The mineral olivine ( /ˈɒlɪˌviːn/) is a magnesium iron silicate with the formula (Mg2+, Fe2+)2SiO4. Thus it is a type of nesosilicate or orthosilicate. The primary component of the earth's upper mantle,[8] it is a common mineral in Earth's subsurface but weathers quickly on the surface.

The ratio of magnesium to iron varies between the two endmembers of the solid solution series: forsterite (Mg-endmember: Mg2SiO4) and fayalite (Fe-endmember: Fe2SiO4). Compositions of olivine are commonly expressed as molar percentages of forsterite (Fo) and fayalite (Fa) (e.g., Fo70Fa30). Forsterite's melting temperature is unusually high at atmospheric pressure, almost 1,900 °C (3,450 °F), while fayalite's is much lower (about 1,200 °C [2,190 °F]). Melting temperature varies smoothly between the two endmembers, as do other properties. Olivine incorporates only minor amounts of elements other than oxygen, silicon, magnesium and iron. Manganese and nickel commonly are the additional elements present in highest concentrations.

Olivine in polarizing light
Olivine in polarizing light

Olivine gives its name to the group of minerals with a related structure (the olivine group)—which includes tephroite (Mn2SiO4), monticellite (CaMgSiO4) and kirschsteinite (CaFeSiO4).

Olivine's crystal structure incorporates aspects of the orthorhombic P Bravais lattice, which arise from each silica (SiO4) unit being joined by metal divalent cations with each oxygen in SiO4 bound to 3 metal ions. It has a spinel-like structure similar to magnetite but uses one quadrivalent and two divalent cations M22+ M4+O4 instead of two trivalent and one divalent cations.[9]

Olivine gemstones are called peridot and chrysolite.

Olivine rock is usually harder than surrounding rock and stands out as distinct ridges in the terrain. These ridges are often dry with little soil. Drought resistant scots pine is one of few trees that thrive on olivine rock. Olivine pine forest is unique to Norway. It is rare and found on dry olivine ridges in the fjord districts of Sunnmøre and Nordfjord. Olivine rock is hard and base-rich.

Olivine group
Olivine series
(repeating unit)
(Mg, Fe)2SiO4
Strunz classification9.AC.05
Crystal systemOrthorhombic
ColorYellow to yellow-green
Crystal habitMassive to granular
FractureConchoidal – brittle
Mohs scale hardness6.5–7
DiaphaneityTransparent to translucent
Specific gravity3.2–4.5[1][2][3][4]
Optical propertiesBiaxial (+)
Refractive indexnα = 1.630–1.650
nβ = 1.650–1.670
nγ = 1.670–1.690
Birefringenceδ = 0.040

Identification and paragenesis

Papakolea Beach sand high mag 052915
Olivine grains that eroded from lava on Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Peridot in basalt
Light green olivine crystals in peridotite xenoliths in basalt from Arizona
Lunar Olivine Basalt 15555 from Apollo 15 in National Museum of Natural History
Olivine basalt from the Moon, collected by the crew of Apollo 15

Olivine is named for its typically olive-green color (thought to be a result of traces of nickel), though it may alter to a reddish color from the oxidation of iron.

Translucent olivine is sometimes used as a gemstone called peridot (péridot, the French word for olivine). It is also called chrysolite (or chrysolithe, from the Greek words for gold and stone). Some of the finest gem-quality olivine has been obtained from a body of mantle rocks on Zabargad Island in the Red Sea.

Olivine occurs in both mafic and ultramafic igneous rocks and as a primary mineral in certain metamorphic rocks. Mg-rich olivine crystallizes from magma that is rich in magnesium and low in silica. That magma crystallizes to mafic rocks such as gabbro and basalt. Ultramafic rocks such as peridotite and dunite can be residues left after extraction of magmas, and typically they are more enriched in olivine after extraction of partial melts. Olivine and high pressure structural variants constitute over 50% of the Earth's upper mantle, and olivine is one of the Earth's most common minerals by volume. The metamorphism of impure dolomite or other sedimentary rocks with high magnesium and low silica content also produces Mg-rich olivine, or forsterite.

Fe-rich olivine is relatively much less common, but it occurs in igneous rocks in small amounts in rare granites and rhyolites, and extremely Fe-rich olivine can exist stably with quartz and tridymite. In contrast, Mg-rich olivine does not occur stably with silica minerals, as it would react with them to form orthopyroxene ((Mg,Fe)2Si2O6).

