Helping humankind live with the earth not against it

Category: mineralogy (Page 1 of 2)

Borealis Meditation – S04E13 Mineral Identification

Listen to the episode here:

In this episode we go over the main parameters used to identify different minerals. These would be:

  • visual
    • color
    • luster
    • mineral form
    • streak color
  • physical properties
    • hardness
    • density or specific gravity,
  • mineral structure related
    • cleavage
    • fracture
  • other identifying characteristics
    • taste
    • smell
    • magnetism
    • fluorescence
    • radioactivity
    • reactivity

Music in this episode was played by permission and is by Aazav and SJ Tucker

Borealis Meditation – S04E10 What is the difference between a crystal, mineral, rock and gemstone?

List to the episode here:

Show notes: 

Music included in episode
Fold of Evening by Aazav
Iron from Stone by Damh the Bard

Here are some of the definitions we discussed and links to the quotes I used for each section.

Elements are atoms, the smallest piece that we can split matter into (except for subatomic particles and other things that we’ll leave to the physicists). Different elements have different properties. Take two different elements: iron and helium. Iron is very different than helium. You wouldn’t fill a balloon with iron any more than you would try to build a bridge out of helium. (ASU)

A solid can be made of a single element, and as we will see that is not a mineral. The elements that are known are all listed in the Periodic table. They have different properties and are defined based on the number of protons and electrons. Periodic Table

Minerals are materials that meet five requirements. They are:
1. naturally occurring,
2. inorganic,
3. solids,
4. with a definite chemical composition, and,
5. an ordered internal structure


or from an “informal but practical definition”
A mineral is a chemical element or compound that:
1. has a more-or-less constant composition.
2. is usually a solid with an ordered three dimensional array of ions and molecules in its crystal structure.
3. is formed by natural geologic processes and without human or other biologic intervention.
4. is not a mixture of two or more blended substances.


The ordered internal structure is also called the “Crystal Structure”

Crystal structure is a continuous ordered arrangement of one or more elements. This is simply a fancy way of saying that minerals are composed of elements that are stacked in an orderly and neat fashion. You can think of elements as different sized marbles (except, in this case, the marbles are all very, very tiny!). Based on the relative sizes of the marbles, they can be stacked in different ways […].

A good example of a simple mineral is table salt (Yes, salt is a mineral.). The proper mineral name for table salt is halite, and a geologist will often identify it by tasting it. Salt is composed of two elements; Sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl). Sodium and chlorine are strongly attracted to each other and stack together into a cubic crystal structure (see figure). Individual salt (halite) crystals have a cubic shape to them, which is mimicking the way that the individual elements are stacking together. Even though the elements are much too small to be able to see with your eyes (or even most microscopes), you can tell how they are stacking together by looking at the shape of the salt crystals

“Most importantly, [a mineral is something that] has been exhaustively studied and characterized by mineralogists, declared unique in its composition and structure, and the original specimen(s) that was studied deposited for preservation in a professionally curated museum.” (


“A mineraloid meets almost all of the criteria of a mineral except the organized structure. Some can also lack the definite chemical composition. Minerals as we talked about are “crystalline” meaning they have an organized structure. Because mineraloids are “amorphis” they do not have an order structure.  I think this is better explained with examples. Opal, obsidian, pele’s hair, and tektites are all mineraloids. Now the last few are types of natural glasses where because of the heat and the quick cooling no crystals are able to form.” (

There is some controversy if organic materials can also be included. Remember that part of the definition of a mineral was that it was non-organic. This means some people include things like amber and jet as a mineraloid and others don’t. Jet is a type of coal which is made from plant material like leaves and amber is from plant resin. Also there are materials that are made in the deep ocean from the “ooze” made up of tiny organisms like diatoms and radiolarians shells called diatomite and radiolarite. For our sake I think we should also consider these mineraloids since they also lack an organized structure. 

So in that case a mineraloid is a solid, naturally occurring material without a defined interior structure and may or may not have a defined chemical composition, generally inorganic but some organic materials can also be included.

