Sphalerite – Day 13 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Sphalerite find out more about it below..

As we move towards the 25th of December, the number of shopping days decreases – and you might be out searching for the perfect gift! If you decide you want a more modern gift than yesterday’s Uranium Glass, you might decide to get a fancy new touchscreen device, but they are dependant on a lot of minerals, metals and elements to make them work!

There are lots of different touchscreen devices now - but they all need indium! Image is from wikipedia.

There are lots of different touchscreen devices now – but they all need indium! Image is from wikipedia.

One of the most important of these is a rare earth element (REE) called Indium, which you can find in the zinc ore mineral, Sphalerite. This is part of the same group of economically important elements as Neodymium (from Day 2 – Monazite) Without sphalerite (and therefore indium) your touchscreen device would just be another phone or computer!

A geogrous Sphalerite photo taken by Chinellato Matteo from Chinellatophoto.com, avaliable on the MinDat website.

A geogrous Sphalerite photo taken by Chinellato Matteo from Chinellatophoto.com, avaliable on the MinDat website.

Sphalerite:
Chemical formula: ZnS
Colour: Yellow, light to dark brown, black, red-brown, colourless, light blue. green
System: Isometric
Hardness (Mohs): 3½ – 4
Can you find it in the UK? Yes

The locations you can find Sphalerite in the UK.

The locations you can find Sphalerite in the UK.

You can find Sphalerite in several locations in the UK, across Scotland, England and Wales, including two of the most popular areas to find minerals of all types, Cornwall and Cumbria. Perhaps if you are still struggling for a gift you could take a loved one on a mineral hunting trip to one of these locations – I’m sure they would love it! Just ask my family!

I guess even my family can't be excited by rocks and fossils ALL the time!

I guess even my family can’t be excited by rocks and fossils ALL the time!

On second thoughts maybe don’t ask my family…..!

For more information about Sphalerite please visit the MinDat website.

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Monazite – Day 2 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Monazite, find out more about it below..

Yesterday we looked at the first thing we see that makes us think of winter-joy, but today I’m going to talk about the first thing you hear, and that of course is the ubiquitous Christmas Songs Playlist, that seems to be on loop in practically every store from the end of October.

I love some seasonal music, but how would i listen to it if my speakers didn't work!

I love some seasonal music, but how would I listen to it if my speakers didn’t work!

Now personally I have always been more of a fan of this kind of music:

or this:

Than this kind of music, which is more of what you hear in the shops…

But regardless of which kind of seasonal song you like, you wouldn’t hear them at all without minerals like Monazite and that is because Monazite contains Neodymium – a Rare Earth Element (or REE) that makes all your speakers do their jazzy, seasonal thing.

A picture of Monazite (Nd) from MinDat website, taken by Enrico Bonacina

A picture of Monazite (Nd) from MinDat website, taken by Enrico Bonacina

Monazite (Nd):

  • Chemical formula: (Nd,La,Ce)(PO4)
  • Colour: Orange brown, yellow to pink
  • System: Isometric
  • Hardness (Mohs): 5 – 5 1/2
  • Can you find it in the UK? Yes
Locations registered for Monazitein the UK, from the MinDat website. The crystal in the sea between Cornwall and France, should actually be on Cornwall!

Locations registered for Monazite in the UK, from the MinDat website. The crystal in the sea between Cornwall and France, should actually be on Cornwall!

Monazite is actually the name of a group of minerals with similar chemistry and features that have different amounts of various REE in them. Monazite can be found in Cornwall and Skye in the UK, but is not commercially mined in this country.

For more information about Monazite please visit the MinDat website.