Virtual Museum ID: 17-PME215

Specimen Summary

Sphalerite is the main ore mineral for zinc, and although relatively common, finding it in commercial amounts is somewhat rarer. The zinc will give the mineral a yellow or red hue, but iron can replace the zinc in the atomic structure, making the crystals black. Rarely, cobalt finds its way into the structure, and produces green crystals.

Although sphalerite is a relatively soft mineral, it can be cut (faceted) into attractive gems, which are used for mineral displays.

This specimen comes from the area around Quatsino, a small boat-accessible community near the northern end of Vancouver Island in BC. The exact source is unknown, but it probably comes from one of several small historic mines in the area, including the Yreka, Benson Lake or Merry Widow mines, all within about 30 km of the town.

Quatsino was settled by Norwegian farmers in the late 1800s. Served by a monthly freight service from Victoria, the small community quickly built its own post office, church, general store, hotel, wharf and one-room school. Aside from farming, local industry was mainly in local canneries and saw mills, as well as a few small mines. Small-scale surface and underground mining took place in the area from the early 1900s to the late 1960s, mainly producing copper, silver and gold from skarn-type mineral deposits. Companies are still exploring the area today using methods like geological mapping, soil sampling and geophysical surveys.

Specimen Data


The information listed below relates to the current holding location or collection that the sample is from, and whether the item is viewable at that location or is part of a private collection. Coordinates are given as guides, and we remind you that collecting specimens from these locations is not allowed. Caution is advised visiting such sites and Below BC assumes no responsibility for any injuries or trespassing charges that may occur as a result of the viewer entering these sites.

Collection Details

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Pacific Museum of Earth (PME)

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Location Information

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Quatsino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

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09 (NAD 83)

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Advanced Geological Information


The following section provides geological data relating to the specimen or the site it was collected from, when available. Information has been obtained from various sources including private and government datasets but may not be up to date. Any geological time periods or ages listed often relate to the primary geology of the area, and may not be the actual date of an event such as mineral formation.

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Additional Images