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Yellowish green, olive ...
6½ - 7
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, Rome d'Lisle renamed the mineral "chrysolite ordinaire". Wallerius's chrysolite was renamed, olivine, in 1789 by Abraham Gottlieb 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 re-named, 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.

Classification of Olivine


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

Physical Properties of Olivine

Yellowish green, olive green, greenish black, or reddish brown
Hardness (Mohs):
6½ - 7

Optical Data of Olivine

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

Chemical Properties of Olivine

Crystallography of Olivine

Crystal System:

Crystallographic forms of Olivine

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

Relationship of Olivine to other Species

Member of:
Other Members of Group:
Roepperite (of Brush)(Fe22+,Mn,Zn)SiO4
14.21.7 Magnesiocummingtonite☐{Mg2}{Mg5}(Si8O22)(OH)2

Other Names for Olivine

Name in Other Languages:
Bosnian (Latin Script):Olivin
Norwegian (Bokmål):Olivin
Simplified Chinese:橄榄石

Other Information

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 petrology

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

References for Olivine

Reference List:
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. & 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., & 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. & 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. & 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., P. Raterron, D. Weidner, & J. Chen (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., D. Weidner, P. Raterron, J. Chen, & M. Vaughan (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., D. Weidner, P. Raterron, J. Chen, M. Vaughn, S. Mei, & W. Durham (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.

Terumi EJIMA, Masahide AKASAKA, Takashi NAGAO, Hiroaki OHFUJI (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., 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.

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Localities for Olivine

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