Thursday, January 05, 2006

Apatite Mineral Specimens

Apatite is a mineral I hear a lot of questions about. It's no wonder. The word means "deceive" in Greek and was named so because it was so often confused with many other minerals.

In actuality there is not a mineral named apatite. Apatite is a family of minerals. The apatite family includes fluoroapatite, hydroxylapatite, and carbonate-apatite. This poses the question: Why are most specimens labeled apatite and not one of the other names? The reason: because apatite is easy to identify as apatite but it requires a chemical test to determine which one it really is. These tests cost about $100, and you would have to test each specimen. Apatite from the same location can be all of the different ones or one of them. So for the sake of simplicity dealers just label them apatite. However, the most common member is the fluoroapatite.

In the fossil record, much of the bone that is persevered is in the form a massive apatite called callophane. (This is not the case with the agatized bone found in Utah and the other 4 Corner States).

There are massive apatite deposits all over the world. Most of which is mined as phosphate. In Utah apatite crystals have been found at the Utahlite Hill, Box Elder County as small (1mm), white crystals in vugs of variscite.

I have also found nice crystals of apatite in the iron mines in Iron County. Here the crystals form up to 1.5" as a gemmy pale yellow-green. They are easily as good as the famous Mexican ones.

Most of the crystals you find on the iron mines in Iron County are 1-2mm long and 0.5mm thick and form on the magnetite. It makes for a very attractive combination.

We have some small crystals of the nice pale yellow-green apatites from Iron County. They are $5 each. We don't have many and they are a locality specimen for anyone who wants a piece of Utah that won't be available after we sell out.

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