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Witherite

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Formula:
BaCO
 
3
System:OrthorhombicColour:Colourless, white, ...
Lustre:Vitreous, ResinousHardness:3 - 3½
Member of:Aragonite Group
Name:
Named after William Withering (1741-1799), English physician and naturalist, who first described the mineral.


The Ba analogue of strontianite.

Found in low-temperature hydrothermal vein deposits.

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Classification of Witherite

IMA status:Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
Strunz 8th edition ID:5/B.04-30
Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:5.AB.15

5 : CARBONATES (NITRATES)
A : Carbonates without additional anions, without H2O
B : Alkali-earth (and other M2+) carbonates
Dana 8th edition ID:14.1.3.2

14 : ANHYDROUS NORMAL CARBONATES
1 : A(XO3)
Hey's CIM Ref.:11.5.2

11 : Carbonates
5 : Carbonates of Sr and Ba
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Type Occurrence of Witherite

Type Locality:Brownley Hill Mine (Bloomsberry Horse Level), Nenthead, Alston Moor District, North Pennines, North and Western Region (Cumberland), Cumbria, England, UK
Year of Discovery:1789

Occurrences of Witherite

Geological Setting:Low-temperature hydrothermal veins.

Physical Properties of Witherite

Lustre:Vitreous, Resinous
Diaphaneity (Transparency):Transparent, Translucent
Colour:Colourless, white, greyish, light yellow; colourless in transmitted light.
Streak:White
Hardness (Mohs):3 - 3½
Cleavage:Distinct/Good
On {010} distinct; on {110} imperfect. Possibly also on {110} and {112}.
Fracture:Irregular/Uneven
Density (measured):4.289 - 4.293 g/cm3
Density (calculated):4.29 g/cm3

Crystallography of Witherite

Crystal System:Orthorhombic
Class (H-M):mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m) - Dipyramidal
Cell Parameters:a = 5.31Å, b = 8.9Å, c = 6.43Å
Ratio:a:b:c = 0.597 : 1 : 0.722
Unit Cell Volume:V 303.88 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Morphology:Crystals universally twinned on {110}, yielding pseudo-hexagonal dipyramids; also short prismatic [001] or tabular to lenticular with a convex base. Faces commonly rough and horizontally striated. Globular, tuberose, and botryoidal; structure columnar, granular, or coarse fibrous.
Twinning:On {110}, universal.
Crystal Atlas:
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Witherite no.9 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Witherite no.10 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Witherite no.11 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Witherite no.19 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Witherite no.22 - 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 Witherite

Epitaxial Minerals:
Barytocalcite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
Baryte
BaSO
 
4
Epitaxi Comments:Witherites in parallel growth on Barytocalcite (Blagill). Baryte on witherite, with baryte [010]{102} parallel with witherite [100]{011} and {031}; also otherwise oriented.
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
Image Loading

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.
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
d-spacingIntensity
3.72 (100)
3.68 (53)
3.215 (15)
2.628 (24)
2.590 (23)
2.150 (28)
2.019 (21)

Optical Data of Witherite

Type:Biaxial (-)
RI values: nα = 1.529 nβ = 1.676 nγ = 1.677
2V:Measured: 16° , Calculated: 8°
Maximum Birefringence:δ = 0.148

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

Chemical Properties of Witherite

Formula:
BaCO
 
3
Simplified for copy/paste:BaCO3
Essential elements:Ba, C, O
All elements listed in formula:Ba, C, O
CAS Registry number:513-77-9

CAS Registry numbers are published by the American Chemical Society
Common Impurities:Ca,Sr

Relationship of Witherite to other Species

Member of:Aragonite Group
Other Members of Group:

- +
Aragonite
CaCO
 
3
Cerussite
PbCO
 
3
Strontianite
SrCO
 
3
Common Associates:
GalenaFluoriteBaryte
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.05Smithsonite
ZnCO
 
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.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:

- +
11.5.1Strontianite
SrCO
 
3
11.5.3Norsethite
BaMg(CO
 
3
)
 
2
11.5.4Alstonite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
11.5.5Paralstonite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
11.5.6Barytocalcite
BaCa(CO
 
3
)
 
2
11.5.7Benstonite
(Ba,Sr)
 
6
(Ca,Mn)
 
6
Mg(CO
 
3
)
 