Anthropogenic substances:
“Anthropogenic substances are those produced by humans. They are not minerals. Crystals grown in a laboratory (or someone’s basement) or in laboratory or industrial furnace or retort are not minerals. Any crystals that are found on or in any man-made object are not a mineral.” (

“A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks are usually grouped into three main groups: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks.” (wikipedia)

“A rock is not a mineral, nor is a mineral a rock. However, the components of a rock are minerals. Most types of rock have multiple minerals, a few have only one. Single mineral rocks are termed monomineralic rock.” (mindat)

Igneous Rocks:
An igneous rock starts out purely as a melt. Everything is liquid and all the elements are there swimming around. Then it starts to nucleate minerals, some start growing before others and use up all the elements they want. It can either cool slowly and all the crystals will grow into an interlocking solid material like a granite, or can be brought to the surface and erupt and cool quicker with some small crystals and the melt freezing not having totally formed crystals. Obsidian is the extreme of this where basically no crystals have had time to form and the melt is just frozen. Of course it is a little more complicated but we can go into that another time.

Sedimentary Rocks:
Sedimentary rocks are formed when the rocks at the surface break down either physically by breaking apart into smaller pieces or chemically. These small bits can be redeposited and smoshed and get cemented together and this forms our sedimentary rocks. Generally speaking when a rock physically breaks apart you can end up with either pieces with several minerals, or a single crystal and anywhere in between.

Metamorphic Rocks:
Metamorphic rocks can be formed from either sedimentary or igneous rocks. These are rocks where the original rock is subjected to higher levels of pressure and temperature and the minerals can start to change into other minerals. This can happen to a small or large degree and rocks can also start to flow and make cool patterns. Then this smooshed and heated rock is brought back to the surface for us to marvel at. The minerals in the original rock can change their composition and/or structure at these different conditions so one rock can be turned into multiple different types depending on how much pressure and temperature it experienced. Some minerals are only formed through this process.

Safety information: gem society

“A crystal is a regular polyhedral form, bounded by planes, which is assumed by a chemical element or compound, under the action of its intermolecular forces, which passing, under suitable conditions, from the state of a liquid or gas to that of a solid. A crystal is characterized first by its definite internal molecular structure and second, by its external form.” (mindat)

From merriam-webster:
1. a clear, transparent mineral or glass resembling ice.
2. the transparent form of crystallized quartz.

“A crystal consists of matter that is formed from an ordered arrangement of atoms, molecules, or ions. The lattice that forms extends out in three dimensions. Because there are repeated units, crystals have recognizable structures. Large crystals display flat regions (faces) and well-defined angles. Crystals with obvious flat faces are called euhedral crystals, while those lacking defined faces are called anhedral crystals. Crystals consisting of ordered arrays of atoms that aren’t always periodic are called quasicrystals. The word “crystal” comes from the Ancient Greek word krustallos, which means both “rock crystal” and “ice.” The scientific study of crystals is called crystallography. “ (thought co)

So then what is a gem? 
“A gem is a rare mineral that is prized and used in jewelry.” (

“difference between gem and crystal is that gem is a precious stone, usually of substantial monetary value or prized for its beauty or shine while crystal is (countable) a solid composed of an array of atoms or molecules possessing long-range order and arranged in a pattern which is periodic in three dimensions.” (WikiDiff)

“A gemstone is a crystalline mineral that can be cut and polished to make jewelry and other ornaments. The ancient Greeks made a distinction between precious and semiprecious gems, which is still used. Precious stones were hard, rare, and valuable. The only “precious” gemstones are diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald. All other quality stones are called “semiprecious,” even though they may not be any less valuable or beautiful.” (ThoughtCo)

I will be making a formatted reference post shortly as a quick guide. Let me know if you have any questions!


Physical Characteristics
Bornite also known as “Peacock ore”

chemical formula: Cu5FeS4
Hardness: 3
Luster: metallic if fresh, iridescent tarnish

Distinguishing features:
The brownish bronze color of fresh surfaces distinguishes bornite from chalcopyrite.

Bornite is common in copper bearing hydrothermal sulfide deposits and is mined as a source of copper but is not as important as chalcopyrite.

Metaphysial properties:

Melody (2):
Bornite facilitate the synthesis of the chakras and be useful in the individual activation of the chakras. It can bring freshness and newness to ones life and stimulates the inner spirit to seek further heights.

It is a stone of happiness, and protects from negative energy bombardment and assists in the recognition of the source of the negativity. It is also an excellent healing stone.

(1) Introduction to Mineralogy, by William D. Nesse
(2) Love is in the earth, a kaleidoscope of crystals, by Melody


Physical characteristics of Covellite:
It is pretty!!!!

chemical formula: CuS
Hardness: 1.5-2
1 perfect cleavage plane
Luster: submetallic to resinous
Color: indigo blue, sometimes darker may be iridescent

Distinguished by the blue color and cleavage

Occurs with other copper sulfides in hydrothermal sulfide deposits
Mined as copper ore

Metaphysical properties:

Melody (2):
Melody notes that most of the covellite she has seen was from Butte, MT copper mine.

