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The Mineralogy of Lithium

General Properties
Atomic Number:3
Standard atomic weight (Ar):6.941(2)
Electron configuration:[He] 2s1
0.5 grams lithium under argon.
Atomic Properties
Electronegativity (Pauling scale):0.98
Atomic Radius:167 pm
Ionic Radius:76 pm (+1)
Van der Waals Radius:182 pm
1st Ionization energy:520 kJ/mol
1st Electron affinity:-60 kJ/mol
Oxidation States:1
Physical Properties
Standard State:solid
Bonding Type:metallic
Melting Point:454 K
Boiling Point:1615 K
Density:0.54 g/cm3
Metal/Non-Metal:alkali metal
Main isotopes of Lithium
Isotope% in NatureHalf LifeDecay typeDecay product
Main ions of Lithium
NameIonExample minerals
lithiumLi+Petalite, Spodumene
Other Information
Year Discovered:1817
Discovered By:
Johan August Arfwedson
Year Isolated:1821
Isolated By:
William Thomas Brande
Named For:from Greek: lithos - "stone"
CPK color coding:#CC80FF
External Links:WikipediaWebElementsLos Alamos National LaboratoryTheodore Gray's PeriodicTable.com
Simple Compounds and Mineral Names
Nitrideslithium nitrideLi3N+1
Sulfideslithium sulfideLi2S+1
Selenideslithium selenideLi2Se+1
Tellurideslithium tellurideLi2Te+1
Hydrideslithium hydrideLiH+1
Hydroxideslithium hydroxideLiOH+1
Fluorideslithium fluorideLiF+1Griceite
Iodideslithium iodideLiI+1
Oxidesdlithium oxideLi2O+1
dilithium peroxideLi2O2+1
lithium superoxideLiO2+1
Carbonateslithium carbonateLi2CO3+1Zabuyelite
Nitrateslithium nitrateLiNO3+1
Sulfateslithium sulfateLi2SO4+1
Phosphateslithium phosphateLi3PO4+1Lithiophosphate
Lithium as a chromophore in minerals and gems
Li+Does NOT cause colour as it has no electrons in d-orbitals. Minerals where Li was previously thought to be a colouring agent probably contain other ions such as Mn2+.
Mineral Diversity of Lithium
3. Halides4 valid mineral species
4. Oxides 3 valid mineral species
5. Carbonates 1 valid mineral species
8. Phosphates, Arsenates, Vanadates17 valid mineral species
9. Silicates 70 valid mineral species
Total:95 valid species containing essential Lithium
Geochemistry of Lithium
Goldschmidt classification:Lithophile
Li+ is essential to nutrition of at least some vertebrates ('essential minerals').
Elemental Abundance for Lithium
Crust (CRC Handbook)2.0 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Kaye & Laby)2.0 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Greenwood)1.8 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Taylor)1.3 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Wänke)1.37 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Upper Crust (Ahrens/Taylor)2.0 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Upper Crust (Ahrens/Shaw)2.2 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Sea Water (CRC Handbook)1.8 x 10-7mass per volume fraction, kg/L
Sea Water (Kaye & Laby)1.7 x 10-7mass per volume fraction, kg/L
The Sun (Kaye & Laby)4.0 x 10-7atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Kaye & Laby)5.7 x 10-5atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Ahrens)5.71 x 10-5 (9.2%)atom mole fraction relative to Si=1 (% uncertainty)
Element association of Lithium in the Mineral World
This table compares the known valid mineral species listed listed with Lithium 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 Lithium and the element listed for that row.

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

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 Lithium% of Li mineralsRelative to % in all minerals
Oxygen335 minerals with Li and O96.54%23.92% higher
Silicon250 minerals with Li and Si72.05%162.09% higher
Hydrogen188 minerals with Li and H54.18%0.29% lower
Sodium152 minerals with Li and Na43.80%135.20% higher
Aluminium136 minerals with Li and Al39.19%100.44% higher
Fluorine104 minerals with Li and F29.97%295.49% higher
Potassium88 minerals with Li and K25.36%177.67% higher
Iron72 minerals with Li and Fe20.75%2.69% lower
Manganese67 minerals with Li and Mn19.31%79.45% higher
Calcium66 minerals with Li and Ca19.02%19.99% lower
Phosphorus66 minerals with Li and P19.02%66.80% higher
Magnesium58 minerals with Li and Mg16.71%30.25% higher
Titanium46 minerals with Li and Ti13.26%98.85% higher
Boron33 minerals with Li and B9.51%88.02% higher
Beryllium30 minerals with Li and Be8.65%299.77% higher
Zirconium23 minerals with Li and Zr6.63%196.68% higher
Caesium13 minerals with Li and Cs3.75%738.44% higher
Carbon9 minerals with Li and C2.59%65.69% lower
Yttrium8 minerals with Li and Y2.31%0.78% lower
Chlorine7 minerals with Li and Cl2.02%71.99% lower
Tin7 minerals with Li and Sn2.02%16.36% higher
Barium6 minerals with Li and Ba1.73%61.15% lower
Tantalum6 minerals with Li and Ta1.73%48.84% higher
Vanadium6 minerals with Li and V1.73%60.35% lower
Zinc6 minerals with Li and Zn1.73%65.94% lower
Rubidium4 minerals with Li and Rb1.15%2,049.86% higher
Copper4 minerals with Li and Cu1.15%90.97% lower
Cerium4 minerals with Li and Ce1.15%59.69% lower
Strontium3 minerals with Li and Sr0.86%65.20% lower
Arsenic3 minerals with Li and As0.86%92.74% lower
Lanthanum1 mineral with Li and La0.29%73.99% lower
Neodymium1 mineral with Li and Nd0.29%49.61% lower
Thorium1 mineral with Li and Th0.29%58.66% lower
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 Li Relative Frequency
Helium << Lithium >> Beryllium

Most widespread minerals containing Lithium
This list of minerals containing Lithium is built from the mindat.org 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 Lithium mineral species. It is more useful when comparing rare species rather than common species.
NameFormulaCrystal SystemMindat Localities

Localities with greatest number of different Lithium mineral species
map should go here
6Dara-i-Pioz Glacier (Dara-Pioz), Districts of Republican Subordination, Tajikistan14 Li minerals
3Tanco Mine (Bernic Lake Mine), Bernic Lake, Lac-du-Bonnet area, Manitoba, Canada16 Li minerals
5Foote Lithium Co. Mine (Foote Mine), Kings Mountain Mining District, Cleveland Co., North Carolina, USA15 Li minerals
7Koktokay No. 3 pegmatite (Altay No. 3 pegmatite), Altay Mine, Koktokay pegmatite field (Keketuohai pegmatite field), Fuyun Co. (Koktokay Co.), Aletai Prefecture (Altay Prefecture), Yili Hasake Autonomous Prefecture (Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture), Xinjiang, China13 Li minerals
8Red Cross Lake pegmatites, Red Cross Lake, Manitoba, Canada12 Li minerals

Minor ores of Lithium
While traditionally lithium has been extracted from various lithium silicate minerals such as spodumene and petalite the majority of ltihium is now produced by processing lithium-rich brines.
NameFormulaCrystal System

Spotted a mistake/omission? - These pages are a work in progress, so please send all comments/corrections to jolyon@mindat.org. 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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