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Zircon

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Formula:
Zr(SiO4)
May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P, and others.
Colour:
Colourless, yellow, grey, reddish-brown, green, brown, black
Lustre:
Adamantine, Vitreous, Greasy
Hardness:
Specific Gravity:
4.6 - 4.7
Crystal System:
Tetragonal
Member of:
Name:
Renamed in 1783 by Abraham Gottlob Werner from the Arabic (and, in turn, from the Persian "azargun") "zar", gold, plus "gun", coloured, referring to one of the many colours that the mineral may display. Originally named λυγκύριον "lyncurion" in ~300 BCE by Theophrastus. A mineral that may have been today's zircon was called chrysolithos by Pliny in 37. Called jacinth by Georgius Agricola in 1555. Mentioned as jargon by Axel Cronstedt in 1758. Called hyacinte by Barthelemy Faujas de Saint-Fond in 1772. Numerous later synonyms have been advanced.
Dimorph of:
Zircon Group. The zirconium analogue of Thorite and Hafnon. Zircon-Hafnon Series. The low-pressure dimorph of Reidite.

Zircon, zirconium orthosilicate, is found in most igneous rocks and some metamorphic rocks as small crystals or grains, mostly widely distributed and rarely more than 1% of the total mass of the rock. It is also found as alluvial grains in some sedimentary rocks due to its high hardness. Zircon has a high refraction index and, when the crystals are large enough, is often used as a gemstone.
In geology, zircon is used for radiometric dating of zircon-bearing rocks (using isotopes of U which is often present as an impurity element, as is Th, radiogenic Pb, Hf, Y, P, and others).

Compare 'UM1984-36-SiO:CaNaZr'.

Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Zircon.


Classification of Zircon

Approved, 'Grandfathered' (first described prior to 1959)
9.AD.30

9 : SILICATES (Germanates)
A : Nesosilicates
D : Nesosilicates without additional anions; cations in [6] and/or greater coordination
51.5.2.1

51 : NESOSILICATES Insular SiO4 Groups Only
5 : Insular SiO4 Groups Only with cations in >[6] coordination
14.10.1

14 : Silicates not Containing Aluminum
10 : Silicates of Zr or Hf

Physical Properties of Zircon

Adamantine, Vitreous, Greasy
Transparency:
Transparent, Translucent, Opaque
Comment:
Greasy when metamict
Colour:
Colourless, yellow, grey, reddish-brown, green, brown, black
Streak:
White
Hardness:
7½ on Mohs scale
Tenacity:
Brittle
Cleavage:
Poor/Indistinct
Indistinct on {110}{111}
Fracture:
Conchoidal
Density:
4.6 - 4.7 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.714 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Optical Data of Zircon

Type:
Uniaxial (+)
RI values:
nω = 1.925 - 1.961 nε = 1.980 - 2.015
Max Birefringence:
δ = 0.055
Image shows birefringence interference colour range (at 30µm thickness)
and does not take into account mineral colouration.
Surface Relief:
Very High
Dispersion:
Very strong
Pleochroism:
Weak

Chemical Properties of Zircon

Formula:
Zr(SiO4)

May contain minor U, Th, Pb, Hf, Y/REE, P, and others.
IMA Formula:
ZrSiO4
Common Impurities:
Hf,Th,U,REE,O,H,H2O,Fe,Al,P

Crystallography of Zircon

Crystal System:
Tetragonal
Class (H-M):
4/mmm (4/m 2/m 2/m) - Ditetragonal Dipyramidal
Space Group:
I41/amd
Cell Parameters:
a = 6.607(1) Å, c = 5.982(1) Å
Ratio:
a:c = 1 : 0.905
Unit Cell V:
261.13 ų (Calculated from Unit Cell)
Z:
4
Morphology:
Tabular to square prismatic or tetragonal-dipyramidal crystals.
Twinning:
On {101}
Comment:
May be partly or fully metamict, especially U-/Th-rich crystals. Metamictisation leads to an enlarged unit cell.

Crystallographic forms of Zircon

Crystal Atlas:
Image Loading
Click on an icon to view
Zircon no.9 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.24 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.66 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.81 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.97 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.133 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon no.137 - Goldschmidt (1913-1926)
Zircon - {100}, {301}, {101}
3d models and HTML5 code kindly provided by www.smorf.nl.

