In 2017, Wulfenite - a colorful lead mineral native found in various locations around our state - became the official State Mineral of Arizona, joining the ranks of other state symbols including copper (State Metal), turquoise (State Gemstone), and petrified wood (State Fossil). But while the aforementioned rocks and minerals are widely associated with Arizona, Wulfenite is not necessarily a household name. What is wulfenite anyway?
Wulfenite is a secondary lead (Pb) mineral, which means it is formed during the oxidation (weathering) of galena, the primary lead mineral. Because wulfenite contains lead, it's pretty heavy for having such thin and delicate crystals! Those crystals are tetragonal and usually found as tabular, flat, square plates. The colors range from orange-yellow or red (most common) to less common grey, green, brown or black. Pure wulfenite is colorless, but you'd be hard-pressed to find it!
Wulfenite is a popular mineral with collectors worldwide - and some of the best localities are here in Arizona. According to mineral website mindat.org, there are approximately 275 wulfenite localities in AZ. We have over 450 wulfenite specimens in our museum collection, from mines all over the state. A few of those specimens are on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum.
The 2019 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show last February celebrated Wulfenite with the theme "Wulfenite is Loved." Check out a few photos below of our display case showcasing some of the museum's best specimens.