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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 30, 2019

The tetrahedrite group: Nomenclature and classification

Cristian Biagioni, Luke L. George, Nigel J. Cook, Emil Makovicky, Yves Moëlo, Marco Pasero, Jiří Sejkora, Chris J. Stanley, Mark D. Welch and Ferdinando Bosi
From the journal American Mineralogist


The classification of the tetrahedrite group minerals in keeping with the current IMA-accepted nomenclature rules is discussed. Tetrahedrite isotypes are cubic, with space group symmetry I4¯3m.The general structural formula of minerals belonging to this group can be written as M(2)A6M(1)(B4C2)X(3) D4S(1)Y12S(2)Z, where A = Cu+, Ag+, o (vacancy), and (Ag6)4+ clusters; B = Cu+, and Ag+; C = Zn2+, Fe2+, Hg2+, Cd2+, Mn2+, Cu2+, Cu+, and Fe3+; D = Sb3+, As3+, Bi3+, and Te4+; Y = S2– and Se2–; and Z = S2–, Se2–, and o. The occurrence of both Me+ and Me2+ cations at the M(1) site, in a 4:2 atomic ratio, is a case of valency-imposed double site-occupancy. Consequently, different combinations of B and C constituents should be regarded as separate mineral species. The tetrahedrite group is divided into five different series on the basis of the A, B, D, and Y constituents, i.e., the tetrahedrite, tennantite, freibergite, hakite, and giraudite series. The nature of the dominant C constituent (the so-called “charge-compensating constituent”) is made explicit using a hyphenated suffix between parentheses. Rozhdestvenskayaite, arsenofreibergite, and goldfieldite could be the names of three other series. Eleven minerals belonging to the tetrahedrite group are considered as valid species: argentotennantite-(Zn), argentotetrahedrite-(Fe), kenoargentotetrahedrite-(Fe), giraudite-(Zn), goldfieldite, hakite-(Hg), rozhdestvenskayaite-(Zn), tennantite-(Fe), tennantite-(Zn), tetrahedrite-(Fe), and tetrahedrite-(Zn). Furthermore, annivite is formally discredited. Minerals corresponding to different end-member compositions should be approved as new mineral species by the IMA-CNMNC following the submission of regular proposals. The nomenclature and classification system of the tetrahedrite group, approved by the IMA-CNMNC, allows the full description of the chemical variability of the tetrahedrite minerals and it is able to convey important chemical information not only to mineralogists but also to ore geologists and industry professionals.


Federica Zaccarini is thanked for making available scarcely accessible literature. The original manuscript benefited from the useful comments and criticisms of the members of the IMA-CNMNC. The comments of T. Balić-Žunić and an anonymous reviewer are acknowledged.

  1. Funding This research received support by Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca through the projects SIR 2014 “THALMIGEN—Thallium: Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Environmental Hazards” (Grant No. RBSI14A1CV) and PRIN 2017 “TEOREM—deciphering geological processes using Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial ORE Minerals,” prot. 2017AK8C32.

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Received: 2019-05-23
Accepted: 2019-08-30
Published Online: 2019-12-30
Published in Print: 2020-01-28

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