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IMA nomenclature proposal

Posted by Rock Currier  
Rock Currier August 05, 2010 08:27PM
An IMA nomenclature proposal.

The IMA has something like six pages of requirements for those seeking to have a new mineral recognized and obtain naming privilegedes. As far as I know there are no written requirements by the IMA for changing those names like when a mineral is discredited, or having the name of a mineral changed to something else or new groups of minerals changed or mineral names placed in one group or another or moved to another group. I am not suggesting that the way they are doing things is bad or badly in need of changing. I will however point out, not that it needs pointing out, that all of these other changes often engender irritation if not outrage in various sectors of the mineral community among those who consider themselves "stakeholders" in the mineral name game.

I think a substantial amount of this irritation could be done away with if the IMA would take it upon itself, when one of these changes is done, to illuminate for us all, just what that means in so far as changing the labels of many of the hundreds of thousands of existing labels on existing specimens. In other words when a mineral like Apophyllite is changed into Apophyllite-(KOH) and Apophyllite-(NaF) etc, that it take it upon responsibility for identifying the most prominent Apophyllite localities and having specimens from those localities analysed and publishing the results of that testing so those of us with specimens, schools, museums, collectors and dealers, can give those specimens correct names rather than guessing. John White of the Smithsonian did exactly this for Apophyllite and it was quite helpful. One of my pet peeves is that when the mica nomenclature was changed it was not clear what to call lepidolite, especially the lepidolite from the Stewart Mine at Pala, California. Many many tons of this material has been distributed and sold all over the world and is frequently found in school collections. What is this stuff? We feel we have been hung out to dry and left out of the process.

For those proposing nomenclature changes, I am sure that if they asked the extended mineral community for specimens of minerals from prominent localities whose names they proposed changing, that many examples of specimens from the more prominent localities would be gladly donated for the purpose of determining just what they were. More work for them, yes, but it would go a long way to reducing irritation at the IMA.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph August 05, 2010 08:48PM
Now, I'm not trying to be an official IMA apologist here (even though I'm on their outreach committee), but:

>I think a substantial amount of this irritation could be done away with if the IMA would take it upon itself,
>when one of these changes is done, to illuminate for us all, just what that means in so far as changing
>the labels of many of the hundreds of thousands of existing labels on existing specimens.

Firstly, the IMA CNMNC describes minerals, not localities (except for type localities), and they shouldn't have anything to do with describing minerals from localities that are not the type locality for a new species. And they shouldn't be involved in testing specimens!

Secondly, the explanation is given about how to change your labels, it's based on the chemistry and structure.

Thirdly. There's nothing at all wrong with leaving your specimens labelled as 'apophyllite'. if you want to be more accurate, you can get them tested, or check up on mindat for the locality :) What we need to prevent is people trying to guess which apophyllite mineral something is.

Fourthly. Apophyllite was abandoned years ago, we've had Fluorapophyllite and Hydroxylapophyllite for a long as I can remember, there's no real difference :)
Johan Kjellman August 05, 2010 11:02PM
Hi Rock!

I'd suggest deep-reading the recent article:
• Atencio, D., Andrade, M.B., Christy, A.G., Gieré, R., Kartashov, P.M. (2010): The pyrochlore supergroup of minerals: nomenclature. Canadian Mineralogist, 48, 673-698.

It will give anyone interested insight into how mineralogists think and reason, at least the ones specialized in systematics and nomenclature. It doesn't have anything to do with annoying mineral dealers and collectors, that just comes as a bonus. >:D<

