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Zircon

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Formula:
ZrSiO
 
4
May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P and others.
System:TetragonalColour:Colourless, yellow, ...
Lustre:Adamantine, Vitreous, GreasyHardness:
Member of:Zircon Group
Name:Re-named in 1783 by Abraham Gottlob Werner from the Arabic (and, in turn, from the Persian "azargun") "zar", gold, plus "gun", coloured, referring to one of the many colours that the mineral may display. Originally named λυγκύριον "lyncurion" in ~300 BCE by Theophrastus. A mineral that may have been today's zircon was called chrysolithos by Pliny in 37. Called jacinth by Georgius Agricola in 1555. Mentioned as jargon by Axel Cronstedt in 1758. Called hyacinte by Barthelemy Faujas de Saint Fond in 1772. Numerous later synonyms have been advanced.
Dimorph of:Reidite
Isostructural with:Chernovite-(Y), Hafnon, Thorite, Wakefieldite-(Y), Xenotime-(Y)


Zircon Group. The zirconium analogue of Thorite and Hafnon. Zircon-Hafnon Series. The low-pressure dimorph of Reidite.

Zircon, zirconium orthosilicate, is found in most igneous rocks and some metamorphic rocks as small crystals or grains, mostly widely distributed and rarely more than 1% of the total mass of the rock. It is also found as alluvial grains in some sedimentary rocks due to its high hardness. Zircon has a high refraction index and, when the crystals are large enough, is often used as a gemstone.
In geology, zircon is used for radiometric dating of zircon-bearing rocks (using isotopes of U which is often present as an impurity element, as is Th, radiogenic Pb, Hf, Y, P, and others).

Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Zircon. Currently in public beta-test.

Classification of Zircon

IMA status:Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
Strunz 8th edition ID:8/A.09-10
Nickel-Strunz 10th (pending) edition ID:9.AD.30

9 : SILICATES (Germanates)
A : Nesosilicates
D : Nesosilicates without additional anions; cations in [6] and/or greater coordination
Dana 8th edition ID:51.5.2.1

51 : NESOSILICATES Insular SiO4 Groups Only
5 : Insular SiO4 Groups Only with cations in >[6] coordination
Hey's CIM Ref.:14.10.1

14 : Silicates not Containing Aluminum
10 : Silicates of Zr or Hf
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Occurrences of Zircon

Geological Setting:An accessory mineral in igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Physical Properties of Zircon

Lustre:Adamantine, Vitreous, Greasy
Diaphaneity (Transparency):Transparent, Translucent, Opaque
Comment:Greasy when metamict
Colour:Colourless, yellow, grey, reddish-brown, green, brown, black
Streak:White
Hardness (Mohs):
Tenacity:Brittle
Cleavage:Poor/Indistinct
Indistinct on {110}{111}
Fracture:Conchoidal
Density (measured):4.6 - 4.7 g/cm3
Density (calculated):4.714 g/cm3

Crystallography of Zircon

Crystal System:Tetragonal
Class (H-M):4/mmm (4/m 2/m 2/m) - Ditetragonal Dipyramidal
Space Group:I41/amd
Cell Parameters:a = 6.607(1) Å, c = 5.982(1) Å
Ratio:a:c = 1 : 0.905
Unit Cell Volume:V 261.13 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Z:4
Morphology:Tabular to square prismatic or tetragonal-dipyramidal crystals.
Twinning:On {101}
Comment:May be partly or fully metamict, especially U-/Th-rich crystals. Metamictisation leads to an enlarged unit cell.
Crystal Atlas:
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Zircon no.9 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.24 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.66 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.81 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.97 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.133 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.137 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon - {100}, {301}, {101}

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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Structure
  Reference
Hazen R M Finger L W (1979) Crystal structure and compressibility of zircon at high pressure crystal No. 1, 1 atm - before P. American Mineralogist 64:196-201.

