Graphite in Calcite from the Sterling Mine, in Sussex County, New Jersey

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Graphite has a hardness of 1 – 2 and a specific gravity of 2.09 – 2.23. According to Mindat, it was “named ‘plumbago’ in 1739 by Magnus von Bromell, but in a different sense than previous authors such as Agricola and Conrad Gesner. Also called ‘molybdaena’, but ‘molybdaena’ was shown to represent two species, molybdenite and graphite – as known today, in 1781 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Named graphite in 1789 by Abraham Gottlob Werner from the Greek ‘graphein’, ‘to write’.”

Graphite usually “occurs in flakes in metamorphosed rocks rich in carbon, but it can also be found in veins and in pegmatites. Where large deposits are found, it is mined and used as an industrial lubricant and for ‘lead’ in pencils. The crystallinity depends on the temperature of the formation and the grade of metamorphism” according to Mindat.

It’s been found in thousands of recorded localities all over the world, and while Graphite is a useful ore, it’s not very valuable. However, if you now encounter Graphite out in the wild, you’ll now be able to identify it, and if you grab some, you’ll be able to write!


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