1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lepidolite

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LEPIDOLITE, or Lithia-Mica, a mineral of the mica group (see Mica). It is a basic aluminium, potassium and lithium fluo-silicate, with the approximate formula KLi [Al(OH, F)2] Al(SiO3)3. Lithia and fluorine are each present to the extent of about 5%; rubidium and caesium are sometimes present in small amounts. Distinctly developed monoclinic crystals or cleavage sheets of large size are of rare occurrence, the mineral being usually found as scaly aggregates, and on this account was named lepidolite (from Gr. λεπίς, scale) by M. H. Klaproth in 1792. It is usually of a lilac or peach-blossom colour, but is sometimes greyish-white, and has a pearly lustre on the cleavage surfaces. The hardness is 21/2-4 and the sp. gr. 2.8–2.9, the optic axial angle measures 50°–70°. It is found in pegmatite-veins, often in association with pink tourmaline (rubellite) and sometimes intergrown in parallel position with muscovite. Scaly masses of considerable extent are found at Rozena near Bystrzitz in Moravia and at Pala in San Diego county, California. The material from Rozena has been known since 1791, and has sometimes been cut and polished for ornamental purposes: it has a pretty colour and spangled appearance and takes a good polish, but is rather soft. At Pala it has been extensively mined for the preparation of lithium and rubidium salts. Other localities for the mineral are the island of Utö in Sweden, and Auburn and Paris in Maine, U.S.A.; at Alabashka near Mursinka in the Urals large isolated crystals have been found, and from Central Australia transparent cleavage sheets of a fine lilac colour are known.

The lithium-iron mica zinnwaldite or lithionite is closely allied to lepidolite, differing from it in containing some ferrous iron in addition to the constituents mentioned above. It occurs as greyish silvery scales with hexagonal outlines in the tin-bearing granites of Zinnwald in the Erzgebirge, Bohemia and of Cornwall.  (L. J. S.)