Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Short Note on Wavellite

By Luke Sattler Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society Junior Member

Discovered by William Wavell in 1809, the mineral Wavellite is an interesting mineral that should be in everyone’s collection. It is an attractive color and forms interesting crystal habits.

Wavellite has three different and distinct crystal forms. The first crystal form—which is the most common—is spherical (figure 1); the spherical crystal form appears mainly on host rock such as limonite, turquoise, quartz and variscite. If you were to break the spherical crystals open you would see radiating lines that make up the crystal structure.

Figure 1. Wavellite (Image © by Luke Sattler)
The second crystal form, which is striated prisms, is the most beautiful and rarest of wavellite crystal forms. Specimens of striated prisms of wavellite are primarily found in Queensland, Australia and are expensive to purchase.

The third crystal form is radial and is made up of straight prism crystals that radiate out from a center point (figure 2). This form of wavellite is also mainly found in Queensland Australia and is also rare.

  Figure 2. Image by Lou Perloff ©/Photo Atlas Of Minerals, used by permission.
A few interesting facts about wavellite includes a hardness of 3.5 to 4; a density of 2.37g/cm3 ; and wavellite has many colors: brown, green (most common), yellow, blue black and clear (also common). Wavellite has some uses but not many—wavellite today is a mineral of interest to collectors and found in discriminating collector’s mineral cabinets; wavellite is mined for its phosphate content from which manufacturers get phosphorus for toothpaste, water treatment applications, fertilizers, fire starters, fireworks and many other uses.

Wavellite is formed as a secondary mineral of low-grade metamorphic rocks in limonitic and phosphate deposits. It rarely forms as a mineral in hydrothermal veins.

Figure 3. Locations of Wavellite.
 The locations shown in figure 3 include Mt. Ida in Arkansas, USA, Devon, England where William Wavell discovered it, Mt. Pleasant in Pennsylvania, USA and in Queensland, Australia.

This short note should give you the basic facts of this interesting mineral, and due to the limited locations your best bet of obtaining a specimen for your cabinet is at a local rock and gem show.


(Http/; www.mindat.com)

Babbington (1805) Phil. Trans.: 162.

Davy (1805) Phil. Trans.: 155, 162 (as Hydrargillite).

Thomson; von Moll (1809)

Author’s bio: Luke has been faithfully attending meetings of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society’s Pebble Pup/Junior meetings for over three years. He has made many contributions to the programs, brings rocks and minerals to share with the other youth members, has helped the instructor on many occasions, and has articles and research papers published in international magazines and local newspapers. He is a skilled researcher in the geosciences.

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Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.