Diopside
Overview
 
Diopside is a monoclinic pyroxene
Pyroxene
The pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra and they crystallize in the monoclinic and orthorhombic systems...

 mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 with composition MgCaSi2O6. It forms complete solid solution series with hedenbergite
Hedenbergite
Hedenbergite, CaFeSi2O6, is the iron rich end member of the pyroxene group having a monoclinic crystal system. The mineral is extremely rarely found as a pure substance, and usually has to be synthesized in a lab. It was named in 1819 after M.A. Ludwig Hedenberg, who was the first to define...

 (FeCaSi2O6) and augite
Augite
Augite is a single chain inosilicate mineral, 2O6. The crystals are monoclinic and prismatic. Augite has two prominent cleavages, meeting at angles near 90 degrees.-Characteristics:Augite is a solid solution in the pyroxene group...

, and partial solid solutions with orthopyroxene and pigeonite
Pigeonite
Pigeonite is a mineral in the clinopyroxene group. It has a general formula of Si2O6. The calcium cation fraction can vary from 5% to 25%, with iron and magnesium making up the rest of the cations....

. It forms variably colored, but typically dull green crystals in the monoclinic prismatic class. It has two distinct prismatic cleavages at 87 and 93° typical of the pyroxene series.
Encyclopedia
Diopside is a monoclinic pyroxene
Pyroxene
The pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra and they crystallize in the monoclinic and orthorhombic systems...

 mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 with composition MgCaSi2O6. It forms complete solid solution series with hedenbergite
Hedenbergite
Hedenbergite, CaFeSi2O6, is the iron rich end member of the pyroxene group having a monoclinic crystal system. The mineral is extremely rarely found as a pure substance, and usually has to be synthesized in a lab. It was named in 1819 after M.A. Ludwig Hedenberg, who was the first to define...

 (FeCaSi2O6) and augite
Augite
Augite is a single chain inosilicate mineral, 2O6. The crystals are monoclinic and prismatic. Augite has two prominent cleavages, meeting at angles near 90 degrees.-Characteristics:Augite is a solid solution in the pyroxene group...

, and partial solid solutions with orthopyroxene and pigeonite
Pigeonite
Pigeonite is a mineral in the clinopyroxene group. It has a general formula of Si2O6. The calcium cation fraction can vary from 5% to 25%, with iron and magnesium making up the rest of the cations....

. It forms variably colored, but typically dull green crystals in the monoclinic prismatic class. It has two distinct prismatic cleavages at 87 and 93° typical of the pyroxene series. It has a Mohs hardness of six, a Vickers hardness of 7.7 GPa at a load of 0.98 N, and a specific gravity
Specific gravity
Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance. Apparent specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a volume of the substance to the weight of an equal volume of the reference substance. The reference substance is nearly always water for...

 of 3.25 to 3.55. It is transparent to translucent with indices of refraction
Refractive index
In optics the refractive index or index of refraction of a substance or medium is a measure of the speed of light in that medium. It is expressed as a ratio of the speed of light in vacuum relative to that in the considered medium....

 of nα=1.663–1.699, nβ=1.671–1.705, and nγ=1.693–1.728. The optic angle is 58° to 63°.

Formation

Diopside is found in ultramafic (kimberlite
Kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

 and peridotite
Peridotite
A peridotite is a dense, coarse-grained igneous rock, consisting mostly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. Peridotite is ultramafic, as the rock contains less than 45% silica. It is high in magnesium, reflecting the high proportions of magnesium-rich olivine, with appreciable iron...

) igneous rocks
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

, and diopside-rich augite is common in mafic
Mafic
Mafic is an adjective describing a silicate mineral or rock that is rich in magnesium and iron; the term is a portmanteau of the words "magnesium" and "ferric". Most mafic minerals are dark in color and the relative density is greater than 3. Common rock-forming mafic minerals include olivine,...

 rocks, such as olivine basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 and andesite
Andesite
Andesite is an extrusive igneous, volcanic rock, of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and dacite. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene and/or hornblende. Magnetite,...