Covellite stimulate the third eye and initiate psychic power, and enhances communication skills and stimulates positive outlook as well as assisting in transforming conscious dreams to realities.

Covellite can act as a mirror showing one the defective reasoning which leads to problems, and helps heal the wounds of vanity

(1) Introduction to Mineralogy, by William D. Nesse
(2) Love is in the earth, a kaleidoscope of crystals, by Melody


Physical Characteristics of Marcasite
chemical formula: FeS2
Hardness 6-6.5
Uneven fracture
Luster: Metallic
Color: pale bronze-yellow to almost white darkening on exposure
Streak: grayish black

Different structure “petals” usually called cockscomb
Generally it stays close to the ideal formula but can have minor Copper substitutions for iron and As for Sulfur

Resembles pyrite but has different crystal habit and is someone paler colored if fresh

Marcasite is common in hydrothermal sulfide deposits at low temperatures and is usually associated with galena and sphalerite. Concretionary masses in shale limestone and coal are also common.

It can replace the material in fossils which can make for beautiful samples

Not normally of economic value. (but can be used as a source of sulfur and iron)

Metaphysical properties:

The non-crystalline form posses the same properties as pyrite…

It provides you with a view of yourself from an outside perspective and can produce insight with respect to the methods available for correcting the qualities which are unwanted. Marcasite shows you if you appear dull to others and encourages you to shine.

It also illuminates the senses and the intellect softening expressiveness and dispelling both the use of rash words and the actions of impatience. It represents spiritual development, providing for prosperity of eliminating starvation of the spirit.

(1) Introduction to Mineralogy, by William D. Nesse
(2) Love is in the earth, a kaleidoscope of crystals, by Melody


Physical characteristics of Chalcopyrite:
chemical formula: CuFeS2
Hardness: 3.5-4
Luster: metallic
Color: brass yellow, maybe tarnished and iridescent
Poor cleavage
Streak: greenish black

Chalcopyrite is distinguished from pyrite by its lower hardness, different crystal habit a richer yellow color.

Small grains may resemble native gold but are not sectile and yield a greenish-black streak.

CHalcopyrite is a common copper-bearing mineral and is found in many hydrothermal sulfide deposits often associated with galena, sphalerite, pyrite, and other sulfide minerals.

It is the principle source for copper and major deposits are found in many areas of the world.

Referred to as “yellow copper” (2)

Metaphysical properties of Chalcopyrite :

Melody (3):
Chalcopyrite can be used for assistance in finding lost objects, and it also often disappears to accumulate information which will be beneficial to the user.

It can also be used to enhance ones abilities of perception and strengthen ones contact with the ancient cultures of the universe. It is called a “stone of the mystic” and helps us connect with other cultures and receive their information.

It posses an energy that can remove energy blockages and totally open the crown chakra, cleansing and activating at the same time. It is also excellent for meditation helps to active and maintain a state of no mind.

Chalcopyrite has also been used to assist in acupuncture treatments to increase the movement of the Chi

(1) Introduction to Mineralogy, by William D. Nesse
(2) Wikipedia page
(3) Love is in the earth, a kaleidoscope of crystals, by Melody


From the greek: purites meaning “of fire” or “in fire”
In Ancient roman times this name was used for several types of minerals that would create a spark when struck against steel. Pliny the Elder described one as being brassy and is almost certainly a reference to modern Pyrite (1)

Physical Characteristics
Chemical formula: FeS2
Hardness: 6-6.5
Concoidal to uneven fracture, usually no cleavage
Luster: metallic
Color: pale brass-yellow, tarnishes darker with iridescence
Streak: greenish black to brownish black

Most pyrite is close to this ideal composition although sometimes Ni or Co can substitute for Fe in small amounts.
Micro-inclusions of gold or chalcopyrite may be present in pyrite as well

Pyrite normally occurs as cubes although it can also form with octahedral faces which are less common and can form in pairs or twins and these are known as “iron crosses”

Pyrite is known as fools gold because it is commonly misidentified as gold, however in my personally experience pyrite has a brighter and shinnier appearance then raw gold which is a duller yellow when raw (in personal experience) Although this might just be a comment on the samples I have seen and not characteristic of pyrite and gold. My mineralogy book literally says :everyone should read Mark Twain’s Roughing It. On this topic. So there you have it, like you needed an excuse to read Mark Twain!

