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Cinnabar is the common ore of mercury. It is generally found in a massive, granular or earthy form and is bright scarlet to brick-red in color. It occasionally occurs in crystals with a non-metallic adamantine luster. Cinnabar resembles quartz in its symmetry and certain of its optical characteristics. It has the highest refractive power of any mineral. Because of its mercury content, cinnabar can be toxic to human beings.
Generally, cinnabar occurs as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs. It's deposited by epithermal ascending aqueous solutions (those near the surface and not too hot) far removed from their igneous source. Cinnabar is found in all localities that yield mercury. This mineral is still being deposited in the present day from the hot waters of Sulphur Bank Mine in California and Steamboat Springs, Nevada.