Native Elements

Native Elements

Sulfur can be easily identified by its yellow color and its "rotten egg" smell when burned. It can be found at or near crater rims of active volcanoes and is frequently associated with the cap rock of salt domes in Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is used in the manufacture of sulfuric acid as fertilizers, insecticides and explosives, as well as in paper manufacture.

This mineral is used in jewelry, tableware, coins, scientific equipment and in photographic processes. It was named after the Old English word "seolfor." It is formed in hydrothermal veins and unlike gold, it tarnishes.

Found in large placer deposits during the 16th century Spanish conquest of South America, this mineral was called "platina del Pinto" after the Rio Pinto, Columbia. The uses of this mineral depend chiefly upon its high melting point, resistance to chemical attack, and superior hardness. It is used in dentistry, surgical instruments, and jewelry.

Graphite was named from the Greek "graphein" meaning 'to write' by German chemist and mineralogist A.G. Werner in 1789. It occurs most commonly in metamorphic rocks and is used as a lubricant, the manufacture of refractory crucibles and of course, pencils. It is easily distinguished by its greasy feel and the dark marks it leaves on hands.

Long-prized for its beauty, this mineral is also resistant to chemical attack and workability. It has a relatively low melting point and is malleable. This mineral is often panned from placer deposits by taking advantage of its high density. Its principal use is as a monetary standard.

This mineral is the hardest natural substance known. It is formed deep in the mantle and is brought to the surface through kimberlite pipes. The name comes from the Greek adamas meaning “invincible”. It was first found in India where it remained virtually their only source until it was discovered in Brazil in 1725. It is one of the most important gemstones.

This was one of the first metals to be worked into implements and the first metal to be smelted from ores. Its excellent ductility and high conductivity assure its use in modern society. Today, the greatest use of this mineral is for electrical purposes. It is named from the Greek "kyprios" of Cyprus, the location of ancient copper mines; Latin "cuprum."

A bright metal of white color, this mineral was discovered in 1546 in Saxony, Germany. This is the chief ore of bismuth, which is used extensively for medicine and cosmetics.

Formed in hydrothermal veins, this mineral comes in tin-white, tarnishing to dark grey or black. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning "masculine," which stems from the belief that metals were different sexes.

Minerals that are composed of atoms from a single element are referred to as native elements.

The minerals in the gold group all occur together in the periodic table of elements and have a common crystal structure. They all are soft, can be hammered out into thin sheets (malleable), drawn into wire (ductile), and cut into thin shavings with a knife (sectile). All are excellent conductors of heat and electricity, display metallic luster, have low melting points, and unusually high specific gravities.