Natural Radioactivity

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When I was younger, uranium always seemed like some weird synthetic element you could only make with a cyclotron particle collider, and I was surprised to find that uranium, and many other radioactive elements, occur completely naturally and can just be found lying around on good ol' Earth.

Some of the most common uranium minerals are carnotite, which is small yellow flakes in sandstone, sometimes making the entire sandstone yellow, and pitchblende, which is a mixture or uraninite, a black uranium oxide, and a few other interesting elements such as thorite (thorium oxide ore) and occasionally radium compounds in trace amounts.

Some more unusual ores include Autunite, a beautiful green crystal that fluoresces under blacklight, and Gummite, being an orange mineral occuring only in the state of New Hampshire.

These are my samples!

Uranium Ore, Mined by Me!

This is some uranium ore, being mostly magnetite (iron ore) with a small percentage of uranothorite (uranium and thorium ore) mixed in, that I actually chipped off of a rock wall in a public park in a non-disclosed location... It felt good to actually find uranium just sitting around for anyone to grab, really makes you realize how common radioactivity is on Earth!

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:13

Tags:natural, uranium, thorium

Mineral Kit, With Real Uranium Ore!

This nifty little mineral kit from some time in the 1950s, which unfortunately was a bit broken when I got it, and I originally thought the precious uranium ore was missing, however upon being exposed to short-wave UV light, one of the mineral samples had green fluorescent specks in it, thus proving it to be Autunite, a well known uranium mineral. Also for a laugh, check out what the booklet has to say about radium!

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:12

Tags:natural, uranium


One of the most famous uranium minerals, pitchblende. Found originally in mines in the Czech Republic and Germany, nobody knew what it was or if it was useful, so they named it pitch after the color of tar, being black, and blende meaning a blend of minerals. Uranium was first discovered from pitchblende.

Date added(year-month-day):20110726, sample number:4

Tags:natural, uranium

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