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Smithson Tennant
Grey-black, steel-gray, iron-gray, black
3 - 4½
Specific Gravity:
Crystal System:
Originally called "gray sulphuret of copper in dodecahedral crystals" in 1817 by James Sowerby.
Renamed in 1819 by William Phillips in honor of Smithson Tennant [November 30, 1761, Selby, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom - February 22, 1815, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France], English chemist of independent means. Tennant established the beneficial nature of using limestone to reduce soil acidity. He and William Hyde Wollaston, who was then his chemical assistant, analyzed graphite and diamond and found that graphite and diamond were both carbon. He analyzed meteorites and found nickel in them, as well as finding iodine in sea water. Tennant's fame, however, is firmly based on his discovery of the elements iridium and osmium.
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Classification of TennantiteHide

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

2 : SULFIDES and SULFOSALTS (sulfides, selenides, tellurides; arsenides, antimonides, bismuthides; sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites, etc.)
G : Sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites
B : Neso-sulfarsenites, etc. with additional S

3 : 3 <ø < 4

5 : Sulphosalts - Sulpharsenites and Sulphobismuthites (those containing Sn, Ge,or V are in Section 6)
1 : Sulpharsenites etc. of Cu

Pronounciation of TennantiteHide

PlayRecorded byCountry
Jolyon & Katya RalphUnited Kingdom

Physical Properties of TennantiteHide

Grey-black, steel-gray, iron-gray, black
Reddish grey, black, red-brown
3 - 4½ on Mohs scale
VHN100=294 - 380 kg/mm2 - Vickers
4.62 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.61 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Optical Data of TennantiteHide

Colour in reflected light:
gray, inclining to black to brown to cherry-red
n greater than 2.72

Chemical Properties of TennantiteHide

IMA Formula:
Idealised Formula:
Common Impurities:

Crystallography of TennantiteHide

Crystal System:
Class (H-M):
4 3m - Hextetrahedral
Space Group:
I4 3m
Cell Parameters:
a = 10.19 Å
Unit Cell V:
1,058.09 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Tetrahedral to rounded crystals to 20 cm.
Twin axis [111], twin plane {111}

Crystallographic forms of TennantiteHide

Crystal Atlas:
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Tennantite - {100}, modified
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

Epitaxial Relationships of TennantiteHide

Epitaxial Minerals:

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.

Type Occurrence of TennantiteHide

Synonyms of TennantiteHide

Other Language Names for TennantiteHide

Varieties of TennantiteHide

AnniviteA Bi-rich variety of Tennantite.

Originally described from and named for the Anniviers valley (Val d'Anniviers), Wallis, Switzerland. This description, however, was based on a wrong chemical analysis. The name has also been applied to Bi-rich tetrahed...
Argentiferous TennantiteA silver bearing variety of tennantite. Contains approx. 38 oz. Ag/Ton at United Verde Mine.
Binnite (of Des Cloizeaux)Multi-faceted, rounded variety of tennantite from the Lengenbach deposit, Binn valley (Switzerland).
Bismuthian TennantiteA bismuthian variety of tennantite.
CuprobinniteAn argentian variety of tennantite.
Mercurian TennantiteA mercury-bearing variety of tennantite.

The Hg content is negatively correlated to both the Fe and, especially, the Zn content, and positively but weakly correlated to the Sb content (Foit & Ulbricht, 2001).
Tellurian TennantiteA tellurium-bearing variety of tennantite.
Zincian TennantiteA zinc-rich variety of tennantite.

Enrichment of zinc in tetrahedrite group minerals is much more rarely observed in tennantite than in tetrahedrite.

Relationship of Tennantite to other SpeciesHide

Other Members of this group:
ArgentotennantiteAg6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
ArgentotetrahedriteAg6Cu4(Fe,Zn)2Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
FreibergiteAg6[Cu4Fe2]Sb4S13-xIso. 4 3m : I4 3m
GirauditeCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
GoldfielditeCu10Te4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
HakiteCu6[Cu4Hg2]Sb4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
RozhdestvenskayaiteAg10Zn2Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
TetrahedriteCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
Forms a series with:

Common AssociatesHide

Associated Minerals Based on Photo Data:
Quartz293 photos of Tennantite associated with Quartz on
Chalcopyrite138 photos of Tennantite associated with Chalcopyrite on
Pyrite78 photos of Tennantite associated with Pyrite on
Dolomite73 photos of Tennantite associated with Dolomite on
Calcite67 photos of Tennantite associated with Calcite on
Malachite39 photos of Tennantite associated with Malachite on
Smithsonite37 photos of Tennantite associated with Smithsonite on
Bornite35 photos of Tennantite associated with Bornite on
Azurite34 photos of Tennantite associated with Azurite on
Mimetite32 photos of Tennantite associated with Mimetite on

Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz GroupingHide

2.GB.05ArgentotennantiteAg6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.05FreibergiteAg6[Cu4Fe2]Sb4S13-xIso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.05GirauditeCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.05GoldfielditeCu10Te4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.05HakiteCu6[Cu4Hg2]Sb4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.05TetrahedriteCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
2.GB.10StephaniteAg5SbS4Orth. mm2 : Cmc21
2.GB.15Pearceite[Ag9CuS4][(Ag,Cu)6(As,Sb)2S7]Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.GB.15Polybasite[(Ag,Cu)6(Sb,As)2S7][Ag9CuS4]Mon. 2/m : B2/m
2.GB.15Selenopolybasite[(Ag,Cu)6(Sb,As)2(S,Se)7][Ag9Cu(S,Se)2Se2]Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.GB.15Cupropearceite[Cu6As2S7][Ag9CuS4]Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.GB.15Cupropolybasite[Cu6Sb2S7][Ag9CuS4]Trig. 3m : P3 1m
2.GB.20Galkhaite(Cs,Tl)(Hg,Cu,Zn)6(As,Sb)4S12Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m

Related Minerals - Dana Grouping (8th Ed.)Hide[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m[Cu4Fe2]Sb4S13-xIso. 4 3m : I4 3m[Cu4Hg2]Sb4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m 4 3m : I4 3m[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m

Related Minerals - Hey's Chemical Index of Minerals GroupingHide

5.1.1SinneriteCu6As4S9Tric. 1 : P1
5.1.4ChalcostibiteCuSbS2Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m)
5.1.5TetrahedriteCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]Sb4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
5.1.6GoldfielditeCu10Te4S13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m
5.1.7EmplectiteCuBiS2Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m) : Pmna
5.1.8CuprobismutiteCu8AgBi13S24Mon. 2/m : B2/m
5.1.9WitticheniteCu3BiS3Orth. 2 2 2 : P21 21 21
5.1.11GirauditeCu6[Cu4(Fe,Zn)2]As4Se13Iso. 4 3m : I4 3m

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.
Industrial Uses:
Copper ore

Tennantite in petrologyHide

An essential component of rock names highlighted in red, an accessory component in rock names highlighted in green.

References for TennantiteHide

Reference List:
Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Phillips, W. (1819) Description of an ore of copper from Cornwall. The Quarterly Journal of Literature, Science and the Arts: 7: 95-100.
Phillips, R. (1819) Analysis of the copper ore, described in the preceding paper. The Quarterly Journal of Literature, Science and the Arts: 7: 100-102.
Wuensch, B.J., Takeuchi, Y., Nowaki, W. (1966) Refinement of the crystal structure of binnite, Cu12As4S13. Zeitschrift für Kristallographie: 123: 1-20.
Chen, T.T., Dutrizac, J.E., Owens, D.R., Laflamme, J.H.G. (1980) Accelerated tarnishing of some chalcopyrite and tennantite specimens. The Canadian Mineralogist: 18: 173-180.
Seal, R.R., Essene, E.J., Kelly, W.C. (1990) Tetrahedrite and tennantite: evaluation of thermodynamic data and phase equilibria. The Canadian Mineralogist: 28: 725-738.
Foit, F.F. Jr., Ulbricht, M.E. (2001) Compositional variation in mercurian tetrahedrite-tennantite from epithermal deposits of the Steens and Pueblo Mountains, Harney County, Oregon. The Canadian Mineralogist: 39: 819-830.
King, R.J. (2001) Minerals explained 32: The tetrahedrite group. Geology Today: 17: 77-80.
Makovicky, E., Tippelt, G., Forcher, K., Lottermoser, W., Karup-Møller, S., Amthauer, G. (2003): Mössbauer study of Fe-bearing synthetic tennantite. Canadian Mineralogist, 41, 1125-1134.
Kharbish, S., Libowitzky, E., Beran, A. (2007) The effect of As-Sb substitution in the Raman spectra of tetrahedrite-tennantite and pyrargyrite-proustite solid solutions. European Journal of Mineralogy, 19, 567-574.
Friese, K., Grzechnik, A., Makovicky, E., Balić-Žunić, T., Karup-Møller, S. (2008): Crystal structures of iron bearing tetrahedrite and tennantite at 25 and 250°C by means of Rietveld refinement of synchrotron data. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 35, 455-465.
Pervukhina, N.V., Borisov, S.V., Magarill, S.A., Vasuliev, V.I., Kuratieva, N.V., Kozlova, D.G. (2010) Refinement of the crystal structure of As-"schwatzite" Cu6(Cu6Hg0.75)(As2.83Sb1.17)S13 (Aktash, Altai mountains). Journal of Structural Chemistry: 51: 898-903.
Kharbish, S., Giester, G., Beran, A. (2010): Contribution to the crystal structures of tennantite and bournonite. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Abhandlungen, 187, 159-166.
George, L.L., Cook, N.J. and Ciobanu, C.L. (2017): Minor and trace elements in natural tetrahedrite-tennantite: effects on element partitioning among base metal sulphides. Minerals 7, 17 (25 pp.).

Internet Links for TennantiteHide

Localities for TennantiteHide

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