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Smithsonite

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Formula:
ZnCO
 
3
System:TrigonalColour:White, grey, yellow, ...
Lustre:Vitreous, PearlyHardness:4 - 4½
Member of:Calcite Group
Name:
Re-named 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). Smithson distinguished that "calamine" was in fact three different minerals: hemimorphite, hydrozincite, and the zinc carbonate. The original calamine, named by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (Vallerius) in 1747, was the same as smithsonite, but the subsequent abusive use of the name calamine had to be abandoned. In 1780, Torbern Bergmann also analyzed calamines and demonstrated there were two species he had that were given the same name.


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. Currently in public beta-test.

Classification of Smithsonite

IMA status:Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
Explanation of status:Chemical analyses were made by Smithson on specimens from Derbyshire and Somerset, UK.
Strunz 8th edition ID:5/B.02-60
Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:5.AB.05

5 : CARBONATES (NITRATES)
A : Carbonates without additional anions, without H2O
B : Alkali-earth (and other M2+) carbonates
Dana 8th edition ID:14.1.1.6

14 : ANHYDROUS NORMAL CARBONATES
1 : A(XO3)
Hey's CIM Ref.: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

Lustre: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 (measured):4.42 - 4.44 g/cm3
Density (calculated):4.43 g/cm3

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.
Crystal Atlas:
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Smithsonite no.1 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Smithsonite no.13 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)

About Crystal Atlas

The mindat.org Crystal Atlas allows you to view a selection of crystal drawings of real and idealised crystal forms for this mineral and, in certain cases, 3d rotating crystal objects. The 3d models and HTML5 code are kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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Epitaxial Relationships of Smithsonite

Epitaxial Minerals:
Zincite
(Zn,Mn
2+
 
,Fe
2+
 
)O
Otavite
CdCO
 
3
Calcite
CaCO
 
3
Epitaxi 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:
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Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Horizontal Axis: ° to ° Vertical Axis: % Source Data: Filtered Data:
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
Maximum Birefringence:δ = 0.223 - 0.227

Chart shows birefringence interference colour range (at 30µm thickness) and does not take into account mineral colouration.
Surface Relief:High

Chemical Properties of Smithsonite

Formula:
ZnCO
 
3
Simplified for copy/paste:ZnCO3
Essential elements:C, O, Zn
All elements listed in formula:C, O, Zn
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:Calcite Group
Other Members of Group:

- +
Calcite
CaCO
 
3
Gaspéite
(Ni,Mg,Fe)CO
 
3
Magnesite
MgCO
 
3
Otavite
CdCO
 
3
Rhodochrosite
MnCO
 
3
Siderite
FeCO
 
3
Spherocobaltite
CoCO
 
3
Common Associates:
WillemitePyromorphiteMimetiteMalachiteHydrozincite
HemimorphiteCerussiteAzuriteAurichalciteAnglesite
Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping):

- +
5.AB.05Calcite
CaCO
 
3
5.AB.05Gaspéite
(Ni,Mg,Fe)CO
 
3
5.AB.05Magnesite
MgCO
 
3
5.AB.05Otavite
CdCO
 
3
5.AB.05Rhodochrosite
MnCO
 
3
5.AB.05Siderite
FeCO
 
3
5.AB.05Spherocobaltite
CoCO
 
3
5.AB.10Ankerite
Ca(Fe
2+
 
,Mg)(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.10Dolomite
CaMg(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.10Kutnohorite
Ca(Mn,Mg,Fe)(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.10Minrecordite
CaZn(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.15Aragonite
CaCO
 
3
5.AB.15Cerussite
PbCO
 
3
5.AB.15Strontianite
SrCO
 
3
5.AB.15Witherite
BaCO
 
3
5.AB.20Vaterite
CaCO
 
3
5.AB.25Huntite
CaMg
 
3
(CO
 
3
)
 
4
5.AB.30Norsethite
BaMg(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.35Alstonite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.40Olekminskite
Sr(Sr,Ca,Ba)(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.40Paralstonite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.45Barytocalcite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.50Carbocernaite
(Ca,Na)(Sr,Ce,Ba)(CO
 
3
)
 
2
5.AB.55Benstonite
(Ba,Sr)
 
6
(Ca,Mn)
 
6
Mg(CO
 
3
)
 
13
5.AB.60Juangodoyite
Na
 
2
Cu(CO
 
3
)
 
2
Related Minerals - Hey's Index Grouping:

- +
11.6.2Hydrozincite
Zn
 
5
(CO
 
3
)
 
2
(OH)
 
6
11.6.3Rosasite
(Cu,Zn)
 
2
(CO
 
3
)(OH)
 
2
11.6.4Zincrosasite
(Zn,Cu)
 
2
(CO
 
3
)(OH)
 
2
11.6.5Aurichalcite
(Zn,Cu)
 
5
(CO
 
3
)
 
2
(OH)
 
6
11.6.6Claraite
(Cu,Zn)
 
3
(CO
 
3
)(OH)
 
4
· 4H
 
2
O
11.6.7Minrecordite
CaZn(CO
 
3
)
 
2
11.6.8Loseyite
(Mn
2+
 
,Zn,Mg)
 
4
Zn
 
3
(CO
 
3
)
 
2
(OH)
 
10
11.6.9Sclarite
(Zn,Mg,Mn
2+
 
)
 
4
Zn
 
3
(CO
 
3
)
 
2
(OH)
 
10
11.6.10Otavite
CdCO
 
3

Other Names for Smithsonite

Synonyms:
Aztec StoneAzurite (of ?)BonamiteCadmian SmithsoniteCarbonate of Zinc
Smithsonite (of Beudant)Zinc Spar
Other Languages:
French:Zinc carbonaté
German:Capnit
Kapnit
Kohlengalmei
Smithsonit
Zincspath
Zinkischer Carbonspat
Zinkspat
Zinkspath
Japanese:菱亜鉛鉱
Latin:Zincum acido aëro mineralisatum
Russian:Смитсонит
Simplified Chinese:菱锌矿
Spanish:Smithsonita
Varieties:
Cobaltoan SmithsoniteCuprian SmithsoniteDry Bone OreHerreriteMonheimite
Turkey-Fat Ore

Other Information

Fluorescence in UV light:May fluoresce pale green or pale blue.
Other Information:Soluble in acids with effervescence.
Health Warning:No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.
External LinksSearch for toxicity information at the United States National Library of Medicine
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), Traité élémentaire de Minéralogie, second edition, 2 volumes: 2: 354.

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 and Fairchild (1938) 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.

American Mineralogist (1954): 39: 47.

Zeitschrift für Kristallographie (1981): 156: 233-243.

Reviews in Mineralogy, Mineralogical Society of America: 11.

Anthony, J.W., Bideaux, R.A., Bladh, K.W., and 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

Best Localities for Smithsonite

Best of Species:Smithsonite

Internet Links for Smithsonite

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  • Raman and XRD data at RRUFF project
  • American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database
  • Smithsonite details from Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF)
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    Localities for Smithsonite

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