Elbaite Tourmaline

Complex Borosilicates, (Na,Ca)(Mg,Fe2+,Fe3+,Al,Li)3-Al6 (BO3)3Si6O18(OH)4
Crystal System: Hexagonal
Hardness: 7.0
Density: 3.0-3.3

Tourmaline is represented by a group of minerals having complex compositions which are generally represented by the above formula. Elbaite, schorl, buergerite, dravite, uvite and liddicoatite are members of the tourmaline group. The most common member is the black, iron-bearing schorl.

Tourmaline is a mineral of widespread occurrence and is found in granite pegmatites, pneumatolytic veins and granites. It also occurs as a product of metasomatism involving boron.

Tourmaline occurs as transparent to translucent elongated, prismatic crystals in aggregates of parallel or radiating crystals. The two ends of a single crystal are sometimes terminated differently. Enormous crystals have been found. Tourmaline occurs less frequently as stubby prismatic crystals or compact masses. It often exhibits a vitreous luster and is remarkably variable in color, ranging from colorless to blue, pink (rubellite), yellowish green, green, brown (dravite), bluish black, and black. Some crystals are pink at one end and green or black at the other. These different zones of color are due to the time the material has taken to crystallize, with different tinctural agents effecting the crystal at different times during the formative process.

The individual colors are due to the presence of one or more of the following elements: iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, cobalt, lithium and potassium. Cobalt is responsible for blues, magnesium for greens, iron and magnesium for dark reds, iron and manganese for pink, while iron, magnesium and manganese combined make yellowish green. Minute quantities of other elements such as gallium, tin, nickel, bismuth, lead and zinc have also been found in tourmaline and may also play tinctural roles.

Rocks from Ron Zeilstra's Collection

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bkeller@rockhounds.com 11/16/95