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About MolybdeniteHide

Black, lead gray, or gray
1 - 1½
Specific Gravity:
4.62 - 4.73
Crystal System:
Variations of the name molybdaena and molybdenite were used for lead ores by Dioscorides (50-70 CE), Pliny the Elder (79 CE), and Agricola (1556), but the modern use of molybdenite did not begin until Johan Gottschalk Wallerius wrote about molybdenite in Mineralogia, eller Mineralriket published in 1747. There was still a multiplicity of minerals receiving the same name, but modern molybdenite and graphite were the most common minerals given this name. The element molybdenum was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1778 and he provided molybdenite to Peter Jacob Hjelm who was able to isolate molybdenum in 1781. Scheele showed that molybdenite, in the modern sense, was soluble in acid, while graphite was not. From the Greek μόλυβδοζ meaning "lead", but a name having a new usage unlike that of former times.
Molybdenite is the most important ore of the metal molybdenum. Molybdenite is currently being researched as a possible replacement semiconductor for silicon in transistors in electronic chips.

Two polytypes are known: molybdenite-2H (very common) and molybdenite-3R (rare).

Classification of MolybdeniteHide

Approved, 'Grandfathered' (first described prior to 1959)

2 : SULFIDES and SULFOSALTS (sulfides, selenides, tellurides; arsenides, antimonides, bismuthides; sulfarsenites, sulfantimonites, sulfbismuthites, etc.)
E : Metal Sulfides, M: S <= 1:2
A : M:S = 1:2 - With Cu, Ag, Au
Dana 7th ed.:

12 : AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:2

3 : Sulphides, Selenides, Tellurides, Arsenides and Bismuthides (except the arsenides, antimonides and bismuthides of Cu, Ag and Au, which are included in Section 1)
8 : Sulphides etc. of Cr, Mo, W an Mn

Physical Properties of MolybdeniteHide

Black, lead gray, or gray
Pale yellow to deepish reddish brown in transmitted light
Bluish gray
1 - 1½ on Mohs scale
Perfect on {0001}
4.62 - 4.73 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.998 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Optical Data of MolybdeniteHide

Very strong

Chemical Properties of MolybdeniteHide

CAS Registry number:

CAS Registry numbers are published by the American Chemical Society

Age distributionHide

Recorded ages:
Mesoarchean to Quaternary : 2910 Ma to Ma - based on 494 recorded ages.

Crystallography of MolybdeniteHide

Crystal System:
Class (H-M)
Space Group:
Space Group Setting:
Cell Parameters:
Unit Cell Volume (calc):
Hexagonal Trigonal 
6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) - Dihexagonal Dipyramidal3m - Ditrigonal Pyramidal
P63/mmc R3m
a = 3.16 Å, c = 12.3 Å
a = 3.16 Å, c = 18.33 Å
a:c = 1 : 3.892a:c = 1 : 5.801
V 106.37 ųV 158.51 ų
(Calculated from Unit Cell)

Crystallographic forms of MolybdeniteHide

Crystal Atlas:
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Molybdenite - Tabular {001}
Molybdenite - Thick tabular {001}
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Edge Lines | Miller Indices | Axes

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Along a-axis | Along b-axis | Along c-axis | Start rotation | Stop rotation

Crystal StructureHide

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2x2x2 | 3x3x3 | 4x4x4
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IDSpeciesReferenceLinkYearLocalityPressure (GPa)Temp (K)
0009788MolybdeniteSchonfeld B, Huang J J, Moss S C (1983) Anisotropic mean-square displacements (MSD) in single crystals of 2H- and 3R-MoS2 Acta Crystallographica B39 404-4071983synthetic0293
0009789MolybdeniteSchonfeld B, Huang J J, Moss S C (1983) Anisotropic mean-square displacements (MSD) in single crystals of 2H- and 3R-MoS2 Acta Crystallographica B39 404-4071983synthetic0293
0018136MolybdeniteHassel O (1925) Ueber die Kristallstruktur des Molybdaenglanzes. _cod_database_code 1011286 Zeitschrift fur Kristallographie 61 92-9919250293
0011823MolybdeniteWyckoff R W G (1963) Second edition. Interscience Publishers, New York, New York Crystal Structures 1 280-28119630293
0017908MolybdeniteDickinson R, Pauling L (1923) The Crystal Structure of Molybdenite _cod_database_code 1010993 Journal of the American Chemical Society 45 1466-147119230293
CIF Raw Data - click here to close

X-Ray Powder DiffractionHide

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Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.