Pyrite is distinguished by hardness brittle fracture, greenish black streak, and from chalcopyrite by the fact that chalcopyrite is a richer yellow and softer.

Pyrite is the most common sulfide mineral and few hydrothermal are without it. Igneous rocks of almost any composition can have pyrite as well as occurring in metamorphic rocks. Pyrite is also common as fine grains in shale and precipitated from sea water in reducing environments, and coal usually contains some pyrite.

Pyrite is a source of iron and sulfer and is used as a feedstock in the manufacture of Fe bearing chemicals. Pyrite is usually associated with other economic minerals such as chalcopyrite, galena, and sphalerite. Also gold has been extracted from inclusions within pyrite.

In the 16th and 17th centuries it was used as a source of ignition for early types of firearms, most notably the wheellock, where the cock held a lump of pyrite against a circular file to strike the sparks needed to fire the gun. (1)

During the early 20th century it was used as a mineral detector in radio receivers and is still used “crystal radio” hobbyists (1)

It is used to make Marcasite Jewelry (which is NOT marcasite) and its made from small faceted pieces of pyrite and is often set in silver and was popular in the Victorian era (1)

environmental impacts of pyrite:
When oxygenated surface water interacts with pyrite, it oxidizes the iron and releases sulfuric acid. This is a natural process that occurs naturally, however, mining and increase groundwater flow into pyrite bearing rocks providing an easy route for this water and thus facilitating the acidification of this groundwater. Older mines in particular have a problem with acidic waters escaping from old portals. This water can be very acidic and carry heavy metals like lead in solution and it poses a real problem when it enters stream systems and can alter ecosystems and be a potential health hazard.

Metaphysical Properties

Melody (3):
Pyrite can be used as a shield from several forms of negative energy, and simply wearing it activates the shielding and protective aspects. It works on the physical, etheric, and emotional levels.

Pyrite can help keep out the negative vibrations of pollutants on the physical level due to the energy field which it creates within the aura.

Pyrite can inspire the universal energies to activate the nourishing energies of the body, and encourages health intellect and emotional well being.

Pyrite symbolizes the warmth and presence of the sun.

Pyrite can be used to recall of beautiful memories of love and friendship and is also used to help in seeing behind facades and enhance memory and recall of information.

Cunningham (4):
projective energy
planet: mars
element: fire
powers: money, divination, luck

Pyrite was used by ancient Mexicans in polished mirror that may have been used to divine the future, and also placed in American Indian shamans medicine bundles perhaps to lend extra energy. In ancient china pyrite was used to guard against crocodile attacks

Due to its color and shinny-ness its used to draw money and wealth and it is suggested that you can place five pieces of pyrite on your alter and surround them with 5 green cancels light the candles and visualize money coming your way to fulfill your monetary needs…

Pyrite can also be carried to bring money and luck, and the “face” or shinny side can be used as a magic mirror to awaken psychic impulses and carried it is a luck bringer.

Cory at new world witchery also adds that Pyrite is used in hoodoo money drawing spells.

(1) Wikipedia page
(2) Introduction to Mineralogy, by William D. Nesse
(3) Love is in the earth, a kaleidoscope of crystals, by Melody
(4) Cunningham’s encyclopedia of crystal gem and metal magic by scott cunningham



Mineraloid not really a mineral!
Composition: SiO2*nH2O
Some opal needs to be kept in water or it dries out and cracks
Hardness: 5.5 -6.5
(less then quartz)
Luster: vitreous, waxy, greasy, dull
Streak: white
No cleavage
Concoidal fracture
Only a mineral for historical reasons not a true mineral its cristobalite and tridymite and amorphous silica
4 types:
§ Opal –CT
§ Opal C
§ Opal AG (amorphous )
§ Opal –AN (anhydrous = no water)

Fluorescent, Short UV=greenish yellow, Long UV=white. ( web mineral)
From the Old Indian upala – “precious stone.” (web mineral)

Found: hot springs deposits, petrified wood, and voids in volcanic rocks, cements sedimentary rocks, and the shells of diatoms.
Distinguished from quartz: inferior hardness.
(Introduction to Mineralology)

Color called fire due to the stacking of uniform spheres (and uniform stacking) diffracts light. (Love is in the Earth)
Jo says: money, want to be invisible, night vision
Kathleen says: signifier of water (it has water in it!)

