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Smithsonite

This page kindly sponsored by Mariusz Oleszczuk
James Smithson
Formula:
ZnCO3
System:
Trigonal
Colour:
White, grey, yellow, ...
Lustre:
Vitreous, Pearly
Hardness:
4 - 4½
Member of:
Name:
Lapis calaminaris was a name used by Agricola in 1546. In 1747, Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (Vallerius) used the simplified form calamine for the zinc carbonate. In 1780, Torbern Bergmann analyzed calamines and found there were were mixed ores of zinc carbonate and silicate. In 1803, James Smithson made a systematic investigation of calamines and showed that ores identified as calamine consisted of several different minerals: a carbonate and a silicate. The carbonate "calamine" was re-named smithsonite in 1832 by François Sulpice Beudant in honor of James Smithson [1754-1829], British chemist, mineralogist, and benefactor of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC, USA).
Calcite Group. Siderite-Smithsonite Series.

Smithsonite is often found as a secondary mineral in the oxidation zone of zinc ore deposits. It can also be observed in sedimentary deposits and as a direct oxidation product of sphalerite.

Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Smithsonite.

Classification of Smithsonite

Approved, 'Grandfathered' (first described prior to 1959)
5.AB.05

5 : CARBONATES (NITRATES)
A : Carbonates without additional anions, without H2O
B : Alkali-earth (and other M2+) carbonates
14.1.1.6

14 : ANHYDROUS NORMAL CARBONATES
1 : A(XO3)
11.6.1

11 : Carbonates
6 : Carbonates of Zn and Cd
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Occurrences of Smithsonite

Geological Setting:
Oxidised zones of zinc ore deposits.

Physical Properties of Smithsonite

Vitreous, Pearly
Diaphaneity (Transparency):
Translucent
Colour:
White, grey, yellow, green to apple-green, blue, pink, purple, bluish grey, and brown; colourless or faintly tinted in transmitted light.
Streak:
White
Hardness (Mohs):
4 - 4½
Tenacity:
Brittle
Cleavage:
Very Good
On {1011}.
Fracture:
Irregular/Uneven, Sub-Conchoidal
Translation gliding:
Translation gliding with T{0001}, t{1010}.
Density:
4.42 - 4.44 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.43 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Crystallography of Smithsonite

Crystal System:
Trigonal
Class (H-M):
3m (3 2/m) - Hexagonal Scalenohedral
Space Group:
R3c
Cell Parameters:
a = 4.6526(7) Å, c = 15.0257(22) Å
Ratio:
a:c = 1 : 3.23
Unit Cell Volume:
V 281.68 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Morphology:
Crystals rhombohedral {1011}; less commonly {0221}. Crystal faces usually curved and rough or composite; rarely scalenohedral. Botryoidal, reniform, or stalactic; incrustations; coarsely granular to compact massive; earthy, friable.
Twinning:
None observed.
Comment:
Cell parameters are similar to those of magnesite.

Crystallographic forms of Smithsonite

Crystal Atlas:
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Smithsonite no.1 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Smithsonite no.13 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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Epitaxial Relationships of Smithsonite

Epitaxial Minerals:
Epitaxy Comments:
Smithsonite upon calcite with parallel axes. Oriented pseudomorphs of ZnO are formed by thermal dissociation. Otavite oriented growths on Smithsonite (Tsumeb).
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
Image Loading

Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.

