Argentiferous Galena, Quartz, Sheelite & Sphalerite
Galena is the main ore mineral for lead. Because of its relatively low melting temperature, it can be easily smelted and has been used as a source of lead since ancient times. Galena has a cubic crystal system and can often be found as cubes or octahedra. Its shiny grey metallic lustre and heavy, dense nature make it easy to recognize. Galena often contains small amounts of silver, which add to its economic value.
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.
Orange-coloured scheelite, or calcium tungstate, is an important source of tungsten. Some scheelite also contains molybdenum, although it is not a main ore mineral for that metal. Well-formed dipyramidal crystals are prized by collectors and are sometimes used to make jewellery. Scheelite can be identified by its heaviness and greasy lustre, as well as its fluorescent properties. Under UV light it glows a bright blue! It forms in high-temperature igneous and metamorphic environments and is often found in veins with tin.
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral on Earth, present in many different types of rocks. Although usually clear or milky white in colour, quartz is found in a variety of colours due to impurities in the crystal structure. Pure quartz consists of silicon and oxygen only, but atoms of other elements often make their way into the quartz crystal structure, colouring the crystals. Some varieties of quartz, like purple amethyst and yellow citrine, are considered to be semi-precious gemstones and have been used since ancient times to make jewellery and decorative objects. Well-formed (euhedral) crystals of quartz have a hexagonal cross section and are highly collectible.
This sample comes from the Telkwa River area roughly 15 km southeast of Smithers. It contains small crystals of argentiferous (silver-bearing) galena with minor sphalerite, scheelite and quartz.
Several properties in the area have been staked historically for their galena, sphalerite and scheelite occurrences. These include the Whitewater, Red Rose and Black Prince properties. Most of them occur near granodiorite intrusions in narrow quartz veins with other gangue (waste) minerals apatite and orthoclase feldspar. None of them has been developed or mined.
Store: Association for Mineral Exploration (AME)
Accession #: AME 486
Primary Mineral: Argentiferous Galena
Secondary Mineral: Quartz, Scheelite & Sphalerite
Site Locality: Telkwa River
Location: Smither, British Columbia
Special Features: n/a