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More Crystal Structures
Click here to view more crystal structures at the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database
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.
X-Ray Powder Diffraction:
d-spacingIntensity
4.434 (45)
3.302 (100)
2.518 (45)
2.066 (20)
1.908 (14)
1.712 (40)
1.651 (14)

Optical Data of Zircon

Type:Uniaxial (+)
RI values: nω = 1.925 - 1.961 nε = 1.980 - 2.015
Maximum Birefringence:δ = 0.055

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

Chemical Properties of Zircon

Formula:
ZrSiO
 
4


May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P and others.
Simplified for copy/paste:ZrSiO4
Essential elements:O, Si, Zr
All elements listed in formula:O, Si, Zr
Common Impurities:Hf,Th,U,REE,O,H,H2O,Fe,Al,P

Relationship of Zircon to other Species

Series:Forms a series with Hafnon (see here)
Member of:Zircon Group
Other Members of Group:

- +
Hafnon
HfSiO
 
4
Stetindite
Ce
4+
 
SiO
 
4
Thorite
(Th,U)SiO
 
4
Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping):

- +
9.AD.05Larnite
Ca
 
2
SiO
 
4
9.AD.10Calcio-olivine
Ca
 
2
SiO
 
4
9.AD.15Merwinite
Ca
 
3
Mg(SiO
 
4
)
 
2
9.AD.20Bredigite
Ca
 
7
Mg(SiO
 
4
)
 
4
9.AD.25Andradite
Ca
 
3
Fe
3+
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Almandine
Fe
2+
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Calderite
(Mn
2+
 
,Ca)
 
3
(Fe
3+
 
,Al)
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Goldmanite
Ca
 
3
V
3+
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Grossular
Ca
 
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Henritermierite
Ca
 
3
(Mn
3+
 
,Al)
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
2
(OH)
 
4
9.AD.25Hibschite
Ca
 
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3-x
(OH)
 
4x
9.AD.25Hydroandradite
Ca
 
3
Fe
3+
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3-x
(OH)
 
4x
9.AD.25Katoite
Ca
 
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3-x
(OH)
 
4x
9.AD.25Kimzeyite
Ca
 
3
(Zr,Ti)
 
2
((Si,Al,Fe
3+
 
)O
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Knorringite
Mg
 
3
Cr
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Majorite
Mg
 
3
(Fe
2+
 
,Si,Al)
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Morimotoite
Ca
 
3
(Ti,Fe
2+
 
,Fe
3+
 
)
 
2
((Si,Fe
3+
 
)O
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Pyrope
Mg
 
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Schorlomite
Ca
 
3
(Ti,Fe
3+
 
)
 
2
((Si,Fe
3+
 
)O
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Spessartine
Mn
2+
3
Al
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Uvarovite
Ca
 
3
Cr
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Wadalite
(Ca,Mg)
 
6
(Al,Fe
3+
 
)
 
4
((Si,Al)O
 
4
)
 
3
O
 
4
Cl
 
3
9.AD.25Holtstamite
Ca
 
3
(Al,Mn
3+
 
)
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
2
(OH)
 
4
9.AD.25Kerimasite
Ca
 
3
Zr
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)(Fe
3+
 
O
 
4
)
 
2
9.AD.25Toturite
Ca
 
3
Sn
 
2
(SiO
 
4
)(Fe
3+
 
O
 
4
)
 
2
9.AD.25Momoiite
(Mn
2+
 
,Ca)
 
3
V
3+
2
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.25Eltyubyuite
Ca
 
12
Fe
3+
10
Si
 
4
O
 
32
Cl
 
6
9.AD.25Hutcheonite
Ca
 
3
Ti
 
2
(SiAl
 
2
)O
 
12
9.AD.30Coffinite
(U
4+
 
,Th)(SiO
 
4
)
 
1-x
(OH)
 
4x
9.AD.30Hafnon
HfSiO
 
4
9.AD.30Thorite
(Th,U)SiO
 
4
9.AD.30Stetindite
Ce
4+
 
SiO
 
4
9.AD.35Huttonite
ThSiO
 
4
9.AD.35Tombarthite-(Y)
Y
 
4
(Si,H
 
4
)
 
4
O
 
12-x
(OH)
 
