Galena

Galena is well worth a quick warning – it is an ore of Lead, and therefore quite toxic. Safe handling procedures are encouraged – if possible wear gloves, and if not, be sure to wash your hands after exposure.

There are many sources of Galena in the UK, and Lead has been mined from the Mendips for many years, where it occurs naturally alongside Silver. The Romans used Lead from the Mendip Hills in their plumbing in England. Galena is a grey metallic looking substance, slightly shiny, and incredibly heavy for its size.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Galena is an ore of Lead, sometimes referred to as ‘lead glance’.

It is the most important ore of Lead, and also an important ore of Silver.

It has been used since ancient times, sometimes as an eye makeup – sometimes as decorations, sometimes for metal casting. Galena is thought to have been named by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder,

The amount of Galena and other mineral resources in Britain was almost certainly one of the reasons behind the Roman conquest. Galena was essential to the Romans, with the lead being used for plumbing, aqueducts, pewter, and the extraction of Silver via cupellation.

Research has shown that British lead was exported across the Roman empire – it has been found in Pompeii, destroyed in AD 79 by the volcano Vesuvius.

One of the oldest surviving mines in the UK, Odin Mine, was a source of Galena. It was producing ore in the 1200s, but many believe it could have been worked as early as the tenth century.

While its use will always remain primarily industrial, Galena is also prized by mineral collectors due to its interesting crystalline formations.

 


Locales

Galena deposits occur worldwide, found in various environments.

Notable deposits are found in the UK, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, Spain, and the USA. It is difficult to define a notable deposit – some may be Galena occurring with other minerals for an interesting specimen; some may occur with Silver, some may have been used since antiquity as a source of Lead.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A Lead sulfide with the formula PbS.
Colours and Variations
Steel grey to dark grey.
Streak
Steel grey.
Luster
Metallic, but dull when exposed to air.
Fracture
Subconchoidal.
Transparency
Opaque.
Crystal habit
Crystalline cubes, octahedrons, and combinations of the two are common. Galena also occurs as massive, grainy, fibrous, and as fragments of crystals.
Mohs hardness
2.5 – 3.0
Specific Gravity
7.4 – 7.6
Easiest testing method
Colour, crystal formation, cleavage, and considerable weight.
Common Treatments

Photos of Galena

Galena-167843
Calcite-Galena-Quartz-rom14a
Galena PbS (13403889114)

Galena, Kenora mine, OK
Galena-104080
Galena-121033

Galena - Streak color
Galena (12244014584)
Galena-112811

Hazards and Warnings

Galena is an ore of Lead, and therefore quite toxic. Safe handling procedures are encouraged – if possible wear gloves, and if not, be sure to wash your hands after exposure.

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

  • الغالينة كبرتيد الرصاص

Hindi:

Portuguese:

  • galeno

Bengali:

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

Italian:

Russian:

  • галенит
  • свинцовый блеск

French:

  • galène

Japanese:

  • 方鉛鉱

Spanish:

German:

Korean:

  • 방연광

Thai:

  • กาลีนา

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 方铅矿
  • 方鉛礦

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links