13

Other Names for Witherite

Synonyms:
Aerated barytesBaroliteBarolite (of Kirwan)Sulphato-Carbonate of BarytaViterite
Other Languages:
French:Baryte carbonatée
German:Barolit
Kohlensaurer Baryt
Viterit
Witherit
Japanese:毒重石
Latin:Terra ponderosa aerata
Russian:Витерит
Simplified Chinese:碳酸钡矿
毒重石
Spanish:Barolita
Viterita
Witherita
Traditional Chinese:碳酸鋇礦
毒重石

Other Information

Thermal Behaviour:Inverts under CO2 pressure to a hexagonal (?), and then an isometric modification upon heating.
Other Information:Soluble in dilute HCl.
Health Warning:Barium Carbonate is toxic if ingested, and it has been used as a rat poison. Handling of Witherite is not a major cause of concern as long as you avoid breathing in dust (such as may be generated by grinding, sawing or trimming specimens) and you wash your hands after handling.

MSDS Data sheet on Barium Carbonate - NOTE this refers to the powder which is more dangerous to handle than crystalline Witherite.
Oral ld50 between 100 and 300mg/kg.
External LinksSearch for toxicity information at the United States National Library of Medicine

References for Witherite

Reference List:

- +
Withering (1783) Phil. Trans.: 293 (as Terra ponderosa aerata).

Watt (1790) Mem. Manchester Society: 3: 599 (as Aerated Barytes).

Werner (1790) Bergmaaennusches Journal, Freiberg (Neues Bergmannische Journal): 2: 225 (as Witherit).

Kirwan, R. (1794) Elements of Mineralogy. (1784), second edition. London: 1: 134 (as Barolite).

Des Cloizeaux, A. (1874) Manuel de minéralogie. 2 volumes and Atlas, Paris. volume 2: 75.

Dana, E.S. (1892) System of Mineralogy, 6th. Edition, New York: 284.

Jackson (1894) Journal of the Chemical Society, London: 65: 734 (luminescence).

Mallard (1895) Bulletin de la Société française de Minéralogie: 18: 8.

Bary (1900) Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences de Paris: 130: 776.

Kunz and Baskerville (1903) Science: 769.

Mügge (1903) Jb. Min., Beil.-Bd.: 16: 399.

Boeke (1906) Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie, Hamburg, Leipzig: 50: 244.

Groth, P. (1908) Chemische Krystallographie. Leipzig. 5 volumes: vol. 2: 209.

Boeke (1913) Mitt. Naturfor. Ges. Halle: 3: 1.

Samojloff (1915) Centralblatt für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paleontologie, Stuttgart: 161.

Madelung and Fuchs (1921) Annalen der Physik, Halle, Leipzig: 65: 289.

Goldschmidt, V. (1923) Atlas der Krystallformen. 9 volumes, atlas, and text. Heidelberg. vol. 9: 80.

Hintze, Carl (1926) Handbuch der Mineralogie. Berlin and Leipzig. 6 volumes: 1 [3A]: 3045.

Szebellédy (1926) Inaugural Dissertation, Budapest [Min. Abs.: 3: 261 (1927)].

Wilson (1928) Physical Review, a Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics: 31: 305.

Cork and Gerhard (1931) American Mineralogist: 16: 71.

Köhler and Leitmeier (1934) Zeitschrift für Kristallographie, Mineralogie und Petrographie, Leipzig: 87: 146.

Colby and LaCoste (1935) Zeitschrift für Kristallographie, Mineralogie und Petrographie, Leipzig: 90: 1.

Hackspill and Wolf (1937) Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences de Paris: 204: 1820.

Faivre (1946) Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences de Paris: 222: 227.

Sidorenko (1947) Comptes rendus de l’académie des sciences de l’U.R.S.S., n.s.: 55: 149.

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: 194-196.

American Mineralogist (1971): 56: 758.

Holl C.M., J.R. Smyth, H.M.S. Laustsen, S.D. Jacobsen, & R.T. Downs (2000), Compression of witherite to 8 GPa and the crystal structure of BaCO3-II: Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 27: 467-473.

Reviews in Mineralogy, Mineralogical Society of America 11.

Bulletin de la Société française de Minéralogie et de Cristallographie (1988): 111: 139.

Sanchez-Pastor, N. et al. (2011): Raman study of synthetic witherite-strontianite solid solutions. Spectroscopy Letters 44(7-8), 500-504.

Internet Links for Witherite

Search Engines:
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  • External Links:
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  • Look for Witherite on Athena Mineralogy
  • Look for Witherite on Wikipedia
  • Look for Witherite on Mineralien Atlas
  • Raman and XRD data at RRUFF project
  • American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database
  • Witherite details from Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF)
  • Mineral Dealers:
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