Optical Data of Smithsonite

Type:
Uniaxial (-)
RI values:
nω = 1.842 - 1.850 nε = 1.619 - 1.623
Max Birefringence:
δ = 0.223 - 0.227
Image shows birefringence interference colour range (at 30µm thickness) and does not take into account mineral colouration.
Surface Relief:
High

Chemical Properties of Smithsonite

Formula:
ZnCO3
All elements listed in formula:
CAS Registry number:
3486-35-9

CAS Registry numbers are published by the American Chemical Society
Common Impurities:
Fe,Co,Cu,Mn,Ca,Cd,Mg,In

Relationship of Smithsonite to other Species

Series:
Forms a series with Siderite (see here)
Member of:
Other Members of Group:
5.AB.05CalciteCaCO3
5.AB.05GaspéiteNi(CO3)
5.AB.05MagnesiteMgCO3
5.AB.05OtaviteCdCO3
5.AB.05RhodochrositeMnCO3
5.AB.05SideriteFeCO3
5.AB.05SpherocobaltiteCoCO3
5.AB.10AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
5.AB.10DolomiteCaMg(CO3)2
5.AB.10KutnohoriteCa(Mn,Mg,Fe)(CO3)2
5.AB.10MinrecorditeCaZn(CO3)2
5.AB.15AragoniteCaCO3
5.AB.15CerussitePbCO3
5.AB.15StrontianiteSrCO3
5.AB.15WitheriteBaCO3
5.AB.20VateriteCaCO3
5.AB.25HuntiteCaMg3(CO3)4
5.AB.30NorsethiteBaMg(CO3)2
5.AB.35AlstoniteBaCa(CO3)2
5.AB.40OlekminskiteSr(Sr,Ca,Ba)(CO3)2
5.AB.40ParalstoniteBaCa(CO3)2
5.AB.45BarytocalciteBaCa(CO3)2
5.AB.50Carbocernaite(Ca,Na)(Sr,Ce,Ba)(CO3)2
5.AB.55BenstoniteBa6Ca6Mg(CO3)13
5.AB.60JuangodoyiteNa2Cu(CO3)2
11.6.2HydrozinciteZn5(CO3)2(OH)6
11.6.3Rosasite(Cu,Zn)2(CO3)(OH)2
11.6.4Zincrosasite(Zn,Cu)2(CO3)(OH)2
11.6.5Aurichalcite(Zn,Cu)5(CO3)2(OH)6
11.6.6Claraite(Cu,Zn)3(CO3)(OH)4 · 4H2O
11.6.7MinrecorditeCaZn(CO3)2
11.6.8Loseyite(Mn2+,Zn,Mg)4Zn3(CO3)2(OH)10
11.6.9Sclarite(Zn,Mg,Mn2+)4Zn3(CO3)2(OH)10
11.6.10OtaviteCdCO3

Other Names for Smithsonite

Other Information

May fluoresce pale green or pale blue.
Other Information:
Soluble in acids with effervescence.
Health Risks:
No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.
Industrial Uses:
Ore of zinc.

References for Smithsonite

Reference List:
Bergmann, T. (1780) Opuscula of Tobernus Bergmann: 209.

Bergmann, T. (1782) Sciagraphia regni mineralis: 144.

Brongniart, A. (1827): 47 (as Zinc carbonaté).

Beudant, F.S. (1832) Smithsonite, zinc carbonaté. Traité élémentaire de Minéralogie, second edition, 2 volumes: 2: 354-357.

Dana, J.D. (1837) System of Mineralogy, 1st. edition, New Haven: 211.

Dana J.D. (1844) System of Mineralogy, 2nd. Edition, New York: 263.

Monheim (1850) Journal für praktische Chemie, Leipzig: 49: 382.

Monheim (1851) Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paleontologie, Heidelberg, Stuttgart: 705.

Dana, J.D. (1854) System of Mineralogy, 4th. Edition, New York: 447.

Breithaupt, A. (1841) Vollständige Handbuch der Mineralogie Vol. 2: 236 241.

Tanner (1874) Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science, London: 30: 141.

Christomanos (1896) Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences de Paris: 123: 62.

Ortloff (1896) Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie, Leipzig, Berlin: 19: 214.

Bergt (1903) Isis: 1: 20.

Buttgenbach (1906) Bulletin de la Société française de Minéralogie: 29: 190.

