THE MINERAL CERUSSITE


Cerussite is a popular collection mineral. It is famous for its great sparkle, great density and amazing twinned crystals. Cerussite is a minor ore of lead. It has a very high luster due mostly to the lead content. Just as leaded crystal glass sparkles more brilliantly because of its lead content, so too does cerussite. The lead raises the index of refraction of cerussite to just over 2.07. The lead is also responsible for its increased specific gravity. Cerussite has one of the highest densities for a transparent mineral. It is over six and a half times as dense as water. Most rocks and minerals average only around three times the density of water.

Crystallographers can appreciate cerussite's sparkle and density; but it is cerussite's wonderfully twinned crystals that get them excited! This mineral can form some geometrically intricate structures and spoked star shapes that simply are amazing. Cerussite belongs to the Aragonite Group of minerals. A group that as a whole is well known for twinning with commonly twinned members such as aragonite, witherite and strontianite Twinning is most definitely common in cerussite and besides the intricate structures mentioned already, singular twins are also interesting. There are three basic types of twinning in cerussite: Elbow or chevron shaped twins, cyclic twins and last but not least, reticulated twins. The elbow or chevron shaped twins are the most common and are generally seen on most specimens. The cyclic twins often form star shapes with six "spokes" extending from the star. Very beautiful! The reticulated twins are classics and form complex interconnected beams of crystals. So intricate are these specimens they appear to have been constructed. They truly are an awesome mineralogical wonder. Cerussite twins are a must for collectors who are fond of twinned crystals.

Cerussite is found in the oxidation zone of lead deposits usually associated with galena. Some specimens show cerussite crusts around a galena core as the oxidation was "caught in the act" so to speak. Cerussite can make nice associations with galena and another lead mineral anglesite, a yellow colored, lead sulfate. Cerussite is simply a classic!  

When gold was discovered near Leadville, Colorado (before it was a town), panning for alluvial gold was difficult because of the dense brown sand in the streams. This sand was later found to be primarily cerussite, and contained significant amounts of silver. This started a silver mining boom, and ultimately lead to huge production of silver, lead, and zinc.

The name "cerussite" is from the Latin word cerussa, meaning white lead.  It is also commonly misspelled, often with only one "s", or with two r's, or both: cerrussite, cerusite, and cerrusite are all seen instead of the correct spelling, cerussite.  It has also been known as Horn Silver and lead spar.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Color is usually colorless or white, also gray, yellow, and even blue-green.
  • Luster is adamantine to almost submetallic and sometimes greasy.
  • Transparency Crystals are transparent to translucent.
  • Crystal System is orthorhombic; 2/m 2/m 2/m.
  • Crystal Habits twinning is common and expected (see above), single crystals can be prismatic with blunted pyramidal terminations. Some specimens show acicular white crystals. Also, reniform, earthy, and crusty varieties are found.
  • Cleavage is not as good as other carbonates, but still considered good in one direction.
  • Fracture is conchoidal and brittle.
  • Hardness is 3-3.5.
  • Specific Gravity is 6.5+ (very dense for a generally transparent mineral).
  • Streak is white or colorless.
  • Other Characteristics: Refractive index of 2.07 (very high) and prismatic crystals are striated lengthwise.
  • Associated Minerals are barite, calcite, anglesite, and other secondary minerals and especially galena.
  • Notable Occurrences include Tsumeb, Nambia; Congo; Morocco; Australia; Germany, Leadville, Colorado and Arizona, USA.
  • Best Field Indicators are its crystal habit (especially twins), heaviness, high refraction and luster.
This Site Awarded
Available CERUSSITE specimens:
CERUSSITE specimen CER-22
$ 60.00 -50% = $ 30.00
Dims: 2.43x1.47x1.04in (6.18x3.73x2.65cm) .... Wt: 4.6oz (131g) .... Loc: Tsumeb, Namibia
Judging by its heft, this specimen is mostly cerussite. And judging by the way the crystal striations all line up, it must actually be a single crystal instead of the half-dozen (plus hundreds of tiny additions) that it appears to be at first glance. It shows four sides of a six-rayed star. Thre are many other minerals present, most of which I won't venture to guess what they are, but there does appear to be clusters of long thin prismatic quartz crystals, some tiny brown cubes that look much like fluorite, and a dusting of a blue-green mineral.
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CER-22
$ 30.00
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CERUSSITE specimen CER-26
$ 37.00 -20% = $ 29.60
Dims: 1.08x0.76x0.53in (2.74x1.92x1.35cm) .... Wt: 0.67oz (19.0g) .... Loc: Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia
This is a classic (although imperfect) cyclic twin crystal of cerussite. The crystals are nearly colorless and relatively transparent (significant portions are cloudy), with a nearly vitreous luster marred by minute scratches. There is an accompanying lime-green mineral that looks like adamite, but I believe is the much more rare lead mineral duftite, because it does not fluoresce.
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CER-26
$ 29.60
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CERUSSITE specimen CER-27
$ 34.00 -20% = $ 27.20
Dims: 1.82x0.93x0.69in (4.63x2.35x1.75cm) .... Wt: 2.16oz (61.0g) .... Loc: Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia
Mostly cerussite, this specimen has numerous inclusions and occlusions of various black and white minerals, marring its transparency. Also, several areas show fracture damage. Still, the surface texture of the remaining good faces are appealing. A loupe reveals that the dullness of some of the crystal faces is due to intense pitting, often with tiny limonite bits inside, and also that there are numerous cavities lined with pristine crystal faces.
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CER-27
$ 27.20
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CERUSSITE specimen CER-25
$ 40.00 -20% = $ 32.00
Dims: 2.00x1.83x1.00in (5.09x4.64x2.54cm) .... Wt: 4.4oz (126g) .... Loc: Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are several very nice, intricately shaped cerussite crystals on this specimen. The bad news is that they are not transparent and vitreous, rather they are white with a dull luster and effectively opaque (technically they are translucent, as a bright light does shine through). I do have some other minor good news: they are accompanied by hundreds of tiny, perfectly transparent, vitreous, yellow anglesite crystals that provide all of the sparkle of the specimen but are otherwise too small to examine without a loupe.
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CER-25
$ 32.00
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see this List of ALL specimens including SOLD ones
 

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