Galena is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. It is the most important lead ore mineral.
Galena is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes in the cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms. It is often associated with the minerals sphalerite, calcite and fluorite.
Lead ore deposits
Galena deposits are found in Wales, Germany, France, Romania, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, England, Australia, Mexico, and the United States. Noted deposits include those at Freiberg, Saxony; Cornwall,The Mendips, Somerset, Derbyshire, and Cumberland, England; the Sullivan Mine of British Columbia; and Broken Hill, Australia. Galena also occurs at Mount Hermon in Northern Israel. In the United States, it occurs most notably in the Mississippi Valley type deposits of the Lead Belt in southeastern Missouri, and in the Driftless Area of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The economic importance of galena to the early history of the Driftless Area was so great that one of the towns in the region was named Galena, Illinois.
Galena also was a major mineral of the zinc-lead mines of the tri-state district around Joplin in southwestern Missouri and the adjoining areas of Kansas and Oklahoma. Galena is also an important ore mineral in the silver mining regions of Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Montana. Of the latter, the Coeur d'Alene district of northern Idaho was most prominent. Galena is the official state mineral of the U. S. states of Missouri and Wisconsin.
The largest documented single crystal of galena measured 25 cm x 25 cm x 25 cm.
One of the earliest uses of galena was as kohl, which in Ancient Egypt, was applied around the eyes to reduce the glare of the desert sun and to repel flies, which were a potential source of disease.
Galena is a semiconductor with a small bandgap of about 0.4 eV which found use in early wireless communication systems. For example, it was used as the crystal in crystal radio sets, in which it was used as a point-contact diode to detect the radio signals. The galena crystal was used with a safety pin or similar sharp wire, which was known as a "cat's whisker". Making such wireless sets was a popular home hobby in Britain during the 1930s. Derbyshire was one of the main areas where galena was mined. Scientists that were linked to this application are Karl Ferdinand Braun and Sir Jagdish Bose. In modern wireless communication systems, galena detectors have been replaced by more reliable semiconductor devices, though silicon point-contact microwave detectors still exist in the market.
1. ^ http://rruff.geo.arizona.edu/doclib/hom/galena.pdf Handbook of Mineralogy
* Klein, Cornelis and Cornelius S. Hurlbut, Jr. (1985) Manual of Mineralogy, Wiley, 2nd ed., pp. 274–276, ISBN 0-471-80580-7
* Case Studies in Environmental Medicine (CSEM): Lead Toxicity