Mohawkite is a rare copper-based mineral that was first discovered in the Mohawk Mine of Keweenaw County, Michigan, USA, hence its name. It is a complex mineral consisting of various elements, primarily composed of copper, arsenic, and nickel. The chemical formula for mohawkite can be expressed as Cu_3AsSe_3Ni_2, representing its constituents copper (Cu), arsenic (As), selenium (Se), and nickel (Ni).

Mohawkite typically occurs as small, metallic, and somewhat lustrous grains or masses embedded within the host rock. Its color can vary from pinkish-brown to silver-gray, often with a metallic luster. Mohawkite is known for its distinct appearance and can exhibit beautiful patterns when polished, making it a sought-after mineral for collectors and enthusiasts.

Due to its rarity and unique composition, mohawkite holds significance in the world of mineralogy and geology. It is classified as a sulfide mineral and is often associated with other copper-bearing minerals such as native copper, chalcocite, and bornite. Mohawkite’s formation is typically linked to hydrothermal processes, where hot fluids containing various elements precipitate and deposit minerals within fractures and cavities of the host rock.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, mohawkite has also drawn interest from researchers and scientists due to its unusual chemical composition. Studying mohawkite can provide insights into the geological processes that formed it and the conditions under which it crystallized. Moreover, understanding its properties can have implications for mineral exploration and ore deposits, contributing to the broader understanding of Earth’s geology and mineral resources.

Geological Formation


Mohawkite is primarily formed through hydrothermal processes in the Earth’s crust. These processes involve the circulation of hot fluids rich in various elements through fractures, faults, and other openings in rocks. The formation of mohawkite typically occurs in association with copper-rich environments, where the necessary ingredients for its composition, such as copper, arsenic, nickel, and selenium, are present.

The geological formation of mohawkite can be summarized in several steps:

  1. Primary Ore Formation: Mohawkite is often found in association with primary copper deposits, such as those formed through magmatic processes or volcanic activity. These deposits contain high concentrations of copper minerals and may undergo alteration due to hydrothermal activity.
  2. Hydrothermal Circulation: Hot, mineral-rich fluids, often derived from magma chambers or heated groundwater, circulate through fractures and fissures in the surrounding rocks. These fluids can dissolve and transport various elements, including copper, arsenic, nickel, and selenium.
  3. Precipitation and Deposition: As the hydrothermal fluids encounter favorable conditions, such as changes in temperature, pressure, or chemical composition, they cool and deposit minerals. Mohawkite forms as these fluids precipitate copper, arsenic, nickel, and selenium compounds in the fractures and voids of the host rocks.
  4. Secondary Alteration: Over time, secondary alteration processes may further modify the mineral assemblage. This alteration can involve the introduction of additional elements or the transformation of existing minerals through chemical reactions.
  5. Weathering and Exposure: Mohawkite-bearing rocks may be exposed through erosion and weathering processes, eventually bringing the mineral to the surface where it can be discovered by collectors, miners, or researchers.

The precise conditions under which mohawkite forms can vary depending on factors such as temperature, pressure, fluid composition, and the geological setting. However, its association with hydrothermal activity and copper-rich environments is a common characteristic of its geological formation. Understanding these processes is essential for both mineral exploration and the broader study of Earth’s geological history.

Physical Properties


Mohawkite possesses several distinctive physical properties that help identify and characterize it. Here are some of its key physical properties:

  1. Color: Mohawkite exhibits a range of colors, typically varying from pinkish-brown to silver-gray. The coloration can result from the presence of different elements and impurities within the mineral.
  2. Luster: Mohawkite displays a metallic luster, giving it a shiny appearance when polished or in its natural form.
  3. Transparency: Mohawkite is opaque, meaning it does not transmit light and appears solid when viewed.
  4. Crystal Habit: Mohawkite typically occurs as small grains or masses embedded within the host rock. It rarely forms distinct crystal faces due to its complex composition and formation conditions.
  5. Hardness: Mohawkite has a hardness ranging from 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale, making it relatively soft compared to many other minerals. This means it can be scratched by harder materials like quartz or feldspar.
  6. Density: Mohawkite has a density that varies depending on its specific composition and impurities but generally falls within a range of approximately 5.9 to 6.2 grams per cubic centimeter.
  7. Cleavage and Fracture: Mohawkite does not exhibit cleavage due to its lack of crystal structure, but it can display uneven to conchoidal fracture surfaces when broken.
  8. Streak: The streak of mohawkite is typically grayish-black to brownish-black, as observed when the mineral is scratched on a streak plate.
  9. Magnetism: Mohawkite is not strongly magnetic, although some specimens may exhibit weak magnetism due to the presence of magnetic impurities.
  10. Twinning: Mohawkite can sometimes display twinning, where two or more intergrown crystals share a common crystallographic orientation. Twinning may affect the mineral’s overall appearance but is not always present in every specimen.

