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Improving Mindat.orgAzurite Type locality

7th Apr 2016 22:02 UTCJohn Betts

Mindat lists Chessy as the type locality for azurite.

Back and Mandarino (2008) state there is no type locality for azurite.

On what basis has Mindat declared a type locality for a mineral dating to pre-mineralogical literature?

7th Apr 2016 23:02 UTCDavid Von Bargen Manager

Well if you look at one of the earlier descriptions of azurite - Beudant F S (1832) Azurite. in Traité Élémentaire de Minéralogie, 2nd Edition, (Paris) 373-374, the locality he lists is Chessy. Other azurites referred to lazulite (see Hey). One of the problems of early literature is that a lot of ID was by color, which we know is a pretty lousy technique. Agricola (and probably Pliny) used caeruleum to describe azurite, but also it was confused with chrysocolla.

Jameson R (1805) Azurite. System of Mineralogy II, Bell and Bradfute (Edinburgh, U.K.) 542-544 - really doesn't seem to have it right (synonym for lazulite, but first use of azurite?).

see RRuff for links


Beudant list three chemical analyses and measured some crystals from Chessy, Banat? and Siberia. He seems to have been the first one to get the chemistry right.

8th Apr 2016 14:05 UTCJohn Betts

It takes more than accurately describing the chemistry to be the type locality...

In this case I trust Malcolm Back and Joe Mandarino rather than a crowd-sourced web site...

8th Apr 2016 14:34 UTCReiner Mielke Expert

"a crowd-sourced web site..."??

8th Apr 2016 14:49 UTCOlav Revheim Manager

IMA lists "France" as the type locality with reference to Beudant (1824).


8th Apr 2016 15:55 UTCDavid Von Bargen Manager

Picking type localities in the early 19th century is a bit tough. You have to realize that at the time, not all the elements were known and naming minerals was still a bit undecided as to how best name them (chemical names were an important alternate naming scheme). We didn't get a governing board for naming minerals and even defining what they were until the 1950's. I really don't know how much time was put into researching type localities for Fleischer's for the older minerals.

8th Apr 2016 17:18 UTCJohan Kjellman Expert

This is really an interesting question and important to ponder for the historic development of chemistry/minearlogy/crystallography. In my opinion (with a strong historic perspective) we get stuck on formal contemporary definitions and therefore miss out on history.

Generally, define "type locality" - I think that what we consider a "true" TL was not introduced until IMA/CMNMC 1959, i.e. from that date newly described minerals specifically from one (but sometimes more than one) locality (TL) were deposited/archived in a collection as type material (TM). From then on every new mineral should be represented by TM from a TL. From before that date TL and TM can be recovered and/or attributed with varying certainty, of course generally with less certainty the farther back one goes, for several reasons. I prefer to talk of "original localities" (OL) or similar, even though I suppose there isn't a worked out terminology for this. But it should be for sometimes the OL (of a materil/mineral regardless of what name is in fasion) is different than the TL, e.g. "Basiskt fluss-spatssyradt Cerium" (Finnbo, Berzelius 1818) and "Basiskt fluor-cerium" (Bastnäs mines, Hisinger 1838)´. It also happens that renaming of species obsures the history, and that first descriptions of renamed minerals becomes new TM/TL. This was recently corrected for in the case with pyrosmalite=pyrosmalite-(Fe), but I am 100 % sure there are many more cases.

Concerning azurite, Beudant refers to several localities and analyses - Chessy (by Phillips), Banat (Hungary/Rumania?) and Siberia (by Klaproth) - the latter almost certainly made before the former. In our collections in Uppsala we have old samples of azurite from the Bromell collection that possibly were mentioned in his mineralogies from the 1730's (remains to be investigated).

Concerning Back &Mandarino (2008) it is a list, formally they are right, if they say there is no TL, but again are these lists really concerned with science & history.

Beudant seems also to have been the first to get the name right :)-D


8th Apr 2016 23:45 UTCEmil Box

In 'Doelter' (1912) A. Himmelbauer (Vienna) writes about azurite analyses:

Chessy, France by Vauquelin, Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. 20, 1 (1813)

Chessy by Phillips (1818)

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania by Smith (1855)

Sibiria by Wibel (1873)


9th Apr 2016 11:48 UTCJohan Kjellman Expert

Klaproth analysed Kupferlasur from Turjinsk in his "Beiträge...vol 4" (1807), as compiled by Rammelsberg (1860) together with the analyses by Vauquelin and Phillips, with essentially no quantitative differences.


