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Arsenolite - Occurrence, Properties, and Distribution

Arsenolite is an arsenic mineral that was first described in 1854 for an occurrence in the St. Andreasberg District of the Harz Mountains, Lower Saxony in Germany. The mineral was named after the presence of arsenic in its composition.

Properties of Arsenolite

The following are the key properties of Arsenolite:

  • Cell Data
    • Space Group: Fd3m (synthetic)
    • a = 11.074
    • Z = 16

  • Crystal Data
    • Cubic
    • Point Group: 4/m 3 2/m
    • Commonly as tiny octahedra, sometimes modified by the dodecahedron, in aggregates or crusts; botryoidal, stalactitic, earthy to pulverulent
    • X-ray Powder Pattern: 3.195 (100), 6.39 (63), 2.541 (38), 2.7687 (28), 1.957 (27), 1.551 (22), 1.670 (21)

  • Chemical Composition
    Elements Content
    As 75.74
    O 24.26
    Total 100

  • Optical Properties
    • Optical Class: Isotropic; may be anomalously anisotropic
    • n = 1.755

  • Estimated Properties
    Electron density Bulk density (electron density) = 3.37 g/cm3
    note: Specific gravity of Arsenolite = 3.70 g/cm3
    Photoelectric PEArsenolite = 53.81 barns/electron
    U = PEArsenolite x ρ Electron density = 181.14 barns/cm3
    Fermion index Fermion index = 0.0001
    Boson index = 0.99
    Arsenolite is not radioactive

How to Identify Arsenolite

Arsenolite can be red, light yellow, white, or blue in color. It has a transparent to translucent appearance, vitreous luster, non-magnetic characteristic, white streak and perfect cleavage. It develops conchoidal fractures in brittle materials that are characterized by smooth surfaces. It can be formed as crust-like aggregates on matrix.

The mineral has a density of 3.7 g/cm3, and a hardness of 1.5.

Global Distribution

Arsenolite is distributed in the following places:

  • Wittichen, Black Forest, Germany
  • Lauta, near Marienberg, Johanngeorgenstadt, and Annaberg, Saxony
  • J´achymov (Joachimsthal) and Kuttenberg, Czech Republic
  • Saint-Etienne, Loire, and elsewhere in France
  • Dolcoath mine, Cambourne, the Phoenix United mines, Linkinhorne, and elsewhere in Cornwall, England
  • Plaka mine, Laurium, Greece
  • Sondalo, Sondrio, and Borgofranco, Torino, Italy
  • Manhattan, Nye Co. in the Ophir mine, Comstock Lode, Storey Co. USA
  • Simon, Mineral Co. Nevada
  • United Verde mine, Jerome, Yavapai Co. Arizona
  • Armagosa mine, San Bernardino Co. California
  • Lake Wanapitei, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Watson Creek, British Columbia

Occurrence of Arsenolite and Useful Mineral Association

Arsenolite occurs as an oxidation product of other arsenic-bearing sulfides in hydrothermal veins, and can be formed in mine fires, or in burning coal seams.

It is closely associated with erythrite, orpiment, realgar, and claudetite.


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