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Class: Silicates
Group: Titanite

Also known as sphene; a common accessory mineral in intermediate and felsic rocks, pegmatites, and alpine veins; in gneisses, schists, and some skarns (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).
Titanite — specimen 0452
Titanite — specimen 0452, photo © NMNHS

Original description: ‘Titanit’ Klaproth, M. H., 1795. Untersuchung eines neuen Fossils aus dem Passauischen — Beiträge zur Chemischen Kenntniss der Mineralkörper 1: 245—252 [view in ‘Library’].

Type locality: titanite occurrence, Hauzenberg, Bavaria, Germany.

Type material: unknown.

Etymology: for the titanium in its composition.

Distribution: Austria: Tirol, Zillertal; Brazil: Minas Gerais; Canada; Madagascar; Mexico; Norway: near Arendal; Russia: Urals; Switzerland: St. Gotthard, Ticino; Zermatt, Valais (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).



Essential elements: oxygen (O), silicon (Si), calcium (Ca), titanium (Ti).

Crystal data

Crystallography: monoclinic — prismatic. Crystal habit: crystals wedge-shaped, flattened or prismatic by extension along [110], to 16 cm; compact, massive. Twinning: on {100}, contact and penetration; less commonly lamellar on {221} (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).

Physical properties

Cleavage: good on {110}; parting due to twinning on {221} (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Fracture: conchoidal. Tenacity: brittle (Arem, 1987: 176). Hardness: 5—5.5 (Arem, 1987: 176). Density: 3.52—3.54 g/cm3 (Lazzarelli, 2012). Luminescence: none (Arem, 1987: 176). Radioactivity: GRapi 3805.77.

Optical properties

Colour: black, brown, grey, colourless, green, yellow, red; colourless to yellow or brown in thin section (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Diaphaneity: transparent to opaque (Anthony et al., 2001—2005). Lustre: adamantine to resinous (Arem, 1987: 176). Refractive index: 1.843—2.110 — anisotropic [biaxial (+)] (Lazzarelli, 2012). Birefringence: 0.1—0.192. Dispersion: 0.051 (strong) (Arem, 1987: 176). Pleochroism: distinct when deeply coloured; X = nearly colourless; Y = yellow to green; Z = red to yellow-orange (Anthony et al., 2001—2005).

Material from ‘Repository’

4 specimens: 0016 — 0.66 ct, Madagascar; 0452 — 0.31 ct, Madagascar; 0313 — 0.62 ct, Madagascar; 0457 — 0.28 ct, Madagascar.

Gallery view