Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/732

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716
QUARTZ


Quartz is a mineral which is put to many uses. Several of the varieties are cut into gems and ornaments, balance weights, pivot supports for delicate instruments, agate mortars, &c.; or used for engraving, for instance, cameos and the elaborately carved crystal vases of ancient and medieval times. Clear transparent rock-crystal is used for optical purposes and spectacle lenses. Fused quartz has recently been used for the construction of lenses and laboratory vessels, or it may be drawn out into the finest elastic fibres and used for suspending mirrors, &c., in physical apparatus. For striking fire, flint is used even to the present day. Buhrstone, a cellular variety of chalcedonic quartz from the Tertiary strata of the Paris basin, is largely used for millstones. Quartz is a valuable grinding and polishing material, and is used for making sandpaper and scouring-soap. It is also largely used in the manufacture of glass and porcelain, “silver sand” being a pure quartz sand.

Quartz crystallizes in the trapezohedral-hemihedral class of the rhombohedral division of the hexagonal system. Crystals of this class possess neither planes nor centre of symmetry, but only axes of symmetry: perpendicular to the principal triad axis there are three uni terminal dyad axes of symmetry. Usually, however, this lower degree of symmetry is not indicated by the faces developed on the crystals. The majority of crystals of quartz are bounded only by the faces of a hexagonal prism mfi} and a hexagonal bi pyramid (fig. I), though sometimes the prism is absent (fig. 2). Frequently the faces are of different sizes (fig. 3): mis-shapen crystals

are common and sometimes very puzzling, but they can always be orientated by the aid of the very characteristic striations. on the prism faces, which serve also to distinguish quartz from other minerals of similar appearance. These striations (fig. 3) are horizontal in direction, being parallel to the edges of intersection between the prism and pyramid faces, and are due to the frequent oscillatory combination of these faces. The apparent hexagonal bi pyramid is really a combination of two rhombohedra, the direct rhombohedron 7{IOO} and the inverse rhombohedron 2122T}. The faces of these two rhombohedra exhibit differences in surface characters, those of 1 being usually brighter in lustre than those of z; further, the former often predominate in size (figs. 4 and 5), and the latter may sometimes be completely absent. When both the prism and the rhombohedron z are absent, the crystals resemble cubes in appearance, since the angles between the faces of the rhombohedron are 85° 46'. The additional faces s and x (figs. 4 and 5), which indicate the true degree of symmetry of quartz, are of comparatively rare occurrence except on crystals from certain localities. The six small faces s{4I2} situated on alternate corners at each end of the crystal, are called the “ rhomb " faces, because of their shape; if extended they would give a trigonal bi pyramid. The “ trapezohedral, " or “ plagihedral, ” faces x{4i2} belong to a trigonal trapezohedron. The two crystals shown in figs. 4 and 5 are /A, ,

1 ' .c

~ 5

! .4 -°

vi§ f"' x i /5

Q Y?

Flo. 4. Fro 5.

enantiomorphous, Le. they are non-superposable, one being the mirror reflection of the other: they are left-handed and right-handed crystals respectively. The faces s are striated parallel to their edge of intersection with r; this serves to distinguish r and z, and thus, in the absence of x faces, to distinguish left- or right-handed crystals. Numerous other faces have been observed on crystals of quartz, but they are of rare occurrence. The basal plane, so common on calcite and many other rhombohedral minerals, is of the greatest rarity in quartz, and when present only appears as a small rough face formed by the corrosion of the crystal. Faces of prisms other than m are also small and of exceptional occurrence. Twinned crystals of quartz are extremely common, but are complex in character and can only be deciphered when the faces s and x are present, which is not often the case. Usually they are interpenetration twins with the principal axis as twin-axis; the prism planes of the two individuals coincide, and the faces r and 2 also fall into the same plane. Such twins may therefore be mistaken for simple crystals unless they are attentively studied; but the twinning is often made evident by the presence of irregularly bounded areas of the duller z faces coinciding with the brighter r faces. In a rarer type of twinning, in which the twin-plane is { 52T} (a plane truncating the edge between 1' and Z), the two individuals are united in juxtaposition with their principal axis nearly at right angles (84° 33/). A few magnificent specimens of rock-crystal twinned according to this law have been found at La Gardette in lsere, and in japan they are somewhat abundant.