Mg-rich olivine is stable to pressures equivalent to a depth of about 410 km (250 mi) within Earth. Because it is thought to be the most abundant mineral in Earth's mantle at shallower depths, the properties of olivine have a dominant influence upon the rheology of that part of Earth and hence upon the solid flow that drives plate tectonics. Experiments have documented that olivine at high pressures (e.g. 12 GPa, the pressure at depths of about 360 km (220 mi)) can contain at least as much as about 8900 parts per million (weight) of water, and that such water content drastically reduces the resistance of olivine to solid flow. Moreover, because olivine is so abundant, more water may be dissolved in olivine of the mantle than is contained in Earth's oceans.[10]

First X-ray view of Martian soilfeldspar, pyroxenes, olivine revealed (Curiosity rover at "Rocknest", October 17, 2012).[11]

Extraterrestrial occurrences

Mg-rich olivine has also been discovered in meteorites,[12] on the Moon[13] and Mars,[14][15] falling into infant stars,[16] as well as on asteroid 25143 Itokawa.[17] Such meteorites include chondrites, collections of debris from the early Solar System; and pallasites, mixes of iron-nickel and olivine.

The spectral signature of olivine has been seen in the dust disks around young stars. The tails of comets (which formed from the dust disk around the young Sun) often have the spectral signature of olivine, and the presence of olivine was verified in samples of a comet from the Stardust spacecraft in 2006.[18] Comet-like (magnesium-rich) olivine has also been detected in the planetesimal belt around the star Beta Pictoris.[19]

Crystal structure

Atomic structure of olivine 1
Figure 1: The atomic scale structure of olivine looking along the a axis. Oxygen is shown in red, silicon in pink, and magnesium/iron in blue. A projection of the unit cell is shown by the black rectangle.

Minerals in the olivine group crystallize in the orthorhombic system (space group Pbnm) with isolated silicate tetrahedra, meaning that olivine is a nesosilicate. In an alternative view, the atomic structure can be described as a hexagonal, close-packed array of oxygen ions with half of the octahedral sites occupied with magnesium or iron ions and one-eighth of the tetrahedral sites occupied by silicon ions.

There are three distinct oxygen sites (marked O1, O2 and O3 in figure 1), two distinct metal sites (M1 and M2) and only one distinct silicon site. O1, O2, M2 and Si all lie on mirror planes, while M1 exists on an inversion center. O3 lies in a general position.

High pressure polymorphs

At the high temperatures and pressures found at depth within the Earth the olivine structure is no longer stable. Below depths of about 410 km (250 mi) olivine undergoes an exothermic phase transition to the sorosilicate, wadsleyite and, at about 520 km (320 mi) depth, wadsleyite transforms exothermically into ringwoodite, which has the spinel structure. At a depth of about 660 km (410 mi), ringwoodite decomposes into silicate perovskite ((Mg,Fe)SiO3) and ferropericlase ((Mg,Fe)O) in an endothermic reaction. These phase transitions lead to a discontinuous increase in the density of the Earth's mantle that can be observed by seismic methods. They are also thought to influence the dynamics of mantle convection in that the exothermic transitions reinforce flow across the phase boundary, whereas the endothermic reaction hampers it.[20]

The pressure at which these phase transitions occur depends on temperature and iron content.[21] At 800 °C (1,070 K; 1,470 °F), the pure magnesium end member, forsterite, transforms to wadsleyite at 11.8 gigapascals (116,000 atm) and to ringwoodite at pressures above 14 GPa (138,000 atm). Increasing the iron content decreases the pressure of the phase transition and narrows the wadsleyite stability field. At about 0.8 mole fraction fayalite, olivine transforms directly to ringwoodite over the pressure range 10.0 to 11.5 GPa (99,000–113,000 atm). Fayalite transforms to Fe
spinel at pressures below 5 GPa (49,000 atm). Increasing the temperature increases the pressure of these phase transitions.


Olivine altered to iddingsite within a mantle xenolith.

Olivine is one of the weaker common minerals on the surface according to the Goldich dissolution series. It alters into iddingsite (a combination of clay minerals, iron oxides and ferrihydrites) readily in the presence of water.[22] Artificially increasing the weathering rate of olivine, e.g. by dispersing fine-grained olivine on beaches, has been proposed as a cheap way to sequester CO2.[23][24] The presence of iddingsite on Mars would suggest that liquid water once existed there, and might enable scientists to determine when there was last liquid water on the planet.[25]



Norway is the main source of olivine in Europe, particularly in an area stretching from Åheim to Tafjord, and from Hornindal to Flemsøy in the Sunnmøre district. There is also olivine in Eid municipality. About 50% of the world's olivine for industrial use is produced in Norway. At Svarthammaren in Norddal olivine was mined from around 1920 to 1979, with a daily output up to 600 metric tons. Olivine was also obtained from the construction site of the hydro power stations in Tafjord. At Robbervika in Norddal municipality an open-pit mine has been in operation since 1984. The characteristic red color is reflected in several local names with "red" such as Raudbergvik (Red rock bay) or Raudnakken (Red ridge).[26][27][28][29]

Sunnylvsfjord MS-Midnatsol
Open-pit mining at Sunnylvsfjorden, Hurtigruten ship passing.

