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Zircon

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Formula:
ZrSiO4
May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P and others.
System:
Tetragonal
Colour:
Colourless, yellow, ...
Lustre:
Adamantine, Vitreous, Greasy
Hardness:
Member of:
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:
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.

Classification of Zircon

Valid - first described prior to 1959 (pre-IMA) - "Grandfathered"
9.AD.30

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

51 : NESOSILICATES Insular SiO4 Groups Only
5 : Insular SiO4 Groups Only with cations in >[6] coordination
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

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:
4.6 - 4.7 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.714 g/cm3 (Calculated)

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.

Crystallographic forms of Zircon

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}
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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Crystal Structure

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:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.
X-Ray Powder Diffraction Data:
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
Max Birefringence:
δ = 0.055
Image 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:
ZrSiO4

May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P and others.
Essential elements:
All elements listed in formula:
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:
Other Members of Group:
HafnonHfSiO4
StetinditeCe4+SiO4
Thorite(Th,U)SiO4
9.AD.05LarniteCa2SiO4
9.AD.10Calcio-olivineCa2SiO4
9.AD.15MerwiniteCa3Mg(SiO4)2
9.AD.20BredigiteCa7Mg(SiO4)4
9.AD.25AndraditeCa3Fe23+(SiO4)3
9.AD.25AlmandineFe32+Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25Calderite(Mn2+,Ca)3(Fe3+,Al)2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25GoldmaniteCa3V23+(SiO4)3
9.AD.25GrossularCa3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25HenritermieriteCa3(Mn3+,Al)2(SiO4)2(OH)4
9.AD.25HibschiteCa3Al2(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25HydroandraditeCa3Fe23+(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25KatoiteCa3Al2(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25KimzeyiteCa3(Zr,Ti)2((Si,Al,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25KnorringiteMg3Cr2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25MajoriteMg3(Fe2+,Si,Al)2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25MorimotoiteCa3(Ti,Fe2+,Fe3+)2((Si,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25PyropeMg3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25SchorlomiteCa3(Ti,Fe3+)2((Si,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25SpessartineMn32+Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25UvaroviteCa3Cr2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25Wadalite(Ca,Mg)6(Al,Fe3+)4((Si,Al)O4)3O4Cl3
9.AD.25HoltstamiteCa3(Al,Mn3+)2(SiO4)2(OH)4
9.AD.25KerimasiteCa3Zr2(SiO4)(Fe3+O4)2
9.AD.25ToturiteCa3Sn2(SiO4)(Fe3+O4)2
9.AD.25Momoiite(Mn2+,Ca)3V23+(SiO4)3
9.AD.25EltyubyuiteCa12Fe103+Si4O32Cl6
9.AD.25HutcheoniteCa3Ti2(SiAl2)O12
9.AD.30Coffinite(U4+,Th)(SiO4)1-x(OH)4x
9.AD.30HafnonHfSiO4
9.AD.30Thorite(Th,U)SiO4
9.AD.30StetinditeCe4+SiO4
9.AD.35HuttoniteThSiO4
9.AD.35Tombarthite-(Y)Y4(Si,H4)4O12-x(OH)4+2x
9.AD.40EulytineBi4(SiO4)3
9.AD.45ReiditeZrSiO4
14.10.2HafnonHfSiO4
14.10.3ZektzeriteLiNa(Zr,Ti,Hf)Si6O15
14.10.4ParakeldyshiteNa2ZrSi2O7
14.10.5VlasoviteNa2ZrSi4O11
14.10.6Keldyshite(Na,H)2ZrSi2O7
14.10.7GaidonnayiteNa2Zr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.8TerskiteNa4ZrSi6O16 · 2H2O
14.10.9ElpiditeNa2ZrSi6O15 · 3H2O
14.10.10HilairiteNa2Zr[SiO3]3 · 3H2O
14.10.11PetarasiteNa5Zr2(Si6O18)(Cl,OH) · 2H2O
14.10.12KhibinskiteK2ZrSi2O7
14.10.13WadeiteK2Zr(Si3O9)
14.10.14DalyiteK2ZrSi6O15
14.10.15KostyleviteK2Zr(Si3O9) · H2O
14.10.16UmbiteK2(Zr,Ti)Si3O9 · H2O
14.10.17ParaumbiteK3Zr2H(Si3O9)2 · nH2O
14.10.18GeorgechaoiteNaKZr[Si3O9] · 2H2O
14.10.19GittinsiteCaZrSi2O7
14.10.20CalciocatapleiiteCaZr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.21CalciohilairiteCaZr[SiO3]3 · 3H2O
14.10.22ArmstrongiteCaZr[Si6O15] · 3H2O
14.10.23Lemoynite(Na,K)2CaZr2Si10O26 · 5H2O
14.10.24CatapleiiteNa2Zr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.25BaghdaditeCa3(Zr,Ti)(Si2O7)O2
14.10.26LovozeriteNa2Ca(Zr,Ti)(Si6O12)[(OH)4O2] · H2O
14.10.27Låvenite(Na,Ca)2(Mn2+,Fe2+)(Zr,Ti)(Si2O7)(O,OH,F)2
14.10.28PenkvilksiteNa4Ti2Si8O22 · 4H2O
14.10.29DarapiositeKNa2(Zn,Li)3(Mn,Zr)2[Si12O30]
14.10.30BaziriteBaZr(Si3O9)
14.10.31KomkoviteBaZr[Si3O9] · 3H2O
14.10.32ZirsinaliteNa6(Ca,Mn2+,Fe2+)Zr(Si6O18)
14.10.33Tranquillityite(Fe2+,Ca)8(Zr,Y)2Ti3(SiO4)3O4

Other Names for Zircon

Name in Other Languages:
Basque:Zirkoi
Bulgarian:Циркон
Catalan:Zircó
Croatian:Cirkon
Czech:Zirkon
Dutch:Zirkoon
Esperanto:Zirkono
Finnish:Zirkoni
Hungarian:Cirkon
Italian:Zircone
Lithuanian:Cirkonas
Norwegian (Bokmål):Zirkon
Polish:Cyrkon
Portuguese:Zircão
Romanian:Zircon
Russian:Циркон
Serbian (Cyrillic Script):Циркон
Simplified Chinese:锆石
Slovak:Zirkón
Swedish:Zirkon
Ukrainian:Циркон

Other Information

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 Risks:
No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.

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.

Internet Links for Zircon

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

Localities for Zircon

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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