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The mineralogy of Carbon

General Properties
Atomic Number:6
Standard atomic weight (Ar):12.0107(8)
Electron configuration:[He] 2s2 2p2
Glassy carbon and a 1cm³ graphite cube
Atomic Properties
Electronegativity (Pauling scale):2.55
Atomic Radius:67 pm
Ionic Radius:16 pm (+4)
Van der Waals Radius:170 pm
1st Ionization energy:1087 kJ/mol
1st Electron affinity:-154 kJ/mol
Oxidation States:-4,-3,-2,-1,1,2,3,4
Physical Properties
Standard State:solid
Bonding Type:covalent network
Melting Point:3823 K
Boiling Point:4300 K
Density:2.26 g/cm3
Main isotopes of Carbon
Isotope% in NatureHalf LifeDecay typeDecay product
Main ions of Carbon
NameIonExample minerals
carbonateCO32-Calcite, Dolomite, Rhodochrosite, Siderite
hydrogen carbonate (bicarbonate)HCO3-
Other Information
Year Discovered:3750 BC
Discovered By:Egyptians and Sumerians
Recognised as an element:1789
Recognised By:
Antoine Lavoisier
Named For:from Latin: carbo - coal
CPK color coding:#909090
External Links:WikipediaWebElementsLos Alamos National LaboratoryTheodore Gray's
Simple Compounds and Mineral Names
Sulfidescarbon disulphideCS2+4
Selenidescarbon diselenideCSe2+4
HydridesmethaneCH4+4Methane Ice
Fluoridescarbon tetrafluorideCF4+4
Chloridescarbon tetrachlorideCCl4+4
Bromidescarbon tetrabromideCBr4+4
Iodidescarbon tetraiodideCI4+4
Oxidescarbon dioxideCO2+4Carbon Dioxide Ice
carbon monoxideCO+2Carbon Monoxide Ice
carbon suboxideC3O2+4
Carbon as a chromophore in minerals and gems
CO3-maxixe beryl owes its blue colour to an admixture of CO2-3 and HCO-3 free radical ions which decompose to CO-3 under the influence of prolonged natural radiation.
Mineral Diversity of Carbon
1. Elements 14 valid mineral species
3. Halides4 valid mineral species
4. Oxides 5 valid mineral species
5. Carbonates 229 valid mineral species
6. Borates9 valid mineral species
7. Sulfates 12 valid mineral species
8. Phosphates, Arsenates, Vanadates9 valid mineral species
9. Silicates 38 valid mineral species
10. Organic Compounds49 valid mineral species
Total:369 valid species containing essential Carbon
Geochemistry of Carbon
Goldschmidt classification:Atmophile
C4+ is one of the eight most abundant solutes in average river water.
C4- forms minerals with Si4+.
Elemental Carbon in Nature
Found as native element:DiamondC
Elemental Abundance for Carbon
Crust (CRC Handbook)2.00 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Greenwood)1.80 x 10-4mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Wänke)3.76 x 10-3mass fraction, kg/kg
Sea Water (CRC Handbook)2.8 x 10-5mass per volume fraction, kg/L
Sea Water (Kaye & Laby)2.8 x 10-5mass per volume fraction, kg/L
Atmosphere (NASA)397ppmas CO2
The Sun (Kaye & Laby)1.0 x 101atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Kaye & Laby)1.0 x 101atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Ahrens)1.01 x 101atom mole fraction relative to Si=1 (% uncertainty)
Element association of Carbon in the Mineral World
This table compares the known valid mineral species listed listed with Carbon and the other elements listed based on the official IMA formula. Note that unlike other sections on this page this includes non-essential elements.

The first data column contains the total number of minerals listed with Carbon and the element listed for that row.

The second data column lists this number as a percentage of all minerals listed with Carbon.

The final data column compares this percentage against the percentage of all minerals that contain the element listed in each row.

