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PYRARGYRITE, a mineral consisting of silver sulphantimonite, known also as dark red silver ore, an important It is closely allied to, and isomorphous with, the corresponding sulpharsenite known as proustite (q.v.) or light red silver ore. " Ruby silver " or red silver ore (German Rotgiiltigen) was mentioned by G. Agricola in 1546, but the two species so closely resemble one another that they were not completely distinguished until chemical analyses of both were made by J. L. Proust in 1804.

source of the metal.

Both crystallize in the ditrigonal pyramidal (hemimorphic- hemihedral) class of the rhombohedral system, possessing the same degree of symmetry as tourmaline. Crystals are perfectly developed and are Usually prismatic in habit; they are frequently attached at one end, the hemimorphic character being then evident by the fact that the oblique striations on the prism faces are directed towards one end only of the crystal. Twinning according to several laws is not uncommon. The angles are nearly the same in the two species; the rhombohedral angle rr' being 71 22' in pyrargyrite and 72 12' in proustite. The hexagonal prisms of pyrargyrite are usually terminated by a low hexagonal pyramid (310) or by a drusy basal plane. The colour of pyrargyrite is usually greyish-black and the lustre metallic-adamantine ; large crystals are opaque, but small ones and thin splinters are deep ruby-red by transmitted light, hence the name, from Gr. jrOp (fire) and &pyvpm (silver), given by E. F. Glocker in 1831. The streak is purplish-red, thus differing markedly from the scarlet streak of proustite and affording a ready means of distinguishing the two minerals. The hardness is 2^, and the specific gravity 5-85: the refractive indices and birefringence are very high, u = 3-p84, = 2-88l. There is no very distinct cleavage and the fracture is conchoidal. The mineral occurs in metalliferous veins with calcite, argentiferous galena, native silver, native arsenic, etc. The best crystallized specimens are from St Andreasberg in the Harz, Freiberg in Saxony, and Guanajuato in Mexico. It is not uncommon in many silver mines in the United States, but rarely as distinct crystals; and it has been found in some Cornish mines.

Although the " red silver ores " afford a good example of isomorphism, they rarely form mixtures; pyrargyrite rarely contains as much as 3 % of arsenic replacing antimony, and the same is true of antimony in proustite. Dimorphous with pyrargyrite and proustite respectively are the rare monoclinic species pyrostilpnite or fireblende (Ag 3 SbS 3 ) and xanthoconite (AgsAsSs): these four minerals thus form an isodimorphous group. (L. J. S.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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