THE MINERAL QUETZALCOATLITE

  • Chemistry: Zn8Cu4(TeO3)3(OH)18, Zinc Copper Tellurite Hydroxide
  • Class: Sulfates
  • Subclass: Tellurites
  • Uses: A very minor ore of tellurium and as mineral specimens.
  • Specimens

Quetzalcoatlite is a very rare and an unusual mineral from Mexico. The bright blue translucent mineral is named for the Aztec God: Quetzalcoatl (which means "Feathered Serpent"). Another Mexican mineral named for a God is tlalocite which is named for the Aztec Rain God: Tlaloc. Some other minerals named for gods include aegirine, after Aegir (the Scandinavian god of the sea) and neptunite, after Neptune (the Roman god of the sea). There are no hard and fast rules for naming minerals, except that the first name is the official name (generally). Minerals are named after their areas of discovery (or type locality, see franklinite); their discover or a scientist of noteworthy proportions (see smithsonite or weloganite); their typical crystal forms (see tetrahedrite) and minerals have even been named for their chemistries (see cavansite). But few minerals have been named after gods.

Quetzalcoatlite is one of several different, but all rare tellurium minerals that come from the Moctezuma area of Sonora, Mexico. There are three formerly prolific mines from this area that have provided science with many new tellurium minerals. They are the Bambollita Mine, the Moctezuma Mine and the San Miguel Mine. The Bambollita Mine has also been known as the La Oriental Mine and is the type locality for Quetzalcoatlite. The Moctezuma Mine has also been known as the La Bambolla Mine; which is often confused with the Bambollita Mine, as one might imagine. Below is an incomplete list of tellurium minerals from the Moctezuma area.

Tellurium Minerals From The Moctezuma Area Mines:

Mineral: Chemistry: Mineral: Chemistry:
Altaite Lead Telluride Mroseite Calcium Tellurium
Carbonate Oxide
Bambollaite Copper Selenide Telluride Paratellurite Tellurium Oxide
Benleonardite Silver Antimony Arsenic
Telluride Sulfide
Poughite Hydrated Iron Tellurite Sulfate
Burckhardtite Hydrated Lead Iron Manganese
Tellurium Aluminum Silicate Hydroxide
Quetzalcoatlite Zinc Copper Tellurite Hydroxide
Carlfriesite Calcium Tellurite Schmitterite Uranyl Tellurite
Cervelleite Silver Telluride Sulfide Sonoraite Hydrated Iron Tellurite Hydroxide
Choloalite Hydrated Lead Copper Tellurite Spiroffite Manganese Tellurite
Cliffordite Uranium Tellurite Tellurite Tellurium Oxide
Cuzticite Hydrated Iron Tellurate Tellurium native Te
Denningite Calcium Manganese Zinc Tellurite Tetradymite Bismuth Telluride Sulfide
Emmonsite Hydrated Iron Tellurite Tlalocite Hydrated Copper Zinc
Tellurate Chloride Hydroxide
Eztlite Hydrated Iron Lead Tellurate Hydroxide Tlapallite Calcium Lead Copper
Zinc Sulfate Tellurate
Mackayite Iron Tellurite Hydroxide Xocomecatlite Copper Tellurate Hydroxide
Moctezumite Lead Uranyl Tellurite Zemannite Hydrated Magnesium
Zinc Iron Tellurite

THE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF QUETZALCOATLITE:

  • Color is a bright blue.
  • Luster is vitreous.
  • Transparency: Crystals are translucent.
  • Crystal System is hexagonal; 6 2 2.
  • Crystal Habits include small granular crystals.
  • Cleavage is good.
  • Hardness is 3.
  • Specific Gravity is approximately 6.1 (very heavy for translucent minerals)
  • Streak is white.
  • Associated Minerals include tellurium minerals such as dugganite and khinite and various other tellurates and tellurites Also associated with gold.
  • Notable Occurrences are limted to the Bambollita Mine (La Oriental), Sierra La Huerta, Moctezuma, Sonora, Mexico and at least one specimen was found at the Old Guard Mine, Tombstone, Arizona.
  • Best Field Indicators are locality, color, density and cleavage.
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