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other names: Mercury Blend, Mercury Blend, Cinnabar
mineral class: Sulfides
chemical formula: HgS
Chemical elements: Mercury, sulfur
Similar minerals: Cuprit, Proustite, Ruby Sulfur
shine: Diamond shine possible
crystal structure: trigonal
mass density: 8,2
Mohs hardness: 2,5
stroke color: red
transparency: translucent to opaque
General information about Cinnabarit:
Of the Cinnabarit or vermilion describes a common mineral that is counted among the sulfides and sulfosalts. Its name derives from the Latin word "cinnabaris" or the Greek "kinnabari". Both terms developed from the Persian word "zinifrah," meaning "dragon's blood." The Persian name of the mineral refers to its distinctive color. In the German-speaking area, the names Bergzinnober, Merkurblende and Mercury Blende are common.
Cinnabarit usually appears in an intensely bright red, but can also be brownish red, gray or reddish black. It forms tabular, rhombohedral or prismatic crystals that can grow together into twins. The aggregates of Cinnabarits are massive or grainy. The transparency of the red mineral ranges from opaque to completely transparent. Cinnabarit has a scarlet red color, a shell-like to splintery fracture and depending on the respective crystal surfaces of diamond-like to dull gloss. With a maximum Mohs hardness of 2.5, cinnabarite is one of the soft minerals.
Origin and occurrence:
Cinnabarite forms mainly hydrothermally in volcanic vents or at the edge of hot springs, but can also occur in sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks, with the ambient temperature below one hundred degrees Celsius. A socialization with pyrite, quartz, mercury, opal and antimonite is common.
Cinnabarit is being promoted in many countries around the world. The largest deposits are located near the town of Almadén in central Spain. There, the mineral was already mined in antiquity on a large scale. Other important deposits are located in many parts of Germany, in some regions of Italy, in the People's Republic of China, in North and South Africa, in Ukraine, as well as in Serbia, Russia and Japan.
Use by humans:
Cinnabarit is deliberately mined for millennia due to its high content of mercury, which is 87 percent. Mercury was used in antiquity mainly for the production of reflective surfaces. In recent centuries, cinnabar-derived mercury has been used to make thermometers, barometers, batteries, medicines, fillings and various disinfectants. Because of its toxicity, it has been increasingly pushed back for several years and loses importance in the industry.
Cinnabarite has also served as an important pigment in the past, serving painters as a bright red dye in the making of paintings. Not only some of the most important Renaissance works show the color called pewter red, which is characterized by an excellent opacity and luminosity. From the 18th century, cinnabarite was artificially manufactured as a pigment also industrially using sulfur and mercury, a process that was already used in medieval China. Therefore, Cinnabarit was also known in the German-speaking world as 'Chinese Red'.