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Minerals of Arizona


 Brief descriptions, pictures of the major minerals, and their areas of occurrence in the state.

Azurite, Calcite, Chrysocolla, Fluorite, Galena, Garnet, Gold, Gypsum, Malachite, Molybdenite, Pyrite, Quartz, Silver

Azurite:

azurite.jpg (4214 bytes)

  1. Distinguishing properties: Blue color, dark blue streak on porcelain plate, often occurs with malachite.

  2. Occurrence: Coaches, Coconino, Gila, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County

  3. Significance: Azurite ( Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 ) is one of three major copper bearing minerals, which makes it a valuable ore of copper. Arizona contains one of the worlds largest copper reserves in the form of azurite and its neighboring copper bearing minerals.

  4. Azurite is also prized as a semi-precious gemstone, due to its dark royal blue color. The pictures above show azurites striking color.

Calcite:

calcite.jpg (3864 bytes)

  1. Color: clear, white, blue, green, red, yellow, brown
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: perfect three dimensional cleavage, double refraction, (sometimes) fluorescent
  4. Occurrence: Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. style="font-size:13.5pt">Significance: Calcite (CaCO3) is one of the most common minerals found on the earth's surface. It is used by marine organisms, like oysters, to make their shells. It also can be found in your home as that white powdery stuff that builds up on your shower heads. This is a variety of calcite, termed lime, also consisting of the chemical formula CaCO3. Though this form of calcite is ugly, calcite crystals can be extremely beautiful and valuable as a semi-precious gemstone. The picture above displays one form of calcite crystal.

Chrysocolla chryso.jpg (4835 bytes)

  1. Color: green, blue, bluish-green
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: color, brittle, no crystals present, uneven-concoidial fractures, sticks to tongue
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Chrysocolla ( Cu2H2Si2O5(OH)4 ) is one of three major copper bearing minerals, which makes it a valuable ore of copper. Arizona contains one of the worlds largest copper reserves in the form of chrysocolla and its neighboring copper bearing minerals azurite and malachite. Chrysocolla is also appreciated for its beautiful color and the bubbly texture sometimes observed in matrix (as seen in the pictures above). This makes it a desirable mineral to many collectors, as well as economic geologists.

 Fluorite

fluorite.jpg (3539 bytes)

  1. Color: purple, blue, green, yellow, brown, pink, clear
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: perfect cleavage, forms as cubes, sometimes fluorescent
  4. Occurrence: Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Fluorite (CaF2) is a fascinating mineral which tends to form perfect cubes (as seen in the picture below). However, due to the atomic structure of fluorite, these cubes when broken will form perfect double pyramids/diamond shaped crystal fragments. Fluorite sometimes will fluorescous under ultraviolet light, giving the mineral a purple glow. Fluorite is relatively soft, making it a poor gemstone, but it is still prized in many private and public mineral collections.

 Galena

galena.jpg (12490 bytes)

  1. Color: dull-shiny lead grey
  2. Luster: metallic
  3. Distinguishing properties: brittle, perfect cleavage, streaks gray when rubbed on porcelain plate, heavy (specific gravity 7.4-7.6)
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Galena (PbS) is the primary ore for lead, making it an economically important mineral. Through the process of smelting, lead can be extracted from galena as sulfur is "burned off", or removed from the atomic structure of the mineral. Galena lacks the necessary beauty to make it a gemstone, however its atomic structure makes it a spectacular mineral to be found in many mineral collections. The pictures above show galena's appeal to collectors, which can be attributed to its atomic structure.

 Garnet

garnet.jpg (3108 bytes)

  1. Color: deep crimson red (pyrope ( Mg3Al2(SiO3)4 )), deep red/brown (almandine ( Fe3Al2(SiO4)3 )), colorless/yellow/green (grossular (Ca3Al2(SiO3)4 )), orange-red (spessartine ( Mn3Al2(SiO3)4 )), wine red (andradite ( Ca3Fe2(SiO3)4 )), deep emerald green (uvarovite (Ca3Cr2(SiO3)4 ))
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: brittle, concoidial fractures. very common dodecahedron crystals, hardness
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Coconino, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai County
  5. Significance: Garnet is a general term used to describe six varieties of one similar mineral. These include, pyrope, almandine, grossular, spessartine, andradite, and uvarovite. Garnet is primarily know for its use in jewelry. Its hardness and brilliant colors make it one of the worlds most desired gemstones. The pictures above show one variety of garnet called spessartine.

 Gold

gold.jpg (2218 bytes)Au.gif (2490 bytes)

  1. Color: brassy/gold-yellow
  2. Distinguishing properties: gold color streak when rubbed on porcelain plate, doesn't tarnish, very heavy (specific density: 15.5-19), malleable
  3. Occurrence: Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  4. Significance: Gold (Au) needs no introduction, its the most widely know, desired, and purchased mineral in the world. People have been mining gold for millenniums, to produce such material goods as jewelry or houseware. It was also used as a means of trade. Even today gold dominates the worlds markets, as the bases for trade between countries, or as the backing of many nations currency. Arizona is not however, a primary source of this wealth. Gold production in this state is usually the by product from copper refining. There are placer deposits which have yielded small amounts of gold, but none of great significance. The pictures above show gold in its native form, and after refining.

 Gypsum

gypsum.jpg (4886 bytes)

  1. Color: clear, white, gray, brown, yellow, red
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: perfect one dimensional cleavage, hardness (soft), flexible, platy crystals
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Gypsum (CaSO4 2H2O) is an important textile mineral. Gypsum is primarily used in the manufacturing of wallboard (dry wall), found in almost every home constructed after the 1980's. Gypsum is also a desired mineral for collectors, because of its sometimes unpredictable shapes and purity of color. The pictures above show some examples of gypsum's unpredictable shapes.

 Malachite

malachite.jpg (2946 bytes)

  1. Color: dark/forest green
  2. Luster: dull
  3. Distinguishing properties: green color, often occurs with azurite
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Malachite ( Cu2CO3(OH)2 )is one of three major copper bearing minerals, which makes it a valuable ore of copper. Arizona contains one of the worlds largest copper reserves in the form of azurite and its neighboring copper bearing minerals azurite and chrysocolla. Malachite is also prized as a semi-precious gemstone, due to its dark forestry green color and marbled textural patterns. The pictures above show characteristics of this mineral.

 Molybdenite

molybdenite.jpg (2399 bytes)

  1. Color: bluish lead-gray
  2. Luster: metallic
  3. Distinguishing properties: bluish lead-gray streak when rubbed on porcelain plate, greasy feeling, perfect cleavage
  4. Occurrence: Cochise, Gila, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai County
  5. Significance: Molybdenite ( MoS2 ) is the primary ore for molybdenuim , which is used in high pressure greases or as a dry lubricant. Molybdenite forms interesting crystals which makes it attractive to mineral collectors. The pictures above show some interesting crystal forms of molybdenite.

 Pyrite

pyrite.jpg (3817 bytes)

  1. Color: brass-yellow
  2. Luster: metallic
  3. Distinguishing properties: hardness, occasionally forms in cubes, striking with hammer will produce sparks, streaks green when rubbed on porcelain plate
  4. Occurrence: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Pyrite (FeS2) is the most common of all sulfide minerals, and very often found at most, if not all copper mines (present and past). It is also a desired mineral to collectors and museums, because of its color and the shapes which it can occur. One shape, pictured above, is a perfect or near perfect cube. Note: pyrite does not have perfect cleavage, thus breaking pyrite cubes will destroy the mineral specimen.

 Quartz

quartz.jpg (2987 bytes)

  1. Color: clear, purple (amethyst), pink (rose), dark brown (smoky), white (milky), yellow (citrine)
  2. Luster: vitreous
  3. Distinguishing properties: conchoidal fractures, hardness, often occurring as prismatic crystals
  4. Occurrence: Cochise, Gila, Graham, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma County
  5. Significance: Quartz (SiO2) is the most common mineral found on the earth. Quartz composes a large majority of all rocks like granites and sandstones which is lithified beach or river sand. Quartz also composes many material things in our lives like glass, watch faces, and even large telescope mirrors. It is also a very desired mineral. Though not a semi-precious stone (except for the more rarer varieties of quartz like citrine), due to its vast abundance, quartz graces the mineral collection on nearly every mineral collector, public and private. The pictures above show clear quartz, which is the most common color of quartz.

 Silver

silver.jpg (4508 bytes)Ag.gif (2317 bytes)

  1. Color: silver-white
  2. Luster: metallic
  3. Occurrence: Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mojave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai County
  4. Significance: Silver (Ag) is another precious metal, with almost the same reputation as gold. Like gold, silver is not mined in this state, but is a by product from copper production. Silver is not as rare as gold, but its malleability and color make it a desirable medium of jewelry. Silver forms as a native metal. The pictures above show what native silver can look like.

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