Reiner Mielke August 06, 2010 12:57AM
There is no law requiring collectors to follow the IMA nomenclature. I am fine with the old names although it would be nice to know the new names. The most important thing is knowing the locality, one can always determine the species. I guess what I am saying is the irritation is really self created ( in ones mind). A nice lepidolite specimen is still a nice lepidolite specimen no matter what the IMA says it is.
Jim Ferraiolo August 06, 2010 02:41PM
Take a look at the IMA Procedures, published in Canadian Mineralogist, vol.36, 913-927 (1998), for requirements for discreditation, and other things mineralogically procedural.
Rock Currier August 07, 2010 12:20AM
Yes, the irritation that changes the IMA makes is mostly self created, but it is there and wide spread in various sectors of the earth science community. And it is directed at the secret cabal of demons that run the IMA that are continually plotting to disrupt the piece and tranquility of our lives. (a joke). So I guess my question to the hard working members of the IMA is do they think they can do anything to mitigate this irritation?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/09/2010 01:04PM by Rock Currier.
Johan Kjellman August 07, 2010 09:09AM
I M A small guy not a hard core IMA member but believe (not sure at all) that in the past decade there has been a strong influence by structural chemistry mineralogists in the CMNMNMNMCMNMCA:D that have been trying to make everything neat and logic by naming groups with one name and suffixing each and every site-component (i am overgeneralizing of course). With this trend continuing we would have had no mimetites, vana's and whatnots in the future. Now it seems that there has been a re-shift, of course influenced by this earlier trend, evidence for this is the revival of the old apatite names and the latest pyrochlore supergroup paper where the suffixing has been abandoned. The influence by the logical structuralists is though kept in that one strictly adheres to the use of root-names and prefixes all governed by site occupancy. So in my vision of the future there will be many ferroferrirootites, kenooxyferrorootites, oxystrontiomanganorootite and whatnot. So what they can do to mitigate the irritation is to name a root after you, and eventually they will describe the umpteenth curreierite - oxykenoferroferricurrierite.:)-D

all best

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2010 10:42AM by Johan Kjellman.
Reiner Mielke August 07, 2010 01:45PM
Seems to me what needs to be relaxed are the labeling requirements for competitions. That way people wouldn't be so uptight about having to know exactly what species their specimen is, and the less we would have to worry about changing our labels. The more we learn about the structure of minerals the more complicated the names become and the more difficult it is to pin down the species without expensive equipment. We have to resist getting dragged into this by being willing and happy with group names, or even some old now discredited names. A lot of these old names have a lot of interesting history behind them that gets lost with the new names which is unfortunate.
Van King August 07, 2010 02:58PM
The reversal in the trend to seek "order" in mineral names reflects an awareness that the old nomenclature was not so bad after all. The mica nomenclature was firmed up in some ways, but as you pointed out, Rock, lepidolite is a proposed change which failed miserably. The so-called lepidolite Group only consists of two very different micas: one trisilicic (lepidolite) and one tetrasilicic (polylithionite). They do both contain lithium, however. There was then the attempt to have the group name be different than the members in the group. Oddly, the IMA mica sub-committee chose to rename a well-defined and not abused name, lepidolite, by creating a new term, trilithionite (acknowledging its trisilicic character). The name lepidolite was then used to name the group, although I don't know of many possibilities where a scientific paper called a polythionite specimen by the wrong name lepidolite. According to what I see in the literature, lepidolite remains the name of choice among people researching the old species lepidolite, in essence there has been an ignoring of the renaming of lepidolite. It would have not disrupted nomenclature to retain the species name lepidolite and to have given the disparate group a unique name. That would have been logical and non-disruptive although the formation of the group was pointless.

The loss of old root names for species, as many have been changed with chemical suffixes, is that the historical literature becomes increasingly unreadable. The use of names such as Tantalite-(Mn) and Tantalite-(Fe) does not carry with it the awareness factor that Tantalite-(Fe) is disproportionately rare compared with Tantalite-(Mn). Because the tantalite-columbite Group has historically had chemical modifiers, the change is not all that startling, in this example. A change to enstatite-(Mg) and enstatite(Fe) or olivine-(Mg), olivine-(Fe), olivine-(Mn), etc. would be greatly disruptive as the names ferrosilite, fayalite, etc. have powerful informative value. Similarly the plagioclases and many, many hundreds of species would lose recognition value the old names provide. Homogenization in minerals names becomes disruptive when the new names of minerals have subtle differences, such as the suffixes. The IMA committees have been mostly involved with the rarer species which represent soft targets with fewer professional supporters. The real test of whether changing mineral names is all that wise will occur when sphalerite becomes fluorite-(ZnS), as spinel, perovskite, diamond also become fluorites, or when berlinite becomes quartz-(AlPO4) and periclase becomes galena-(MgO).

Best Wishes, Van King
Rock Currier August 08, 2010 02:06AM
It seems to be a can of worms no matter what changes you make. There will always be people irritated by change. I know the IMA comittees do the best they can, but sometimes it doesn't become clear for a few years after a change, that it might not have been the best choice that could have been made. I don't know asking for a more general input from "stake holders" prior to major changes would help or not. Its not a job I would relish. We should at least double their salaries I think.

