Orpiment on pyrite

Orpiment on pyrite

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This image is part of the feature Nature's Paintbox

Credit: SINCLAIR STAMMERS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Yellow crystals of orpiment (arsenic sulphide) on a sample of pyrite (iron sulphide). Orpiment forms soft, heavy, fragile crystals with a greasy lustre. It fuses easily, giving off arsenic fumes with a strong garlic smell that conceal fumes of sulphur dioxide. The mineral is deposited by hot springs but is also found around fumaroles, metamorphic dolomites and in low-temperature hydrothermal veins associated with realgar and native arsenic. Orpiment is used to remove hair in the tanning of hides and as a source of arsenic. Pyrite is the most widespread sulphide mineral.

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Keywords: arsenic sulphide, earth science, geology, geothermal, minerals, orpiment, pyrite, sulphide mineral

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