My watch list  


Galena lanita

Galena crystal from Galena, Kansas
Chemical formulalead sulfide (PbS)
ColorLead gray, silvery
Crystal habitCubes and octahedra, tabular and sometimes skeletal crystals
Crystal systemIsometric hexoctahedral
FractureFlat (when cubic) to even
Mohs Scale hardness2.5 - 2.75
Refractive indexOpaque
StreakLead gray
Specific gravity7.4 - 7.6


Galena is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. It is the most important lead ore mineral.

Galena is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes in the cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms. It is often associated with the minerals sphalerite, calcite and fluorite.


Lead ore deposits

Galena deposits often contain significant amounts of silver as included silver sulfide mineral phases or as limited solid solution within the galena structure. These argentiferous galenas have long been the most important ore of silver in mining. In addition zinc, cadmium, antimony, arsenic and bismuth also occur in variable amounts in lead ores. Selenium substitutes for sulfur in the structure constituting a solid solution series. The lead telluride mineral altaite has the same crystal structure as galena. Within the weathering or oxidation zone galena alters to anglesite (lead sulfate) or cerussite (lead carbonate).

Galena deposits are found in Wales, France, Romania, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Scotland, England, Australia, and Mexico. Noted deposits include those at Freiberg, Saxony; Cornwall, Derbyshire, and Cumberland, England; the Sullivan mine of British Columbia; and Broken Hill, Australia. Galena also occurs at Mount Hermon in Northern Israel. In the United States it occurs most notably in the Mississippi Valley type deposits of the Lead Belt in southeastern Missouri, and in similar environments in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Galena also was a major mineral of the zinc-lead mines of the tri-state district around Joplin in southwestern Missouri and the adjoining areas of Kansas and Oklahoma. Galena is also an important ore mineral in the silver mining regions of Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Montana. Of the latter, the Coeur d'Alene district of northern Idaho was most prominent.

Galena is the official state mineral of the U. S. states: Missouri and Wisconsin.

Galena uses

One of the earliest uses of galena was as kohl, which in Ancient Egypt, was applied around the eyes to reduce the glare of the desert sun and to repel flies, which were a potential source of disease.[1]

Galena is a semiconductor with a small bandgap of about 0.4 eV which found use in early wireless communication systems. For example, it was used as the crystal in crystal radio sets, in which it was used as a point-contact diode to detect the radio signals. The galena crystal was used with a safety pin or similar sharp wire, and was known as a "cat's whisker". Making such wireless sets was a popular home hobby in the North of England during the 1930s. Derbyshire was one of the main areas where Galena was mined. Scientists that were linked to this application are Karl Ferdinand Braun and Sir Jagdish Bose. In modern wireless communication systems, galena detectors have been replaced by more reliable semiconductor devices, however, silicon point-contact microwave detectors still exist in the market.

See also


  • Klein, Cornelis and Cornelius S. Hurlbut, Jr. (1985) Manual of Mineralogy, Wiley, 2nd ed., pp. 274-276, ISBN 0-471-80580-7
  • Webmineral data
  • Mindat with location data
  • Franklin and Sterling Hill mineral deposits
  • Mineral Data Publishing - PDF


  1. ^ Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt. (New York: The Museum, 2005), p. 10, ISBN 1-58839-170-1
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Galena". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE