Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pinkier than the Pink Panther - Rhodochrosite

I am sure that the pink panther's creator was inspired in rhodochrosite (MnCO3) to get that nice color of the funny French cartoon, but, being French, I may be wrong.

Furthermore, the beauty, the habit, and the variety of crystallization make rhodochrosite one of the prettiest, but is one of the softest existing gems in the world, as its hardness is 3 (in the Moss scale of 1 to 10). It means that it can be scratched with a coin, so be real careful (use paper bills instead)!

The fist place (locality) that comes to mind is the one in the Kalahari desert in South Africa, in which the color is beyond a deep pink to almost light cherry red, simply amazing.

South of the Kalahari Desert on the seemingly endless, hot and dust plains of the Northern Cape in South Africa is the Kalahari Manganese Field. The fact that it is estimated to contain 14 billion tons of manganese, not only represents a great economic wealth to the area, but also a paradise to the mineral collector. One hundred and thirty-five minerals have been identified there, since the commencement of mining in the 1940's. Some of the most spectacular Rhodochrosite specimens come from the N'Chwaning II mine, near Kuruman.

Ok, here is the technical data:

Chemical Formula: MnCO3
Molecular Weight = 114.95 gm
Environment: Commonly forms during oxidation of Mn-bearing ores in a carbonate environment.
Locality: Cavnic (Kapnik), Maramures, Romania
Name Origin: From the Greek rhodon -"rose" and chroma - "color."
Synonym: Dialogite
Crystal System: Trigonal - Hexagonal Scalenohedral

Cleavage: [1011] Perfect, [1011] Perfect, [1011] Perfect
Color: Pinkish red, Red, Rose red, Yellowish gray, Brown.
Density: 3.69
Diaphaniety: Translucent to subtranslucent
Fracture: Brittle - Conchoidal - Very brittle fracture producing small, conchoidal fragments.
Habit: Botryoidal - "Grape-like" rounded forms (e.g.. malachite).
Habit: Columnar - Forms columns
Habit: Massive - Granular - Common texture observed in granite and other igneous rock.
Hardness: 3 - Calcite
Luminescence: None.
Luster: Vitreous (Glassy)
Streak: White
Fluorescence: No

That's it for now, have a Good Friday, and a better Saturday.

Oscar Garcia Shelly.

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