Monday, September 19, 2011

Enargite. The New Male Enhancement

Haha! Just kidding. Today's mineral won't "enlongen your manhood". In fact, if it does ANYTHING to your manhood you are probably holding it wrong. Geology isn't here to help you out in the bedroom. Pervert.

No, today's mineral is much like every other mineral out there. It sits there on your desk, and whenever you look at it it seems to say "Hey, why not go on dates instead of climbing around rock piles to collect more rocks that you'll stick in your garage and never look at again?" Rocks can be very observant. The answer is that rocks can't reject you. No, no matter how many night-farts you make, they'll never say they are too busy to go out with you. Anyway, let's move on.

Today's mineral is Enargite.

The enargite is that shiny grey stuff in that rock I'm holding. The white stuff is quartz. Go ahead and ignore that. Also ignore the lint-roller and half-eaten box of donuts in the background. They have very little to do with enargite. Well, unless your enargite is covered with lint. Let's take a closer look.

Nope, no lint. While we are on the topic, let's discuss rock collection-maintenance. Rocks are dusty. No matter how much you wash them, they will always seem to be covered in dust. And the more rocks you have, the more likely that everything else you own will become covered in dust as well. This includes your action figures, comic books, self-help books, even your ticket stub to the 2008 Comic Con. Yes, rocks will turn all your shrines to social inadequacy into dusty piles. Just like all the hopes and dreams you once had. This paragraph is bringing me down.

Anyway, a good way to keep the dust down is to keep all your rocks in the garage. In addition to keeping the dust down, it will help delay the process of people finding out that you are a weirdo who collects rocks. This paragraph is also bringing me down. Let's find some happy things to focus on. Here's a picture of enargite next to a bag of off-brand Cookie Crisp cereal.

And here it is next to some diabetes.

Sing it, enargite!

And here is a picture of a neat little spider carving I bought at a gas station once.

So what do those pictures tell us? Let's go create a LIST OF FACTS THAT WE KNOW (LOFTWK)

1. Enargite hates to pay for brand-name cereals
2. Enargite has a "metallic" luster. Remember what that means? That refers to that fresh, classy chrome look that fresh enargite has going on.
3. Enargite had a hit jazz record in the early 80's.
4. Rocks carved to look like other things are pretty cool.

There we go. That's a good start. Well, actually that's a horrible start. Those pictures don't tell us anything at all (except for fact #2). We'll have to turn to a book to figure out some real facts.

Behold! The big green book of dryly-delivered mineral facts!

This book may sound boring, but it looks great on a bookshelf. Well, it does when it's on there with a bunch of Bernstein Bears books. I should update my library collection.

So what does this book tell us? Well, it says here that enargite has a pathetic hardness of 3. That's pretty soft, nearly to the point where you could scratch it with your fingernails. With all that metallic luster you would expect it to be harder, but it isn't to be. Geology is full of disappointments. But before you lose all patience with our disappointingly soft mineral friend, watch as it brings these plants back to life!

BEHOLD! OUR MINERAL GRANTS ETERNAL LIFE TO UGLY BROWN PLANTS!!! Nah, I just watered them. But wouldn't that be cool?

Alright, so what's next? Let's look into what makes enargite. The answer may shock and amaze you.

Probably not though.

Enargite is made up of three atoms of our old friend copper...

Mixed with four atoms of our even older friend sulfur...

And a single atom of, well, arsenic.

For a final chemical formula of Cu3AsS4. Or as I like to think of it, (Pennies)3(Deadly)(Stinky)4. Remember how I once said that minerals with sulfur in them are known as Sulfates? Well, this one isn't. It's known as a sulfosalt. Want to know why? Yeah, me too.


Enargite has one perfect cleavage!

I found that picture while I was googling "Amazed", so stop thinking that I spend my days at work googling "cleavage". And besides, that's not the type of cleavage I was talking about. In geology, cleavage refers to how it breaks when you smash it (more or less). In enargite's case, it would smash in such a way that only one perfectly flat face would form. That's why it looks all shiny in the light! In fact, that's how it got its name! "Enargite" means "distinct" in Latin, which refers to the distinct cleavage. It's a handy way to tell the difference between two minerals that otherwise look exactly alike. Which most of them do. Yes, cleavage is an amazing thing.


So, where were we? Ah yes, enargite. So why are we wasting our time even talking about this busty mineral? Well, I'll tell you. We can mine it! Not only can we, we do! Or did, I don't know if we do any more. If you can find enough of this stuff to mine (which is hard to do as it's somewhat uncommon), you can pull off the stinky and deadly parts of it and end up with pure copper, which you can then sell to your local copper interest.

Remember that chemical formula we looked at above? Well, that results in a mineral that is 48.3% copper! That's not great, but it will do. I don't know what you are going to do with the 19.1% arsenic or 32.6 percent sulfur. Maybe become that person who lives out on the edge of town and shoots at people who wander onto their property. They always seem to have lots of pretty unusual things on their land. You're going to need to grow a beard though. This includes the women.


So we can mine it for copper. As internet geologists, we don't care much about wealth. If we did we would put more efforts into our jobs. No, we are interested in knowing the origins of the very building blocks of our planet. Also, we appear to be interested in Chocodiles. Those things are so good. Anyway, based on our never-ending thirst for knowledge, it may interest you to know that enargite turns into all sorts of other things once oxygen gets involved. Yes-sir-ree, things get down-right funky.

Enargite isn't particularly stable. It's not going to blow up and tear your hands off, but it isn't really happy with itself. And so, it should come as no surprise that it will take any opportunity it can get to turn into something else. For example, say this thing happened....

(That's enargite. I hope you realized that. What if it met up with some water?)

You end up with this!

A fuzzy green mineral! Our weak, bosomy enargite became a bustling community of green stuff! That green stuff is named Olivenite. I'm not going to go into the chemistry behind it all. Knowledge may be power, but it's also really boring.

But behold! The magic doesn't stop there! Olivenite isn't long for this world either! Look at this table! LOOK AT THIS TABLE!!!

As you can see, all sorts of rocky spawn are created by the unearthly mating of olivenite and water! In addition to all them pretty minerals, arsenic and sulfur get released into the air and water and eventually into your liver! Ahhhh, geology.

And so, there we are. Enargite. Maybe not the most fascinating of minerals, but probably one of the minerals you would want to wash your hands after touching. If this blog post just isn't scratching your itch for enargite, you can always go find some for yourself at the Tintic mining district in Utah, or perhaps the Butte mining district in Montana. I'm not driving though.