Chemical elements
    History of Iron
      Native Iron
      Iron Minerals
      Sources of Iron
    Physical Properties
    Chemical Properties
    Iron Salts
    PDB 101m-1aeb
    PDB 1aed-1awd
    PDB 1awp-1beq
    PDB 1bes-1c53
    PDB 1c6o-1ci6
    PDB 1cie-1cry
    PDB 1csu-1dfx
    PDB 1dgb-1dry
    PDB 1ds1-1e08
    PDB 1e0z-1ehj
    PDB 1ehk-1f5o
    PDB 1f5p-1fnp
    PDB 1fnq-1fzi
    PDB 1g08-1gnl
    PDB 1gnt-1h43
    PDB 1h44-1hdb
    PDB 1hds-1i5u
    PDB 1i6d-1iwh
    PDB 1iwi-1jgx
    PDB 1jgy-1k2o
    PDB 1k2r-1kw6
    PDB 1kw8-1lj0
    PDB 1lj1-1m2m
    PDB 1m34-1mko
    PDB 1mkq-1mun
    PDB 1muy-1n9x
    PDB 1naz-1nx4
    PDB 1nx7-1ofe
    PDB 1off-1p3t
    PDB 1p3u-1pmb
    PDB 1po3-1qmq
    PDB 1qn0-1ra0
    PDB 1ra5-1rxg
    PDB 1ry5-1smi
    PDB 1smj-1t71
    PDB 1t85-1u8v
    PDB 1u9m-1uyu
    PDB 1uzr-1vxf
    PDB 1vxg-1wri
    PDB 1wtf-1xlq
    PDB 1xm8-1y4r
    PDB 1y4t-1ygd
    PDB 1yge-1z01
    PDB 1z02-2a9e
    PDB 2aa1-2azq
    PDB 2b0z-2boz
    PDB 2bpb-2ca3
    PDB 2ca4-2cz7
    PDB 2czs-2dyr
    PDB 2dys-2ewk
    PDB 2ewu-2fwl
    PDB 2fwt-2gl3
    PDB 2gln-2hhb
    PDB 2hhd-2ibn
    PDB 2ibz-2jb8
    PDB 2jbl-2mgh
    PDB 2mgi-2o01
    PDB 2o08-2ozy
    PDB 2p0b-2q0i
    PDB 2q0j-2r1h
    PDB 2r1k-2spm
    PDB 2spn-2vbd
    PDB 2vbp-2vzb
    PDB 2vzm-2wiv
    PDB 2wiy-2xj5
    PDB 2xj6-2ylj
    PDB 2yrs-2zon
    PDB 2zoo-3a17
    PDB 3a18-3aes
    PDB 3aet-3bnd
    PDB 3bne-3cir
    PDB 3ciu-3dax
    PDB 3dbg-3e1p
    PDB 3e1q-3eh4
    PDB 3eh5-3fll
    PDB 3fm1-3gas
    PDB 3gb4-3h57
    PDB 3h58-3hrw
    PDB 3hsn-3ir6
    PDB 3ir7-3k9y
    PDB 3k9z-3l4p
    PDB 3l61-3lxi
    PDB 3lyq-3mm8
    PDB 3mm9-3n62
    PDB 3n63-3nlo
    PDB 3nlp-3o0f
    PDB 3o0r-3p6o
    PDB 3p6p-3prq
    PDB 3prr-3sel
    PDB 3sik-3una
    PDB 3unc-4blc
    PDB 4cat-4erg
    PDB 4erm-4nse
    PDB 4pah-8cat
    PDB 8cpp-9nse


Iron pyrites, pyrite, marquisite, or mundic is the name given to a brass-coloured sulphide of iron to which the formula FeS2 is usually ascribed. It often occurs in coal, and is known by miners as " brass " or " fool's gold." The spontaneous combustion of coal is frequently facilitated by the oxidation of iron pyrites to iron sulphate. It often crystallises in cubes, the faces showing striations; but a very characteristic form is the pentagonal dodecahedron, usually termed the pyritohedron. Hardness 6 to 6.5; density 4.8 to 5.2. It leaves a greenish or brownish-black streak.

