|Dimensions (mm)||7.1 x 5.16 x 3.5mm|
|Weight (carats)||0.82 carats|
For the mineral calcite used in navigation, see Sunstone (medieval). For other uses, see Sunstone (disambiguation).
Sunstone is a plagioclase feldspar, which
when viewed from certain directions exhibits a spangled appearance. It has been found in Southern Norway, Sweden, various United States
localities and on some beaches along the midcoast of South Australia.
The optical effect appears to be due to reflections from inclusions of red copper, in the form of minute scales, which are hexagonal, rhombic, or irregular in shape, and are disposed parallel to the principal cleavage-plane. These inclusions give the stone an appearance something like that of aventurine, hence sunstone is known also as "aventurine-feldspar". The optical effect called schiller and the color in Oregon Sunstone is due to copper. The middle part of this crystal sparkles, and usually the color is darkest in the middle and becomes lighter toward the outer edges.
The feldspar which usually displays the aventurine appearance is oligoclase, though the effect is sometimes seen in orthoclase: hence two kinds of sunstone are distinguished as "oligoclase sunstone" and "orthoclase sunstone".
Sunstone was not popular until recently. Previously the best-known locality being Tvedestrand, near Arendal, in south Norway, where masses of the sunstone occur embedded in a vein of quartz running through gneiss.
Other locations include near Lake Baikal in Siberia, and several United States localities—notably at Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Plush, Oregon; and Statesville, North Carolina.
The "orthoclase sunstone" variant has been found near Crown Point and at several other localities in New York, as also at Glen Riddle in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and at Amelia Courthouse, Amelia County, Virginia.
Sunstone is also found in Pleistocene basalt flows at Sunstone Knoll in Millard County, Utah.
In the early 2000s, a new variety of red or green gemstone resembling sunstone and known as "Andesine" appeared in the gem market. After much controversy and debate, most of these gemstones, allegedly sourced from China, were subsequently discovered to have been artificially colored by a copper diffusion process. A Tibetan source of bona fide (untreated) red andesine, however, was eventually verified by a number of independent groups of well-respected gemologists.
A variety known as "Oregon sunstone" is found in Harney County, Oregon and in eastern Lake County north of Plush. Oregon Sunstone contains elemental copper. Oregon Sunstone is unique in that crystals can be quite large. The copper leads to variant color within some stones, where turning one stone will result in manifold hues: the more copper within the stone, the darker the complexion.
On August 4, 1987, the Oregon State Legislature designated Oregon Sunstone as its state gemstone by joint resolution.
This group of minerals consists of tectosilicates, silicate minerals in which silicon ions are linked by shared oxygen ions to form a three-dimensional network. Compositions of major elements in common feldspars can be expressed in terms of three endmembers:
Solid solutions between K-feldspar and albite are called alkali feldspar. Solid solutions between albite and anorthite are called plagioclase, or, more properly, plagioclase feldspar. Only limited solid solution occurs between K-feldspar and anorthite, and in the two other solid solutions, immiscibility occurs at temperatures common in the crust of the Earth. Albite is considered both a plagioclase and alkali feldspar.
Alkali feldspars are grouped into two types: those containing potassium in combination with sodium, aluminum, or silicon; and those where potassium is replaced by barium. The first of these include:
Potassium and sodium feldspars are not perfectly miscible in the melt at low temperatures, therefore intermediate compositions of the alkali feldspars occur only in higher temperature environments. Sanidine is stable at the highest temperatures, and microcline at the lowest. Perthite is a typical texture in alkali feldspar, due to exsolution of contrasting alkali feldspar compositions during cooling of an intermediate composition. The perthitic textures in the alkali feldspars of many granites can be seen with the naked eye. Microperthitic textures in crystals are visible using a light microscope, whereas cryptoperthitic textures can be seen only with an electron microscope.
In addition, peristerite is the name given to feldspar containing approximately equal amounts of intergrown alkali feldspar and plagioclase.
Barium feldspars are also considered alkali feldspars. Barium feldspars form as the result of the substitution of barium for potassium in the mineral structure.
The barium feldspars are monoclinic and include the following:
The plagioclase feldspars are triclinic. The plagioclase series follows (with percent anorthite in parentheses):
Intermediate compositions of plagioclase feldspar also may exsolve to two feldspars of contrasting composition during cooling, but diffusion is much slower than in alkali feldspar, and the resulting two-feldspar intergrowths typically are too fine-grained to be visible with optical microscopes. The immiscibility gaps in the plagioclase solid solutions are complex compared to the gap in the alkali feldspars. The play of colors visible in some feldspar of labradorite composition is due to very fine-grained exsolution lamellae known as Bøggild intergrowth. The specific gravity in the plagioclase series increases from albite (2.62) to anorthite (2.72–2.75).
The name feldspar derives from the German Feldspat, a compound of the words Feld ("field") and Spat ("flake"). Spat had long been used as the word for "a rock easily cleaved into flakes"; Feldspat was introduced in the 18th century as a more specific term, referring perhaps to its common occurrence in rocks found in fields (Urban Brückmann, 1783) or to its occurrence as "fields" within granite and other minerals (René-Just Haüy, 1804). The change from Spat to -spar was influenced by the English word spar, meaning a non-opaque mineral with good cleavage. Feldspathic refers to materials that contain feldspar. The alternate spelling, felspar, has fallen out of use. The term 'felsic', meaning light colored minerals such as quartz and feldspars, is an acronymic word derived from feldspar and silica, unrelated to the redundant spelling 'felspar'.
Chemical weathering of feldspars results in the formation of clay minerals such as illite and kaolinite.
About 20 million tonnes of feldspar were produced in 2010, mostly by three countries: Italy (4.7 Mt), Turkey (4.5 Mt), and China (2 Mt).
Feldspar is a common raw material used in glassmaking, ceramics, and to some extent as a filler and extender in paint, plastics, and rubber. In glassmaking, alumina from feldspar improves product hardness, durability, and resistance to chemical corrosion. In ceramics, the alkalis in feldspar (calcium oxide, potassium oxide, and sodium oxide) act as a flux, lowering the melting temperature of a mixture. Fluxes melt at an early stage in the firing process, forming a glassy matrix that bonds the other components of the system together. In the US, about 66% of feldspar is consumed in glassmaking, including glass containers and glass fiber. Ceramics (including electrical insulators, sanitaryware, pottery, tableware, and tile) and other uses, such as fillers, accounted for the remainder.
Bon Ami, which had a mine near Little Switzerland, North Carolina, used feldspar as an abrasive in its cleaners. The Little Switzerland Business Association says the McKinney Mine was the largest feldspar mine in the world, and North Carolina was the largest producer. Feldspar had been discarded in the process of mining mica until William Dibbell sent a premium quality product to the Ohio company Golding and Sons around 1910.
In earth sciences and archaeology, feldspars are used for potassium-argon dating, argon-argon dating, and luminescence dating.
In October 2012, the Mars Curiosity rover analyzed a rock that turned out to have a high feldspar content.
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