sphalerite (sfălˈərĪt, sfāˈ–) [key], mineral composed of zinc sulfide, usually containing some iron and a little cadmium. It occurs in crystals of the isometric system but more generally in cleavable, compact masses. It is transparent to translucent and varies greatly in color, iron-free specimens being pale yellow and those with iron being brown, red, black, or green. The most important source of zinc, sphalerite is a widely distributed mineral that commonly occurs in association with galena. It is found in large deposits in many parts of the world.
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