The pyro-electric characters of quartz are closely connected with its peculiar type of symmetry and especially with the three uni terminal dyad axes. A crystal becomes positively and negatively electrified in alternate prism edges when its temperature changes. A similar distribution of electric charges is produced when a crystal is subjected to pressure; quartz being thus also piezo-electric. Etched figures, both natural and artificial (in the latter case produced by the action of hydrofluoric acid), on the faces of the crystals are in accordance with the symmetry, and may serve to distinguish left- and right handed crystals.

In its optical characters, quartz is also of interest, since it is one of the two minerals (cinnabar being the other) which are circularly polarizing. This phenomenon is connected with the symmetry of the crystals, and is also shown by the crystals of certain other substances in which there are neither planes nor centre of symmetry. A ray of plane-polarized light traversing a right-handed crystal of quartz in the direction of the triad axis has its plane of polarization rotated to the right, while a left-handed crystal rotates it to the left. A section I mm. thick, cut perpendicular to the principal axis of a quartz crystal, rotates the plane of yellow (D) light through 22°, and of blue (G) light through 43°. Such a section when examined in the polariscope shows an interference figure with a coloured centre, there being no black cross inside the innermost ring (this is not shown in very thin sections). Superimposed sections of right- and left-handed quartz, as may sometimes be present in sections of twinned crystals, exhibit Airy's spirals in the polariscope. The indices of refraction of quartz for yellow (D) light are w=I-5442 and e= I-5533; the optic sign is therefore positive. 5 Quartz has a hardness of 7 (being chosen as No. 7 on Mohs' scale), and it cannot be scratched with a knife; its specific gravity is 2-65. There is no distinct cleavage; though an imperfect cleavage may sometimes be developed parallel to the faces of the rhombohedron r by plunging a heated crystal into cold water. The glassy conchoidal fracture is a characteristic feature of the crystallized mineral. A peculiar rippled or “ thumb-marked " fracture is sometimes to be seen, especially in amethyst (q.v.), and is due to repeated inter growths of right- and left-handed material. The mineral is a non-conductor of electricity; it is unattached by acids with the exception of hydrofluoric acid, and is only slightly dissolved by solutions of caustic alkalis. It is in fusible before the gas blowpipe, but in the oxyhydrogen flame fuses to a clear colourless glass, which has a hardness of 5 and specific gravity 2'2. Many peculiarities of the growth of crystals are well illustrated by the mineral quartz. Thus in “ghost quartz, ” in which one crystal is seen inside another, the stages of growth are marked out by thin layers of enclosed material. In “capped quartz ” these layers are thicker, and the successive shells of the crystal may be easily separated. “ Sceptre quartz, ” in which a short thick crystal is mounted on the end of a long slender prism, indicates a change in the conditions of growth. Crystals with a helical twist are not uncommon. Enclosures of other minerals (rutile, chlorite, haematite, gothite, actinolite, asbestos and many others) are extremely requent in crystals of quartz. Cavities, either rounded or with the same shape (“ negative crystals ) as the surrounding crystal, are also common; they are often of minute size and present in vast numbers. Usually these cavities contain a liquid (water, a saline solution, carbon dioxide or petroleum) and a movable bubble of gas. The presence of these enclosed impurities impairs the transparency of crystals. Crystals of quartz are usually attached at one end to their rocky matrix, but sometimes, especially when embedded in a soft matrix of clay, gypsum or salt, they may be bounded on all sides by crystal faces (fig. I). In size they va between wide limits, from minute sparkling points encrusting rofii; surfaces and often so thickly clustered together as to produce a drusy effect, to large single crystals measuring a yard in length and diameter and weighing half a ton.