P is for Pyrite

Iron pyrite is found almost everywhere, and certainly turns up often in Arizona. Much of our Arizona history is about mining, and many a mining enthusiast and rock collector has great samples of fool’s gold. It is also called marcasite when mixed with silver. Although sometimes mistaken for gold, it is very different. Gold is made up of only gold atoms, while pyrite is a combination of iron and sulphur atoms. It is pretty easy to distinguish the two. Pyrite is not as dense, is harder, and has a different color than gold. Gold weighs about one and a half times the weight of pyrite.Pyrite is very common, and so is not valuable, except as a pretty collector’s item.

The rough face of a small pyrite cube

The rough face of a small pyrite cube

Pyrite forms block crystals

Pyrite forms block crystals

Pyrite dodecahedrons

Pyrite dodecahedrons

A large cluster of pyrite cube crystals

A large cluster of pyrite cube crystals

Drill core sample with pyrite inclusions

Drill core sample with pyrite inclusions

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