10th Apr 2016 04:10 UTCJohn Betts

Suggested reading on the subject: http://www.minsocam.org/ammin/AM72/AM72_1269.pdf

Where was the azurite specimen from that they determined the crystal structure?

FYI: It is perfectly OK to have no type locality listed...

10th Apr 2016 04:54 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

For any species described before 1959, the notion of "type locality" is often rather fuzzy. What did "type locality" mean, before 1959? The first place a mineral was found? The first place from where it was (incompletely and inadequately) described? The first place from which a better description was made? The first place where the current name of the mineral was used? Ideally each of those would be the same locality, but all too often, each of those was a different place!

There was no formal approval procedure for species before the IMA existed in 1959. After 1959, we had the concept of designated "type specimen" (much more important to modern mineralogy than the concept of "type locality"), and most of the time we know exactly where that specimen came from (but not always). So for ancient material, the T.L. is often the opinion of whoever is writing about it, and opinion is far from unanimous about many of the T.L.s in Fleischer's list.

Collectors who specialize in type locality material will go to great lengths to try to determine probable/possible T.L.s for ancient species. Native gold: perhaps in the Caucasus, based on the legend of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece? (Gold was sluiced over sheepskins in the Caucasus.) Quartz: perhaps the Swiss Alps, as the Romans are known to have collected quartz crystals there 2,000 years ago? But, whatever such ancient references one finds, someone else is bound to come up with an even older one from India or China or... Such speculations are an interesting parlor game for T.L. collectors, but they have absolutely no mineralogical significance at all.

As for azurite, it seems Tur'insk, in the Ural Mountains, is the best candidate for T.L. put forth so far (See Johan's post above). But that's just my opinion and azurite has no "official" type locality. (But then again, few pre-1959 species have an official type locality because most of the time there is no type specimen!)

10th Apr 2016 06:09 UTCDoug Daniels

Then again, azurite is one of the "copper blooms" - the indicators of a copper deposit. Likely observed and collected as ore back in the bronze age, if not before. Wanna find a type locality for that?

10th Apr 2016 10:40 UTCJohan Kjellman Expert

For those interested in the history (not the TL) of azurite - don't make the mistake of stopping at the name as we use it today - it is possible to backtrack further in Jameson 1805, vol 2, pages 218-226. (I am certain that it doesn't stop there).



10th Apr 2016 15:40 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

This thread added to the azurite page.

11th Apr 2016 21:56 UTCJohn Betts

There is no type locality listed on mindat for malachite, beryl, cassiterite, corundum, etc...

Why the need to have one for azurite?

12th Apr 2016 10:31 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

Well, we don't really "need" type localities for any pre-1959 minerals, but a lot of collectors enjoy knowing where the T.L. is, whenever possible.

One of the advantages of "crowd-sourced" (as you put it) data is that it can be continually corrected, updated and improved, which is hardly possible with the fossilized words on a printed paper page, which is out of date the week after it is printed. This kind of discussion leads to continual improvement in the accuracy of our data.

Incidentally, the "crowd" you refer to is rather tiny ;-) ...only a couple dozen individuals have access to editing the species pages on Mindat, and only a fraction of those actually do work on those pages, and the majority of them have degrees in mineralogy or geology. And given the continual correcting and upgrading that goes on behind the scenes, I will dare to state that our error % is less than any other source you could come up with. Of course there will always be errors on Mindat, as there are in any printed work on paper; at least ours can be corrected :-D

28th Oct 2018 17:21 UTCCarolyn Borchardt


I don't really know who to ask and I'm new to gems and minerals. Can anyone tell me if this Azurite is real or fake? It's coming from Russia. Thank you!



28th Oct 2018 18:03 UTCBob Harman


Your basic specimen appears to be real. Whether the blue color has been enhanced in any way, it is difficult to tell. If you google "azurite from Russia" you will see many very similar examples offered from dealers and auction houses. If you are still uncertain of the true blue color, you might try a short soaking in water to see if any of the color comes off into the water. CHEERS.....BOB

28th Oct 2018 18:05 UTCWayne Corwin

Welcome to Mindat Carolyn!

Yes, it's real azurite, and it has small green areas of malachite on it also.

28th Oct 2018 18:19 UTCCarolyn Borchardt

Thank you so much!

28th Oct 2018 19:25 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

These are reported to be found https://www.mindat.org/loc-203514.html and https://www.mindat.org/loc-205744.html

I first saw similar ones years ago from near Globe, Azrizona: https://www.mindat.org/loc-3328.html
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