Osmiridium, are names given to natural alloys of osmium
Osmium is a chemical element with the symbol Os and atomic number 76. Osmium is a hard, brittle, blue-gray or blue-blacktransition metal in the platinum family, and is the densest natural element. Osmium is twice as dense as lead. The density of osmium is , slightly greater than that of iridium,...

 and iridium
Iridium is the chemical element with atomic number 77, and is represented by the symbol Ir. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, iridium is the second-densest element and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C...

, with traces of other platinum group metals. Osmiridium has been defined as containing a higher proportion of iridium, while iridosmine contains more osmium. However, as the content of the natural Os-Ir alloys varies considerably, the constituent percentages of specimens often reflects the reverse situation of osmiridium describing specimens containing a higher proportion of osmium and iridosmine containing more iridium. In 1963, M. H. Hey proposed using iridosmine for hexagonal
Hexagonal crystal system
In crystallography, the hexagonal crystal system is one of the 7 crystal systems, the hexagonal lattice system is one of the 7 lattice systems, and the hexagonal crystal family is one of the 6 crystal families...

 specimens with 80%>Os>32%, osmiridium for cubic
Cubic crystal system
In crystallography, the cubic crystal system is a crystal system where the unit cell is in the shape of a cube. This is one of the most common and simplest shapes found in crystals and minerals....

 specimens with Os<32% and native osmium for specimens Os>80%. More recently, the Nomenclature Subcommittee of the Commission of New Minerals and Mineral Names, International Mineralogical Association
International Mineralogical Association
The International Mineralogical Association is an international group of 38 national societies. The goal is to promote the science of mineralogy and to standardize the nomenclature of the 4000 plus known mineral species...

 has declared the mineral names osmiridium and iridosmine invalid and to be replaced by iridium and osmium, respectively. Other named naturally occurring alloys of platinum metals have included: iridrhodruthenium, platiniridium, ruthenosmiridium, and rutheniridosmine. The properties of these alloys generally fall between those of the members, but hardness is greater than the individual constituents.


Osmiridium is very rare, but it can be found in mine
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

s of other platinum group metals. One very productive mine operated at Lake Pedder
Lake Pedder
Lake Pedder was once a natural lake, located in the southwest of Tasmania, Australia but the name is now used in an official sense to refer to the much larger artificial impoundment and diversion lake formed when the original lake was expanded by damming in 1972 by the Hydro Electric Commission of...

 near Tyenna
Tyenna, Tasmania
Tyenna is a settlement in Tasmania, Australia, located west of the state capital, Hobart in its current form it is but a vestige of a once thriving rural community....

 in Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

 during the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 with the ore shipped out by railway from Maydena. The site of the mine is now totally reclaimed by dense natural bush. It was once one of the world's major producers of this rare metal, and the osmiridium was mostly recovered found in shallow alluvial workings.


It can be isolated by adding a piece to aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

, which has the ability to dissolve gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

but not osmiridium. It occurs naturally as small, extremely hard, flat metallic grains with hexagonal crystal structure.
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