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Yellowish green, olive green, greenish black, or reddish brown
6½ - 7
Crystal System:
Member of:
Known in ancient times and some smaragdus and beryllos (Pliny, 79) may have been what is now called forsterite. (N.B. The "chrysolithas" of Pliny (79) is believed to be topaz.) The earliest name given to an undisputed olivine group species was chrysolit (chrysolite) and was named by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius in 1747, although the name chrysolite was later used by Balthasar Georges Sage in 1777 for what is now known as prehnite. In 1755, Antoine Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville called this species "peridot ordinaire", while Axel Cronstedt named it "gulgron topas" in 1758. In 1772, Romé de L'Isle renamed the mineral "chrysolite ordinaire". Wallerius's chrysolite was renamed olivine in 1789 by Abraham Gottlob Werner for the usual olive green color of this mineral (N.B. chrysolite has a similar etymology.) Friedrich Walchner in 1823 gave it the name "hyalosiderite". The common Mg-dominant member of the group was renamed forsterite by Serve-Dieu Abailard "Armand" Lévy in 1824. Boltonite was introduced in 1835 by Charles Upham Shepard, while glinkit was named in 1847 by Romanovski. Olivine continued to be used, as either a species, a series, or as a group, for over a century afterward.
Series Formula:
Mg2SiO4 to Fe22+SiO4
A series between Forsterite and Fayalite

Equivalent to Fayalite-Forsterite Series; usually a more or less Fe-bearing forsterite. Very common in volcanic rocks.
See also Olivine Group.

May contain some PO4 replacing SiO4 (Schneider et al., 2013).

Visit for gemological information about Olivine.

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Classification of OlivineHide


14 : Silicates not Containing Aluminum
21 : Silicates of Fe and Mg

Pronounciation of OlivineHide

PlayRecorded byCountry
Jolyon & Katya RalphUnited Kingdom

Physical Properties of OlivineHide

Yellowish green, olive green, greenish black, or reddish brown
6½ - 7 on Mohs scale

Optical Data of OlivineHide

Biaxial (+)
RI values:
nα = 1.630 - 1.650 nβ = 1.650 - 1.670 nγ = 1.670 - 1.690
Measured: 46° to 98°, Calculated: 88°
Max Birefringence:
δ = 0.040
Image shows birefringence interference colour range (at 30µm thickness)
and does not take into account mineral colouration.
Surface Relief:
relatively weak

Crystallography of OlivineHide

Crystal System:

Crystallographic forms of OlivineHide

Crystal Atlas:
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Olivine no.31 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Olivine no.89 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by

Edge Lines | Miller Indicies | Axes

Opaque | Translucent | Transparent

Along a-axis | Along b-axis | Along c-axis | Start rotation | Stop rotation

Synonyms of OlivineHide

Other Language Names for OlivineHide

Bosnian (Latin Script):Olivin
Norwegian (Bokmål):Olivin
Simplified Chinese:橄榄石

Varieties of OlivineHide

Ca-rich olivineA variety of olivine containing appreciable Calcium.
OlivinoidA variety of Olivine found in certain meteorites, apparently more easily soluble in acids, fused and generally softer than terrestrial Olivine. [Shepard, 1848 2:6:403 "Amer.J.Sci"]
PiliteRarely used name for an olivine that has partially altered to an amphibole group mineral. Pilite can be identified only in a thin section.

Relationship of Olivine to other SpeciesHide

Member of:
Other Members of this group:
Calcio-olivineCa2SiO4Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m)
ForsteriteMg2SiO4Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m)
KirschsteiniteCaFe2+SiO4Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m) : Pnma
Roepperite (of Brush)(Fe2+2,Mn,Zn)SiO4
TephroiteMn2+2SiO4Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m)

Common AssociatesHide

Associated Minerals Based on Photo Data:
Meteoritic Iron171 photos of Olivine associated with Meteoritic Iron on
Hypersthene88 photos of Olivine associated with Hypersthene on
Bronzite47 photos of Olivine associated with Bronzite on
Iron27 photos of Olivine associated with Iron on
Pyroxene Group25 photos of Olivine associated with Pyroxene Group on
Orthopyroxene Subgroup14 photos of Olivine associated with Orthopyroxene Subgroup on
Kamacite12 photos of Olivine associated with Kamacite on
Chromite12 photos of Olivine associated with Chromite on
Chromian Diopside10 photos of Olivine associated with Chromian Diopside on
Troilite9 photos of Olivine associated with Troilite on

Related Minerals - Hey's Chemical Index of Minerals GroupingHide

14.21.2Ringwoodite(Mg,Fe2+)2SiO4Iso. m3m (4/m 3 2/m) : Ia3d
14.21.5Anthophyllite☐{Mg2}{Mg5}(Si8O22)(OH)2Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m) : Pnma
14.21.7 Magnesiocummingtonite☐{Mg2}{Mg5}(Si8O22)(OH)2
14.21.8Grunerite☐{Fe2+2}{Fe2+5}(Si8O22)(OH)2Mon. 2/m : B2/m
14.21.9MinnesotaiteFe2+3Si4O10(OH)2Tric. 1 : P1
14.21.11Jimthompsonite(Mg,Fe)5Si6O16(OH)2Orth. mmm (2/m 2/m 2/m) : Pbca

Other InformationHide

Health Risks:
No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.

Olivine in petrologyHide

An essential component of (items highlighted in red)
Common component of (items highlighted in red)
Accessory component of (items highlighted in red)

References for OlivineHide

Reference List:
Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Hawkes, Herbert Edwin, Jr. (1946) Olivine from northern California showing perfect cleavage: American Mineralogy: 31: 276-283.
Sahama, T.G., and Hytoenen, K. (1958) Calcium-bearing magnesium-iron olivines. American Mineralogist: 43: 862-871.
Olsen, E.J., and Grossman, L. (1974) A scanning electron microscope study of olivine crystal surfaces. Meteoritics: 9: 243-254.
Lager, G.A., and E.P. Meagher (1978), High-temperature structural study of six olivines: American Mineralogy: 63: 365-377.
Brown, G.E. (1982) Olivines and silicate spinels. In P.H. Ribbe, Ed., Orthosilicates, 5, p. 275-381. Reviews in Mineralogy, Mineralogical Society of America, Chantilly, Virginia.
Beran, A., and Putnis, A. (1983) A model of the OH positions in olivine, derived from infrared-spectroscopic investigations. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 9: 57-60.
Ricoult, D.L., and D.L. Kohlstedt (1985) Experimental evidence for the effect of chemical environment upon the creep rate of olivine. In R.N. Schick, Ed., Point defects Minerals, Geophysical Monograph, 31,: 171-184. American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.
Miller, G.H., Rossman, G.R., and Harlow, G.E. (1987) The natural occurrence of hydroxide in olivine. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 14: 461-472.
Karato, S.-I. (1989) Grain growth kinetics in olivine aggregates. Tectonophysics: 168: 255-273.
Kurosawa, M., Yurimoto, H., Matsumoto, K., and Sueno, S. (1992) Hydrogen analysis of mantle olivine by secondary ion mass spectrometry. In Y. Sono and M.H. Manghnani, Eds., High-pressure research: application to Earth and Planetary Sciences, p. 283-287. American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.
Bai, Q., and Kohlstedt, D.L. (1993) Effects of chemical environment on the solubility and incorporation mechanism for hydrogen in olivine. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 19: 460-471.
Kohlstedt, D.L., Keppler, H., and Rubie, D.C. (1996) Solubility of water in the α, β, and γ phases of (Mg,Fe)2SiO4. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: 123: 345-357.
Deer, et al (1997), Vol. 1A: 3-336.
Kitamura, M., Kondoh, S., Morimoto, N., Miller, G.H., Rossman, G.R., and Putnis, A. (1987) Planar OH-bearing defects in mantle olivine. Nature: 328: 143-145.
Morishima, H., Kato, T., Suto, M., Ohtani, E., Urakawa, S., Utsumi, W., Shimomura, O., and Kikegawa, T. (1994) The phase boundary between α-and-β Mg2SiO4 determined by in situ X-ray diffraction. Science: 265: 1202-1203.
Kurosawa, M., Yurimoto, H., and Sueno, S. (1997) Patterns in the hydrogen and trace element compositions of mantle olivines. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 24: 385-395.
Dyar, M.D., Delaney, J.S., Sutton, S.R., and Schaefer, M.W. (1998) Fe 3+ distribution in oxidized olivine: A synchrotron micro-XANES study. American Mineralogist: 83: 1361-1365.
Kohlstedt, D.L., and Mackwell, S.J. (1998) Diffusion of hydrogen and point defects in olivine. Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie: 207: 147-162.
Mei, S., and D.L. Kohlstedt (2000a), Influence of water on plastic deformation of olivine aggregates; 1, Diffusion creep regime: Journal of Geophysical Research, B, Solid Earth and Planets: 105(9): 21, 457, 469.
Mei, S., and D.L. Kohlstedt (2000b), Influence of water on plastic deformation of olivine aggregates; 2, Dislocation creep regime: Journal of Geophysical Research, B, Solid Earth and Planets: 105: 21471-21481.
