2.7" Galena Crystals on Pyrite and Sphalerite - Peru
This beautiful specimen contains an association of galena crystals that formed over pyrite and sphalerite. It comes from the Huanzala Mine in Peru and the entire piece measures 2.7" wide. The white botryoidal mineral formations appear to be calcite or aragonite.
Galena is a lead based mineral that is in fact the primary ore of lead, and has been used for its lead content for thousands of years. Galena typically displays a gray metallic luster and forms cubes or octahedral crystals. The chemical composition of galena is PbS.
The mineral pyrite or iron pyrite is commonly referred to as Fool's Gold because its metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue give it a superficial resemblance to gold. In the old mining days, pyrite was sometimes mistaken for gold. Pyrite is the most common of the sulfide minerals with the chemical formula FeS2. Pyrite crystals occur in many shapes and habits, including cubes of all sizes, penetration twin cubes, pyritohedral clusters and as small druzy crystals that can exhibit a beautiful glistening effect.
Sphalerite is a part of the sulfides group and typically exhibits a grey/black appearance due to high concentrations of impurities. When sphalerite is in it's purest state, the chemical composition is ZnS, and can display a gemmy transparent light tan/yellow color. This is one of the few minerals that can form crystals ranging anywhere between gemmy and transparent to opaque and metallic-like. Opaque or cloudy sphalerite tends to be most abundant, due to the ease of iron replacing zinc in the process of formation.