The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

The Radioactive Rock Metatorbernite

Don’t worry, it’s not going to hurt you – at least, not if you don’t handle it for too long. And you wash your hands afterward.

Many radioactive minerals exist in the world, some more radioactive than others. This particular type – metatorbernite – contains uranium and should be handled with care. But even small barriers between yourself and the rock can effectively block the radiation, like a glass case or gloves.

We’ve written about radioactive materials before; radioactive glass pieces from the early 20th century glow in the dark because of their uranium content. They’re not terribly dangerous, however.

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, CC by SA 3.0 - radioactive mineral metatorbernite

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, CC by SA 3.0.

Metatorbernite is a more organic radioactive material. It comes in colors ranging from specks of green on grey to almost black to a bright, almost fluorescent shade of green. You can often tell what materials are radioactive by their appearance. They’re often a neon yellow or green, or a dull opaque texture with rounded crystal edges.

The beauty of this mineral makes it a wonderful addition to a collection or even as a display on its own.

As with any radioactive material, exposure should be limited. Their forms of radiation include gamma rays, which can be harmful. Keep the mineral away from other minerals so they don’t come in contact, and limit holding the mineral in your bare hands. If you do hold the mineral, make sure to wash your hands afterward.

Do you own any metatorbernite? Would you feel comfortable with a radioactive rock in your home?

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