Chalcopyrite & Pyrite

Chalcopyrite is the most common ore mineral for copper and is a sulphide of iron and copper. Chalco comes from the Greek word chalko, meaning copper. Chalcopyrite is commonly found in sulphide deposits in many ore-forming environments. A characteristic deep brass yellow colour and iridescent green-to-purple weathering surfaces distinguish chalcopyrite from gold and sulphides such as pyrite.

Pyrite is a common iron sulphide mineral found in many different geological settings. It has a brassy-yellow metallic colour that has caused many people to mistake it for gold, giving it the name “Fool’s gold”. Pyrite and gold can be quite easily distinguished from one another: pyrite is less yellow and much lighter and harder than gold, which can be scratched with a pocket knife.  Pyrite often forms perfect cubes, which can grow to quite large sizes, because of its crystal structure. The word pyrite comes from the Greek word ‘pyr’ meaning fire, because it will spark if hit with other metal or stone objects.

This sample is from the Goldstream River area of southern Vancouver Island. Goldstream is mainly known for the placer gold deposits that occur in the river gravels. This sample is from the surrounding slate and schist host rocks. Quartz veins in the host rocks contain chalcopyrite and pyrite (as seen in this sample) and sometimes gold. As the veins are weathered out of the host rock, gold is freed and settles in gravels in the river bottom.

Specimen Information

Store: Association for Mineral Exploration (AME)


Accession #: AME 997

Primary Mineral: Chalcopyrite

Secondary Mineral: Pyrite

Site Locality: Goldstream River

Location: Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Special Features: n/a


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