. Diopside is also found in a variety of metamorphic
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

 rocks, such as in contact metamorphosed skarn
Skarn
Skarn is an old Swedish mining term originally used to describe a type of silicate gangue, or waste rock, associated with iron-ore bearing sulfide deposits apparently replacing Archean age limestones in Sweden's Persberg mining district. In modern usage the term "skarn" has been expanded to refer...

s developed from high silica dolomite
Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

s. It is an important mineral in the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's mantle
Mantle (geology)
The mantle is a part of a terrestrial planet or other rocky body large enough to have differentiation by density. The interior of the Earth, similar to the other terrestrial planets, is chemically divided into layers. The mantle is a highly viscous layer between the crust and the outer core....

 and is common in peridotite
Peridotite
A peridotite is a dense, coarse-grained igneous rock, consisting mostly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. Peridotite is ultramafic, as the rock contains less than 45% silica. It is high in magnesium, reflecting the high proportions of magnesium-rich olivine, with appreciable iron...

 xenolith
Xenolith
A xenolith is a rock fragment which becomes enveloped in a larger rock during the latter's development and hardening. In geology, the term xenolith is almost exclusively used to describe inclusions in igneous rock during magma emplacement and eruption...

s erupted in kimberlite
Kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

 and alkali basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

.

Mineralogy and occurrence

Diopside is a precursor of chrysotile
Chrysotile
Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in place in the United States and a similar proportion in other countries. It is a soft, fibrous silicate mineral in the serpentine group of phyllosilicates; as such, it...

 (white asbestos
Asbestos
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their eponymous, asbestiform habit: long, thin fibrous crystals...

) by hydrothermal alteration and magmatic differentiation; it can react with hydrous solutions of magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

 and chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 to yield chrysotile by heating at 600°C for three days. Some vermiculite
Vermiculite
Vermiculite is a natural mineral that expands with the application of heat. The expansion process is called exfoliation and it is routinely accomplished in purpose-designed commercial furnaces. Vermiculite is formed by weathering or hydrothermal alteration of biotite or phlogopite...

 deposits, most notably those in Libby, Montana
Libby, Montana
Libby is a city in and the county seat of Lincoln County, Montana, United States. The population was 2,626 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Libby is located at , along U.S. Route 2....

, are contaminated with chrysotile (as well as other forms of asbestos) that formed from diopside.

At relatively high temperatures, there is a miscibility gap between diopside and pigeonite
Pigeonite
Pigeonite is a mineral in the clinopyroxene group. It has a general formula of Si2O6. The calcium cation fraction can vary from 5% to 25%, with iron and magnesium making up the rest of the cations....

, and at lower temperatures, between diopside and orthopyroxene. The calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

/(calcium+magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

+iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

) ratio in diopside that formed with one of these other two pyroxenes is particularly sensitive to temperature above 900°C, and compositions of diopside in peridotite xenoliths have been important in reconstructions of temperatures in the Earth's mantle.

Chrome diopside ((Ca,Na,Mg,Fe,Cr)2(Si,Al)2O6) is a common constituent of peridotite
Peridotite
A peridotite is a dense, coarse-grained igneous rock, consisting mostly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. Peridotite is ultramafic, as the rock contains less than 45% silica. It is high in magnesium, reflecting the high proportions of magnesium-rich olivine, with appreciable iron...

 xenoliths, and dispersed grains are found near kimberlite
Kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

 pipes, and as such are a prospecting indicator for diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s. Occurrences are reported in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and a wide variety of other locations.

As a gem

Gemstone
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

 quality diopside is found in two forms: the black star diopside and the chrome diopside (which includes chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

, giving it a rich green colour). At 5.5–6.5 on the Mohs scale, chrome diopside is relatively soft to scratch. The Mohs scale of hardness does not measure tensile strength or resistance to fracture.

Violane is a manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

-rich variety of diopside, violet to light blue in colour.

Etymology and history

Diopside derives its name from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 dis, "twice", and òpsè, "face" in reference to the two ways of orienting the vertical prism
Prism (geometry)
In geometry, a prism is a polyhedron with an n-sided polygonal base, a translated copy , and n other faces joining corresponding sides of the two bases. All cross-sections parallel to the base faces are the same. Prisms are named for their base, so a prism with a pentagonal base is called a...

.

Diopside was first described about 1800.

Potential uses

Diopside based ceramics and glass-ceramics have potential applications in various technological areas. A diopside based glass-ceramic named 'silceram' was produced by scientists from Imperial College, UK during 1980s from blast furnace slag and other waste products. The as produced glass-ceramic is a potential structural material. Similarly, diopside based ceramics and glass-ceramics have potential applications in the field of biomaterials, nuclear waste immobilization and sealing materials in solid oxide fuel cells.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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