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Hematite needle ore

Posted by Don Tracy  
Don Tracy
Hematite needle ore
May 19, 2012 06:12PM
The hematite data should mention the "needle ore" variety that is found in some locations.
Re: Hematite needle ore
May 19, 2012 07:21PM
Needle-ore appears to be a synonym/variety of aikinite, see [www.mindat.org].
I have never heard of a "needle ore" variety of hematite. Are there photos on Mindat or elsewhere?
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 19, 2012 08:31PM
Perhaps you are mistakingly using that term and actually referring to "Pencil ore", like the famed materials from Michigan USA and the Cumbria England?

I've heard some use the term "needle ore" before for such material, but that term does generally refer to something altogether different, as Uwe noted.

Local "colorful" terminology is kinda hard to nail down and keep strait. : )

avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 12:13AM
The term "needle ore" was used by miners and collectors to describe those pieces of hematite with a particularly sharp tapering point. The "pencil ore" term is used to describe pieces that are somewhat more rounded and often terminated. The term "needle ore" has been used for decades to describe the sharp pieces and I agree with Don that it should be added....despite my general disposition against nearly all varietal terms.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 05:09AM by Dana Slaughter.
Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 03:46AM
I've been using the term for years in my mineral descriptions. First large collection I purchased had several specimens of "needle ore" from Cumberland and a few from Michigan. It's composed of parallel/subparallel needlelike crystals and has sharp points when broken. Generally they are sections of botryoidal hematite. Distinctive habit.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 09:01AM
Guess defining a strict use of these terms does become problematic.
I know Michigan and Thungrian (Ilfeld) Pyrolusite is found in large beds and masses, and when broken it produces VERY fine needles, that is the needle ore I was always aware of.

Goethite also has it's fair share of colorful terms as well, pipe ore, iron bombs, iron helmets, brown hematite, bog ore . . . the list goes on.
I suppose it is a thankless task to attempt to nail down such local terms to any strict definition. : )

avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 09:16AM

It was a fairly common term for the Wisconsin and Michigan iron mines.

Mindat photos

Limonitic ore Canada 1890

"and when these balls are fibrous in texture, the fibres radiating from the centre to the circumference, it is called needle ore"


"and long, thin columnar, known as Needle Ore"


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 09:41AM by David Von Bargen.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 03:30PM
Growing up in Michigan, my own experience with the term "needle ore" regards most specifically those wonderful specimens from the upper Midwest iron mines in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I've obtained specimens over the years with labels attached to the specimens themselves with the "needle ore" description--some of these have been so slender and sharp that one could easily slide them through fabric, etc. Wonderful things!
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 03:32PM
Thanks for the references David,
I do certainly concur needle ore seems rather the default term. Even gives me pause as I wonder how it is "pencil ore" came to use, as it seems to be one in the same quality of ore (?).

As an interesting aside: Looking through old regional references to ore deposits (these references included), we can note that in many mining districts the local colors terms used for particular deposits sometimes aslo differentiated the quality of ore. A very useful reference for miners and managers who were actively exploiting these variable deposits and something I think might also be good to include in the references here (though it may be impractical to do so thoroughly, perhaps just a few observations at more noted localities).

The description pages for most of these old terms here on mindat are very much lacking. Members here seem reluctant to flesh out these pages or provide photo references for them. I understand a glossary of terms is currently in the works here at mindat. Once completed, perhaps it would be best for searches of such terms be directed there, rather than have individual mineral pages? I can envision edits and updates to the glossary alone will invariably lead to notably conflicting data being presented here somewhere down the road.


A latter thought: Is it possible to link the entries and edits of the glossary of terms to use as the description text on the corresponding mineral pages in these cases?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 03:51PM by Mark Heintzelman.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 03:59PM
Pencil ore-

from the facility which it splits into long fragments, which are sometimes used for marking sandstones.


hard ore with conical fractures. Sometimes used as burnishers.

avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 04:52PM
Thanks David!
Blast ore and "ruddle", two additional terms I've not crossed paths with before! :)

I once tried to research and determine what exact mineral and quality thereof were actually being referred to by the wildly variable nomenclature used in the historical accounts of local spar industry here in PA. More head pain than head way on that account. I finally came to the conclusion in this case that these were more marketing terms than mining ones, and that "dental Spar" here may be an entirely different mineral than what was available and being exploited for such purposes somewhere else. :)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 05:05PM by Mark Heintzelman.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 20, 2012 05:28PM
I forgot to mention that the miners that formerly worked the gypsum quarries and underground gypsum mines under my home town in Michigan (the Grand Rapids area) used the term "pencil ore" to describe the rather columnar gypsum specimens found in the area. The gypsum on these varieties easily splits apart into individual "pencils" and this type of gypsum was quite common in the area. Quarries were worked in Grand Rapids and Grandville (all under water now) and underground mines were operated in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming (my home town) until fairly recently. One mine is still accessible to collectors in Wyoming and good specimens of carving-grade alabaster, pencil ore gypsum and gypsum crystals can still be found. The mine is used as a cold storage facility and underground data security center and the owners graciously allow clubs in (for a very small fee) to collect in the old tunnels.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 21, 2012 11:37AM
Our glossary has had added to it more comprehensive definitions of needle ore.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Hematite needle ore
May 21, 2012 12:00PM
Pencil ore has now been added to our glossary. We need a link to a reference page where the full reference refereed to in our glossary entries can be looked up. It is a real pain in the ass to type in the full reference after every entry.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Re: Hematite needle ore
May 21, 2012 03:10PM
Thanks, all. Needle-ore is now a synonym of both aikinite and hematite. I have added this thread as a ref.

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