GMS     The Georgia Mineral Society, Inc.
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Norcross, GA 30093-3059


Dave Babulski, Ed.D.
("Tips and Trips", Vol. XXXIII/8, August 2004, page 10.)


This month's installment of the Micromount Corner will address the "Wonderful World of Wulfenite". Named after the Austrian mineralogist, Franz Xavier von Wulfen (1728 – 1805), wulfenite is one of the most sought after micromount specimens. Officially classed as a lead molybdate, although other elements can sometimes substitute for lead, providing a range of mineral compositions. Like the mineral calcite, wulfenite crystallizes in a number of habits and appears in a wide range of colors from white to black and a whole range from yellow to red. There is even a green Wulfenite. This mineral occurs in the oxidized portion of zinc-lead deposits and as such is often associated with other colorful secondary lead zinc minerals. Fortunately for the micro-mounter, some of the crystal habits of wulfenite only occur as micro-crystals. The Fourth Edition of Dana's Handbook of Mineralogy has some very nice drawings of the more common wulfenite crystal habits.

The most common crystal habits are:
  1. Thick and thin tabular plates with beveled edges,

  2. Prismatic crystals with pyramidal terminations,

  3. Bi-pyramidal pseudooctahedral crystals. These are usually very small and are exceedingly rare,

  4. Thin tabular plates with the corners clipped forming an octahedral outline, and

  5. Blocky octahedral looking crystals.
There are enough color and crystal habit variations on a theme to provide years of collecting for just this one mineral species. My own micromount collection contains over 150 wulfenite specimens, and I have just begun to scratch the surface for this species. Although the type locality is in Austria, the largest producers of wulfenite specimens are the desert southwest of the United States and Mexico. One of the best Suppliers of wulfenite mineral specimens is David Shannon Minerals. Their latest mineral list has over twenty mineral occurrences for wulfenite. I have found that ordering thumbnail size specimens keeps the cost very reasonable and still gives me at least two or three good mounts from each thumbnail size specimen. In the last micro-mount column, I described a way to make accurate crystal drawings. Wulfenite specimens make excellent drawing subjects as their crystals tend be a bit larger than the crystals of most other mineral species. If you are just starting out in mineral micro-mounting, wulfenite makes an excellent early addition to your collection.


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