Hans Strøm in 1766 described the olivine's typical red color on the surface and the blue color within. Strøm wrote that in Norddal district large quantities of olivine were broken from the bedrock and used as sharpening stones.[30]

Kallskaret near Tafjord is a nature reserve with olivine.[31]


A worldwide search is on for cheap processes to sequester CO2 by mineral reactions, called enhanced weathering. Removal by reactions with olivine is an attractive option, because it is widely available and reacts easily with the (acid) CO2 from the atmosphere. When olivine is crushed, it weathers completely within a few years, depending on the grain size. All the CO2 that is produced by burning one liter of oil can be sequestered by less than one liter of olivine. The reaction is exothermic but slow. To recover the heat produced by the reaction to produce electricity, a large volume of olivine must be thermally well-isolated. The end-products of the reaction are silicon dioxide, magnesium carbonate, and small amounts of iron oxide.[32][33]

Olivine is used as a substitute for dolomite in steel works.[34] Olivine is also used to tap blast furnaces in the steel industry, acting as a plug, removed in each steel run.

The aluminium foundry industry uses olivine sand to cast objects in aluminium. Olivine sand requires less water than silica sands while still holding the mold together during handling and pouring of the metal. Less water means less gas (steam) to vent from the mold as metal is poured into the mold.[35]

In Finland, olivine is marketed as an ideal rock for sauna stoves because of its comparatively high density and resistance to weathering under repeated heating and cooling.

See also


  1. ^ Mick R. Smith (1999). Stone: Building Stone, Rock Fill and Armourstone in Construction. Geological Society of London. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-1-86239-029-4. Specific Gravity 3.5–4.5
  2. ^ Jessica Elzea Kogel (2006). Industrial Minerals & Rocks: Commodities, Markets, and Uses. SME. pp. 679–. ISBN 978-0-87335-233-8. The specific gravity is approximately 3.2 when pure rises with increasing iron content.
  3. ^ "Olivine". Science.smith.edu. Archived from the original on 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2013-11-14. G = 3.22 to 4.39. Specific gravity increases and hardness decreases with increasing Fe.
  4. ^ "University of Minnesota's Mineral Pages: Olivine". Geo.umn.edu. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2013-11-14. Specific Gravity: 3.2 (Mg-rich variety) to 4.3 (Iron-rich variety) (average weight)
  5. ^ Olivine Archived 2014-12-09 at the Wayback Machine. Webmineral.com Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
  6. ^ Olivine Archived 2008-02-02 at the Wayback Machine. Mindat.org Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
  7. ^ Klein, Cornelis; C. S. Hurlburt (1985). Manual of Mineralogy (21st ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-80580-9.
  8. ^ Garlick, Sarah (2014). Pocket Guide to the Rocks & Minerals of North America. National Geographic. p. 23. ISBN 9781426212826.
  9. ^ Ernst, W. G. Earth Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969. p. 65
  10. ^ Smyth, J. R.; Frost, D. J.; Nestola, F.; Holl, C. M.; Bromiley, G. (2006). "Olivine hydration in the deep upper mantle: Effects of temperature and silica activity" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 33 (15): L15301. Bibcode:2006GeoRL..3315301S. CiteSeerX doi:10.1029/2006GL026194. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-08-09.
  11. ^ Brown, Dwayne (October 30, 2012). "NASA Rover's First Soil Studies Help Fingerprint Martian Minerals". NASA. Archived from the original on March 11, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  12. ^ Fukang and other Pallasites Archived 2008-12-21 at the Wayback Machine. Farlang.com (2008-04-30). Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
  13. ^ Meyer, C. (2003). "Mare Basalt Volcanism" (PDF). NASA Lunar Petrographic Educational Thin Section Set. NASA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  14. ^ Pretty Green Mineral.... Archived 2007-05-04 at the Wayback MachineMission Update 2006... Archived 2010-06-05 at the Wayback Machine UMD Deep Impact Website, University of Maryland Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp. retrieved June 1, 2010
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  16. ^ Spitzer Sees Crystal Rain... Archived 2011-05-29 at the Wayback Machine NASA Website
  17. ^ Japan says Hayabusa brought back asteroid grains... Archived 2010-11-18 at the Wayback Machine retrieved November 18, 2010
  18. ^ Press Release 06-091 Archived 2006-08-28 at the Wayback Machine. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Stardust website, retrieved May 30, 2006.
  19. ^ De Vries, B. L.; Acke, B.; Blommaert, J. A. D. L.; Waelkens, C.; Waters, L. B. F. M.; Vandenbussche, B.; Min, M.; Olofsson, G.; Dominik, C.; Decin, L.; Barlow, M. J.; Brandeker, A.; Di Francesco, J.; Glauser, A. M.; Greaves, J.; Harvey, P. M.; Holland, W. S.; Ivison, R. J.; Liseau, R.; Pantin, E. E.; Pilbratt, G. L.; Royer, P.; Sibthorpe, B. (2012). "Comet-like mineralogy of olivine crystals in an extrasolar proto-Kuiper belt" (PDF). Nature. 490 (7418): 74–76. arXiv:1211.2626. Bibcode:2012Natur.490...74D. doi:10.1038/nature11469. PMID 23038467.
  20. ^ Christensen, U.R. (1995). "Effects of phase transitions on mantle convection". Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 23: 65–87. Bibcode:1995AREPS..23...65C. doi:10.1146/annurev.ea.23.050195.000433.
  21. ^ Deer, W. A.; R. A. Howie; J. Zussman (1992). An Introduction to the Rock-Forming Minerals (2nd ed.). London: Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-30094-1.
  22. ^ Kuebler, K.; Wang, A.; Haskin, L. A.; Jolliff, B. L. (2003). "A Study of Olivine Alteration to Iddingsite Using Raman Spectroscopy" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science. 34: 1953. Bibcode:2003LPI....34.1953K. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-10-25.
  23. ^ Goldberg, Philip; Chen Zhong-Yin; Connor, William'O; Walters, Richards; Ziock, Hans (2001). "CO2 Mineral Sequestration Studies in US" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-19.
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External links

