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Hornblende amphibole | by James St. John
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Hornblende amphibole

A mineral is a naturally-occurring, solid, inorganic, crystalline substance having a fairly definite chemical composition and having fairly definite physical properties. At its simplest, a mineral is a naturally-occurring solid chemical. Currently, there are over 5100 named and described minerals - about 200 of them are common and about 20 of them are very common. Mineral classification is based on anion chemistry. Major categories of minerals are: elements, sulfides, oxides, halides, carbonates, sulfates, phosphates, and silicates.


The silicates are the most abundant and chemically complex group of minerals. All silicates have silica as the basis for their chemistry. "Silica" refers to SiO2 chemistry. The fundamental molecular unit of silica is one small silicon atom surrounded by four large oxygen atoms in the shape of a triangular pyramid - this is the silica tetrahedron - SiO4. Each oxygen atom is shared by two silicon atoms, so only half of the four oxygens "belong" to each silicon. The resulting formula for silica is thus SiO2, not SiO4.


Amphibole is a group of silicate minerals. The garden-variety type of amphibole is hornblende (~(Ca,Na)2-3(Mg,Fe,Al)5Si6(Si,Al)2O22(OH)2 - calcium sodium magnesium iron hydroxy-aluminosilicate). Hornblende has a nonmetallic luster, jet black to very dark green color, pale greenish-gray streak, a hardness of about 5.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and two cleavage planes at ~60º and ~120º. Many specimens, even at a microscopic scale, show a splintery fracture network. Hornblende is a common mafic mineral in granites & granodiorites.


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Uploaded on January 27, 2017