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Class: Carbonates (Nitrates)

A common secondary mineral formed in the oxidation zone of copper deposits; locally may be an ore of copper (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).
Malachite — specimen 0603
Malachite — specimen 0603, photo © NMNHS

Original description: unknown [prehistoric].

Type locality: unknown [prehistoric].

Type material: unknown.

Etymology: named in antiquity after the Greek μαλαχή (malachi), mallows, in allusion to its green colour.

Distribution: Australia; Congo; France; Namibia; Russia: Ural Mountains; USA (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).



Essential elements: hydrogen (H), carbon (C), oxygen (O), copper (Cu).

Crystal data

Crystallography: monoclinic — prismatic. Crystal habit: crystals are acicular to prismatic, thick tabular, equant, with {100}, {010}, {001}, {110}, {201}, several other forms, rounded, in sprays and crude composite aggregates, to 9 cm; botryoidal. Twinning: on {100}, {201}, very common as contact or penetration twins, also polysynthetic (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).

Physical properties

Cleavage: perfect on {201}; fair on {010} (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Fracture: subconchoidal to uneven (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Tenacity: brittle (Arem, 1987: 127). Hardness: 3.5—4 (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Density: 3.6—4.05 g/cm3 (Arem, 1987: 127). Luminescence: none.

Optical properties

Colour: bright green, dark green, commonly banded in masses; green to yellowish green in transmitted light (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Diaphaneity: translucent to opaque (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Lustre: adamantine to vitreous; silky if fibrous; dull if massive (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Refractive index: 1.655—1.909 — anisotropic [biaxial (-)] (Arem, 1987: 127). Birefringence: 0.25—0.254. Dispersion: none. Pleochroism: none.

Material from ‘Repository’

3 specimens: 0625 — 4.05 ct, Madagascar; 0626 — 6.67 ct, Madagascar; 0603 — 3.80 ct, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Gallery view