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Edge Lines | Miller Indicies | Axes

Transparency
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X-Ray Powder Diffraction

Image Loading

Radiation - Copper Kα
Data Set:
Data courtesy of RRUFF project at University of Arizona, used with permission.
Powder Diffraction Data:
d-spacingIntensity
4.434 (45)
3.302 (100)
2.518 (45)
2.066 (20)
1.908 (14)
1.712 (40)
1.651 (14)

Type Occurrence of Zircon

Synonyms of Zircon

Other Language Names for Zircon

Basque:Zirkoi
Bulgarian:Циркон
Catalan:Zircó
Croatian:Cirkon
Czech:Zirkon
Dutch:Zirkoon
Esperanto:Zirkono
Finnish:Zirkoni
Hungarian:Cirkon
Italian:Zircone
Lithuanian:Cirkonas
Norwegian (Bokmål):Zirkon
Polish:Cyrkon
Portuguese:Zircão
Romanian:Zircon
Russian:Циркон
Serbian (Cyrillic Script):Циркон
Simplified Chinese:锆石
Slovak:Zirkón
Swedish:Zirkon
Ukrainian:Циркон

Varieties of Zircon

Alvite

A metamict, often Hf-rich variety of Zircon from granite pegmatites.
Original analysis (1855) of material from several localities in Aust-Agder, Norway, shows major Si, Y, Th, Al, Fe, Zr and H2O. Later analysis cited by Clark (1993) shows Zr, Be and/or ...

Arshinovite

A partially metamict Zircon.

Auerbachite

Morphological variety of Zircon.
Originally described by Morozevich from Mariupol' Massif (Oktyabr'skii), Azov Sea Region, Donetsk Oblast', Ukraine.

Beccarite

A variety of Zircon containing optical anomalies.

Originally reported from Sri Lanka.

Calyptolite

Shown to be an altered zircon by Shepard (1857).

Chernobylite

A technogenic variety, formed due to the meltdown of the Chernobyl reator no. 4, found within the "corium" ("lava"-like material) of the so-called elephant foot structure. Zr and U are from fuel elements. Contains 6-12 mass % of U.

Cyrtolite

Cyrtolite is a hydrous Th+U bearing zircon (up to 27 mas.% of sum). It sometimes occurs with curved, rounded crystals.

Dana's Textbook of Mineralogy by W.E. Ford (pg 611, 4th ed., 1947) treats cyrtolite as a chemical variety of zircon that "contains ura...

Hafnian Zircon

A hafnium-bearing variety of zircon with insufficient hafnium to constitute hafnon.

Hyacinth

Yellow-red to red-brown gem variety of zircon.

Jargoon
Matura Diamond

A misnomer for colourless zircon.

Naegite

Greenish grey to greenish brown anhedral grains, crude crystals or spheroidal aggregates. Originally mis-described as a new U-Th-silicate, without having analyzed for Zr, but within a year it was found to really be a Y-Th-U-rich variety of zircon (or "cyr...

Oerstedite

Spelling variant of Œrstedtite.
Varietal name used by Forchhammer (1835) for a metamict/altered zircon from Arendal, Aust-Agder, Norway (see also Clark, 1993 - "Hey's Mineral Index").

Oerstedtite

Varietal name used by Forchhammer (1835) for a metamict zircon from Arendal, Aust-Agder, Norway.

Orvillite

An altered zircon.
Originally reported from Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, Southeast Region, Brazil.

Oyamalite

REE-P rich variety

Ribeirite

An yttrian hydrous Zircon.
Originally reported from Macarani, Bahia, Northeast Region, Brazil.

Starlite

Blue variety of zircon.

Uraniferous Zircon

An U-bearing zircon (may or may not correspond to Cyrtolite, which does not necessarily contain U).

Yamaguchilite

A REE- & P-rich variety of Zircon.

Originally described from Yamaguchi, Kiso, Nagano prefecture, Chubu region, Honshu Island, Japan.

Relationship of Zircon to other Species

Member of:
Other Members of this group:
Coffinite(U4+,Th)(SiO4)1-x(OH)4x
HafnonHfSiO4
Stetindite-(Ce)Ce(SiO4)
ThoriteTh(SiO4)
Forms a series with:

Common Associates

Associated Minerals Based on Photo Data:
Quartz107 photos of Zircon associated with Quartz on mindat.org.
Aegirine106 photos of Zircon associated with Aegirine on mindat.org.
Microcline88 photos of Zircon associated with Microcline on mindat.org.
Titanite47 photos of Zircon associated with Titanite on mindat.org.
Albite46 photos of Zircon associated with Albite on mindat.org.
Orthoclase42 photos of Zircon associated with Orthoclase on mindat.org.
Feldspar Group40 photos of Zircon associated with Feldspar Group on mindat.org.
Diopside38 photos of Zircon associated with Diopside on mindat.org.
Uraninite37 photos of Zircon associated with Uraninite on mindat.org.
Smoky Quartz32 photos of Zircon associated with Smoky Quartz on mindat.org.

