zone: constraints from Re–Os dating of molybdenite. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 41, pp. 33-45.
3Tameapa Mine, Tameapa, Mun. de Badiraguato, Sinaloa, MexicoBarra, F., Ruiz, J., Valencia, V.A., Ochoa-Landín, L., Chesley, J.T., and Zurcher, L. (2005) Laramide Porphyry Cu-Mo Mineralization in Northern Mexico: Age Constraints from Re-Os Geochronology in Molybdenite. Economic Geology, Vol. 100, pp. 1605-1616.
4Seikyu mine, Daito, Unnan City, Shimane Prefecture, Chugoku region, Honshu Island, JapanSuzuki, K., Shimizu, H., and Masuda, A. (1996) Re-Os dating of molybdenites from ore deposits in Japan: Implication for the closure temperature of the Re-Os system for molybdenite and the cooling history of molybdenum ore deposits. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 60, No. 16, pp. 3151-3159.
5Zappa/Koffee occurrence, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, CanadaSelby, D., & Creaser, R. A. (2001). Late and mid-Cretaceous mineralization in the northern Canadian Cordillera: Constraints from Re-Os molybdenite dates. Economic Geology, 96(6), 1461-1467.
6Majdanpek Mine, Bor-Majdanpek mining district, Bor District, SerbiaZimmerman, A., Stein, H.J., Hannah, J.L., Koželj, D., Bogdanov, K., and Berza, T. (2008) Tectonic configuration of the Apuseni–Banat–Timok–Srednogorie belt, Balkans-South Carpathians, constrained by high precision Re–Os molybdenite ages. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 43, pp. 1-21.
7Elatsite Mine, Zlatitsa, Zlatitsa Obshtina, Sofiya Oblast, Bulgaria  "  "
8Jinduicheng Mine, Hua Co., Weinan Prefecture, Shaanxi Province, ChinaMao J, Zhang Z, Zhang Z, Du A (1999) Re-Os isotopic dating of molybdenites in the Xiaoliugou W (Mo) deposit in the northern Qilian mountains and its geological significance, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 63, 1815-1818 
9Endako mine, Francois Lake, Omenica Mining Division, British Columbia, CanadaSelby, D. and Creaser, R.A. (2001) Re-Os Geochronology and Systematics in Molybdenite from the Endako Porphyry Molybdenum Deposit, British Columbia, Canada. Economic Geology, Vol. 96, pp. 197-204.
10Panantza prospect, Pangui District, Zamora-Chinchipe Province, EcuadorChiaradia, M., Vallance, J., Fontboté, L., Stein, H., Schaltegger, U., Coder, J., Richards, J., Villeneuve, M., and Gendall, I. (2009) U-Pb, Re–Os, and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of the Nambija Au-skarn and Pangui porphyry Cu deposits, Ecuador: implications for the Jurassic metallogenic belt of the Northern Andes. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 44, pp. 371-387.
11Koktokay pegmatite field, Fuyun Co., Aletai Prefecture, Yili Hasake Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, ChinaLi J., Zou T., Liu X., Wang D. and Ding X. (2015). The Metallogenetic Regularities of Lithium Deposits in China. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition), 89(2), 652-670.
12Erdenet Mine, Erdenet, Orhon Aimag, MongoliaHan C, Xiao W, Zhao G, Sun M, Qu W, Du A (2014): Re-Os geochronology on molybdenites from the Donggebi Mo Deposit in the Eastern Tianshan of the Central Asia Orogenic Belt and its geological significance. Resource Geology 64 (2) 136-148.
13Paszowice, Jawor District, Strzegom-Sobótka Massif, Lower Silesia, PolandMikulski, S.Z. and Stein, H.J. (2007) Re-Os age for molybdenite from the West Sudetes, SW Poland. Granitoids in Poland, Archivum Mineralogiae Monograph No. 1, eds. Koz?owski, A. and Wiszniewska, J., pp. 203-216.
14Mokrsko, Psí hory gold district, Příbram District, Central Bohemia Region, Bohemia, Czech RepublicZachariáš, J., & Stein, H. (2001) Re-Os ages of Variscan hydrothermal gold mineralisations, Central Bohemian metallogenetic zone, Czech Republic.Mineral Deposits at the Beginning of the 21st Century, 851-854.
15Luan River valley, Chengde Prefecture, Hebei Province, ChinaMao J, Zhang Z, Zhang Z, Du A (1999) Re-Os isotopic dating of molybdenites in the Xiaoliugou W (Mo) deposit in the northern Qilian mountains and its geological significance, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 63, 1815-1818 
16Xiaoliugou W-Mo-polymetallic deposit, Qiqing, Sunan Co., Zhangye Prefecture, Gansu Province, ChinaMao, J., Zhang, Z., Zhang Z., Du, A. (1999) Re-Os isotopic dating of molybdenites in the Xiaoliugou W (Mo) deposit in the northern Qilian mountains and its geological significance. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 63, No. 11-12, pp. 1815-1818.
17Tweedam Mine, Springbok, Okiep Copper District, Namakwa District, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaRaith, J.G. and Stein, H.J. (2000): Re-Os dating and sulfur isotope composition of molybdenite from tungsten deposits in western Namaqualand, South Africa: implications for ore genesis and the timing of metamorphism. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 35, pp. 741-753.
18Moly Hill mine, La Motte, Abitibi RCM, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, CanadaKošler, J., Simonetti, A., Sylvester, P.J., Cox, R.A., Tubrett, M.N., and Wilton, D.H.C. (2003) Laser-ablation ICP-MS measurements of Re/Os in molybdenite and implications for Re-Os geochronology. The Canadian Mineralogist, Vol. 41, pp. 307-320.
19  "  "  "  "
20Ora Banda Goldfield, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Shire, Western Australia, AustraliaHannah, J.L., Stein, H.J., Wieser, M.E., de Laeter, J.R., and Varner, M.D. (2007) Molybdenum isotope variations in molybdenite: Vapor transport and Rayleigh fractionation of Mo. Geology, Vol. 35, No. 8, pp. 703-706.
21Mount Mulgine Mine, Mount Mulgine, Perenjori Shire, Western Australia, AustraliaSuzuki, K., Qi-Lu, Shimizu, H., and Masuda, A. (1993) Reliable Re-Os age for Molybdenite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 57, Issue 7, pp. 1625-1628.

