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Pigeonite is a mineral in the clinopyroxene subgroup of the pyroxene group. It has a general formula of (Ca,Mg,Fe)(Mg,Fe)Si2O6. The calcium cation fraction can vary from 5% to 25%, with iron and magnesium making up the rest of the cations.

Pigeonite
PyroxeneExsol 0.5mmm.jpg
Polarized light microscope image of part of a grain of orthopyroxene containing exsolution lamellae of augite The texture documents a multistage history: (1) crystallization of twinned pigeonite, followed by exsolution of augite; (2) breakdown of pigeonite to orthopyroxene plus augite; (3) exsolution of augite parallel to the former twin plane of pigeonite. (long dimension 0.5 mm, Bushveld igneous complex)
General
CategorySilicate mineral (pyroxene)
Formula
(repeating unit)
(Ca,Mg,Fe)(Mg,Fe)Si2O6
Strunz classification9.DA.10
Dana classification65.01.01.04
Crystal systemMonoclinic
Crystal classPrismatic (2/m)
(same H-M symbol)
Space groupP21/c
Unit cella = 9.7, b = 8.95,
c = 5.24 [Å]; β = 108.59°; Z = 4
Identification
ColorBrown, greenish brown-black
Crystal habitPrismatic crystals, to 1 cm; granular, massive.
TwinningCommonly twinned simply or multiply on {100} or {001}
CleavageGood on {110}, (110) ^ (110) ~87°
FractureConchoidal
TenacityBrittle
Mohs scale hardness6
LusterVitreous to dull
StreakGrey white
DiaphaneitySemitransparent
Specific gravity3.17 - 3.46 measured
Optical propertiesBiaxial (+)
Refractive indexnα = 1.683 - 1.722 nβ = 1.684 - 1.722 nγ = 1.704 - 1.752
Birefringenceδ = 0.021 - 0.030
PleochroismWeak to moderate; X = colorless, pale green, brown; Y = pale brown, pale brownish green, brownish pink; Z = colorless, pale green, pale yellow
2V angle0 - 30° measured
Dispersionweak to distinct
References[1][2][3]

Pigeonite crystallizes in the monoclinic system, as does augite, and a miscibility gap exists between the two minerals. At lower temperatures, pigeonite is unstable relative to augite plus orthopyroxene. The low-temperature limit of pigeonite stability depends upon the Fe/Mg ratio in the mineral and is hotter for more Mg-rich compositions; for a Fe/Mg ratio of about 1, the temperature is about 900 °C. The presence of pigeonite in an igneous rock thus provides evidence for the crystallization temperature of the magma, and hence indirectly for the water content of that magma.

Pigeonite is found as phenocrysts in volcanic rocks on Earth and as crystals in meteorites from Mars and the Moon. In slowly cooled intrusive igneous rocks, pigeonite is rarely preserved. Slow cooling gives the calcium the necessary time to separate itself from the structure to form exsolution lamellae of calcic clinopyroxene, leaving no pigeonite present.[4] Textural evidence of its breakdown to orthopyroxene plus augite may be present, as shown in the accompanying microscopic image.

Pigeonite is named for its type locality on Lake Superior's shores at Pigeon Point, Minnesota, United States. It was first described in 1900.[3][5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://rruff.geo.arizona.edu/doclib/hom/pigeonite.pdf Handbook of Mineralogy
  2. ^ http://www.webmineral.com/data/Pigeonite.shtml Webmineral data
  3. ^ a b http://www.mindat.org/min-3210.html Mindat.org
  4. ^ Nesse, William (2012). Introduction to Mineralogy (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 300. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ Winchell, Alexander N. (1900). "Mineralogical and petrographic study of the gabbroid rocks of Minnesota, and more particularly, of the plagioclasytes". The American Geologist. 26 (4): 197–245.