The only people who have rules about naming species, I think, are the folks of the American Association of Gem and Mineral societies and if you have been to one of their shows recently and looked at the competitive exhibits where those rules are supposed to apply, I hardly think relaxing their rules would have any meaning or be relevant to the world at large. Perhaps more important are the specimens on public exhibit all over the world. These specimens should probably be labeled with the current IMA mineral names, but in practice, this is nearly impossible. However I would hope that one of the things that are considered in making nomenclature changes would be to try and minimize the relabeling necessary.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Chester S. Lemanski, Jr. August 08, 2010 02:54PM
Hancockite is still Hancockite, I don't care what they say!!! This was on the stupidest of all changes.
Rock Currier August 08, 2010 11:02PM
Perhaps irritation is not the correct word to describe the way some people feel abut the changes made by the IMA, but like I said not just a few people are irritated about some of them.

Can the IMA do anything to reduce the amount of irritation caused by its changes? Does it even care about the irritation they cause? Perhaps a few minor changes in the way it makes its changes would go a long way toward reducing this irritation. Perhaps a little more requesting input from other "stake holders" before the changes are finalized?

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
John Duck August 09, 2010 12:40PM
The IMA can't seem to be consistent in their approach and like a bull in a china closet keeping flailing about creating more damage and confusion with each new edict. For example, first suffixes are pronounced as the new dogma and then with the new pyrochlore nomenclature suffixes are dropped and now ever lengthening strings of prefixes are to be appended to mineral names so structural mineralogists with very bad memories can remember the structure of each mineral. (grin) Why should structural mineralogists have primacy?

My most serious criticism of the IMA is that their changes are in many cases mere edicts with no new scientific data or basis for the changes; case in point hancockite. My second most serious criticism is that their changes in nomenclature are inconsistent from mineral group to mineral group to the point of arrogance. My third most serious criticism, as pointed out by Van King and others is that the renaming of well-established mineral species breaks the link to historical information and provenance that has always been an integral facet of the science of mineralogy. The mineral names honor those who have gone before and recognize their contributions to science. This heritage must not be lost, but must be protected and defended. Those who would discard the historical provenance and cultural heritage of mineral species do so at their peril because the precedent they set will in a generation be likewise applied to their contributions.

For myself I prefer to maintain the historical provenance and cultural heritage of the mineral species in my collection. Accordingly my hancockite remains hancockite, lepidolite remains lepidolite, betafite remains betafite, etc. Ask yourself is this wrong?

Science by fiat is not science and must be ignored. Publication of a paper does not confer legitimacy, only the scientific community recognizing the tenets of the research/organization as valid can confer legitimacy. Organizations that no longer act responsibly lose their legitimacy. By its actions the IMA is losing its credibility and I believe has overstepped the authority originally granted them to oversee the approval of new mineral species; all existing species are to be grandfathered. This was the contract with the mineral community that allowed the establishment of the IMA. By renaming grandfathered species without the benefit of new scientific data the IMA has breached this covenant.

Also good science does not need an “outreach committee”, as practiced by the IMA, which by its very name and function confers an implied elitism and infers that the mineral community is intellectually or scientifically inferior. Outreach committees are for the purpose of promoting political agendas and not science.