Alkali basalt

Alkali basalt or alkali olivine basalt is a porphyritic, dark-coloured, volcanic rock characterized by phenocrysts of olivine, titanium-rich augite, plagioclase feldspar and iron oxides. For similar SiO2 concentrations, alkali basalts have a higher content of the alkalis, Na2O and K2O, than other basalt types such as tholeiites. They are also characterized by the development of modal nepheline in their groundmass (visible at highest magnification on a petrographic microscope) and normative nepheline in their CIPW norms.Alkali basalts are typically found on updomed and rifted continental crust, and on oceanic islands such as Hawaii, Madeira and Ascension Island.


Brachinites are a group of meteorites that are classified either as primitive achondrites or as asteroidal achondrites. Like all primitive achondrites, they have similarities with chondrites and achondrites. Brachinites contain 74 to 98% (Volume) olivine.


A Chondrule (from Ancient Greek χόνδρος chondros, grain) is a round grain found in a chondrite. Chondrules form as molten or partially molten droplets in space before being accreted to their parent asteroids. Because chondrites represent one of the oldest solid materials within the Solar System and are believed to be the building blocks of the planetary system, it follows that an understanding of the formation of chondrules is important to understand the initial development of the planetary system.

Columbia Hills (Mars)

The Columbia Hills are a range of low hills inside Gusev crater on Mars. They were observed by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit when it landed within the crater in 2004. They were promptly given an unofficial name by NASA since they were the most striking nearby feature on the surface. The hills lie approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) away from the rover's original landing position. The range is named to memorialize the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. On February 2, 2004, the individual peaks of the Columbia Hills were named after the seven astronauts who died in the disaster. Spirit spent a few years exploring the Columbia Hills until it ceased to function in 2010. It was also considered a potential landing site for the Mars 2020 rover, before the selection of Jezero crater in November 2018.


Dunite ( or ) (also known as olivinite, not to be confused with the mineral olivenite) is an igneous, plutonic rock, of ultramafic composition, with coarse-grained or phaneritic texture. The mineral assemblage is greater than 90% olivine, with minor amounts of other minerals such as pyroxene, chromite, magnetite, and pyrope. Dunite is the olivine-rich end-member of the peridotite group of mantle-derived rocks. Dunite and other peridotite rocks are considered the major constituents of the Earth's mantle above a depth of about 400 kilometers. Dunite is rarely found within continental rocks, but where it is found, it typically occurs at the base of ophiolite sequences where slabs of mantle rock from a subduction zone have been thrust onto continental crust by obduction during continental or island arc collisions (orogeny). It is also found in alpine peridotite massifs that represent slivers of sub-continental mantle exposed during collisional orogeny. Dunite typically undergoes retrograde metamorphism in near-surface environments and is altered to serpentinite and soapstone.