These physical properties, along with its chemical composition, aid in the identification and characterization of mohawkite specimens in geological studies and mineral collections.

Uses and Applications

Mohawkite Cabochon – Barlows Gems

Mohawkite, while valued primarily for its rarity and aesthetic appeal, has limited practical uses due to its scarcity and specific properties. However, there are some potential applications and uses associated with this mineral:

  1. Collector’s Specimens: Mohawkite is highly sought after by mineral collectors and enthusiasts due to its rarity, unique appearance, and interesting geological associations. Specimens with attractive patterns and colors are prized additions to mineral collections.
  2. Jewelry: Although not commonly used in commercial jewelry due to its scarcity, mohawkite with its metallic luster and distinctive coloration can be fashioned into unique and eye-catching jewelry pieces. Its use is more likely in artisanal or custom jewelry where its rarity and uniqueness are appreciated.
  3. Mineralogical Research: Mohawkite’s unusual chemical composition and geological formation make it an object of interest for mineralogists, geologists, and researchers. Studying mohawkite can provide insights into hydrothermal processes, ore deposition mechanisms, and the geochemical conditions prevalent during its formation.
  4. Educational Purposes: Mohawkite specimens are used in educational settings to teach students about mineral identification, crystallography, and geological processes. Its distinct physical properties and associations with copper deposits make it a valuable tool for hands-on learning in earth sciences.
  5. Art and Decorative Objects: Mohawkite’s metallic luster and unique coloration make it suitable for decorative purposes in art and craftsmanship. Artists and artisans may incorporate mohawkite into sculptures, ornaments, and other decorative objects to add a touch of natural beauty and uniqueness.
  6. Metaphysical and Spiritual Practices: Some individuals attribute metaphysical properties to certain minerals, including mohawkite. While not scientifically substantiated, mohawkite may be used in spiritual practices, meditation, or holistic healing modalities by those who believe in the energetic properties of crystals and gemstones.

Overall, while mohawkite does not have widespread industrial applications like common minerals such as copper or iron, its rarity and aesthetic qualities make it a valuable and intriguing mineral for various niche purposes, including scientific research, artistic endeavors, and personal enjoyment.

Occurrence and distribution

Mohawkite, Michigan –

Mohawkite is a rare mineral that is primarily found in specific geological settings associated with copper-rich environments. Its occurrence is closely tied to regions where copper deposits are present, particularly those formed through hydrothermal processes. Here are some key points regarding the occurrence and distribution of mohawkite:

  1. Primary Occurrence: Mohawkite is often found as a secondary mineral in association with primary copper deposits. These deposits can include magmatic copper deposits, volcanic-hosted copper deposits, and sediment-hosted copper deposits.
  2. Geographical Distribution: The primary known occurrence of mohawkite is in the Mohawk Mine of Keweenaw County, Michigan, USA, from which the mineral derives its name. However, mohawkite has also been reported in a few other locations worldwide, albeit in much smaller quantities. These locations include some copper mines in Arizona and Nevada in the United States, as well as in other countries such as Canada and Australia.
  3. Geological Settings: Mohawkite typically forms in hydrothermal environments where hot, mineral-rich fluids circulate through fractures and fissures in the host rocks. These fluids can deposit mohawkite along with other copper minerals in the voids and cavities of the surrounding rocks.
  4. Associated Minerals: Mohawkite is often associated with other copper-bearing minerals such as native copper, chalcocite, bornite, and copper arsenides. These minerals may co-occur with mohawkite within the same geological formations or deposits.
  5. Vein Deposits: Mohawkite is commonly found in vein deposits, where mineral-rich fluids have precipitated minerals along fractures and faults in the rock. These veins can vary in size and orientation, and mohawkite may occur as disseminated grains or masses within the vein material.
  6. Rare Occurrence: Despite its significance in mineralogy and its appeal to collectors, mohawkite remains relatively rare compared to more abundant copper minerals such as chalcopyrite or malachite. Its limited occurrence and specific geological conditions contribute to its rarity and value.

Overall, mohawkite’s distribution is confined to select copper mining regions worldwide, with the Mohawk Mine in Michigan being the most well-known locality for this mineral. Its scarcity and geological associations make it a prized find for collectors and researchers interested in the diverse world of mineralogy.