Thursday, 24 March 2011

Pyrite ~

Pyrite is also known as' fools gold' due to its bright lustre.  It is an iron sulphide, its high iron content making it subject to corrosion if in contact with water.  

In ancient times it was one of a number of stones that could be used to create sparks when struck against steel, hence the name which is derived from the Greek word for fire. 

It is usually characterised by cubic formations, like the two in the image above.   In the image below, considerably enlarged, the many cubes interlock. 


Pyrite can be found as a replacement mineral in fossils.  The handsome and intriguing piece shown below is commonly referred to as a pyrite sun.  Is it a fossil of a sand dollar or not?  This Wikipedia article entitled Pseudofossil is dismissive.  The article shows a similar image which is described as being of Marcasite, a near relation of pyrite but more brittle.

The striations of the specimen catch sunlight beautifully:


At this angle a blue sheen joins the gold:


And here is the reverse side:


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