The type of dunite found in the lowermost parts of ophiolites, alpine peridotite massifs, and xenoliths may represent the refractory residue left after the extraction of basaltic magmas in the upper mantle. However, a more likely method of dunite formation in mantle sections is by interaction between lherzolite or harzburgite and percolating silicate melts, which dissolve orthopyroxene from the surrounding rock, leaving a progressively olivine-enriched residue. Dunite may also form by the accumulation of olivine crystals on the floor of large basaltic or picritic magma chambers. These "cumulate" dunites typically occur in thick layers in layered intrusions, associated with cumulate layers of wehrlite, olivine pyroxenite, harzburgite, and even chromitite (a cumulate rock consisting largely of chromite). Small layered intrusions may be of any geologic age, for example, the Triassic Palisades Sill in New York and the larger Eocene Skaergaard complex in Greenland. The largest layered mafic intrusions are tens of kilometers in size and almost all are Proterozoic in age, e.g., the Stillwater igneous complex (Montana), the Muskox intrusion (Canada), and the Great Dyke (Zimbabwe). Cumulate dunite may also be found in ophiolite complexes, associated with layers of wehrlite, pyroxenite, and gabbro.

Dunite was named by the German geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter in 1859, after Dun Mountain near Nelson, New Zealand. Dun Mountain was given its name because of the dun colour of the underlying ultramafic rocks. This color results from surface weathering that oxidizes the iron in olivine in temperate climates (weathering in tropical climates creates a deep red soil). The Dunite from Dun Mountain is part of the ultramfic section of the Dun Mountain Ophiolite Belt.

A massive exposure of dunite in the United States can be found as Twin Sisters Mountain, near Mount Baker in the northern Cascade Range of Washington. In Europe it occurs in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus. In southern British Columbia, Canada dunite rocks form the core of an ultramafic rock complex located near the small community of Tulameen. The rocks are locally enriched in platinum group metals, chromite and magnetite.


Fayalite (Fe2SiO4; commonly abbreviated to Fa), also called iron chrysolite, is the iron-rich end-member of the olivine solid-solution series. In common with all minerals in the olivine group, fayalite crystallizes in the orthorhombic system (space group Pbnm) with cell parameters a 4.82 Å, b 10.48 Å and c 6.09 Å.

Fayalite forms solid solution series with the magnesium olivine endmember forsterite (Mg2SiO4) and also with the manganese rich olivine endmember tephroite (Mn2SiO4).

Iron rich olivine is a relatively common constituent of acidic and alkaline igneous rocks such as volcanic obsidians, rhyolites, trachytes and phonolites and plutonic quartz syenites where it is associated with amphiboles. Its main occurrence is in ultramafic volcanic and plutonic rocks and less commonly in felsic plutonic rocks and rarely in granite pegmatite. It also occurs in lithophysae in obsidian. It also occurs in medium-grade thermally metamorphosed iron-rich sediments and in impure carbonate rocks.Fayalite is stable with quartz at low pressures, whereas more magnesian olivine is not, because of the reaction olivine + quartz = orthopyroxene. Iron stabilizes the olivine + quartz pair. The pressure and compositional dependence of the reaction can be used to calculate constraints on pressures at which assemblages of olivine + quartz formed.

Fayalite can also react with oxygen to produce magnetite + quartz: the three minerals together make up the "FMQ" oxygen buffer. The reaction is used to control the fugacity of oxygen in laboratory experiments. It can also be used to calculate the fugacity of oxygen recorded by mineral assemblages in metamorphic and igneous processes.

At high pressure, fayalite undergoes a phase transition to ahrensite, the iron-bearing analogue of ringwoodite, i.e., contrary to forsterite there is no intermediate form analogous to wadsleyite; under the conditions prevailing in the upper mantle of the Earth, the transition would occur at ca. 6–7 GPa, i.e., at substantially lower pressure than the phase transitions of forsterite. In high-pressure experiments, the transformation may be delayed, so that it may remain stable to pressures of almost 35 GPa (see fig.), at which point it may become amorphous rather than take on a crystalline structure such as ahrensite.

The name fayalite is derived from Faial (Fayal) Island in the Azores where it was first described in 1840.