Crystallography of MolybdeniteHide

Crystal System:
Class (H-M)
Space Group:
Space Group Setting:
Cell Parameters:
Unit Cell Volume (calc):
 3m - Ditrigonal Pyramidal

a = 3.16 Å, c = 18.33 Å
 a:c = 1 : 5.801
 V 158.51 ų
(Calculated from Unit Cell)

Crystallographic forms of MolybdeniteHide

Crystal Atlas:
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Molybdenite - Tabular {001}
Molybdenite - Thick tabular {001}
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by

Edge Lines | Miller Indicies | Axes

Opaque | Translucent | Transparent

Along a-axis | Along b-axis | Along c-axis | Start rotation | Stop rotation

X-Ray Powder DiffractionHide

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

Other Language Names for MolybdeniteHide

Varieties of MolybdeniteHide

FemoliteProbably a ferrian Molybdenite or a mixture
Rhenian MolybdeniteA rhenium-bearing variety of molybdenite (320 to 580 ppm Re - among highest known, Childs-Adwinkle Mine)

Relationship of Molybdenite to other SpeciesHide

Other Members of this group:
DrysdalliteMo(Se,S)2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m

Common AssociatesHide

Associated Minerals Based on Photo Data:
Quartz218 photos of Molybdenite associated with Quartz on
Ferrimolybdite42 photos of Molybdenite associated with Ferrimolybdite on
Fluorite38 photos of Molybdenite associated with Fluorite on
Pyrite35 photos of Molybdenite associated with Pyrite on
Calcite25 photos of Molybdenite associated with Calcite on
Chalcopyrite24 photos of Molybdenite associated with Chalcopyrite on
Scheelite23 photos of Molybdenite associated with Scheelite on
Muscovite23 photos of Molybdenite associated with Muscovite on
Powellite20 photos of Molybdenite associated with Powellite on
Bismuth19 photos of Molybdenite associated with Bismuth on

Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz GroupingHide

2.EA.05Sylvanite(Au,Ag)2Te4Mon. 2/m : P2/b
2.EA.15KrenneriteAu3AgTe8Orth. mm2 : Pma2
2.EA.20BerndtiteSnS2Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.EA.20Merenskyite(Pd,Pt)(Te,Bi)2Trig. 3m : P3m1
2.EA.30DrysdalliteMo(Se,S)2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
2.EA.30TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m

Related Minerals - Dana Grouping (8th Ed.)Hide,S)2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc 3m : R3m

Related Minerals - Hey's Chemical Index of Minerals GroupingHide

3.8.1BrezinaiteCr3S4Mon. 2/m
3.8.2CaswellsilveriteNaCrS2Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : R3m
3.8.4DaubréeliteFe2+Cr3+2S4Iso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Fd3m
3.8.5Heideite(Fe,Cr)1.15(Ti,Fe)2S4Mon. 2/m
3.8.7 Molybdenite-3RMoS2Trig. 3m : R3m
3.8.9DrysdalliteMo(Se,S)2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
3.8.10TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m
3.8.12AlabanditeMnSIso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Fm3m
3.8.13HaueriteMnS2Iso. m3 (2/m 3) : Pa3

Other InformationHide

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

Molybdenite in petrologyHide

Accessory component of (items highlighted in red)

References for MolybdeniteHide

Reference List:
Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
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: 328-331.
American Mineralogist (1963) 48: 1419.
Schweizerische mineralogische und petrographische Mitteilungen (1964) 44: 123.
Frondel, J.W. & Wickman, F.E. (1970) Molybdenite polytypes in theory and occurrence. II: Some naturally occurring polytypes of molybdenite. American Mineralogist 55, 1857-1875.
Schonfeld, B.; Huang, J.J.; Moss, S.C. (1983) Anisotropic mean-square displacements (MSD) in single crystals of 2H- and 3R-MoS2. Acta Crystallogr. B39, 404–407.
Golden, J., McMillan, M., Downs, R.T., Hystad, G., Goldstein, I., Stein, H.J., Zimmerman, A., Sverjensky, D.A., Armstrong, J.T., Hazen, R.M. (2013) Rhenium variations in molybdenite (MoS2): Evidence for progressive subsurface oxidation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 366, 1-5.

Internet Links for MolybdeniteHide

Localities for MolybdeniteHide

This 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.

Locality ListShow