Peruvian pyrites is called stone of the Incas, because the ancient sovereigns of Peru attributed great virtues to it. Rings, amulets, mirrors, etc., were made of it. A century ago iron pyrites was used in this country to a considerable extent for feminine ornaments.

Pyrites occurs in rocks of all ages, both eruptive and sedimentary. In some cases it is evidently an original mineral, whilst in others it has been formed as a secondary product. Large quantities are found in Spain and are used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid, ferrous sulphate, and ferric oxide.

Iron pyrites is found in masses in the " twenty-inch " coal seam of the Forest of Dean, the masses being locally called " dogs." It is common in coal measures generally, having probably been formed by the reducing action of organic matter on waters charged with iron sulphate in solution. Explosive pyrites is the name given to a variety of pyrites found in Cork, which decrepitates violently upon application of gentle heat. The decrepitation is due to the presence of carbon dioxide under high pressures confined in minute cavities in the mineral. Decrepitation usually begins at about 30° to 35° C., and it has been suggested that the explosions which sometimes occur in domestic grates may be due to the presence in the coal of this variety of pyrites. Frequently metals other than iron are associated with pyrites, chief among which are copper, nickel, cobalt, tin, gold, thallium, and silver.

When oxidised by weathering, the final product of pyrites is hydrated ferric oxide or rust, as stated above, but the method of oxidation depends upon circumstances. In the absence of carbon dioxide or carbonates, it is usual for oxidation to ferrous sulphate to first take place; whence the mineral copperas or melanterite (see below). This, in course of time, oxidises to limonite. In the presence of carbon dioxide, however, it appears that the sulphate is not first formed, but the readily oxidisable carbonate, which is then converted into limonite.

The presence of pyrites in mineral veins is frequently betrayed by the brown, rusty appearance of the upper parts of the deposits. This is well exemplified in the case of certain copper lodes, the iron of the contained copper pyrites having become converted into hydrated ferric oxide or rust. Such weathered zones are known as gozzans, and frequently present a cavernous or honeycombed appearance, due to the removal of pyritic material. In France the gozzan is termed the chapeau de fer, and in Germany der eiserne Hut, and an old adage states that

" A Lode that wears no iron hat Is never likely to be fat."

Marcasite or white iron pyrites is the name given to a rhombic variety of pyrites which occurs in concretions, known locally as " fairy balls " and " thunderbolts." Its crystallographic elements are

a: b: с = 0.7662: 1: 1.2342.

The exterior of the nodules is often brownish, but when broken open they exhibit a radiating structure, usually pale yellow in colour, although pure mareasite is probably tin-white in appearance. It rapidly tarnishes, and it is difficult to keep a fracture bright for museum purposes. Concretions of mareasite are found in chalk and in many clays. Hardness 6 to 6.5; density 4.7 to 4.8.

Owing to its jagged outline mareasite is frequently known as cockscomb pyrites and spear pyrites.

Cobalt-nickel pyrites, (Fe, Co, Ni)S2, has been found in Westphalia as small cubic crystals, steel-grey in colour, giving a greyish-black streak. Density 4.7; hardness 5 to 5.5. Iron nickel pyrites, (Fe,Ni)S2, occurs in Norway and in the Sudbury district, Ontario.

Pyrrhotite or magnetic pyrites, Fe7S8 or 5FeS.Fe2S3, is slightly redder than ordinary pyrites, from which, however, it may be readily distinguished, both on account of its magnetic properties and by its greater softness. Hardness 3.5 to 4.5; density 4.4 to 4.7. It occurs in Cornwall, in the lavas of Vesuvius, and in various other parts of Europe; in Canada and the U.S.A. Two varieties are known: namely α-pyrrhotite, which is rhombic; and β-pyrrhotite, which is hexagonal.

