Mindat Logo
bannerbannerbannerbanner
Welcome!

Sylvite

Posted by Rock Currier  
avatar Sylvite
January 01, 2009 12:47PM
©




Click here to view Best Minerals S and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.


Can you help make this a better article? What good localities have we missed? Can you supply pictures of better specimens than those we show here? Can you give us more and better information about the specimens from these localities? Can you supply better geological or historical information on these localities?


Sylvite
KCl
Sylvite is very soluble and crystals of this mineral are much rarer than crystals of salt (NaCl). The mineral is mined wherever it is found because it is of considerable industrial value for many applications including fertilizer where the potassium content is valued. Mining companies will go to great lengths to mine the material, sinking shafts more than 1000 feet through very difficult conditions to reach sizeable deposits of this mineral. The quickest way to tell if you have a specimen of sylvite rather than halite is just to lick it. Sylvite doesn’t quite taste like salt, but sort of. The mineral is not the most stable mineral, probably about like halite. If you have some, keep it in a dry place. Damp cellars or places where the humidity fluctuates will cause it to decompose, sometimes completely.
[Rock Currier, 1 January 2009]

The seqence of percipitation from brines was first described by the Italian chemist J. Usiglio, and published ref: "Usiglio J, 1849. Annales Chem. P. 27:92-107". He found that by allowing seawater to evaporate, he observed minerals precipitate in the following order: 1) calcite, 2) dolomite, 3) gypsum, 4) anhydrite, 5) halite and 6) sylvite as the water disappeared. By googling "evaporite precipitation order" a lot of interesting literature will appear, such as this link
[Olav Revheim 2012]

Sylvite also occurs as a vapor deposit in high-temperature volcanic fumaroles,
(Alfredo Petrov, 22 July 2009)


Silvite
USA
New Mexico, The US Borax mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico, Carlsbad Potash district.
Sylvite, octahedral crystals 5.5cm wide© Rob Lavinsky


This mine has produced probably the largest number of crystal specimens of sylvite that are seen in collections today, although you don’t see many of them. Just another example of hundreds of specimens vanishing into the collections of people all around the world. Most of the specimens from this mine were collected by a mining engineer named Jim Minette. He worked for the mine and was an avid mineral collector. There were a few places in the mine where water seeping from the ore would collect in the bottoms of old stopes and gradually evaporate leaving the breakdown from the ceiling and the walls and bottoms of the stopes literally coated with millions of small sylvite crystals, that rarely exceeded an inch in size, but when collected would make nice hand specimens. Jim once took me underground in the mine, and they were fun to collect, but good knobs and bumps and mounds of crystals were not all that easy to collect as most of the surfaces were rather flat. Over the few years he worked there he must have collected at least several hundred specimens that he traded around for things to add to his collection.
[Rock Currier, 1 January 2009]


Silvite
USA
New Mexico, PCA mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico, Carlsbad Potash district.

Some miners were drilling holes in preparation for creating a raise in order to reach a different part of the deposit. Some of the holes started producing a lot of water continuously, but after a few days the water stopped. They raised into the area at the end of the holes and discovered an open pocket of giant halite and sylvite crystals. The pockets floor was covered with pink bubbly polyhalite. The halite crystals mostly were growing from the ceiling, quite transparent and some measured four feet in diameter. There were a few large octahedral sylvite crystals which were growing out of the polyhalite on the floor of the pocket, some of them weighed as much as 65 pounds. They were also transparent and white. The big halite crystals tended to be a little amber colored. At least that is the way they looked in the pictures. I saw one of the large sylvite crystals, but never got to visit the big pocket. The pocked was large enough to crawl into and even sit up in, but not large enough to stand up in. The pocket was perhaps 15 to 20 feet long. Very little material from this pocket was collected.
[Rock Currier, 1 January 2009]


Sylvite
Germany
Saxony-Anhalt, Pottash deposit, Stassfurt
A crystal of sylvite 2.9cm tall© Rob Lavinsky


We need someone to tell us about the sylvite crystals from Stassfurt.
[Rock Currier, 1 January 2009]



Click here to view Best Minerals S and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.



Edited 18 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2013 01:54PM by Rock Currier.
Re: Sylvite
January 01, 2009 02:10PM
We should also mention that it commonly occurs as a high-temperature fumarole mineral (yes, high T, not in low T solfataras), although I've never seen a specimen - probably only micro?
avatar Re: Sylvite
January 02, 2009 01:12AM
Alfredo,
OK mention it! You have the authority to edit the article, go ahead and do it. If this thing takes off when the Best Minerals thread(s) take off we will need a seizable crew of moderators correcting the errors and adding all the good suggestions that users make. And of course those that make the best, most and most relevant suggestions will of course be kidnapped and placed in the moderators group. You don't think you are exempt from the Mann act do you?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
erik vercammen
Re: Sylvite
July 03, 2009 08:43PM
There is a succession in the forming of "salt"layers: first calcite, anhydrite, then halite, and afterwards sylvine and salts of magnesium and Mg-K double salts.
In medieval times, halite was much sought after. When a mine was developed and they encounteredsylvine, it was useless and thrown away, whence the german name "abraumsalze" salts to be put aside. Later, in the 19th century when Liebig discoverd the role of K as a fertilizer, sylvine became the most wanted element, under the new name "Edelsalze" (noble salts) and halite was the mineral that was disposed of ( like in the French saltmines in the Alsace near the Rhine, where the salt was thrown in the Rhine, until the Dutch protested and the practice became forbidden).
avatar Re: Sylvite
July 04, 2009 01:16AM
Erich, That is interesting about the edehlsalz, but I think abraumsalz was any salt that was not halite. Can you refer me to some literature on the sequential formation of different kinds of salt that you talk about?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
erik vercammen
Re: Sylvite
July 05, 2009 08:24PM
Rock,

