Spontaneous oxidation and combustion of sulfides and resultant fires are serious problems in underground mines. The Bureau of Mines has conducted fundamental thermal gravimetric analysis (tga) research to determine the mechanisms and factors governing the rate of low- temperature pyrite oxidation, and to identify possible inhibitors to spontaneous oxidation and combustion. The mechanism of low- temperature pyrite oxidation was found to be topochemical, meaning that the oxidation process is controlled by the chemical reaction at the interface between pyrite (fes2) and iron sulfate (feso4). An activation energy of 8.9 Kcal/mol fes2 was obtained for oxidation of minus 500-mesh pyrite in an atmosphere of 60 vol pct water vapor and 40 vol pct 02. Water-vapor content of the atmosphere was found to be the critical factor in the rate of spontaneous oxidation of pyrite, with a water-vapor content greater than 20 vol pct needed for accelerated oxidation. An atmosphere of pure oxygen resulted in negligible oxidation. The rate of pyrite oxidation is also greatly affected by the particle size of pyrite. Pyrite-oxidation rate increased drastically for particles less than 40 um. Room- temperature pyrophoric behavior was observed for freshly ground unoxidized pyrite (55 pct minus 5 um) upon exposure to air. Addition of water-absorbing materials such as activated alumina (al2o3) decreased the rate of pyrite oxidation.