Forsterite (Mg2SiO4; commonly abbreviated as Fo; also known as white olivine) is the magnesium-rich end-member of the olivine solid solution series. It is isomorphous with the iron-rich end-member, fayalite. Forsterite crystallizes in the orthorhombic system (space group Pbnm) with cell parameters a 4.75 Å (0.475 nm), b 10.20 Å (1.020 nm) and c 5.98 Å (0.598 nm).Forsterite is associated with igneous and metamorphic rocks and has also been found in meteorites. In 2005 it was also found in cometary dust returned by the Stardust probe. In 2011 it was observed as tiny crystals in the dusty clouds of gas around a forming star.Two polymorphs of forsterite are known: wadsleyite (also orthorhombic) and ringwoodite (isometric). Both are mainly known from meteorites.

Peridot is the gemstone variety of forsterite olivine.


Hawaiite is an olivine basalt with a composition between alkali basalt and mugearite. It was first used as a name for some lavas found on the island of Hawaii.

In gemology, hawaiite is a colloquial term for Hawaii-originated peridot, which is a gem-quality olivine mineral. It occurs during the later stages of volcanic eruptions which happens to be when the alkaline metals are most present.


Kimberlite is an igneous rock, which sometimes contains diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an 83.5-carat (16.70 g) diamond called the Star of South Africa in 1869 spawned a diamond rush and the digging of the open-pit mine called the Big Hole. Previously, the term kimberlite has been applied to olivine lamproites as Kimberlite II, however this has been in error.Kimberlite occurs in the Earth's crust in vertical structures known as kimberlite pipes, as well as igneous dykes. Kimberlite also occurs as horizontal sills. Kimberlite pipes are the most important source of mined diamonds today. The consensus on kimberlites is that they are formed deep within the mantle. Formation occurs at depths between 150 and 450 kilometres (93 and 280 mi), potentially from anomalously enriched exotic mantle compositions, and they are erupted rapidly and violently, often with considerable carbon dioxide and other volatile components. It is this depth of melting and generation that makes kimberlites prone to hosting diamond xenocrysts.

Despite its relative rarity, kimberlite has attracted attention because it serves as a carrier of diamonds and garnet peridotite mantle xenoliths to the Earth's surface. Its probable derivation from depths greater than any other igneous rock type, and the extreme magma composition that it reflects in terms of low silica content and high levels of incompatible trace-element enrichment, make an understanding of kimberlite petrogenesis important. In this regard, the study of kimberlite has the potential to provide information about the composition of the deep mantle and melting processes occurring at or near the interface between the cratonic continental lithosphere and the underlying convecting asthenospheric mantle.


Komatiite ( ) is a type of ultramafic mantle-derived volcanic rock defined as having crystallised from a lava with ≥ 18 wt% MgO. Komatiites have low silicon, potassium and aluminium, and high to extremely high magnesium content. Komatiite was named for its type locality along the Komati River in South Africa, and frequently displays spinifex texture composed of large dendritic plates of olivine and pyroxene.

Komatiites are rare and predominantly found in rocks of Archaean age, with few Proterozoic or Phanerozoic komatiites known. This restriction in age is thought to be due to cooling of the mantle, which may have been 100 – 250°C hotter during the Archaean (4.0 to 2.5 billion years ago). The early Earth had much higher heat production, due to the residual heat from planetary accretion, as well as the greater abundance of radioactive elements. Lower temperature mantle melts such as basalt and picrite have essentially replaced komatiites as an eruptive lava on the Earth's surface.

Geographically, komatiites are predominantly restricted in distribution to the Archaean shield areas, and occur with other ultramafic and high-magnesian mafic volcanic rocks in Archaean greenstone belts. The youngest komatiites are from the island of Gorgona on the Caribbean oceanic plateau off the Pacific coast of Colombia, and a rare example of Proterozoic komatiite is found in the Winnipegosis komatiite belt, Manitoba, Canada.


Lodranites are a small group of primitive achondrite meteorites that consists of meteoric iron and silicate minerals. Olivine and pyroxene make up most of the silicate minerals. Like all primitive achondrites lodranites share similarities with chondrites and achondrites.

