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Phengite (Mariposite)

The Mica Minerals


Phengite is a mica, K(Mg,Al)2(OH)2(Si,Al)4O10, gradational between muscovite and the celadonite. This variety is mariposite. (more below)
A low-Al neighbor of muscovite
Photo (c) 2009 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Click the photo for a larger version. Phengite is a catchall name used mostly in microscopic studies for a mica mineral that departs from the ideal attributes of muscovite (specifically, a high α, β and γ and a low 2V). The formula allows considerable iron substituting for the Mg and Al (that is, both Fe+2 and Fe+3). For the record, Deer Howie and Zussman give the formula as K(Al,Fe3+)Al1–x(Mg,Fe2+)x[Al1–xSi3+xO10](OH)2.

Mariposite is a green chromium-bearing variety of phengite, first described in 1868 from the Mother Lode country of California, where it is associated with gold-bearing quartz veins and serpentinite precursors. It generally is massive in habit, with a waxy luster and no visible crystals. Mariposite-bearing quartz rock is a popular landscaping stone, itself often called mariposite. The name comes from Mariposa County. Supposedly the rock was once a candidate for the California state rock, but serpentinite prevailed.

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