Samarskite-(Y) crystal cluster, Yancey County, North Carolina (size: 3.3 x 2.8 x 1.7 cm)
|Crystal symmetry||Orthorhombic dipyramidal (2/m 2/m 2/m)|
|Unit cell||a = 5.687 Å, b = 4.925 Å, c = 5.21 Å; Z = 2|
|Color||Black, may have a brownish tint, brown to yellowish brown due to alteration; light to dark brown in transmitted light|
|Crystal habit||Crystals elongated with pyramidal terminations; commonly granular to massive|
|Mohs scale hardness||5 - 6|
|Luster||Vitreous - resinous|
|Diaphaneity||Opaque, transparent in thin fragments|
|Density||5.6 - 5.8, Average = 5.69|
|Optical properties||Appears isotropic|
|Refractive index||n = 2.1–2.2|
|Other characteristics||Radioactive (Greater than 70 Bq / gram)|
Samarskite is a radioactive rare earth mineral series which includes samarskite-(Y) with formula: (YFe3+Fe2+U,Th,Ca)2(Nb,Ta)2O8 and samarskite-(Yb) with formula (YbFe3+)2(Nb,Ta)2O8 The formula for smarskite-(Y) is also given as: (Y,Fe3+,U)(Nb,Ta)O4
Samarskite crystallizes in the orthorhombic - dipyramidal class as black to yellowish brown stubby prisms although it is typically found as anhedral masses. Specimens with a high uranium content are typically metamict and appear coated with a yellow brown earthy rind.
Samarskite occurs in rare earth bearing granite pegmatites with other rare minerals. It occurs in association with columbite, zircon, monazite, uraninite, aeschynite, magnetite, albite, topaz, beryl, garnet, muscovite and biotite.
Samarskite was first described in 1847 for an occurrence in Miass, Ilmen Mountains, Southern Ural Mountains of Russia. The chemical element samarium was first isolated from a specimen of samarskite in 1879. Samarium was named after samarskite which was named for the Russian mine official, Colonel Vasili Samarsky-Bykhovets (1803–1870).
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