Category Archives: Minerals

Vermiculite – Mineral of the Year 2019 in Austria

Vermiculite

  • The mineral was first described in 1824 by Thomas H. Webb. Due to the property of the mineral to expand into worm-like formations when heated to 200 to 300 °C in the direction of the crystallographic c-axis, Webb named it after the Latin word “vermiculor” for “worm breeder”.
  • On the occasion of the 195th anniversary of its discovery and due to its great importance as an industrial mineral, vermiculite was voted “Mineral of the Year” in Austria in 2019.
  • Formula: Mg0,7(Mg,Fe,Al)6(Si,Al)8O20(OH)4 · 8 H2O
  • Space group: C2/c (No. 15)
  • Crystal system: monoclinic
  • Crystal class: 2/m
  • Lattice parameters: a = 5.349 Å, b = 9.255 Å, c = 28.89, α = γ = 90°, β = 97.12°

Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0 Leon Hupperichs


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,”J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

For a 3D interactive version on sketchfab, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6OKvO

Tetrahedrite

Tetrahedrite

  • named after its common outer shape – a tetrahedron
  • because of its relative high copper content it is also a (minor) ore of copper
  • Formula: Cu12[S|(SbS3)4]
  • Space group: I-43m (No. 217)
  • Crystal system: cubic
  • Crystal class: -43m
  • Lattice parameters: a = bc = 10.448 Å, α = β = γ  = 90°

Picture: Carles Millan – http://www.mindat.org/photo-176605.html  | CC BY-SA-3.0


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,”J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • SbS3 pyramids (purple)
  • CuS3 trigonal planar coordination (cyan)
  • CuStetrahedra (blue)
  • Copper (blue)
  • Sulfur (yellow)
  • Antimony (purple)

For a 3D interactive version on sketchfab, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6Or6R

Afwillite – a calcium nesosilicate

Afwillite

  • Named after the abbreviated discoverer Alpheus Fuller Williams (1874–1953), CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines at that time
  • Formula: Ca3(SiO3OH)2 · 2 H2O
  • It belongs to the nesosilicates, i.e. there are only isolated SiO4 tetrahedra
  • Space group: Cc (No. 9)
  • Crystal system: monoclinic
  • Crystal class: m
  • Lattice parameters: a = 16.278 Å, b = 5.6321 Å, c = 13.236, α =  γ = 90°, β = 134.898°

Picture: Matteo Chinellato – http://www.mindat.org/photo-356015.html | CC BY-SA 3.0


Crystal structure (click on the pictures to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,” J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • Oxygen (red)
  • Hydrogen (white)
  • SiO4 tetrahedra (yellow)
  • CaO7 polyhedra (light blue)

For a 3D interactive version, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6J7oy

Stibnite – a black make-up mineral

Stibnite

  • Synonym: Antimonite
  • The mineral has been known since ancient times and was used as a paste with fat as black make-up powder to color eyelids and eyebrows. In Arabic culture, dark eye rims are regarded as the ideal of beauty and at the same time as a magical repellent.
  • Formula: Sb2S3
  • Space group: Pnma (No. 62)
  • Crystal system: orthorhombic
  • Crystal class: mmm
  • Lattice parameters: a = 11.3107 Å, = 3.8363 Å, c = 11.2285 Å, αβ = γ = 90°

Picture: DerHexer, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,” J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • SbS5 tetragonal pyramids (purple)

For a 3D interactive version on sketchfab, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6JoCM


 

Abelsonite – a chemofossil

Abelsonite

  • Discovered only in 1969 (by the way the year of birth of the author of this blog) by Lawrence C. Trudell while he was exploring the Green River Formation (Utah, USA) for an oil shale project
  • Named after Philip H. Abelson (1913–2004), a long-time editor of the journal Science, for his pioneering work in organic geochemistry
  • Abelsonite is formed as a secondary mineral (and is one of the few organic minerals)  on oil shale surfaces by conversion of chlorophyll – therefore, it is called a chemofossil (a fossil that consists only of chemicals remaining from the decomposition of a living organism)
  • Abelsonite is the only known naturally occurring crystalline porphyrin derivative
  • Formula: NiC31H34N4
  • Space group: P-1 (No. 2)
  • Crystal system: triclinic
  • Crystal class: -1
  • Lattice parameters: a = 8.4416 Å, b = 10.8919 Å, c = 7.2749, α = 90.465°, β =113.158°,  γ = 78.080°

Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0 Thomas Witzke – http://tw.strahlen.org/fotoatlas1/abelsonite_foto.html


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the CIF):

  • Ni: green, N: blue, C: gray, H: white
  • Note: Although a single Ni porphyrin molecule does not possess -1 symmetry, matching ethyl groups at roughly opposite ends of the molecule enable orientational disorder, in which molecules can randomly adopt one of two different orientations while still stacking in the same manner. The aggregate of these two random orientations produces an overall symmetry of P-1.
  • Reference: Crystal structure of abelsonite, the only known crystalline geoporphyrin
    Daniel R. Hummer, Bruce C. Noll, Robert M. Hazen, Robert T. Downs
    American Mineralogist (2017) 102 (5): 1129-1132.
    https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-5927

Sartorite

Sartorite

  • Named after Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen (1809 – 1876) Professor of Mineralogy, University of Göttingen, Germany. He was the first who described the mineral.
  • Formula: PbAs2S4
  • Space group: P21/(No. 14)
  • Crystal system: monoclinic
  • Crystal class: 2/m
  • Lattice parameters: a = 19.62 Å, b = 7.89 Å, c = 4.19 Å, α = γ = 90°,  β = 90° (!)

Picture: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC BY-SA-3.0


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,”J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • PbS9 polyhedra (gray)
  • AsS3 trigonal pyramids (green)
  • Sulfur (yellow)

For a 3D interactive version on sketchfab, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6IYWO

Portlandite – basis for a very important building material

Portlandite

  • Named portlandite because it is a common product of hydration of portland cement
  • Formula: Ca(OH)2
  • Space group: P-3m1 (No. 164)
  • Crystal system: trigonal
  • Crystal class: -3 2/m
  • Lattice parameters: a = b = 3.5918 Å, c = 4.9063 Å, α = β = 90°, γ = 120°

Picture (public domain): SEM image of fractured hardened cement paste, showing plates of calcium hydroxide and needles of ettringite


Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,”J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • CaO6 octahedra (blue)
  • Oxygen (red)
  • Hydrogen (white)

For a 3D interactive version on sketchfab, see here:

https://skfb.ly/6ItSG