Mars trojan

The Mars trojans are a group of Trojan objects that share the orbit of the planet Mars around the Sun. They can be found around the two Lagrangian points 60° ahead of and behind Mars. The origin of the Mars trojans is not well understood. One theory suggests that they were primordial objects leftover from the formation of Mars that were captured in its Lagrangian points as the Solar System was forming. However, spectral studies of the Mars trojans indicate this may not be the case. Another explanation involves asteroids chaotically wandering into the Mars Lagrangian points later in the Solar System's formation. This is also questionable considering the short dynamical lifetimes of these objects. The spectra of Eureka and two other Mars trojans indicates an olivine-rich composition. Since olivine-rich objects are rare in the asteroid belt it has been suggested that some of the Mars trojans are captured debris from a large orbit-altering impact on Mars when it encountered a planetary embryo.Presently, this group contains seven asteroids confirmed to be stable Mars trojans by long-term numerical simulations but only four of them are accepted by the Minor Planet Center (†) and there is one candidate:Due to close orbital similarities, most of the smaller members of the L5 group are hypothesized to be fragments of Eureka that were detached after it was spun up by the YORP effect (Eureka's rotational period is 2.69 h). The L4 trojan 1999 UJ7 has a much longer rotational period of ~50 h, apparently due to a chaotic rotation that prevents YORP spinup.L4 (leading):

(121514) 1999 UJ7 †L5 (trailing):

5261 Eureka †

(101429) 1998 VF31 †

(311999) 2007 NS2 †

(385250) 2001 DH47

2011 SC191

2011 UN63Candidates

2011 SL25


Nephelinite is a fine-grained or aphanitic igneous rock made up almost entirely of nepheline and clinopyroxene (variety augite). If olivine is present, the rock may be classified as an olivine nephelinite. Nephelinite is dark in color and may resemble basalt in hand specimen. However, basalt consists mostly of clinopyroxene (augite) and calcic plagioclase.

Basalt, alkali basalt, basanite, tephritic nephelinite, and nephelinite differ partly in the relative proportions of plagioclase and nepheline. Alkali basalt may contain minor nepheline and does contain nepheline in its CIPW normative mineralogy. A critical ratio in the classification of these rocks is the ratio nepheline/(nepheline plus plagioclase). Basanite has a value of this ratio between 0.1 and 0.6 and also contains more than 10% olivine. Tephritic nephelinite has a value between 0.6 and 0.9. Nephelinite has a value greater than 0.9. Le Maitre (2002) defines and discusses these and other criteria in the classification of igneous rocks.

Nephelinite is an example of a silica-undersaturated igneous rock. The degree of silica saturation can be evaluated with normative mineralogy calculated from chemical analyses, or with actual mineralogy for completely crystallized igneous rocks with equilibrated assemblages. Silica-oversaturated rocks contain quartz (or another silica polymorph). Silica-undersaturated mafic igneous rocks contain magnesian olivine but not magnesian orthopyroxene, and/or a feldspathoid. Silica-saturated igneous rocks fall in between these two classes.

Silica-undersaturated, mafic igneous rocks are much less abundant than silica-saturated and oversaturated basalts. Genesis of the less common mafic rocks such as nephelinite is usually ascribed to more than one of the following three causes:

relatively high pressure of melting;

relatively low degree of fractional melting in a mantle source;

relatively high dissolved carbon dioxide in the melt.Nephelinites and similar rocks typically contain relatively high concentrations of elements such as the light rare earths, as consistent with a low degree of melting of mantle peridotite at depths sufficient to stabilize garnet. Nephelinites are also associated with carbonatite in some occurrences, consistent with source rocks relatively rich in carbon dioxide.

Nephelinite is found on ocean islands such as Oahu, although the rock type is very rare in the Hawaiian islands. It is found in a variety of continental settings. An example is the Hamada nephelinite lava flow in southwest Japan which occurred in the late Miocene age. Nephelinite is also associated with the highly alkalic volcanism of the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcanic field in Tanzania. Nyiragongo, another African volcano known for its semipermanent lava lake activity, erupts lava made of melilite nephelinite. The unusual chemical makeup of this igneous rock may be a factor in the unusual fluidity of its lavas.

Olivine nephelinite flows also occur in the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field in east-central British Columbia and at Volcano Mountain in central Yukon Territory. Melilite olivine nephelinite intrusives of Cretaceous age are found in the area around Uvalde, Texas.

Olive (color)

Olive is a dark yellowish-green color, like that of unripe or green olives.

As a color word in the English language, it appears in late Middle English. Shaded toward gray, it becomes olive drab.


Orthopyroxenite is an ultramafic and ultrabasic rock that is almost exclusively made from the mineral orthopyroxene, the orthorhombic version of pyroxene and a type of pyroxenite. It can have up to a few percent of olivine and clinopyroxene.

Orthopyroxenites can also occur on other planets. ALH 84001 is a Martian meteorite that can be classified as an orthopyroxenite. It is the only meteorite found with that composition and the only member of the Martian orthopyroxenite group of meteorites.


