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Identity HelpVery strange mineral purchased from eBay, no locality...

19th Dec 2013 09:04 GMTJeffrey M. Schwartz

This mineral was sold to me as doyleite from China. That is the only information that was provided to me about the specimen. Specimens of doyleite that I am familiar with are botryoidal and are intergrown with its dimorph, gibbsite. The specimen has a strange stacked habit, forming curved aggregates. Is this a pseudomorph? Any thoughts? Anyone?


Jeff Schwartz

19th Dec 2013 10:46 GMTSteve Sorrell Expert

Looks like something "grown" in a foundry to me Jeff.



19th Dec 2013 11:04 GMTSam Linton

I agree. I have a piece of zinc from a smelter in Australia that looks like this. It's till cool though. How many people do you know who have a piece of metal from a smelter? Not many I would imagine as these typically a remelted at this point to make a massive ingot.

19th Dec 2013 11:15 GMTTrevor Dart

These have been common in the last couple of years. They come out of China and were sold on ebay as "diaspore". They are either zinc or sometimes metallic magnesium and have grown from a melt in an electrolyltic smelter. There were plenty of these around in the 1980's that came from the zinc vats at Port Pirie - South Australia and this is probably where yours came from Sam. I hope you didn't pay too much for it... they look cool but they are not natural.


19th Dec 2013 11:35 GMTRock Currier Expert

I'm pretty sure that is man made magnesium. Paid a lot of money for one in my youth and found out about it the hard way. When they are fresh, they are mirror bright and wonderful looking but kind of turn mat colored with age and eventually fall apart.

19th Dec 2013 11:49 GMTTrevor Dart

Check out this website fake minerals - the

19th Dec 2013 13:02 GMTRob Woodside Manager

The others have it. Vapour deposited Mg in a pipe whose curvature is evident on the piece.

19th Dec 2013 16:08 GMTRudy Bolona Expert

Is this something that would happen during the final purification process of the Mg or several steps before and this thing is a combination of Mg and impurities?
When I was a kid, during WWII, our neighbor used to bring these magnesium crystals home from where he worked at the Permanente Magnesium Plant, which is now the Permanente Cement Plant. At that time Santa Clara Valley, CA could have been called Magnesium Valley rather than Silicon Valley. :-) Magnesium was in high demand during the war and one of its prime uses was in the manufacturer of GOOP. Goop was the precursor to Napalm. 17,000 tons of Goop filled bombs were used during WWII.

Here is a bit of interesting history concerning Goop.

On May 29, 1945, Charles F. Calhoun, a vice president of the Permanente Metals Corporation (PMC), composed a telegram to his fellow company officers that celebrated a long-awaited triumph. "This is to confirm delivery to Tokyo, May 26th, during high wind, of large Permanente shipment by way Marion, Ohio, and B-29 express," Calhoun began. "It is reported there was no loss of goods in transit but that considerable damage resulted from cargo being jettisoned within Tokyo city limits." He could not resist adding, tongue firmly in cheek, "All . . . claims of property damage will be forwarded to Permanente claims adjustment department."


19th Dec 2013 22:59 GMTJeffrey M. Schwartz

Yes, it is vapor-deposited magnesium. I found various other photos on the web of the same material. Thanks for the posts! I guess now I will be starting a fake mineral collection:) I haven't even received the specimen yet and I paid a total of $17 for it to have it shipped from China.

I guess the bluish-white coating is an oxide layer that is protecting the magnesium from completely deteriorating/rusting. I hope it doesn't eventually fall apart, as someone mentioned it will.

Kind regards,


20th Dec 2013 00:00 GMTChester S. Lemanski, Jr. Manager


They generally do fall apart. The base of the individual "feathers" are very thin indeed. It is a good representation of the element if you have, or want to start, a collection of the elements.

20th Dec 2013 02:24 GMTJeffrey M. Schwartz

So, I have a possible explanation to why this specimen may have labeled as doyleite. It may be a lab/smelter grown aluminum cluster that has partially converted by oxidation/hydration to aluminum oxide and/or aluminum hydroxide. Although hydration would produce boehmite, not doyleite.

Thanks again for your responses,


20th Dec 2013 16:46 GMTDonald Peck

I have had identical pieces from the Pfizer smelters in Canaan, Connecticut where they refined magnesium from dolomite. This kind of "crown" is considered to be a bad run. You will need to keep it sealed away from humidity, or you will end with only a pile of (I think) magnesium oxide/

21st Dec 2013 01:12 GMTDan Costian

Might be magnesium or aluminum (check the specific gravity) from an electric oven.

6th May 2016 18:22 BSTRonald Kendig

Hi Dan,

I realize it was a while ago that you posted this photo, but I just came across it and would like you to know that this is what we have purchased and resold as Magnesium feathers that are man-made by the Northeast Limestone Company in Canaan, Connecticut. They were readily on the market in the 1990's and most of the ones we purchased were from Bill (William) Lorah of Slatington, PA (he is now deceased). The material is very fragile and breaks easily. We used to have a gorgeous cluster similar to yours, but it disintegrated into about 25 small pieces.

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