Synonyms of MolybdeniteHide

Plumbago (in part)

Other Language Names for MolybdeniteHide

Varieties of MolybdeniteHide

FemoliteProbably a ferrian Molybdenite or a mixture
Rhenian MolybdeniteA rhenium-bearing variety of molybdenite (320 to 580 ppm Re - among highest known, Childs-Adwinkle Mine)

Relationship of Molybdenite to other SpeciesHide

Other Members of this group:
DrysdalliteMoSe2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m

Common AssociatesHide

Associated Minerals Based on Photo Data:
218 photos of Molybdenite associated with QuartzSiO2
42 photos of Molybdenite associated with FerrimolybditeFe2(MoO4)3 · nH2O
38 photos of Molybdenite associated with FluoriteCaF2
35 photos of Molybdenite associated with PyriteFeS2
25 photos of Molybdenite associated with CalciteCaCO3
24 photos of Molybdenite associated with ChalcopyriteCuFeS2
23 photos of Molybdenite associated with ScheeliteCa(WO4)
23 photos of Molybdenite associated with MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
20 photos of Molybdenite associated with PowelliteCa(MoO4)
19 photos of Molybdenite associated with BismuthBi

Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz GroupingHide

2.EA.05Sylvanite(Au,Ag)2Te4Mon. 2/m : P2/b
2.EA.15KrenneriteAu3AgTe8Orth. mm2 : Pma2
2.EA.20BerndtiteSnS2Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.EA.20KitkaiteNiTeSeTrig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.EA.20MeloniteNiTe2Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : P3m1
2.EA.20MerenskyitePdTe2Trig. 3m : P3m1
2.EA.30DrysdalliteMoSe2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
2.EA.30TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m

Related Minerals - Dana Grouping (8th Ed.)Hide 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc 3m : R3m

Related Minerals - Hey's Chemical Index of Minerals GroupingHide

3.8.1BrezinaiteCr3S4Mon. 2/m
3.8.2CaswellsilveriteNaCrS2Trig. 3m (3 2/m) : R3m
3.8.3KalininiteZnCr2S4Iso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Fd3m
3.8.4DaubréeliteFe2+Cr3+2S4Iso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Fd3m
3.8.5Heideite(Fe,Cr)1.15(Ti,Fe)2S4Mon. 2/m
3.8.7 Molybdenite-3RMoS2Trig. 3m : R3m
3.8.9DrysdalliteMoSe2Hex. 6/mmm (6/m 2/m 2/m) : P63/mmc
3.8.10TungsteniteWS2Trig. 3m : R3m
3.8.12AlabanditeMnSIso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Fm3m
3.8.13HaueriteMnS2Iso. m3 (2/m 3) : Pa3

Other InformationHide

Health Risks:
No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.

Molybdenite in petrologyHide

An essential component of rock names highlighted in red, an accessory component in rock names highlighted in green.

References for MolybdeniteHide

Reference List:
Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Palache, Charles, Harry Berman & Clifford Frondel (1944) The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana Yale University 1837-1892, Volume I: Elements, Sulfides, Sulfosalts, Oxides. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. 7th edition, revised and enlarged: 328-331.
American Mineralogist (1963) 48: 1419.
Schweizerische mineralogische und petrographische Mitteilungen (1964) 44: 123.
Frondel, J.W. & Wickman, F.E. (1970) Molybdenite polytypes in theory and occurrence. II: Some naturally occurring polytypes of molybdenite. American Mineralogist 55, 1857-1875.
Schonfeld, B.; Huang, J.J.; Moss, S.C. (1983) Anisotropic mean-square displacements (MSD) in single crystals of 2H- and 3R-MoS2. Acta Crystallogr. B39, 404–407.
Stein, H. J., Markey, R. J., Morgan, J. W., Hannah, J. L.; Scherstén, A. (2001) The remarkable Re-Os chronometer in molybdenite: how and why it works. Terra Nova 13, 479-486.
Golden, J., McMillan, M., Downs, R.T., Hystad, G., Goldstein, I., Stein, H.J., Zimmerman, A., Sverjensky, D.A., Armstrong, J.T., Hazen, R.M. (2013) Rhenium variations in molybdenite (MoS2): Evidence for progressive subsurface oxidation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 366, 1-5.
Fernando Barra, Artur Deditius, Martin Reich, Matt R. Kilburn, Paul Guagliardo & Malcolm P. Roberts (2017): Dissecting the Re-Os molybdenite geochronometer. Scientific Reports 7, 16054.

Internet Links for MolybdeniteHide

Localities for MolybdeniteHide

This map shows a selection of localities that have latitude and longitude coordinates recorded. Click on the symbol to view information about a locality. The symbol next to localities in the list can be used to jump to that position on the map.

Locality ListShow

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