2.4 Silicate Minerals

The vast majority of the minerals that comprise the rocks the Earth’s crust are silicate minerals. These incorporate minerals such together quartz, feldspar, mica, amphibole, pyroxene, olivine, and a range of clay minerals. The structure block of every one of these mineral is the silica tetrahedron, a combination of 4 oxygen atoms and also one silicon atom. Together we’ve seen, it’s referred to as a tetrahedron due to the fact that planes attracted through the oxygen atoms form a shape with 4 surfaces (Figure 2.2.4). Due to the fact that the silicon ion has actually a fee of 4 and also each the the four oxygen ions has actually a fee of −2, the silica tetrahedron has a net fee of −4.

You are watching: Hornblende and the other amphiboles have what type of silicate structure?

In silicate minerals, these tetrahedra are arranged and linked with each other in a selection of ways, from solitary units to facility frameworks (Table 2.6). The easiest silicate structure, that of the mineral olivine, is created of diverted tetrahedra external inspection to stole and/or magnesium ions. In olivine, the −4 fee of every silica tetrahedron is well balanced by two divalent (i.e., +2) stole or magnesium cations. Olivine can be either Mg2SiO4 or Fe2SiO4, or some combination of the two (Mg,Fe)2SiO4. The divalent cations that magnesium and iron are rather close in radius (0.73 matches 0.62 angstroms<1>). Because the this dimension similarity, and because they room both divalent cations (both can have a charge of +2), iron and also magnesium deserve to readily substitute because that each other in olivine and also in many other minerals.

Table 2.6 Silicate mineral configurations. The triangles represent silica tetrahedra.Tetrahedron configuration PictureTetrahedron Configuration NameExample Minerals
 
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Isolated (nesosilicates)Olivine, garnet, zircon, kyanite
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Pairs (sorosilicates)Epidote, zoisite
 
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Rings (cyclosilicates)Tourmaline
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Single chain (inosilicates)Pyroxenes, wollastonite
 
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Double chains (inosilicates)Amphiboles
 
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Sheets (phyllosilicates)Micas, clay minerals, serpentine, chlorite
3-dimensional structureFramework (tectosilicates)Feldspars, quartz, zeolite

Exercise 2.3 make a Tetrahedron


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Cut around the exterior of the form (solid lines and also dotted lines), and then fold follow me the solid lines to kind a tetrahedron. If you have actually glue or tape, for sure the tabs come the tetrahedron to hold it together. If girlfriend don’t have glue or tape, make a slice along the slim grey line and insert the pointed tab right into the slit.

If you are doing this in a classroom, shot joining your tetrahedron v others into pairs, rings, single and twin chains, sheets, and even three-dimensional frameworks.

See appendix 3 for exercise 2.3 answers.


In olivine, unlike many other silicate minerals, the silica tetrahedra are not bonded to every other. Rather they room bonded come the steel and/or magnesium ions, in the configuration displayed on number 2.4.1.

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Figure 2.4.1 A depiction of the framework of olivine as seen from above. The formula for this certain olivine, which has actually three Fe ions for each Mg ion, might be written: Mg0.5Fe1.5SiO4.

As already noted, the 2 ion of iron and magnesium are comparable in size (although not quite the same). This permits them to substitute for each other in some silicate minerals. In fact, the ions that are typical in silicate minerals have a wide selection of sizes, as portrayed in figure 2.4.2. All of the ions presented are cations, except for oxygen. Note that iron deserve to exist together both a +2 ion (if it loses two electrons during ionization) or a +3 ion (if it loser three). Fe2+  is recognized as ferrous iron. Fe3+  is well-known as ferric iron. Ionic radii are an essential to the ingredient of silicate minerals, so fine be referring to this diagram again.

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Figure 2.4.2 The ionic radii (effective sizes) in angstroms, of few of the typical ions in silicate minerals.

