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(calcareous spar), a mineral with chemical composition CaCO3, containing 56 percent CaO and 44 percent CO2 and frequently Mg, Fe, Mn (up to 8 percent) as well as Zn, Co, Sr, and Ba. Calcite crystallizes in the trigonal system. It exists in the form of crystals with various habits—rhombohedral, scalenohedral, prismatic, or tabular—as well as in the form of stalactites and solid, granular, and earthy masses (chalk). The Ca and C atoms in the calcite structure are arranged at the lattice points of the rhombohedral lattices as though pushed into one another. The O atoms are in groups of three around each C atom and lie in the same plane. Calcite is brittle and exhibits perfect cleavage on the rhombohedron . Twins are a characteristic feature. Calcite crystals exhibit a high birefringence, and many are strongly fluorescent. Calcite’s hardness on the mineralogical scale is 3 and its density, 2, 720-2, 800 kg/m3. When heated, calcite decomposes at a temperature of 825°C; it is readily soluble in acids.
Calcite is one of the most widely distributed minerals in the earth’s crust, particularly among the hydrothermal formations in contact metasomatic deposits and in amygdaloids and geodes of igneous rocks. It is sometimes formed under magmatogenic conditions, producing carbonatites. Calcite precipitates from hot calcareous springs in the form of tufa (travertine). Enormous masses of calcite are formed as deposits in ocean basins, partly by biogenesis. Calcite appears as the main constituent of limestone, marble, and other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks widely used as construction and facing materials. Pure and transparent varieties of calcite—for example, Icelandic spar—are used in the optics industry.
REFERENCESOpticheskie materialy dlia infrakrasnoi tekhniki.Moscow, 1965.
“Kal’tsit.” In Fizicheskii entsiklopedicheskii slovar’, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962.
Kostov, I. Mineralogiia. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from English.)
M. D. DORFMAN and M. O. KLIIA