Troilite, FeS, is brownish in colour, and occurs in nodules in most meteorites containing iron. Hardness 4; density 4.7 to 4.8.

Copper pyrites or chalcopyrite, Cu2S.Fe2S3, is a brass-coloured sulphide which crystallises in the tetragonal system, but is isomorphous with pyrites, since its crystallographic elements are

a: с = 1: 0.9853.

It yields a greenish-black streak; hardness 3.5 to 4; density 4.1 to 4.3. It should contain some 34.6 per cent, of copper and 30.5 per cent, of iron; but the percentage of iron is frequently higher, due probably to admixture of iron pyrites. Copper pyrites constitutes the most important copper ore in Cornwall. It is found also in Scotland, Sweden, and many other parts of Europe, in Australia, and the U.S.A. Barnhardtite, 2Cu2S.Fe2S3, resembles the previous ore in appearance, and receives its name from the place of its discovery, namely, Barnhardt's Land. A varying mixture of sulphides of iron and copper is present in the mineral known variously as erubescite, Bornite, and horseflesh ore. The name Bornite was given in honour of Ignatius von Born, who had charge of the mineral collection in Vienna. It is not a happy name, however, since it is liable to be confused with bournonite, a thio-antimonite of copper and lead. Its copper content ranges from 50 to 70 per cent., and its iron from 6 to 20 per cent. When fresh its fracture is reddish brown, but it tarnishes rapidly, yielding peacock colours. Crystalline forms (cubic) occur in Cornwall, chiefly at the Carn Brea, Tincroft, and Cook's Kitchen mines near Redruth.

Hardness 3; density 4.4 to 5.5. The usually accepted formula, Cu3FeS3, was based on analyses of Cornish crystals, but the Canadian mineral corresponds more closely to Cu5FeS4.

In this connection it is interesting to note that Roman coins and other bronze objects which were thrown into certain thermal springs as votive offerings and have since been examined are found to have become partially converted into various sulphides of copper, including chalcopyrite and erubescite.

A double sulphide of copper and iron known as Chalmersite, CuFe2S3, occurs in the ore deposits of the Prince of Wales Sound, Alaska, and in small quantities in Brazil. It is massive, pale yellow in colour, and strongly magnetic, which latter property enables it to be readily separated from the copper pyrites with which it is intimately associated. Density 4.04 to 4.68. The crystals are rhombic,

a: b: c = 0.5734: 1: 0.9649,

and isomorphous with copper glance.

Cubanite, CuS.Fe2S3, is a bronze-coloured mineral found in Cuba, whence its name. Hardness 4, density 4.0 to 4.2.

A black variety of blende, occurring in Cornwall and elsewhere, is known as marmatite, and has the composition corresponding to 4ZnS.FeS.

Pentlandite, a double sulphide of iron and nickel approximating to 2FeS.NiS, occurs as cubic, bronze-coloured crystals in Argyllshire, Inveraray, and Cornwall. Hardness 3.5 to 4; density 4.6.

Arsenical pyrites or mispickel, FeS2.FeAs2, containing 34 per cent, of iron, occurs in rhombic crystals, with frequent twinning, and of the following parameters: -

a: b: с = 1.7588: 1: 1.4793.

It is a grey mineral; hardness 5.5 to 6; density 6 to 6.4. It is found in Devon and Cornwall (where it is worked on a small scale), Silesia, Norway, Sweden, and U.S.A., and constitutes an important source of arsenic. If cobalt is also present the mineral is known as glaucodote. When struck with a hammer, mispickel possesses the characteristic odour of arsenic and is hence known by Cornish miners as arsenical mundic or simply as arsenic. The ore readily oxidises, and when weathered gives rise to arsenates such as scorodite, etc.

Pacite consists of rhombic crystals of FeS2.4FeAs2.

A double sulphide of iron and chromium, FeS.Cr2S3, occurs as the rare mineral daubreelite associated with troilite. It possesses a brilliant metallic lustre, is black in colour, but not magnetic. Density 5.0.

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