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Formula:   MnCO3   mineral photo

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Crystal:   Hexagonal  
Hardness:   3.5-4  
Spec. Gr.:   3.7  
Streak:   White  
Cleavage:   Rhombohedral  
Location:   Sweet Home Mine, Alma, Colorado  

Rhodochrosite is a pink to red manganese carbonate mineral. It occurs in ore veins as well as in sedimentary or metamorphic rocks. It associates with gold, silver and manganese ores. It forms in rhombohedral crystals on beds of quartz crystals, and with pyrite crystals. The state of Colorado probably has more high-quality rhodochrosite crystal deposits than any other comparable-sized area on earth. Principal areas in Colorado are: Gilpin County's Moose mine at Willis Gulch; Clear Creek County's Urad mine at Red Mountain; Lake County's Climax mine; and Park County's Tanner Bay mine at Buckskin Gulch, the Russia mine on Mt. Lincoln, and the Sweet Home mine at Alma. This particular site has produced the world's finest rhodochrosite crystals. Rhodochrosite was undoubtedly known to early peoples, but in spite of its beauty, inherent softness probably discouraged its use in jewelry.

Bibliography: Sinkankas, John, Gemstones of North American, 1976, V2, pg. 258-259.

Bancroft, Peter, Gem and Crystal Treasures, 1984, pg. 56-61.

University of California, Santa Barbara—Department of Earth Science
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