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Gemstones 250x250

The Mineral wulfenite

Tabular Single Wulfenite

Wulfenite is a favorite among mineral collectors. It forms outstanding crystals and aggregates in a vibrant color that few minerals can match. Wulfenite forms a series with the rarer mineral Stolzite, which contains tungsten in place of the molybdenum. Wulfenite is named in honor of Austrian mineralogist Franz Xavier von Wulfen (1728-1805).

Chemical Formula

PbMoO4

Color

Bright yellow, orange, orange-red, and brown. Rarely gray, white, black, or blue.

Crystal System

Triclinic

Properties

Streak
White
Hardness
3
Transparency
Transparent to translucent
Specific Gravity
6.5 - 7
Luster
Adamantine, resinous
Cleavage
2,1
Fracture
Subconchoidal to uneven
Tenacity
Brittle
Other ID Marks
Occasionally fluorescent dark yellow or orange in shortwave UV light, and dark orange to red in longwave.

Crystal Habits

Most often as thin tabular crystals with a square or octagonal shape and very narrow mid-section. Crystals can be very flaky and fragile, and are often in platy aggregates. May also be in long-angled bipyramidal crystals, in dipyramidal crystals, and as thick, cube-like crystals.

3D Crystal Atlas

Additional Information

Composition
Lead molybdate
In Group
Tungstates and Molybdates
Striking Features
Brillant color, crystal habits, and high specific gravity
Environment
As a secondary mineral in hydrothermal replacement lead deposits.
Rock Type
Sedimentary, Metamorphic

Other Names

Yellow Lead Ore

Varieties

 -   Tungsten-rich variety of Wulfenite, and an intermediary mineral of the Wulfenite-Stolzite series.

Uses

Wulfenite is a very popular and highly sought-after mineral by collectors. It is used as a minor ore of lead and molybdenum.

Noteworthy Localities

The bulk of collector specimens of Wulfenite come from Northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. However, there are several exceptional worldwide localities for this mineral. The type locality of Wulfenite, known for producing thin orange octagonal-shaped crystals, is Bleiberg, Carinthia, Austria. A short distance across the border, in Slovenia, a similar occurrence exists at the mines in Mežica. Brilliant thin plates of Wulfenite of exceptional quality come from a relatively new deposit in China at the Jianshan Mine, Ruoqiang, Xinjiang Province. Iran has been producing excellent, blood-red crystals at the Chah-Kharboze Mine, Anarak Province.

Thin, platy clusters come from Mibladen (at he Adeghoul and Les Dalles Mines) and Touissit, Khénifra Province, Morocco; and thick, stocky crystals from M'fouati, in the Congo. A classic locality that produced crystals of Wulfenite with lighter color than other occurrences is Tsumeb, Namibia.

There are many important specimen-producing localities in Mexico, though the best are Villa Ahumada, Sierra De Los Lamentos, Chihuahua (as thick, blocky crystals); the San Francisco Mine, near Cucurpe, Sonora (as thin transparent yellow crystals); and the Ojuela Mine, Mapimi, Durango (as elongated rectangles and tapering prisms, often associated with green Mimetite).

In the U.S., virtually all notable Wulfenite localities are in the state of Arizona. Strikingly bright, reddish-orange crystals are world-famous from the Red Cloud Mine in the Trigo Mts, La Paz Co. Tabular, Orange-yellow Wulfenite came from the Rowley Mine, near Theba, Maricopa Co.; and lustrous crystals from the Old Yuma Mine, Tucson Mountains, Pima Co. Glassy, gemmy crystals have come from the 79 Mine, Hayden, Gila Co.; and nearby at the Finch Mine in a unique habit of Quartz and Chalcedony coating the Wulfenite. Tabular, platy crystals came from the Mammoth-Saint Anthony Mine, Tiger, Pinal Co.; and the Glove Mine, near Amado, Santa Cruz Co. Dense, tabular clusters of Wulfenite were found in the Defiance Mine, Gleeson, Cochise Co.; and an old-time Wulfenite occurrence is the Hilltop Mine, Rustler Park, Cochise Co.

Outside of Arizona, Wulfenite is not common in the U.S. Thick clusters come from the Stephenson-Bennett Mine, Doña Ana Co., New Mexico; and paper-thin crystals were mined at the Tecoma Mine, Lucin, Box Elder Co., Utah.

Common Mineral Associations

Calcite, Limonite, Barite, Mimetite, Vanadinite, Pyromorphite, Sphalerite, Molybdenite, Cerussite, Descloizite

Distingushing Similar Minerals

Wulfenite is a unique mineral and is easily distinguished from almost all minerals. Tabular orange Barite may resemble Wulfenite, although such forms of Barite usually do not occur in Wulfenite localities and are usually not as vibrantly colored. Stolzite is usually lighter in color, and occurs in distinct localities.


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