On a further note, I attended the Maine Pegmatite Workshop in Poland, Maine this past June and am happy to report that the fluorescent apatite from the Maine pegmatites is still called manganapatite and not fluorapatite by Maine mineral collectors and academics alike. The fluorescent mineral collectors who were in attendance also agreed that hancockite will remain hancockite since to continue with the epidote-Pb nomenclature would result in further insanity such as allanite being epidote-Ce, etc. You are not alone if you feel that the IMA should be ignored.
Steven Kuitems August 09, 2010 03:01PM
Right On Chet!!
To change the name of HANCOCKITE to epidote-pb is a total disreguard for 1) the historical basis and priority of usage 2) NO new chemical or stuctural analysis 3) a total disreguard to its unique chemistry which includes not only lead but strontium ie. they did NOT carefully review to original documents nor does it appear that they did any new analysis to prove or disprove the original findings!!!!!
Steven Kuitems August 09, 2010 04:49PM
It would appear that the IMA needs some practical guidelines for CHANGING exisiting mineral names. This is quite different than discrediting a mineral species. Perhaps when a change is proposed there is a review by commitee with some standards that must be met FIRST before accepting the change. If as you clearly stated there is no chemical or structural analytic basis for a change LEAVE the historicaly prior name intact. It seems that when you look at some of the recent changes there is no justification for which ones are left alone or which ones are changed. The IMA should be able to over-ride the sometimes over-zealous changes which ignore the historical precedent. The recent example of betafite should still stand as a species with the understanding or definition that it is a metamict mineral with great variation in minor chemical components even within very discrete crystals. This approach is different than just saying it is a group name. Perhaps it is time to clear up the definition of metamict mineral species. Their is no reason to change the name unless there is a large chemical composition difference that is found consistently in the betafites from a simgle location that is different from other locations. The metamict minerals might better be understood on the basis of common major chemistry framework and structure with a very porous minor element compositonional variations.
Stuart Mills August 09, 2010 05:32PM
Steve there are plenty of rules for changing. You guys should read all the rules, they are free to download either from AM or CM when they were published or via the CNMNC website.

Changes to existing mineral nomenclature, including the redefinition or discreditation of existing mineral species, the renaming of minerals, or the revalidation of discredited or obsolete mineral names, must be approved by the CNMMN before publication. Toward this end, a suitable proposal should be submitted to the vice-chairman of the CNMMN (see Appendix I). A list of changes in nomenclature approved by the CNMMN since 1987 is given in Appendix II.

Advances in knowledge such as those resulting from structure refinements or new chemical knowledge extending known ranges of solid solution do not, in general, need to be referred to the CNMMN. However, approval of the CNMMN is required if it is proposed to redefine a mineral a) on structural grounds, b) by adding or deleting one or more chemical components regarded as essential to the definition, or c) by proposing compositional limits in a solid-solution series that are not compatible with the existing definition of the 50% rule (or its equivalent in multicomponent systems). In case of doubt, the authors are invited to consult with the vice-chairman of the CNMMN. If a mineral is shown to be a mixture and one of the components is otherwise new, the name should usually be transferred to the new phase. Redefinition of a mineral species requires a review of the literature on the mineral to be redefined, a re-examination of the type specimen (see below), a comparison of the new data with the original, and justification for the redefinition.

A mineral or mineral name may be discredited if it can be shown that the mineral is identical to another one that has priority, or if the name is misleading. Requirements for discrediting a mineral species or name are similar to those for redefinition (above), and have been outlined by Dunn (1990).

A mineral that has been discredited or fallen into disuse may be revalidated if a re-examination shows that the mineral meets the normal criteria for a distinct mineral species or that it is a mixture containing a new mineral species. Requirements for revalidating a mineral species are similar to those for redefinition, as given above.

Type specimens
Wherever possible, the redefinition, discreditation or revalidation of a mineral should be based on a study of type material. If a type specimen exists and if the original description, though faulty, represents a reasonable approximation to material on the specimen, the mineral is to be defined by reference to the type material rather than to the original description. This means that errors in the original description cannot be held to discredit a mineral unless the original description was so grossly inaccurate that, in the words of J.D. Dana (1868), “a recognition of the mineral by means of it is impossible”. If type material cannot be obtained for study, the investigator may propose a neotype to the CNMMN, clearly stating the efforts made to seek the original type-specimen, and providing satisfactory evidence for the identity of the neotype with the original. Both the acceptance of the neotype and approval of the proposal are within the authority of the CNMMN.

Preparation of a nomenclature proposal
A proposal to change mineral nomenclature should include all relevant information, including a summary of the original description of the mineral, a review of subsequent reports, the submission of new data, and recommendations for change. If one or more of the original authors of the mineral to be discredited or redefined are alive, the author of the discreditation or redefinition proposal should write to the original authors asking them to comment on the proposal, and these comments should accompany the submission to the CNMMN. A proposal for a change of nomenclature should be sent to the vice-chairman of the CNMMN, who is authorized to write to the author pointing out possible deficiencies in the proposal and making suggestions for its improvement. The proposal, modified if necessary, is then submitted to members of the CNMMN as a draft proposal, with an invitation for them to comment. Such comments, if any, are forwarded to the authors of the draft proposal, who are asked to respond to the comments, amend the proposal, or withdraw it, as appropriate. If the proposal is not withdrawn, the amended proposal is submitted to the CNMMN membership for a formal vote, together with the comments on the draft proposal and the authors’ responses. The voting procedure is similar to that followed in the case of new-mineral proposals, and at least a two-thirds majority is required to approve such proposals.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/09/2010 05:37PM by Stuart Mills.
Van King August 09, 2010 05:47PM
BTW Hancockite is actually clinozoisite-(Pb), not epidote-(Pb).

