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September-October 2009

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Connoisseur's Choice: Chalcophyllite

Wheal Gorland, Gwennap, Cornwall, England



Some minerals, such as tsumebite and leadhillite, are named after locations, whereas others, such as frondelite and robertsite, commemorate famous mineralogists. Then there are those names that provide a clue to the structure or chemistry of the mineral. This month’s Connoisseur’s Choice mineral—chalcophyllite—falls into the latter category, its name having been derived from the Greek words for both its major element (copper) and its typical morphology (leaflike). This attractive, rare mineral appears to have been first described from material collected in Germany, although there is no specific reference to the exact location; the type material is in the Freiberg Mining Academy collection in Germany (Anthony et al. 2000). A historic synonym is tamarite, for specimens from Wheal Tamar, Devon, England.
Dr. Rob Bowell, a consultant geochemist in the mining industry, is an avid collector of microminerals and minerals formed in the oxide zone of mineral deposits.

Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


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