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Formula:   Zn2(FeMn)(PO4)2•4H2O   mineral photo

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Crystal:   Monoclinic  
Hardness:   3  
Spec. Gr.:   3.1  
Streak:   White  
Cleavage:   (100) perfect, (010), (1'02) distinct  
Location:   Cerro de Potosi, Bolivia

Phosphophyllite is one of the rarest and most beautiful of the mineral phosphates. Splendid crystals were found in the early 1950's in the Unificada de Potosi mine at Potosi, Bolivia. The crystal deposit was located well back on the 535-meter level. The area has long been abandoned, and is extremely hot at the working face, which is almost 14,000 feet above sea level. Humidity is always above 90%, making for terrible working conditions. Phosphophyllite crystals occur there in a solid wall of chalcopyrite, a most difficult situation to mine without high explosives. The world's finest crystals, up to twelve centimeters long, were found there.

Bibliography: Bancroft, Peter, Gem and Crystal Treasures, 1984, pg. 166-169.

University of California, Santa Barbara—Department of Earth Science
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