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Wulfenite

Posted by Maryanne Fender on

Wulfenite

  • Formula: Pb(MoO4) (Lead Molybdate) 
  • Crystal System: Tetragonal
  • Crystal Habit: Thin tabular crystals to sometimes blocky or pyramidal crystals
  • Color: Orange, yellow, red, gray, brown, olive green, black or combination of these colors rarely colorless
  • Luster: Adamantine, sub-adamantine, resinous Optical Property: Transparent to opaque
  • Streak: White Hardness (Mohs): 2.75 – 3 Tenacity: Brittle
  • Cleavage: Distinct/good Fracture: Sub-Conchoidal to uneven Density: 6.5 - 7.5 g/cm3
  • Member of: Scheelite Group
  • Name: Named in Honor of Franz Xavier von Wulfen (1728 – 1805) a Jesuit priest who was a mineralogist and botanist. Wulfen authored a book on the lead ores of Bleiberg, Austria.


Wulfenite is a secondary mineral formed in the oxidized zone of hydrothermal lead deposits. The molybdenum usually is introduced from external sources such as the surrounding rock into which the hydrothermal solutions were introduced. It is commonly associated with cerussite, anglesite, smithsonite, hemimorphite, vanadinite, pyromorphite, mimetite, des- cloisite and plattnerite. Wulfenite occurs at hundreds of mines throughout the world. 

In the United States the most famous localities are in Arizona and the list of “classic” wulfenite localities begin with the Red Cloud mine noted for its exceptional red crystals. Fine crystals came from the Old Yuma mine near Tucson. New Mexico’s finest come from the Stevenson Bennett mine in the Organ Mountains of Doña Ana County. 

There are only location of note in the east where wulfenite is commonly found is in the Phoenixville Mining District, Pennsylvania. Wulfenite there occurs in orange crystals up to 2-5 millimeters and usually in association with green pyromorphite. 

Shop for Wulfenite:  

USPS Heritage Stamps, lower right Red Cloud Wulfenite

USPS Heritage Stamps, lower right Red Cloud Wulfenite