Cunningham reference says:
– all planets (Jo: Venus)
– all elements (Jo: fire, Kathleen: water)
– cupid
– bay leaf
– astral projection, psychism, beauty, money, luck, power
– has been seen as back luck but that’s due to a reference (Water Scott Anne of Gierstein)
– all the colors and qualities of other stones, can charge with energies of other stones ( stand in for other stones)
– program or change to meet needs
– create invisibility wrap ion bay leaf
– blending in, in crowds
– helps with eye site
– astral projection and worn for protection and help in projections
– recall past incarnations
– favored to develop psychic powers
– warn to bring out inner beauty

Love is in the earth says:
– associations with cancer, Libra, Pisces and Scorpio
– amplification of traits of characteristics overcome lesser attributes
– recognize and fuel creativity
– Instill faithfulness and loyalty in love, friends, and business.
– Astral projection, happy dreams and changes
– Awaken oycic and mystical qualities
– Grounding.
– Common:
o Increase earn and retain money and self worth
o Balance male and female energies
o Align chakras
§ Proper flow and energy and alignment with your higher self
– Used to invoke visions!

Media Astra Ac Terra episode 13 had opal in it!
– Found on Mars!
– October birthstone
– Found in Australia
– Fire opal in Mexico
– Nevada opal!
– Romans: foresight and prophecies (maybe not the same stone)
– Protect against diseases.

Quartz part II

Varieties of Quartz:

Amarillo Stone
Arkansas Candle
Ball Jasper
Blue Lace Agate
Blue Quartz
Botswana Agate
Brecciated Agate
Bull Quartz
Cape May Diamonds
Capped Quartz
Citrine Clear
Lake Diamonds
Cloud Agate
Crazy Lace Agate
Cubic Quartz
Dendritic Agate
Egyptian Jasper
El Doradoite
Enhydro Agate
Eye Agate
Fairburn Agate
Ferruginous Quartz
Fire Agate
Fortification Agate
Fossil Agate
Gwindle Quartz
Hair Amethyst
Hedgehog Stone
Herkimer Diamond
Herradura Diamonds
Iris Agate
Jacinto de Compostela Quartz
Keystonite Chalcedony
Laguna Agate
Lake County Diamonds
Lake Superior Agate
Landscape Agate
Lithium Quartz
Mexican Lace Agate
Milky Quartz
Mocha Stone
Moss Agate
Nipomo Agate
Oil Quartz
Orbicular Jasper
Owyhee Jasper
Petrified Wood
Pigeon Blood Agate
Plume Agate
Prase-malachite Quartzine
Riband Agate
Riband Jasper
Rock Crystal
Rose Quartz
Rutilated Quartz
Sagenite (of Kunz)
Sceptre Quartz
Smoky Quartz
Star Quartz
Vallum Diamond
Wilkite Youngite
variety of Chalcedony which is in turn a variety of Quartz….
A distinctly banded variety of chalcedony
type locals: Dirillo River, Acate, Ragusa Province, Sicily Italy
Name: derived from Achates River in south Sicily

Abakusz-kö Agate-Jasper Blue Lace Agate
Botswana Agate Brecciated Agate Cloud Agate
Crazy Lace Agate Enhydro Agate Eye Agate
Fairburn Agate Fire Agate Fortification Agate
Fossil Agate Haema-ovoid-agates Herbeckite
Iris Agate Laguna Agate Lake Superior Agate
Mexican Lace Agate Mocha Stone Nipomo Agate
Onyx Pigeon Blood Agate Plume Agate
Riband Agate Sardonyx Vogelaugenachat

Chalcedony: “Traditionally defined as a fibrous cryptocrystalline variety of quartz, more recently it has been shown that chalcedony is a mixture of quarts and moganite*, another silica mineral”
*I guess this one gets a post too!
Crystal system: Trigonal
Notes: concentrically banded its agate, layers/bands also called onyx, non banded forms (moss agate) and also its what replaces wood in petrified wood.


Amarillo Stone Amberine Azurchalcedony

Beekite Binghamite Bloodstone


Carnelian Chrome-Chalcedony

Cubosilicite Damsonite

Dendritic Agate**

Diackethyst Keystonite Chalcedony Landscape Agate**

Moss Agate** Myrickite Orbicular Jasper

Petrified Wood

Plasma Quartzine

Sard Seftonite

*Agate varieties are listed above
** not true agates

« Older posts

© 2021 Kathleen Borealis

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