The problem is I wrote this reaction by heart. I learned it in a chemistry book in high school, and later I've read about it in a book by Semjonov, whose title in English may be something like 'The richesses of the Earth". But I remember the Dutch scholar Van 't Hoff did a lot of research about end of the XIX century.
You're right about the fact that Abraumsalze was any salt to be removed before they reached the desired halite. But in the sequence, you come from the upper layers down to the halite layer, and those luppers layers are ( if there hasn't been tilting or
reversing) the layers deposited after halite, in casu the K and Mg-salts.
And I know I'm not a native speaker (and writer) of English, but my language is Dutch, not German. Those 2 languages are related and the dialects grade from one language (Dutch in the Netherlands and the northern part of Belgium, Flanders, where I live) into the other, German in Germany. So, myname is Erik (in Dutch, but you find it also in the Scandinavian languages) and in German, it would be Erich.
avatar Re: Sylvite
July 06, 2009 01:21AM
Erich,
You don't need to apologize for not having flawless English. If it were not for my spell checker I would appear pretty dumb. It is your ideas and willingness to help that are the only important things here. Imagine what my old German would look like an a German speaking forum. I would not even consider trying to contribute something. Your English is plenty good enough to contribute here and anything that is not understood can be cleared up with questions. Thanks for the input.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Re: Sylvite
May 27, 2012 05:41AM
Rock:

How quickly they forget.
I'm sure that you remember the fluorescent Halite specimens that came from the Salton Sea. When Bill Besse, Mary and I collected the place back in the '80's, as I recall, we came back with wads of Halite plates covered with transparent, colorless cubes of Halite up to ~ 1 inch on edge. Scattered sparsely among the Halites were sharp octahedrons of colorless and cloudy Sylvite up to about an inch also. The Sylvite was not fluorescent and the contrast in morphology, transparency and fluorescence made for attractive specimens of these salts. Shortly after we collected the place, rumors that some, unnamed Gov't agency bulldozed the site because.....get this......They were afraid that the Salton Sea would breach the dikes surrounding the place and the salt would......contaminate the Salton Sea!
I guess they had no idea where the stuff came from originally. I may still have a specimen or two around and if I find one we'll photo it for this post.

Keep your powder dry.

JW
avatar Re: Sylvite
May 27, 2012 07:34AM
Jim & Mary,
That would make a useful addition. Better a young june bug collecting fluorescent halite covered tumble weeds than an old bird of paradise.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Re: Sylvite
May 27, 2012 05:16PM
    
Rock, Eric

The seqence of percipitation from brines was first described by the Italian chemist J. Usiglio, and published ref: "Usiglio J,
1849. Annales Chem. P. 27:92-107". He found that by allowing seawater to evaporate, he observed minerals precipitate in the following order: 1) calcite, 2) dolomite, 3) gypsum, 4) anhydrite, 5) halite and 6) sylvite as the water disappeared.

By googling "evaporite precipitation order" a lot of interesting literature will appear, such as this link

Olav
avatar Re: Sylvite
May 28, 2012 07:02AM
Olav,
Thats interesting, I have added it to the article, Thanks.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Author:

Your Email:


Subject:


Attachments:
  • Valid attachments: jpg, gif, png, pdf
  • No file can be larger than 1000 KB
  • 3 more file(s) can be attached to this message

Spam prevention:
Please, enter the code that you see below in the input field. This is for blocking bots that try to post this form automatically. If the code is hard to read, then just try to guess it right. If you enter the wrong code, a new image is created and you get another chance to enter it right.
CAPTCHA
Message:
Mineral and/or Locality  
Search Google  
Copyright © Jolyon Ralph and Ida Chau 1993-2014. Site Map. Locality, mineral & photograph data are the copyright of the individuals who submitted them. Site hosted & developed by Jolyon Ralph. Mindat.org is an online information resource dedicated to providing free mineralogical information to all. Mindat relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters. Mindat does not offer minerals for sale. If you would like to add information to improve the quality of our database, then click here to register.
Current server date and time: September 30, 2014 13:55:21
Mineral and Locality Search
Mineral:
and/or Locality:
Options
Fade toolbar when not in focusFix toolbar to bottom of page
Hide Social Media Links
Slideshow frame delay seconds