Related Minerals - Nickel-Strunz Grouping

9.AD.05LarniteCa2SiO4
9.AD.10Calcio-olivineCa2SiO4
9.AD.15MerwiniteCa3Mg(SiO4)2
9.AD.20BredigiteCa7Mg(SiO4)4
9.AD.25AndraditeCa3Fe3+2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25AlmandineFe2+3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25Calderite(Mn2+,Ca)3(Fe3+,Al)2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25GoldmaniteCa3V3+2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25GrossularCa3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25HenritermieriteCa3(Mn3+,Al)2(SiO4)2(OH)4
9.AD.25HibschiteCa3Al2(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25HydroandraditeCa3Fe3+2(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25KatoiteCa3Al2(SiO4)3-x(OH)4x
9.AD.25KimzeyiteCa3(Zr,Ti)2((Si,Al,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25KnorringiteMg3Cr2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25MajoriteMg3(Fe2+,Si,Al)2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25MorimotoiteCa3(Ti,Fe2+,Fe3+)2((Si,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25PyropeMg3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25SchorlomiteCa3(Ti,Fe3+)2((Si,Fe3+)O4)3
9.AD.25SpessartineMn2+3Al2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25UvaroviteCa3Cr2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25Wadalite(Ca,Mg)6(Al,Fe3+)4((Si,Al)O4)3O4Cl3
9.AD.25HoltstamiteCa3(Al,Mn3+)2(SiO4)2(OH)4
9.AD.25KerimasiteCa3Zr2(SiO4)(Fe3+O4)2
9.AD.25ToturiteCa3Sn2(SiO4)(Fe3+O4)2
9.AD.25Momoiite(Mn2+,Ca)3V3+2(SiO4)3
9.AD.25EltyubyuiteCa12Fe3+10Si4O32Cl6
9.AD.25HutcheoniteCa3Ti2(SiAl2)O12
9.AD.30Coffinite(U4+,Th)(SiO4)1-x(OH)4x
9.AD.30HafnonHfSiO4
9.AD.30ThoriteTh(SiO4)
9.AD.30Stetindite-(Ce)Ce(SiO4)
9.AD.35HuttoniteThSiO4
9.AD.35Tombarthite-(Y)Y4(Si,H4)4O12-x(OH)4+2x
9.AD.40EulytineBi4(SiO4)3
9.AD.45ReiditeZrSiO4

Related Minerals - Hey's Chemical Index of Minerals Grouping

14.10.2HafnonHfSiO4
14.10.3ZektzeriteLiNaZrSi6O15
14.10.4ParakeldyshiteNa2ZrSi2O7
14.10.5VlasoviteNa2ZrSi4O11
14.10.6Keldyshite(Na,H)2ZrSi2O7
14.10.7GaidonnayiteNa2Zr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.8TerskiteNa4ZrSi6O16 · 2H2O
14.10.9ElpiditeNa2ZrSi6O15 · 3H2O
14.10.10HilairiteNa2Zr[SiO3]3 · 3H2O
14.10.11PetarasiteNa5Zr2(Si6O18)(Cl,OH) · 2H2O
14.10.12KhibinskiteK2ZrSi2O7
14.10.13WadeiteK2Zr(Si3O9)
14.10.14DalyiteK2ZrSi6O15
14.10.15KostyleviteK2Zr(Si3O9) · H2O
14.10.16UmbiteK2(Zr,Ti)Si3O9 · H2O
14.10.17ParaumbiteK3Zr2H(Si3O9)2 · nH2O
14.10.18GeorgechaoiteNaKZr[Si3O9] · 2H2O
14.10.19GittinsiteCaZrSi2O7
14.10.20CalciocatapleiiteCaZr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.21CalciohilairiteCaZr[SiO3]3 · 3H2O
14.10.22ArmstrongiteCaZr[Si6O15] · 3H2O
14.10.23Lemoynite(Na,K)2CaZr2Si10O26 · 5H2O
14.10.24CatapleiiteNa2Zr(Si3O9) · 2H2O
14.10.25BaghdaditeCa3(Zr,Ti)(Si2O7)O2
14.10.26LovozeriteNa2Ca(Zr,Ti)(Si6O12)[(OH)4O2] · H2O
14.10.27Låvenite(Na,Ca)2(Mn2+,Fe2+)(Zr,Ti)(Si2O7)(O,OH,F)2
14.10.28PenkvilksiteNa4Ti2Si8O22 · 4H2O
14.10.29DarapiositeK(Na,◻,K)2(Li,Zn,Fe)3(Mn,Zr,Y)2[Si12O30]
14.10.30BaziriteBaZr(Si3O9)
14.10.31KomkoviteBaZr[Si3O9] · 3H2O
14.10.32ZirsinaliteNa6(Ca,Mn2+,Fe2+)Zr(Si6O18)
14.10.33Tranquillityite(Fe2+,Ca)8(Zr,Y)2Ti3(SiO4)3O12

Related Minerals - Dana Grouping (8th Ed.)