Click on a heading to sort.
ElementValid Minerals listed with element and Carbon% of C mineralsRelative to % in all minerals
Oxygen1169 minerals with C and O93.90%21.45% higher
Hydrogen876 minerals with C and H70.36%30.49% higher
Calcium420 minerals with C and Ca33.73%43.01% higher
Sodium316 minerals with C and Na25.38%37.33% higher
Magnesium190 minerals with C and Mg15.26%19.84% higher
Silicon180 minerals with C and Si14.46%47.00% lower
Aluminium170 minerals with C and Al13.65%29.63% lower
Fluorine131 minerals with C and F10.52%39.91% higher
Cerium130 minerals with C and Ce10.44%267.94% higher
Sulfur124 minerals with C and S9.96%50.66% lower
Copper108 minerals with C and Cu8.67%31.50% lower
Uranium103 minerals with C and U8.27%64.82% higher
Iron96 minerals with C and Fe7.71%63.56% lower
Barium95 minerals with C and Ba7.63%72.77% higher
Chlorine94 minerals with C and Cl7.55%5.63% higher
Yttrium93 minerals with C and Y7.47%223.96% higher
Lead92 minerals with C and Pb7.39%25.07% lower
Manganese70 minerals with C and Mn5.62%47.34% lower
Phosphorus66 minerals with C and P5.30%53.15% lower
Strontium65 minerals with C and Sr5.22%111.77% higher
Potassium63 minerals with C and K5.06%44.17% lower
Lanthanum60 minerals with C and La4.82%338.24% higher
Nickel48 minerals with C and Ni3.86%29.39% higher
Nitrogen47 minerals with C and N3.78%80.37% higher
Zinc45 minerals with C and Zn3.61%28.25% lower
Neodymium43 minerals with C and Nd3.45%508.52% higher
Boron38 minerals with C and B3.05%39.19% lower
Zirconium27 minerals with C and Zr2.17%2.18% lower
Titanium18 minerals with C and Ti1.45%78.15% lower
Chromium18 minerals with C and Cr1.45%15.97% lower
Mercury14 minerals with C and Hg1.12%35.96% lower
Niobium14 minerals with C and Nb1.12%60.62% lower
Cobalt13 minerals with C and Co1.04%15.90% lower
Arsenic11 minerals with C and As0.88%92.52% lower
Tungsten9 minerals with C and W0.72%9.43% lower
Tellurium9 minerals with C and Te0.72%76.17% lower
Lithium9 minerals with C and Li0.72%63.93% lower
Bismuth9 minerals with C and Bi0.72%82.43% lower
Gadolinium7 minerals with C and Gd0.56%3,069.96% higher
Thorium7 minerals with C and Th0.56%18.72% lower
Tantalum7 minerals with C and Ta0.56%51.23% lower
Vanadium6 minerals with C and V0.48%88.86% lower
Dysprosium6 minerals with C and Dy0.48%1,258.55% higher
Iodine5 minerals with C and I0.40%24.52% lower
Beryllium3 minerals with C and Be0.24%88.77% lower
Germanium3 minerals with C and Ge0.24%58.83% lower
Bromine3 minerals with C and Br0.24%9.43% lower
Cadmium3 minerals with C and Cd0.24%49.68% lower
Samarium3 minerals with C and Sm0.24%579.28% higher
Molybdenum2 minerals with C and Mo0.16%86.68% lower
Praseodymium1 mineral with C and Pr0.08%126.43% higher
Periodic Table
1H 2He
3Li 4Be 5B 6C 7N 8O 9F 10Ne
11Na 12Mg 13Al 14Si 15P 16S 17Cl 18Ar
19K 20Ca 21Sc 22Ti 23V 24Cr 25Mn 26Fe 27Co 28Ni 29Cu 30Zn 31Ga 32Ge 33As 34Se 35Br 36Kr
37Rb 38Sr 39Y 40Zr 41Nb 42Mo 43Tc 44Ru 45Rh 46Pd 47Ag 48Cd 49In 50Sn 51Sb 52Te 53I 54Xe
55Cs 56Ba 57La 72Hf 73Ta 74W 75Re 76Os 77Ir 78Pt 79Au 80Hg 81Tl 82Pb 83Bi 84Po 85At 86Rn
87Fr 88Ra 89Ac 104Rd 105Db 106Sg 107Bh 108Hs 109Mt 110Ds 111Rg 112Cn 113Nh 114Fl 115Mc 116Lv 117Ts 118Og
58Ce 59Pr 60Nd 61Pm 62Sm 63Eu 64Gd 65Tb 66Dy 67Ho 68Er 69Tm 70Yb 71Lu
90Th 91Pa 92U 93Np 94Pu 95Am 96Cm 97Bk 98Cf 99Es 100Fm 101Md 102No 103Lr
Default Categories CPK Electronegativity Atomic Radius Lowest Oxidation Highest Oxidation Crustal Abundance Goldschmidt Mineral Species Minerals with C Relative Frequency
Boron << Carbon >> Nitrogen

Most widespread minerals containing Carbon
This list of minerals containing Carbon is built from the locality database. This is based on the number of localities entered for mineral species and is therefore slanted towards minerals interesting to collectors with less coverage of common rock-forming-minerals so it does not give an undistorted distribution of Carbon mineral species. It is more useful when comparing rare species rather than common species.
NameFormulaCrystal SystemMindat Localities

Localities with greatest number of different Carbon mineral species
map should go here
2Poudrette quarry (De-Mix quarry; Demix quarry; Uni-Mix quarry; Carrière Mont Saint-Hilaire; MSH), Mont Saint-Hilaire, La Vallée-du-Richelieu RCM, Montérégie, Québec, Canada77 C minerals
4Clara Mine, Oberwolfach, Wolfach, Ortenaukreis, Freiburg Region, Baden-Württemberg, Germany37 C minerals
6Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia29 C minerals
Vuoriyarvi alkaline-ultrabasic massif, Northern Karelia, Murmansk Oblast, Russia25 C minerals

Important ores of Carbon
Although most pure carbon is produced from processing coals and oils, pure carbon in the form of graphite is still mined in many parts of the world.
NameFormulaCrystal System

Important industrial minerals containing Carbon
NameFormulaCrystal System

Spotted a mistake/omission? - These pages are a work in progress, so please send all comments/corrections to Thank you.

Constants and physical property data from:

David R. Lide (ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Edition. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida (2005).
Kaye and Laby Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants (2005). Section 3.1.3, Abundances of the elements
A. Earnshaw, N. Greenwood, Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, (1997)
Thomas J. Ahrens (ed.), Global Earth Physics : A Handbook of Physical Constants, American Geophysical Union (1995)
L.B. Railsback, An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions : Geology 31:9 p737-740 (2003)
Emsley, J. Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. New York: Oxford University Press (2001)
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