Peridot ( or ) (sometimes called chrysolite) is gem-quality olivine and a silicate mineral with the formula of (Mg, Fe)2SiO4. As peridot is a magnesium-rich variety of olivine (forsterite), the formula approaches Mg2SiO4.


Peridotite is a dense, coarse-grained igneous rock consisting mostly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. Peridotite is ultramafic, as the rock contains less than 45% silica. It is high in magnesium (Mg2+), reflecting the high proportions of magnesium-rich olivine, with appreciable iron. Peridotite is derived from the Earth's mantle, either as solid blocks and fragments, or as crystals accumulated from magmas that formed in the mantle. The compositions of peridotites from these layered igneous complexes vary widely, reflecting the relative proportions of pyroxenes, chromite, plagioclase, and amphibole.

Peridotite is the dominant rock of the upper part of the Earth's mantle. The compositions of peridotite nodules found in certain basalts and diamond pipes (kimberlites) are of special interest, because they provide samples of the Earth's mantle brought up from depths ranging from about 30 km to 200 km or more. Some of the nodules preserve isotope ratios of osmium and other elements that record processes that occurred when the earth was formed, and so they are of special interest to paleogeologists because they provide clues to the early composition of the Earth's mantle and the complexities of the processes that occurred.

The word peridotite comes from the gemstone peridot, which consists of pale green olivine. Classic peridotite is bright green with some specks of black, although most hand samples tend to be darker green. Peridotitic outcrops typically range from earthy bright yellow to dark green in color; this is because olivine is easily weathered to iddingsite. While green and yellow are the most common colors, peridotitic rocks may exhibit a wide range of colors such as blue, brown, and red.

Picrite basalt

Picrite basalt, picrobasalt is a variety of high-magnesium olivine basalt that is very rich in the mineral olivine. It is dark with yellow-green olivine phenocrysts (20 to 50%) and black to dark brown pyroxene, mostly augite.

The olivine-rich picrite basalts that occur with the more common tholeiitic basalts of Kīlauea and other volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands are the result of accumulation of olivine crystals either in a portion of the magma chamber or in a caldera lava lake.[1] The compositions of these rocks are well represented by mixes of olivine and more typical tholeiitic basalt.

The name “picrite” can also be applied to an olivine-rich alkali basalt: such picrite consists largely of phenocrysts of olivine and titanium-rich augite pyroxene with minor plagioclase set in a groundmass of augite and more sodic plagioclase and perhaps analcite and biotite.

Picrites and komatiites are somewhat similar chemically, but differ in that komatiite lavas are products of more magnesium-rich melts, and good examples exhibit the spinifex texture.[2] In contrast, picrites are magnesium-rich because crystals of olivine have accumulated in more normal melts by magmatic processes. Komatiites are largely restricted to the Archean.

When the term oceanite was apparently first proposed by Antoine Lacroix, he used the term to apply only to basalts with more than 50% olivine content (an extremely rare occurrence). Picrite basalt is found in the lavas of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaiʻi[3], Curaçao, in the Piton de la Fournaise[4] volcano on Réunion Island and various other oceanic island volcanoes.

Picrite basalt has been erupted in historical times from Mauna Loa during the eruptions of 1852 and 1868 (from different flanks of Mauna Loa)[5].

Picrite basalt with 30% olivine commonly erupts from the Piton de la Fournaise. [6]


The pyroxenes (commonly abbreviated to Px) are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. Pyroxenes have the general formula XY(Si,Al)2O6, where X represents calcium, sodium, iron (II) or magnesium and more rarely zinc, manganese or lithium, and Y represents ions of smaller size, such as chromium, aluminium, iron (III), magnesium, cobalt, manganese, scandium, titanium, vanadium or even iron (II). Although aluminium substitutes extensively for silicon in silicates such as feldspars and amphiboles, the substitution occurs only to a limited extent in most pyroxenes. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra. Pyroxenes that crystallize in the monoclinic system are known as clinopyroxenes and those that crystallize in the orthorhombic system are known as orthopyroxenes.

The name pyroxene is derived from the Ancient Greek words for fire (πυρ) and stranger (ξένος). Pyroxenes were so named because of their presence in volcanic lavas, where they are sometimes seen as crystals embedded in volcanic glass; it was assumed they were impurities in the glass, hence the name "fire strangers". However, they are simply early-forming minerals that crystallized before the lava erupted.

The upper mantle of Earth is composed mainly of olivine and pyroxene. Pyroxene and feldspar are the major minerals in basalt and gabbro.

Common minerals


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