APATITE: 3 MINERALS, ONE NAME

Write By: tmmadmin Published In: Mineral Species Created Date: 2017-01-13 Hits: 2471 Comment: 0


1.5" Fine Gemmy Green FLUORAPATITE Sharp Terminated Crystal Panasquiera

The name apatite comes from the Greek word apatein, meaning to deceive, because of its similarity to so many other minerals. Ironically, it is actually 3 different minerals, and the precise species of this phosphate mineral depends on which of 3 ions is predominant:

  • If fluorine is the primary ion, then it is fluorapatite - Ca5(PO4)3F
  • If chlorine is the main ion, then it is chlorapatite - Ca5(PO4)3Cl
  • If the hydroxyl group is dominant, then it is hydroxylapatite - Ca5(PO4)3OH

However, in the crystal lattice these ions can substitute freely, so all 3 are typically present in any one specimen, making it impossible to distinguish them without x-ray diffraction or other analytical methods. Most collector forms of apatite are fluorapatite.

Apatite is the most common phosphate mineral. It is the primary source for phosphorus, a fertilizer required for plant growth. Also, the teeth and bones of humans and most animals, are composed of hydroxylapatite.

 

1.8" PINK APATITE on Muscovite 6 RoseColor Terminated Crystals Pakistan

 

APATITE VARIETIES

  • Carbonate apatite: This is the variety of the apatite group where the phosphate radical (PO4) is partially replaced by a carbonate radical (CO3). It has a chemical formula of Ca5(PO4,CO3)3(OH,F). It is also known as carbonate-rich apatite.
  • Chlorapatite: This term is used to describe apatite group minerals in which chlorine is the dominant ion in its structure. Around 2010 it was renamed Apatite-(CaCl) by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), but today is again being called chlorapatite.
  • Collophane: This is a microcrystalline variety of botryoidal white apatite.
  • Fluorapatite: This is the variety of the apatite group in which fluorine is the dominant ion in its structure. Around 2010, it was renamed Apatite-(CaF) by the IMA, but today is again being called fluorapatite.
  • Hydroxylapatite: This is the variety of the apatite group in which hydroxyl is the dominant ion in its structure. Around 2010, it was renamed Apatite-(CaOH) by the IMA, but today is again being called hydroxylapatite.
  • Manganapatite: This is the term for the manganese-rich variety of apatite.
  • Sammite: This is a strontium-rich form of apatite containing some rare earth elements, found in Lovozero in Russia's Kola peninsula.
  • Staffelite: This is a botryoidal variety of apatite, originally described from an occurrence in Staffel, Hesse, Germany.
  • Strontian-Apatite: This is a rare, strontium-rich variety of apatite, in which the calcium atom is partially replaced by strontium.


5" Earthy Green-Brown APATITE Crystal+Orange CALCITE-Otter Lake QUE

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

  • Color is typically green but also colorless, white, yellow, brown, gray, red, pink, purple, and blue.
  • Luster is vitreous to greasy and gumdrop.
  • Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.
  • Crystal System is hexagonal; 6/m
  • Crystal Habits include the typical hexagonal prism with the hexagonal pyramid or a pinacoid or both as a termination. Also acicular, granular, reniform and massive. Apatite generally forms as well-shaped hexagonal crystals, which may be prismatic, dipyramidal, and stubby. Also occurs as flat, tabular plates; columnar, in stacked parallel growths; as globular masses; acicular; grainy; stalactitic; botryoidal; and earthy.
  • Cleavage is indistinct in one basal direction.
  • Fracture is conchoidal.
  • Hardness is 5.
  • Specific Gravity is approximately 3.1 to 3.2
  • Streak is white.
  • Associated Minerals are hornblende, micas, nepheline and calcite.
  • Other Characteristics: An unusual "partially dissolved" look similar to the look of previously sucked on hard candy.
  • Best Field Indicators are crystal habit, color, hardness and look.


2.1" Gemmy YellowGreen APATITE Terminated Crystal WetLook Luster Mexico

GEOLOGICAL OCCURRENCE
Apatite is found as small fragments in igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, though collector-grade crystals are typically found in contact metamorphic environments. Apatite ore is found in enormous beds of massive material, from which industrial phosphorus is mined to produce fertilizers and chemical products. These are sedimentary deposits originating in marine and lake-deposited environments, and consist of organic debris such bones, teeth, scales, and fecal matter.

High quality, collector-grade crystals of apatite occasionally occur as well-formed hexagonal crystals in hydrothermal veins and pegmatite pockets. These crystals often have a very high clarity and a vivid color and have been cut into gems for collectors.