4+2x
9.AD.40Eulytine
Bi
 
4
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
9.AD.45Reidite
ZrSiO
 
4
Related Minerals - Hey's Index Grouping:

- +
14.10.2Hafnon
HfSiO
 
4
14.10.3Zektzerite
LiNa(Zr,Ti,Hf)Si
 
6
O
 
15
14.10.4Parakeldyshite
Na
 
2
ZrSi
 
2
O
 
7
14.10.5Vlasovite
Na
 
2
ZrSi
 
4
O
 
11
14.10.6Keldyshite
(Na,H)
 
2
ZrSi
 
2
O
 
7
14.10.7Gaidonnayite
Na
 
2
Zr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
) · 2H
 
2
O
14.10.8Terskite
Na
 
4
ZrSi
 
6
O
 
16
· 2H
 
2
O
14.10.9Elpidite
Na
 
2
ZrSi
 
6
O
 
15
· 3H
 
2
O
14.10.10Hilairite
Na
 
2
Zr[SiO
 
3
]
 
3
· 3H
 
2
O
14.10.11Petarasite
Na
 
5
Zr
 
2
(Si
 
6
O
 
18
)(Cl,OH) · 2H
 
2
O
14.10.12Khibinskite
K
 
2
ZrSi
 
2
O
 
7
14.10.13Wadeite
K
 
2
Zr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
)
14.10.14Dalyite
K
 
2
ZrSi
 
6
O
 
15
14.10.15Kostylevite
K
 
2
Zr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
) · H
 
2
O
14.10.16Umbite
K
 
2
(Zr,Ti)Si
 
3
O
 
9
· H
 
2
O
14.10.17Paraumbite
K
 
3
Zr
 
2
H(Si
 
3
O
 
9
)
 
2
· nH
 
2
O
14.10.18Georgechaoite
NaKZr[Si
 
3
O
 
9
] · 2H
 
2
O
14.10.19Gittinsite
CaZrSi
 
2
O
 
7
14.10.20Calciocatapleiite
CaZr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
) · 2H
 
2
O
14.10.21Calciohilairite
CaZr[SiO
 
3
]
 
3
· 3H
 
2
O
14.10.22Armstrongite
CaZr[Si
 
6
O
 
15
] · 3H
 
2
O
14.10.23Lemoynite
(Na,K)
 
2
CaZr
 
2
Si
 
10
O
 
26
· 5H
 
2
O
14.10.24Catapleiite
Na
 
2
Zr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
) · 2H
 
2
O
14.10.25Baghdadite
Ca
 
3
(Zr,Ti)(Si
 
2
O
 
7
)O
 
2
14.10.26Lovozerite
Na
 
2
Ca(Zr,Ti)(Si
 
6
O
 
12
)[(OH)
 
4
O
 
2
] · H
 
2
O
14.10.27Låvenite
(Na,Ca)
 
2
(Mn
2+
 
,Fe
2+
 
)(Zr,Ti)(Si
 
2
O
 
7
)(O,OH,F)
 
2
14.10.28Penkvilksite
Na
 
4
Ti
 
2
Si
 
8
O
 
22
· 4H
 
2
O
14.10.29Darapiosite
KNa
 
2
(Zn,Li)
 
3
(Mn,Zr)
 
2
[Si
 
12
O
 
30
]
14.10.30Bazirite
BaZr(Si
 
3
O
 
9
)
14.10.31Komkovite
BaZr[Si
 
3
O
 
9
] · 3H
 
2
O
14.10.32Zirsinalite
Na
 
6
(Ca,Mn
2+
 
,Fe
2+
 
)Zr(Si
 
6
O
 
18
)
14.10.33Tranquillityite
(Fe
2+
 
,Ca)
 
8
(Zr,Y)
 
2
Ti
 
3
(SiO
 
4
)
 