The framework of the single-chain silicate pyroxene is displayed on numbers 2.4.3 and also 2.4.4. In pyroxene, silica tetrahedra are linked together in a single chain, where one oxygen ion from each tetrahedron is shared with the surrounding tetrahedron, therefore there space fewer oxygens in the structure. The an outcome is the the oxygen-to-silicon proportion is reduced than in olivine (3:1 instead of 4:1), and the net fee per silicon atom is much less (−2 rather of −4). Therefore, under cations are important to balance that charge. Pyroxene compositions space of the kind MgSiO3, FeSiO3, and CaSiO3, or some mix of these. Pyroxene can also be composed as (Mg,Fe,Ca)SiO3, wherein the aspects in the brackets can be present in any kind of proportion. In other words, pyroxene has one cation for each silica tetrahedron (e.g., MgSiO3) when olivine has two (e.g., Mg2SiO4). Since each silicon ion is +4 and each oxygen ion is −2, the 3 oxygens (−6) and also the one silicon (+4) provide a net fee of −2 for the single chain that silica tetrahedra. In pyroxene, the one divalent cation (2) every tetrahedron balances the −2 charge. In olivine, it takes 2 divalent cations come balance the −4 fee of an secluded tetrahedron.The structure of pyroxene is an ext “permissive” than that of olivine—meaning that cations through a more comprehensive range of ionic radii can fit right into it. It is why pyroxenes have the right to have iron (radius 0.63 Å) or magnesium (radius 0.72 Å) or calcium (radius 1.00 Å) cations (see number 2.4.2 above).

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Figure 2.4.3 A depiction of the framework of pyroxene. The tetrahedral chains continue to left and right and also each is interspersed through a collection of divalent cations. If these are Mg ions, climate the formula is MgSiO3.
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Figure 2.4.4 A solitary silica tetrahedron (left) with four oxygen ion per silicon ion (SiO4). Component of a solitary chain the tetrahedra (right), wherein the oxygen atoms at the adjoining corners are shared between two tetrahedra (arrows). For a very long chain the resulting ratio of silicon come oxygen is 1 come 3 (SiO3).

The diagram listed below represents a solitary chain in a silicate mineral. Counting the number of tetrahedra versus the variety of oxygen ion (yellow spheres). Every tetrahedron has actually one silicon ion for this reason this should offer you the ratio of Si to O in single-chain silicates (e.g., pyroxene).

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The diagram listed below represents a twin chain in a silicate mineral. Again, count the number of tetrahedra versus the variety of oxygen ions. This should provide you the ratio of Si come O in double-chain silicates (e.g., amphibole).

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See attachment 3 for exercise 2.4 answers.


In amphibole structures, the silica tetrahedra are linked in a double chain that has actually an oxygen-to-silicon ratio lower than that of pyroxene, and hence still under cations are important to balance the charge. Amphibole is even an ext permissive 보다 pyroxene and its compositions have the right to be really complex. Hornblende, because that example, can encompass sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, silicon, oxygen, fluorine, and the hydroxyl ion (OH−).


In mica structures, the silica tetrahedra room arranged in consistent sheets, whereby each tetrahedron shares three oxygen anions with surrounding tetrahedra. Over there is even an ext sharing the oxygens between surrounding tetrahedra and also hence fewer cations are required to balance the fee of the silica-tetrahedra framework in paper silicate minerals. Bonding in between sheets is relatively weak, and also this accounts for the well-developed one-directional cleavage in micas (Figure 2.4.5). Biotite mica deserve to have steel and/or magnesium in it and also that makes it a ferromagnesian silicate mineral (like olivine, pyroxene, and also amphibole). Chlorite is another similar mineral that generally includes magnesium. In muscovite mica, the just cations existing are aluminum and potassium; hence it is a non-ferromagnesian silicate mineral.

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Figure 2.4.5 Biotite mica (left) and muscovite mica (right). Both room sheet silicates and also split easily into thin layers along planes parallel come the sheets. Biotite is dark choose the other iron- and/or magnesium-bearing silicates (e.g., olivine, pyroxene, and also amphibole), while muscovite is light coloured. (Each sample is about 3 centimeter across.)

Apart from muscovite, biotite, and also chlorite, there are countless other sheet silicates (a.k.a. phyllosilicates), plenty of of i beg your pardon exist as clay-sized pieces (i.e., much less than 0.004 millimetres). These include the clay minerals kaolinite, illite, and also smectite, and also although they are complicated to study because of their very tiny size, castle are incredibly important components of rocks and especially of soils.

All that the sheet silicate minerals additionally have water molecule within their structure.

