Hematite, limonite, pyrite, ilvaite and magnetite

You can find a great variety of minerals and iron oxides, colours, and an incredible variety of coloured crystallizations all over the eastern part of the island. The best known are:

  • Hematite, the type found in Elba is considered one of the most beautiful, and its crystals can be either spathic or rosette shaped. On the outside it has a dark, shiny, metallic colour, but when there is dust on it the colour is often dark red, hence the name hematite (haima = blood).
  • limonite, an iron hydrous oxide, often pseudomorphous, yellow/brown in colour. The earthy variety of hematite and limonite give rise to the yellow and red ochre that colours the rocks on all of the eastern side of the Island of Elba.
  • pyrite, the mineral that symbolizes the Island of Elba, also called "the fools' gold" because of its metallic colour very similar to gold. It has magnificent octahedral, pentadodecahedral or cubic crystallizations.
  • ilvaite, type of mineral discovered and found mainly in Elba, hence the name (Ilva, from Ilvates, the Ligurian people who are believed to be the first colonizers of Elba). It has large, clearly cut, dull black prismatic crystals, and, due to there being very little left is now a collector's item.magnetite, the mineral with the highest iron percentage (72,5%) so it is suitable for industrial use. It exists in dull black, compact masses. One of Italy's richest magnetite ores, where there are also high quantities of magnetopolar magnetite, is in the Calamita promontory on the south eastern part of the island; this mineral acts like a magnet, attracting iron and changing the direction of the arrow in a compass.

You can also find some copper minerals in the eastern part of the island. There is proof of copper from Elba being used as far back as protohistoric times; the extraction brought wealth and well being, as can be seen in the graveyard of the San Giuseppe Grotto, near Rio Marina.

Copper, or what is left of it, is present in oxides like cuprite, in sulphurites (chalcopyrite), silicates (chrysocolla), and carbonates, the most famous being malachite and azurite, with their beautiful green and blue iridescences.

The minerals in the photographs are part of the collection belonging to Sarah Sudcowsky
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