GeoClassroom Physical Geology Historical Geology Structure Lab Mineralogy Petrology

Native Elements

Native Elements:
  • one of a kind atoms
  • about 20 occur in nature - because rare to find atoms that don't react with others

  • Subgroups:

    1. Native Metals

      • Common Features:
        • have d-orbital filled
        • cubic close-packed structures
        • similar habits - cubes and octahedrons
        • relatively soft & malleable - due to glide planes
        • good conductors - due to delocalized electrons

      • Subgroups:
        1. Au group: Au, Ag, Cu

            Au & Ag - almost complete solid solution
              - because of similar radii (1.44 Å)
            Cu - smaller (1.28 Å) - so limited solid solution

            - Commonly occur in hydrothermal veins - often associated with "last gasp" of magma chamber - after most of magma has crystallized the remaining material is hot water + "leftover" elements that didn't fit into the earlier-formed minerals - as cooling continues these elements eventually crystallize

        2. Pt group: Pt, Os, Ir, etc.

            - slightly more brittle
            - not as soft as Au group

        3. Fe-group: Fe and Ni

            Feo - metallic iron is extremely reactive (easily oxidized)
            - commonly forms oxides as Fe2+, Fe3+

            - Feo - typically only unusual occurences: e.g., Disko Island, meteorites

    2. Native Semi-Metals
      • Arsenic(As), Selenium(Se), Tellurium(Te), Antimony(Sb)

      • can act as either metal or nonmetal
      • not very abundant
      • used as semi-conductors & in electronics

    3. Native Non-metals
      • carbon(C) (graphite, diamond & Buckminsterfullerene C60), sulfur (S)

      • not close-packed structures

          for example: sulfur is composed of puckered 8-member rings
          - has orthorhombic structure

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