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Aragonite Salsigne France.jpg
Aragonite from Salsignes Mine, Aude department, France Size: 30x30x20 cm
Category Carbonate mineral
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 05.AB.15
Crystal symmetry Orthorhombic (2/m 2/m 2/m) - dipyramidal
Unit cell a = 4.95 Å, b = 7.96 Å, c = 5.74 Å; Z = 4
Color White, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, grey, blue and brown
Crystal habit Pseudohexagonal, prismatic crystals, acicular, columnar, globular, reniform, pisolitic, coralloidal, stalactitic, internally banded
Crystal system Orthorhombic
Twinning Polysynthetic parallel to {100} cyclically on {110}
Cleavage Distinct on {010}, imperfect {110} and {011}
Fracture Subconchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness 3.5-4
Luster Vitreous, resinous on fracture surfaces
Streak White
Diaphaneity Translucent to transparent
Specific gravity 2.95
Optical properties Biaxial (-)
Refractive index nα = 1.529 - 1.530 nβ = 1.680 - 1.682 nγ = 1.685 - 1.686
Birefringence δ = 0.156
2V angle 18°
Solubility Dilute acid
Other characteristics Fluorescence: pale rose, yellow, white or bluish; phosphorescence: greenish or white (LW UV); yellowish (SW UV)
References [1][2][3]

Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3 (the other form being the mineral calcite). It is formed by biological and physical processes, including precipitation from marine and freshwater environments.

Aragonite's crystal lattice differs from that of calcite, resulting in a different crystal shape, an orthorhombic system with acicular crystals. Repeated twinning results in pseudo-hexagonal forms. Aragonite may be columnar or fibrous, occasionally in branching stalactitic forms called flos-ferri ("flowers of iron") from their association with the ores at the Carinthian iron mines.


The type location for aragonite is Molina de Aragón (Guadalajara, Spain), 25 km from Aragon for which it was named in 1797.[1] An aragonite cave, the Ochtinská Aragonite Cave, is situated in Slovakia. In the USA, aragonite in the form of stalactites and "cave flowers" (anthodite) is known from Carlsbad Caverns and other caves. Massive deposits of oolitic aragonite sand are found on the seabed in the Bahamas.

Aragonite forms naturally in almost all mollusk shells, and as the calcareous endoskeleton of warm- and cold-water corals (Scleractinia). Several serpulids have aragonitic tubes. Because the mineral deposition in mollusk shells is strongly biologically controlled, some crystal forms are distinctively different from those of inorganic aragonite. In some mollusks, the entire shell is aragonite; in others, aragonite forms only discrete parts of a bimineralic shell (aragonite plus calcite). Aragonite also forms in the ocean and in caves as inorganic precipitates called marine cements and speleothems, respectively. The nacreous layer of the aragonite fossil shells of some extinct ammonites forms an iridescent material called ammolite.

Aragonite is metastable and is thus commonly replaced by calcite in fossils. Aragonite older than the Carboniferous is essentially unknown.[4] It can also be synthesized by adding a calcium chloride solution to a sodium carbonate solution at temperatures above 70 °C or in water-ethanol mixtures at ambient temperatures.[5]

Physical properties[edit]

Aragonite is thermodynamically unstable at standard temperature and pressure, and tends to alter to calcite on scales of 107 to 108 years. The mineral vaterite, also known as μ-CaCO3, is another phase of calcium carbonate that is metastable at ambient conditions typical of Earth's surface, and decomposes even more readily than aragonite.


In aquaria, aragonite is considered essential for the replication of reef conditions in aquariums.[citation needed] It not only is the material that the sea life is evolved to use and live around, but also keeps the tank's pH close to its natural level.

Aragonite has been successfully tested for the removal pollutants like zinc, cobalt and lead from contaminated wastewaters.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Handbook of Mineralogy
  3. ^ Webmineral data
  4. ^ Runnegar, B. (1985). "Shell microstructures of Cambrian molluscs replicated by phosphate". Alcheringa: an Australasian Journal of Palaeontology 9 (4): 245–257. doi:10.1080/03115518508618971.  edit
  5. ^ Sand, K.K., Rodriguez-Blanco, J.D., Makovicky, E., Benning, L.G. and Stipp, S. (2012) Crystallization of CaCO3 in water-ethanol mixtures: spherulitic growth, polymorph stabilization and morphology change. Crystal Growth and Design, 12, 842-853. doi: 10.1021/cg2012342.
  6. ^ Köhler, S., Cubillas, P., Rodríguez-Blanco, J.D., Prieto, M. (2007) Removal of cadmium from wastewaters by aragonite shells and the influence of other divalent cations. Environmental Science and Technology, 41, 112-118. doi: 10.1021/es060756j

External links[edit]