Goodrich, C.A., Fioretti, A.M., Tribaudino, M., and Molin, G.M. (2001) Primary trapped melt inclusions in olivine in the olivine-augite-orthopyroxene ureilites Hughes 009. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 65: 621-652.
Jamtveit, B., Brooker, R., Brooks, K., Larsen, L.M., and Pedersen, T. (2001) The water content of olivines from the North Atlantic Volcanic Province. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 186(3-4): 401-415.
Khisina, N.R., Wirth, R., Andrut, M., and Ukhanov, A.V. (2001) Extrinsic and intrinsic mode of hydrogen occurrence in natural olivines: FTIR and TEM investigation. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals: 29: 98-111.
Kent, A.J.R., and Rossman, G.R. (2002) Hydrogen, lithium and boron in mantle-derived olivine: The role of couple substitutions. American Mineralogist: 87: 1432-1436.
Khisina, N.R., Wirth, R., and Andrut, M. (2002) Forms of occurrence of OH in mantle olivines I. Structural hydroxyl. Geochemistry International (Geokhimya): 40: 332-341.
Bell, D., Rossman, G.R., Maldener J., Endisch, D., and Rauch, F. (2003) Hydroxide in olivine: a quantitative determination of the absolute amount and calibration of the IR spectrum. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108(2105), DOI: 10.1029/2001JB000679.
Li, L. (2003) Rheology of olivine at high temperature and high pressure, 137 p., SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY.
Li, L., Raterron, P., Weidner, D., and Chen, J. (2003) Olivine flow mechanisms at 8GPa: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interior: 138: 113-129.
Berry, A., Hermann, J., and O'Neill, H. (2004) The water site in mantle olivine. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 68: A36.
Li, L., Weidner, D., Raterron, P., Chen, J., and Vaughan, M. (2004a) Stress measurements of deforming olivine at high pressure: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interior: 143-144, 357-367.
Matsyuk, S.S., and Langer, K. (2004) Hydroxyl in olivines from mantle xenoliths in kimberlites from the Siberian platform. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: 147: 413-437.
Mosenfelder, J.L., Sharp, T.G., Asimow, P.D., and Rossman, G.R. (2004) Hydrogen in olivines from the Colorado Plateau: implications for water in the mantle and the Alpe Arami controversy. EOS Trans AGU: 85(47), Abstract T32B-07.
Zhao, Y.-H., Ginsberg, S.B., and Kohlstedt, D.L. (2004) Solubility of hydrogen in olivine: dependence on temperature and iron content. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: 147: 155-161.
Li, L., Weidner, D., Raterron, P., Chen, J., Vaughn, M., Mei, S., and Durham, W.
(2005) Deformation of olivine at mantle pressure using D-DIA: European Journal of Mineralogy.
Matveev, S., Portnyagin, M., Ballhaus, C., Brooker, R., and Geiger, C.A. (2005) FTIR spectrum of phenocryst olivine as an indicator of silica saturation in magmas. Journal of Petrology: 46: 603-614.
Papike, J.J., Karner, J.M., and Shearer, C.K. (2005) Comparative planetary mineralogy: Valence-state partitioning of Cr, Fe, Ti and V among crystallographic sites in olivine, pyroxene, and spinel from planetary basalts. American Mineralogist: 90: 277-290.
Mosenfelder, J.L., Deligne, N.I., Asimow, P.D., and Rossman, G.R. (2006) Hydrogen incorporation in olivine from 2-12 GPa. American Mineralogist: 91: 285-294.
Ejima, T., Akasaka, M., Nagao, T., and Ohfuju, H. (2012) Oxidation state of Fe in olivine in andesitic scoria from Kasayama volcano, Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Journal of Mineralogical and Petrological Sciences 107, 215-225.
Schneider, P., Tropper, P., and Kaindl, R. (2013) The formation of phosphoran olivine and stanfieldite from the pyrometamorphic breakdown of apatite in slags from a prehistoric ritual immolation site (Goldbichl, Igls, Tyrol, Austria). Mineralogy and Petrology 107, 327-340.

Internet Links for OlivineHide

Localities for OlivineHide

This map shows a selection of localities that have latitude and longitude coordinates recorded. Click on the symbol to view information about a locality. The symbol next to localities in the list can be used to jump to that position on the map.

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