Silica tetrahedra space bonded in three-dimensional frameworks in both the feldspars and also quartz. These room non-ferromagnesian minerals—they don’t contain any kind of iron or magnesium. In enhancement to silica tetrahedra, feldspars incorporate the cations aluminum, potassium, sodium, and calcium in various combinations. Quartz has only silica tetrahedra.

The three main feldspar minerals are potassium feldspar, (a.k.a. K-feldspar or K-spar) and two species of plagioclase feldspar: albite (sodium only) and also anorthite (calcium only). Together is the case for iron and magnesium in olivine, there is a consistent range the compositions (solid solution series) between albite and anorthite in plagioclase. Since the calcium and also sodium ion are practically identical in size (1.00 Å versus 0.99 Å) any type of intermediate compositions in between CaAl2Si3O8 and also NaAlSi3O8 have the right to exist (Figure 2.4.6). This is a tiny bit how amazing because, although they are very similar in size, calcium and sodium ion don’t have the exact same charge (Ca2+ matches Na+ ). This trouble is accounted for by the corresponding substitution that Al+3  because that Si+4 . Therefore, albite is NaAlSi3O8 (1 Al and also 3 Si) while anorthite is CaAl2Si2O8 (2 Al and also 2 Si), and plagioclase feldspars of intermediary composition have actually intermediate proportions the Al and also Si. This is called a “coupled-substitution.”

The intermediate-composition plagioclase feldspars space oligoclase (10% to 30% Ca), andesine (30% to 50% Ca), labradorite (50% come 70% Ca), and also bytownite (70% come 90% Ca). K-feldspar (KAlSi3O8) has a slightly different structure 보다 that the plagioclase, owing to the larger size the the potassium ion (1.37 Å) and because the this huge size, potassium and also sodium do not easily substitute for each other, except at high temperatures. These high-temperature feldspars are most likely to be found only in volcanic rocks because intrusive igneous rocks cool slowly enough to low temperatures for the feldspars to readjust into among the lower-temperature forms.

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Figure 2.4.6 Compositions of the feldspar minerals.

In quartz (SiO2), the silica tetrahedra space bonded in a “perfect” three-dimensional framework. Every tetrahedron is external inspection to 4 other tetrahedra (with an oxygen mutual at every corner of every tetrahedron), and also as a result, the proportion of silicon come oxygen is 1:2. Because the one silicon cation has actually a +4 charge and also the 2 oxygen anions each have actually a −2 charge, the charge is balanced. There is no need for aluminum or any kind of of the other cations together as sodium or potassium. The hardness and also lack the cleavage in quartz result from the strong covalent/ionic binding characteristic that the silica tetrahedron.


Silicate minerals room classified as being one of two people ferromagnesian or non-ferromagnesian relying on whether or not they have iron (Fe) and/or magnesium (Mg) in their formula. A number of minerals and their recipe are detailed below. Because that each one, indicate whether or no it is a ferromagnesian silicate.

MineralFormulaFerromagnesian silicate?
olivine(Mg,Fe)2SiO4.
pyriteFeS2.
plagioclase feldsparCaAl2Si2O8.
pyroxeneMgSiO3.
hematiteFe2O3.
orthoclase feldsparKAlSi3O8.
quartzSiO2.
amphiboleFe7Si8O22(OH)2.
muscoviteK2Al4Si6Al2O20(OH)4.
magnetiteFe3O4.
biotiteK2Fe4Al2Si6Al4O20(OH)4.
dolomite(Ca,Mg)CO3.
garnetFe2Al2Si3O12.
serpentineMg3Si2O5(OH)4.

See appendix 3 for exercise 2.5 answers.*Some of the formulas, particularly the more complicated ones, have been simplified.

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Image Descriptions

Figure 2.4.2 photo description: The ionic radii of elements in angstroms and also their charges.ElementIonic Radii (in angstroms)Charge
Oxygen1.4−2 (Anion)
Potassium1.371 (Cation)
Calcium1.002 (Cation)
Sodium0.991 (Cation)
Magnesium0.722 (Cation)
Iron0.632 (Cation)
0.493 (Cation)
Aluminum0.393 (Cation)
Silicon0.264 (Cation)
Carbon0.154 (Cation)