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November-December 2016

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Munakataite, Pb2Cu2(Se4+O3)(SO4)(OH)4, and Other Selenium Minerals from Tsumeb, Namibia

The occurrence of munakataite, a rare lead-copper selenite, is reported from the Tsumeb mine, in Namibia, for the first time (fig. 1). It occurs in association with other rare minerals that contain essential selenium, including plumboselite and clausthalite, which have been confirmed on the same specimen, and a fourth species, orlandiite, that has been provisionally identified. The matrix of the specimen comprises mimetite, smithsonite, galena, and quartz. Selenium is a moderately scarce element at Tsumeb; according to Lombaard et al. (1986), the average tenor of selenium in run-of-mine ore over the ten-year period between 1964 and 1974 was 50 parts per million. Hitherto, however, only three minerals containing essential selenium (clausthalite, plumboselite, and umangite) have been reported. The occurrence of at least three (and possibly four) selenium-bearing minerals in the same paragenesis makes this specimen particularly intriguing.

Shields Flynn has a bachelor's degree in geology and has been a mineral dealer for forty-seven years and a collector for seventy years. He wrote “The Schloss Freudenstein terra mineralia Collection” in the March/April 2009 issue of Rocks & Minerals.

Dr. Isabel F. Barton is a research scientist with the University of Arizona's Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, teaching and conducting research in mining engineering, geology, and mineralogy

Dr. Mark Feinglos is a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center as well as an associate in the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He was awarded the Pinch Medal by the Mineralogical Association of Canada in 2003.       

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