1" Shiny Zoned Blue/Green FLUORAPATITE 3 Crystal Cluster Sapo M Brazil

USES
Apatite is the main source of phosphorus, and is an important constituent of phosphorite, a phosphate-rich sedimentary rock mined for its phosphorus content and used to make fertilizers, acids, and chemicals used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The thermal history of mountain belts, of sedimentary deposits, and of paleo-wildfires can be determined by using fission tracks in apatite. In paints, blue and green apatite are used for pigments. It is also highly valued by mineral collectors for its bright colors and gem clarity. Apatites are also being tested as a host material for storage of nuclear waste.


2" Clear Pale Green Stack of HOLLOW APATITE Crystals Sapo Mine Brazil

GEMOLOGY
Apatite is occasionally faceted as a gemstone, though its relative softness (5 on the Mohs scale), and its brittleness limits its usefulness to earrings and pendants. Chatoyant specimens of rutile-included cat's-eye-apatite have been cut into cabochons.


1" Jungle Green APATITE Crystals Sharp Twinned Crystals Sapo M Brazil

NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES
Here are the most important worldwide apatite localities:

  • Germany: Ehrenfriedersdorf, in the Erzgebirge, Saxony is a classic locality which is also the type locality for this mineral.
  • Portugal: Panasqueira is well-known for its thick and gemmy tabular crystals.


2.1" Group Gemmy BlueGreen FLUOR-APATITE Crystals Panasquiera, Portugal

Russia: Deep blue crystals come from Sludyanka, in Lake Baikal area, Russia; and interesting forms, especially botryoidal, come from the Lovozero Massif, Kola Peninsula, Russia.

2.9" Deep Turquoise Blue APATITE Shiny Crystal on Yellow Calcite Russia

  • Afghanistan: Purple apatite comes from the Mawi pegmatite, Nuristan (Laghman) Province, Afghanistan
  • Pakistan: pink and red crystals come from the Hunza Valley, Gilgit; Skardu at Shengus, Dassu, and the Shigar Valley.


1.3" 141ct Gemmy Vivid Pink APATITE Shiny Terminated Crystal Pakistan


  • Morocco: Beautiful greenish-yellow crystals with excellent luster and transparency have been coming from the Imichil area in Morocco.


1.1" Gemmy Golden Yellow APATITE Crystal w/Superb Termination Morocco

  • Brazil: deep blue apatite crystals come from Ipira, Bahia; and the state of Minas Gerais has several outstanding occurrences such as the Sapo mine, in Conselheiro Pena; Golconda, in Governador Valadares; Pederneira, in Sao Jose da Safira; and Galileia.


5.5" Museum DarkGreen APATITE Crystals on Clevelandite Sapo Mine Brazil

  • Colombia: pink apatite crystals have been found at La Marina Mine, Boyaca.
  • Mexico: One of the most famous localities of Apatite is Cerro de Mercado, Durango, Mexico, where gemmy prismatic crystals are plentiful.


1.8" GOLDEN APATITE XLGemmy Crystal w/Sharp Lustrous Termination Mexico

Canada: large glassy apatite crystals in orange Calcite have come from the Yates mine, Otter Lake, Quebec.

6.4"Dbl Terminated Green APATITE Crystal+ORANGE CALCITE Otter Lake QUE

Very large crystals also come from Ontario, at Bear Lake in Tory Hill, and at Cardiff, both in Haliburton Co.

6.7" Huge WorldClass Terminated FLUORAPATITE Crystal Bear Lake Bancroft

  • USA:
    Maine: Beautiful violet crystals come from the Mount Apatite area (especially the Pulsifier Quarry in Auburn, and the Mt. Rubellite Quarry in Hebron,) Androscoggin Co. Also in Maine are the Noyes Mountain Quarry (Harvard Quarry) and the Emmons Quarry, Uncle Tom Mt, both in Greenwood, Oxford Co. 


3.1" Tabular APATITE Crystal inVug Noyes Mine ME Collected1929

    New Hampshire: apatite was found in the Palermo No. 1 Mine, Groton, Grafton Co. 


6" Stacks of 1/8" Cream Crystals of HYDROXYL-APATITE Palermo M NH

    Massachusetts: The Acushnet Quarry in Bristol Co. produces aesthetic specimens of transparent apatite associated with sparkling dark chlorite.
Connecticut: Good specimens were once found in the Strickland Quarry, Portland, Middlesex Co.
New Jersey: Large opaque apatite crystals, usually light blue in color, have come from Franklin, Ogdensburg (Sterling Hill), and Hamburg, all in Sussex Co.
New York: good crystals have been found in Amity, Orange Co.
North Carolina: beautiful pink and purple crystals with excellent transparency have come from the Foote Mine, Kings Mountain, Cleveland Co., North Carolina.
California: Prismatic green crystals, closely resembling tourmaline, come from the Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego Co.
Montana: Light blue crystals have come from the Butte mining district, in Silver Bow Co.
Colorado: large yellow crystals have come from the Fulford District, Eagle Co.
Utah: Iron Mountain, Iron Co., Utah has also produced large yellow crystals.

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