Doelter, C. (1911) Handbuch der Mineral-chemie (in 4 volumes divided into parts): 1: 443.

Manasse (1911) Mem. Soc. Tosc.: 27: 76.

Pilipenko (1915) Bulletin of the Imperial Tomsk University: 763.

Honess (1918) American Journal of Science: 45: 217.

Johnsen and Veit (1918) Centralblatt für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paleontologie, Stuttgart: 265.

Goldschmidt, V. (1923) Atlas der Krystallformen. 9 volumes, atlas, and text: vol. 9. Heidelberg: 117.

Müller (1924) Ind. Eng. Chem.: 16: 604.

Headden (1925) American Mineralogist: 10: 18.

Mountain (1926) Mineralogical Magazine: 21: 51.

Hintze, Carl (1927) Handbuch der Mineralogie. Berlin and Leipzig. 6 volumes: 1 [3A]: 3243.

Palache, C. (1928) American Mineralogist: 13: 321.

Goldschmidt and Hauptmann (1932) Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Berlin. Mathematisch-physikalische Klasse, Nachrichten: 53.

Mehmet and Valensi (1935) Bull. Soc. chim. France: 2: 1295.

Schaller, W.T., Fairchild, G. (1938) Cadmium in smithsonite from New Mexico. American Mineralogist: 23: 894.

Rose (1939) Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences de Paris: 208: 1914.

Neuhaus (1944) Ber. Freiberger Geol. Ges., no. 20: 39.

Rose (1948) Bulletin de la Société française de Minéralogie: 71: 15.

Palache, C., Berman, H., Frondel, C. (1951) The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana, Yale University 1837-1892, Volume II: Halides, Nitrates, Borates, Carbonates, Sulfates, Phosphates, Arsenates, Tungstates, Molybdates, Etc. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 7th edition, revised and enlarged: 176-181.

Hurlbut, C.S., Jr. (1954) Smithsonite from Broken Hill Mine, Rhodesia. American Mineralogist: 39: 47-50.

Effenberger, H., Mereiter, K., Zemann, J. (1981) Crystal structure of magnesite, calcite, rhodochrosite, siderite, smithonite [sic], and dolomite, with discussion of some aspects of the stereochemistry of calcium type carbonates. Zeitschrift für Kristallographie: 156: 233-243.

Reviews in Mineralogy, Mineralogical Society of America: 11.

Robie, R.A., Haselton, H.T., Hemingway, B.S. (1989) Heat capacites and entropies at 298.15 K of MgTiO3 (geikielite), ZnO (zincite), and ZnCO3 (smithsonite). Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics: 21: 743-749.

Anthony, J.W., Bideaux, R.A., Bladh, K.W., Nichols, M.C. (2003) Handbook of Mineralogy, Volume V. Borates, Carbonates, Sulfates. Mineral Data Publishing, Tucson, AZ, 813pp.: 652.

Katerinopoulos, A., Solomos, C., Voudouris, P. (2005) Lavrion smithsonites: A mineralogical and mineral chemical study of their coloration. In: Mao, J.W. and Bierlein, F.P. (Eds.): Mineral deposit research: Meeting the global challenge. Springer, Berlin: 983-986.

Smithsonite: Think Zinc (2010) Extra Lapis English No. 13.

Samouhos, M., Zavašnik, J., Rečnik, A., Godelitsas, A., Chatzitheodoridis, E.,, Sanakis, Y. (2015) Spectroscopic and nanoscale characterization of blue-coloured smithsonite (ZnCO3) from Lavrion historical mines (Greece). Periodico di Mineralogia: 84: 373-388.

Internet Links for Smithsonite

Specimens:
The following Smithsonite specimens are currently listed for sale on minfind.com.

Localities for Smithsonite

map shows a selection of localities that have latitude and longitude coordinates recorded. Click on the symbol to view information about a locality. The symbol next to localities in the list can be used to jump to that position on the map.
Mineral and/or Locality  
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