Fracture (mineralogy)


Fracture (mineralogy)

In the field of mineralogy, fracture is a term used to describe the shape and texture of the surface formed when a mineral is fractured. Minerals often have a highly distinctive fracture, making it a principal feature used in their identification.

Fracture differs from cleavage in that the latter involves clean splitting along the cleavage planes of the mineral's crystal structure, as opposed to more general breakage. All minerals exhibit fracture, but when very strong cleavage is present, it can be difficult to see.

Contents

Terminology

Conchoidal fracture

Conchoidal fracture is a curved breakage that resembles the concentric ripples of a mussel shell. It often occurs in amorphous or fine-grained minerals such as flint, opal or obsidian, but may also occur in crystalline minerals such as quartz. Subconchoidal fracture is similar to conchoidal fracture, but not as curved.

Earthy fracture

Earthy fracture is reminiscent of freshly broken soil. It is frequently seen in relatively soft, loosely bound minerals, such as limonite, kaolinite and aluminite.

Hackly fracture

Hackly fracture (also known as jagged fracture) is jagged, sharp and uneven. It occurs when metals are torn, and so is often encountered in native metals such as copper and silver.

Splintery fracture

Splintery fracture comprises sharp elongated points. It is particularly seen in fibrous minerals such as chrysotile, but may also occur in non-fibrous minerals such as kyanite.

Uneven fracture

Uneven fracture is self descriptive. It occurs in a wide range of minerals including arsenopyrite, pyrite and magnetite.

References


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