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September-October 2010

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Connoisseur's Choice: Calaverite, Cripple Creek, Colorado

With the exception of native gold and electrum, the gold telluride calaverite may well be the most important gold ore mineral. Its weathering characteristics make identification of deposits dominated by it difficult, as illustrated by the unusually late discovery of the phenomenal Cripple Creek district, essentially subsequent to the development of all other Colorado gold districts. Unlike most gold deposits, weathering of those characterized by relatively abundant telluride minerals do not commonly result in the formation of significant placers, the discovery of which are often the precursor to the identification of nearby lode deposits. Weathering typically results in the formation of very fine-grained and dull, mustard-colored secondary gold that is disbursed as tiny particles as the individual telluride grains decompose. Still, several of the world's most exciting gold occurrences are either dominated by or contain significant amounts of gold tellurides. Sylvanite, another important gold telluride, was featured in a previous Connoisseur's Choice (Cook 2005), and its sibling, calaverite, has rightly been suggested for this issue, much of which is devoted to Colorado minerals.

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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