Vaterite from San Vito quarry, San Vito, Monte Somma, Somma-Vesuvius Complex, Italy
Category Carbonate minerals
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 5.AB.20
Crystal system Hexagonal
Crystal class Dihexagonal dipyramidal (6mmm)
H-M symbol: (6/m 2/m 2/m)
Space group P63/mmc {P63/m 2/m 2/c}
Unit cell a = 4.13, c = 8.49 [Å]; Z = 6
Color Colorless
Crystal habit Fine fibrous crystals, typically less than 0.1 mm, in spherulitic aggregates.
Fracture Irregular to uneven, splintery
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness 3
Luster Sub-vitreous, waxy
Diaphaneity Transparent to semi-transparent
Specific gravity 2.54
Optical properties Uniaxial (+)
Refractive index nω = 1.550 nε = 1.650
Birefringence δ = 0.100
References [1][2][3]

Vaterite (CaCO3) is a mineral, a polymorph of calcium carbonate. It was named after the German mineralogist Heinrich Vater. It is also known as mu-calcium carbonate (μ-CaCO3) and has a JCPDS number of 13-192. Vaterite, like aragonite, is a metastable phase of calcium carbonate at ambient conditions at the surface of the earth. As it is less stable than either calcite or aragonite, vaterite has a higher solubility than either of these phases. Therefore, once vaterite is exposed to water, it converts to calcite (at low temperature) or aragonite (at high temperature: ~60 °C). However, vaterite does occur naturally in mineral springs, organic tissue, gallstones, and urinary calculi. In those circumstances, some impurities (metal ions or organic matter) may stabilize the vaterite and prevent its transformation into calcite or aragonite. Vaterite is usually colorless, its shape is spherical, and its diameter is small, ranging from 0.05 to 5 μm.

Vaterite can be produced as the first mineral deposits repairing natural or experimentally-induced shell damage in some aragonite-shelled mollusks (e.g. gastropods). Subsequent shell deposition occurs as aragonite.

Vaterites of the locality San Vito (Monte Somma, Italy) are microcrystalline with largest crystals below 2 mm size. This vaterite is epitactic after aragonite. The crystal contains triplet of aragonite inside of it. On the its termination twin seams of aragonite triplet are well visible.

Vaterite belongs to the hexagonal crystal system, whereas calcite is trigonal and aragonite is orthorhombic.

See also


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