Cassiterite – Day 5 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Cassiterite find out more about it below..
One of the most obvious signs of the season is the number of church based carol  services that you get invited to – and if you are in a church you are probably enjoying the dulcet tones of a full pipe organ.

 

Even the fox at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is excited about the holidays!!

Organ pipes provide the backing to some of our favourite seasonal music! (Image from Wikipedia)

Organ pipes provide the backing to some of our favourite seasonal music! (Image from Wikipedia)

 

Organ pipes are made with tin, a metal that you get from the mineral ore cassiterite. In one of the best museums in Devon, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) you can come and handle museum specimens found locally and talk to volunteers like me! We have a lovely sample of cassiterite at  Local Finds table that you can come and have a close look at!

 

Lovely Casserite specimen sample from the Royal Albert Memorial Musuem's Local Finds handling table.

Lovely Casserite specimen sample from the Royal Albert Memorial Musuem’s Local Finds handling table.

Cassiterite:

Chemical formula: SnO2
Colour: Black, yellow, brown, red or white.
System: Tetragonal
Hardness (Mohs): 6 – 7
Can you find it in the UK? Yes

Location of Cassiterite in the UK from the MinDat Website

Location of Cassiterite in the UK from the MinDat Website

Cassiterite is such an important mineral for the UK that large portions of the nations wealth were based up on it in the last thousand years. Tin streaming, a mineral collection activity practiced throughout the human occupation of Britain, developed into tin mining mainly based in Cornwall and was a one of the central sources of the county’s income. There is even a saying based around the importance of tin and copper mining:

Cornishmen are fishermen, Cornishmen are miners too.
When all the fish and tin are gone, what are Cornishmen to do?

For more information about Cassiterite please visit the MinDat website.

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