(That's the scientific picture of pyrite. I think. Or possibly some sort of virus.)
Pyrite is everywhere. Well, nearly everywhere. It’s likely to be anywhere you can find sulfur and iron, which is most places if you spend a lot of time underground or at some sort of sulfur and iron factory. Which to my knowledge don't exist. If you looked really REALLY close at pyrite, you would see a single atom of iron that has totally hooked up with a pair of hot atoms of sulfur, resulting in a steamy, HBO-style chemical formula of FeS2. You would think that this would mean that pyrite is 33% iron and 66% sulfur, but it isn’t. It’s actually 46.6% iron and 53.4% sulfur. I’m not here to explain why this is. You will just have to trust me.
*BEGIN FUN FACT*
Now, some of you may notice that piece isn’t really “metallic” anymore. Like all of us, pyrite is not long for this world. Too quickly the ravages of life take their toll upon the pyrite cube and work to turn it into something else. In this case the pyrite has weathered into a mineral called Limonite. In short, it has simply rusted. Like my Honda.
A fun little note about weathering pyrite is that it often forms a weak acid, which likes to find its way into the groundwater. Here's something special for the nerds! A chemical explination of how pyrite is actively trying to kill you!
4) FeS2 + 15/4 O2 + 7/2 H2O --> 2H2SO4 + Fe(OH)3 4
Ahh, the beautiful simplicity of chemistry! The problem is with that nasty little H2SO4 guy. This guy is known as sulfuric acid, and it's an environmental pain in the butt. Anyway, it gets into the water and makes all sorts of problems.
And here’s what it would look like if it were a super villain.
Pyrite is perhaps better known as “Fools Gold” because it looks like gold to fools. I think it looks a lot like gold, but I wouldn’t ever admit it because I don’t need people thinking I’m a fool. I hate everyone so much. Anyway, if you ever find yourself with a block of shiny, gold-colored mineral and need to figure out if it is gold or if you are a fool, then here’s what you do.
So what is it good for? Other than starting fires when people hit it with hammers and contaminating groundwater when it weathers, the answer may shock and amaze you. Pyrite isn’t really good for anything. Well, other than as a test to see if you are in the presence of fools I guess. Some countries use it as an iron ore, but it stuff produces so much sulfur it isn’t really a preferred source. So I suppose it falls under the large list of rocks that are best used as paperweights, doorstops, crude weapons, and the like.
will keep his eyes open for the stuff. Because I strive to only bring you the most accurate and crudely drawn information, let's take a look at these easy to understand stick-figure drawings of how pyrite forms as a result of magmatic intrusion thingies.
The general idea behind those pictures are that lava squishes into the rocks and sends boiling hot earth-waters into the surrounding areas. This water usually contains a ton of crazy minerals that form all sorts of things, including pyrite.
And that is Pyrite. Kinda. Well more or less.