US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in The Canadian Mineralogist Vol. 43, pp. 1225-1242 (2005)


Jarosite-group minerals accumulate in the form of stalactites and fine-grained mud on massive pyrite in the D drift of the Richmond mine, Iron Mountain, California. Water samples were collected by placing beakers under the dripping stalactites and by extracting pore water from the mud using a centrifuge. The water is rich in Fe3+ and SO42–, with a pH of approximately 2.1, which is significantly higher than the extremely acidic waters found elsewhere in the mine. Electron-microprobe analysis and X-ray mapping indicate that the small crystals (<10 μm in diameter) are compositionally zoned with respect to Na and K, and include hydronium jarosite corresponding to the formula (H3O)0.6K0.3Na0.1Fe3+3(SO4)2(OH)6. The proton-microprobe analyses indicate that the jarosite-group minerals contain significant amounts of As, Pb and Zn, and minor levels of Bi, Rb, Sb, Se, Sn and Sr. Speciation modeling indicates that the drip waters are supersaturated with respect to jarosite-group minerals. The expected range in composition of jarosite-group solid-solution in equilibrium with the pore water extracted from the mud was found to be consistent with the observed range in composition.