2.8" Translucent Sphalerite Cluster on Calcite - Peru
This is a beautiful formation of translucent sphalerite crystals (resembling sphalerite var. cleiophane) on calcite. It comes from the Huaron Mining District in Peru and the entire specimen measures 2.8" long.
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.
Calcite, CaCO3, is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate. The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Calcite crystals are trigonal-rhombohedral, though actual calcite rhombohedra are rare as natural crystals. However, they show a remarkable variety of habits including acute to obtuse rhombohedra, tabular forms, and prisms. Calcite exhibits several twinning types adding to the variety of observed forms. It may occur as fibrous, granular, lamellar, or compact. Cleavage is usually in three directions parallel to the rhombohedron form.