3
O
 
4

Other Names for Zircon

Synonyms:
AzoriteCirconeLyncuriteMeta-Zircon (of Leitz)Oesterdite
OstraniteTachyaphaltiteTurmaliZirconite
Other Languages:
Basque:Zirkoi
Bulgarian:Циркон
Catalan:Zircó
Croatian:Cirkon
Czech:Zirkon
Dutch:Zirkoon
Esperanto:Zirkono
Finnish:Zirkoni
French:Zircon
Açorite
Jargon de Ceylan
German:Zirkon
Azorit
Oesterdit
Örstedit
Örstettit
Ostranit
Polykrasilith
Zirkonit
Hebrew:זירקון
Hungarian:Cirkon
Italian:Zircone
Japanese:ジルコン
鋯石
Latin:Lyncurion
Lyncurion (of Theophrastus)
Lithuanian:Cirkonas
Norwegian (Bokmål):Zirkon
Polish:Cyrkon
Portuguese:Zircão
Romanian:Zircon
Russian:Циркон
Serbian (Cyrillic Script):Циркон
Simplified Chinese:锆石
Slovak:Zirkón
Spanish:Zircón
Açorita
Azorita
Oesterdita
Ostranita
Œrsdedtita
Zirconita
Swedish:Zirkon
Ukrainian:Циркон
Varieties:
AlviteArshinoviteAuerbachiteBeccariteCalyptolite
CyrtoliteHafnian ZirconHyacinthJargoonMalacon
Matura DiamondNaegiteOerstediteOerstedtiteOrvillite
OyamaliteRibeiriteStarliteUraniferous ZirconYamaguchilite

Other Information

Fluorescence in UV light:Virtually all zircon is fluorescent, from dull to bright in intensity, and in shades of yellow, golden-yellow and yellow-brown (SW UV). This property is often diagnostic in identification.
Thermal Behaviour:Thermoluminescent
Other Information:Cathodoluminescent
Health Warning:U- and Th-bearing zircon is radioactive. Gemstones should be tested for radioactivity before being worn on or near the body.

References for Zircon

Reference List:

- +
Werner, A.G. (1783), in Romé de l'Isle - Cristallographie, 2nd ed., Paris, 2, 229.

Trofimov, A.K. (1962) The luminescence spectrum of zircon. Geochemistry 1962: 1102-1108.

American Mineralogist (1979): 64: 196.

Pupin, J.P. (1980) Zircon and granite petrology. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: 73: 207-220.

Watson, E.B. and Cherniak, D.J. (1997) Oxygen diffusion in zircon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 148: 527-544.

Wang, R.C., Zhao, G.T., Lu, J.J., Chen, X.M., Xu, S.J., and Wang, D.Z. (2000) Chemistry of Hf-rich zircons from the Laoshan I- and A-type granites, eastern China. Mineralogical Magazine: 64: 867-877.

Parry, W.T., Wilson, P.N., Moser, D., and Heizler, M.T. (2001) U-Pb dating of zircon and 40Ar/39Ar dating of biotite at Bingham, Utah. Economic Geology: 96: 1671-1683.

Gucsik, A., Koeberl, Ch, Brandstätter, F., Reimold, W.U., and Libowitzky, E. (2002) Cathodoluminescence, electron microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy of shock-metamorphosed zircon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 202: 495-509.

Valley, J. (2003) Oxygen isotopes in zircon. Rev. Mineral. Geochem.: 53: 343-385.

Zhang, A.C., Wang, R.C., Hu, H., Zhang, H., Zhu, J.C., and Chen, X.M. (2004b) Chemical evolution of Nb-Ta oxides and zircon from the Koktokay no. 3 granitic pegmatite, Altai, northwestern China. Mineralogical Magazine: 68(5): 739-756.

Julia Roszjar, Martin J. Whitehouse, Addi Bischoff (2014): Meteoritic zircon – Occurrence and chemical characteristics. Chemie der Erde - Geochemistry 74, 453-469.

Mindat.org articles about Zircon

Article entries:
Rout 80 Road Cut,, Mount Arlington New JerseyFred A. Schuster
Zircon at Romito Promontory, Livorno, Livorno Province, Tuscany, Italy.Giuliano Bettini

Internet Links for Zircon

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  • Look for Zircon on Wikipedia
  • Look for Zircon on Mineralien Atlas
  • Raman and XRD data at RRUFF project
  • American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database
  • Zircon details from Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF)
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    Localities for Zircon

    The 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.
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