Best Wishes, Van King
Steven Kuitems August 09, 2010 07:41PM
Hey Van,
Now you're really going to confuse it all-Ha!!
But what really bothers me is that even though the epidote paper acknowleges the Strontium ( and manganese) they failed to point out that it was a significant amount and that in all the analysis it was very consistent % and I believe unique to the formula of Franklin, NJ Hancockite as distinct from the base epidote which has niether Pb or Sr in its chemistry and as you give priority to the TYPE specimen material this should weigh heavily on the side of its uniqueness apart from epidote!! I reiterate that NO ONE to date has invalidated the original analysis and therefore "the commitee" should have been able to refuse to accept the change in nomenclature. Not withstanding the historical precedent.

Jim Ferraiolo August 09, 2010 11:34PM
Thanks for posting that, Stu.
Alfredo Petrov August 11, 2010 01:05AM
To those posters complaining about the pyrochlore group name changes, and comparing them to the much-lamented hancockite-niigataite, etc. name changes, I would say that these are two different situations. The chemistry of the pyrochlore group obviously was poorly understood in the past when the names were created, and further study has lead to the need to reorganize the species and varieties. This reflects the current better understanding, and we should not let our nostalgia for historical names stand in the way of the advance of the science, so I applaud the IMA for these changes, even if they seem a bit unwieldy for collectors. (And collectors need to be reminded that the IMA is afterall a mineralogical body; it was not set up just to facilitate the sight identification and labelling of collections!)

The renaming of hancockite was a different matter altogether, where nothing was discredited, but old valid names were gratuitously renamed just to be didactic, to illustrate relationships within a group. If such actions were carried to their logical conclusion, hundreds of other species would need renaming, with the attendant proliferation of names which the IMA was originally set up to mitigate, not exacerbate. I'm irritated by the inconsistencies (not that the IMA has any reason to be panicked or even mildly bothered by the irritations of amateurs.) Nevertheless, my niigataite is staying niigataite; I'm not changing the label for a few more years, or at least until some consistency is achieved in applyng the rules.
Steven Kuitems August 11, 2010 03:10AM
Thank You Alfredo!!
I think you have very succinctly made the distinction clear on both of the fronts you have mentioned. I still believe perhaps a redefinition is in order for metamict minerals that is practical and useful in properly categorizing these "species" that does not get too rediculous in its variable minor constituents.
Although the guidelines Stuart has referenced are good they are sometimes ignored in the whole re-naming game.
Jeffrey de Fourestier August 01, 2011 10:56PM
Johan, you are quite right. Alfredo I think you hit the nail on the head. I think my views on the renaming of hancockite (described as the Pb analogue of epidote in the original 19th? century paper) is well known. Structual chemists, together with a certain other obsolete names reference author got some of this slipped past the IMA in Japan and we have been living the fallout since. I believe the only decent thing to do would be to reverse this decision.

And while we're on the subject: This trend I first noticed when Pengzhizhongite was renamed without a new description and without consulting the original author. In fact he was quite horrified when I first told him this when we met in Peking. The IMA rules themselves state that the original author should be consulted when they are still alive, which Yang Guangming is most definitely. As this was not done and there was no rediscription other than splitting it into two polysomes, Penzhizhongite with the appropriate polysome suffix should have precidence. Renaming this particular mineral was particularly egregious considering Peng Zhizhongs's enormous contribution to bothe mineralogy and crystallographyé This one too should be corrected. I raised this issue at Budapest and was assured this would be looked into. I hope it is.
Jeffrey de Fourestier August 13, 2011 01:21AM
Alfredo is right. The pyrochlore group was completely overhalled, which is different from hancockite. Apples and oranges.
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