51.5.2.2HafnonHfSiO4
51.5.2.3ThoriteTh(SiO4)
51.5.2.4Coffinite(U4+,Th)(SiO4)1-x(OH)4x
51.5.2.5Thorogummite(Th,U)(SiO4)1-x(OH)4x
51.5.2.6Stetindite-(Ce)Ce(SiO4)

Fluorescence of Zircon

Virtually all zircon is fluorescent, from dull to bright in intensity, and in shades of yellow, golden-yellow and yellow-brown (SW UV). This property is often diagnostic in identification.

Other Information

Thermal Behaviour:
Thermoluminescent
Notes:
Cathodoluminescent
Health Risks:
U- and Th-bearing zircon is radioactive. Gemstones should be tested for radioactivity before being worn on or near the body.

Zircon in petrology

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

References for Zircon

Reference List:
Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Werner, A.G. (1783), in Romé de l'Isle - Cristallographie, 2nd ed., Paris, 2, 229.
Trofimov, A.K. (1962) The luminescence spectrum of zircon. Geochemistry: 1962: 1102-1108.
Hazen, R.M., Finger, L.W. (1979) Crystal structure and compressibility of zircon at high pressure. American Mineralogist: 64: 196.
Pupin, J.P. (1980) Zircon and granite petrology. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: 73: 207-220.
Watson, E.B., Cherniak, D.J. (1997) Oxygen diffusion in zircon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 148: 527-544.
Wang, R.C., Zhao, G.T., Lu, J.J., Chen, X.M., Xu, S.J., Wang, D.Z. (2000) Chemistry of Hf-rich zircons from the Laoshan I- and A-type granites, eastern China. Mineralogical Magazine: 64: 867-877.
Parry, W.T., Wilson, P.N., Moser, D., Heizler, M.T. (2001) U-Pb dating of zircon and 40Ar/39Ar dating of biotite at Bingham, Utah. Economic Geology: 96: 1671-1683.
Gucsik, A., Koeberl, Ch, Brandstätter, F., Reimold, W.U., Libowitzky, E. (2002) Cathodoluminescence, electron microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy of shock-metamorphosed zircon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 202: 495-509.
Valley, J. (2003) Oxygen isotopes in zircon. Rev. Mineral. Geochem.: 53: 343-385.
Zhang, A.C., Wang, R.C., Hu, H., Zhang, H., Zhu, J.C., Chen, X.M. (2004) Chemical evolution of Nb-Ta oxides and zircon from the Koktokay no. 3 granitic pegmatite, Altai, northwestern China. Mineralogical Magazine: 68(5): 739-756.
Ulf Kempe, Sylvia-Monique Thomas, Gerhard Geipel, Rainer Thomas, Michael Plötze, Rolf Böttcher, Genia Grambole, Joachim Hoentsch, Michael Trinkler (2010): Optical absorption, luminescence, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy of crystalline to metamict zircon: Evidence for formation of uranyl, manganese, and other optically active centers. Am. Mineral. 95, 335-347.
Roszjar, J., Whitehouse, M.J., Bischoff, A. (2014) Meteoritic zircon – Occurrence and chemical characteristics. Chemie der Erde - Geochemistry: 74: 453-469.
Lenz, C., Nasdala, L., Talla, D., Hauzenberger, H., Seitz, R., Kolitsch, U. (2015) Laser-induced REE3+ photoluminescence of selected accessory minerals: An “advantageous artefact” in Raman spectroscopy. Chemical Geology: 415: 1-16.
Ulf Kempe, Michael Trinkler, Andreas Pöppl, Cameliu Himcinschi (2016): Coloration of natural zircon. Canadian Mineralogist, 54, 635-660.
Vaczi, T., Nasdala, L. (2017): Electron-beam-induced annealing of natural zircon: a Raman spectroscopic study. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals 44 (2017), doi:10.1007/s00269-016-0866-x

Internet Links for Zircon

mindat.org URL:
https://www.mindat.org/min-4421.html
Please feel free to link to this page.
Specimens:
The following Zircon specimens are currently listed for sale on minfind.com.

Localities for Zircon

Mineral and/or Locality  
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