Diopside - Bellecombe, Châtillon, Aosta Valley, Italy
Category Silicate mineral
Chemical formula MgCaSi2O6
Crystal symmetry Monoclinic 2/m - prismatic
Unit cell a = 9.746 Å, b = 8.899 Å, c = 5.251 Å; β = 105.79°; Z = 4
Color Commonly light to dark green; may be blue, brown, colorless, white, grey
Crystal habit Short prismatic crystals common, may be granular, columnar, massive
Crystal system Monoclinic
Twinning Simple and multiple twins common on {100} and {001}
Cleavage Distinct/good on {110}
Fracture Irregular/uneven, conchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness 5.5 - 6.5
Luster Vitreous to dull
Streak white
Specific gravity 3.278
Optical properties Biaxial (+)
Refractive index nα= 1.663 - 1.699, nβ= 1.671 - 1.705, nγ= 1.693 - 1.728
Birefringence δ = 0.030
2V angle Measured: 58° to 63°
Dispersion Weak to distinct, r>v
References [1][2][3]

Diopside is a monoclinic pyroxene mineral with composition MgCaSi2O6. It forms complete solid solution series with hedenbergite (FeCaSi2O6) and augite, and partial solid solutions with orthopyroxene and pigeonite. It forms variably colored, but typically dull green crystals in the monoclinic prismatic class. It has two distinct prismatic cleavages at 87 and 93° typical of the pyroxene series. It has a Mohs hardness of six, a Vickers hardness of 7.7 GPa at a load of 0.98 N,[4] and a specific gravity of 3.25 to 3.55. It is transparent to translucent with indices of refraction of nα=1.663–1.699, nβ=1.671–1.705, and nγ=1.693–1.728. The optic angle is 58° to 63°.



Diopside crystal from De Kalb, New York (size: 4.3 x 3.3 x 1.9 cm)

Diopside is found in ultramafic (kimberlite and peridotite) igneous rocks, and diopside-rich augite is common in mafic rocks, such as olivine basalt and andesite. Diopside is also found in a variety of metamorphic rocks, such as in contact metamorphosed skarns developed from high silica dolomites. It is an important mineral in the Earth's mantle and is common in peridotite xenoliths erupted in kimberlite and alkali basalt.

Mineralogy and occurrence

Diopside is a precursor of chrysotile (white asbestos) by hydrothermal alteration and magmatic differentiation;[5] it can react with hydrous solutions of magnesium and chlorine to yield chrysotile by heating at 600°C for three days.[6] Some vermiculite deposits, most notably those in Libby, Montana, are contaminated with chrysotile (as well as other forms of asbestos) that formed from diopside.[7]

At relatively high temperatures, there is a miscibility gap between diopside and pigeonite, and at lower temperatures, between diopside and orthopyroxene. The calcium/(calcium+magnesium+iron) ratio in diopside that formed with one of these other two pyroxenes is particularly sensitive to temperature above 900°C, and compositions of diopside in peridotite xenoliths have been important in reconstructions of temperatures in the Earth's mantle.

Chrome diopside ((Ca,Na,Mg,Fe,Cr)2(Si,Al)2O6) is a common constituent of peridotite xenoliths, and dispersed grains are found near kimberlite pipes, and as such are a prospecting indicator for diamonds. Occurrences are reported in Canada, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, and a wide variety of other locations.

As a gem

Gemstone quality diopside is found in two forms: the black star diopside and the chrome diopside (which includes chromium, giving it a rich green colour). At 5.5–6.5 on the Mohs scale, chrome diopside is relatively soft to scratch. The Mohs scale of hardness does not measure tensile strength or resistance to fracture.

Violane is a manganese-rich variety of diopside, violet to light blue in colour.[8]

Etymology and history

Diopside derives its name from the Greek dis, "twice", and òpsè, "face" in reference to the two ways of orienting the vertical prism.

Diopside was first described about 1800.

Potential uses

Diopside based ceramics and glass-ceramics have potential applications in various technological areas. A diopside based glass-ceramic named 'silceram' was produced by scientists from Imperial College, UK during 1980s from blast furnace slag and other waste products. The as produced glass-ceramic is a potential structural material. Similarly, diopside based ceramics and glass-ceramics have potential applications in the field of biomaterials, nuclear waste immobilization and sealing materials in solid oxide fuel cells.


  1. ^ C. D. Gribble, ed (1988). "The Silicate Minerals". Rutley's Elements of Mineralogy (27th ed.). London: Unwin Hyman Ltd. p. 378. ISBN 0045490112. 
  2. ^ Mindat page for Diopside
  3. ^ Handbook of Mineralogy
  4. ^ M M Smedskjaer, M Jensen, and Y-Z Yue (2008). "Theoretical calculation and measurement of the hardness of diopside". Journal of the American Ceramic Society 91 (2): 514–518. doi:10.1111/j.1551-2916.2007.02166.x. 
  5. ^ A L Boettcher (1967). "The Rainy Creek alkaline-ultramafic igneous complex near Libby, Montana. I: Ultramafic rocks and fenite". Journal of Geology 75: 536–553. 
  6. ^ Eugenio Barrese, Elena Belluso, and Francesco Abbona (1 February 1997). "On the transformation of synthetic diopside into chrysotile". European Journal of Mineralogy 9 (1): 83–87. http://eurjmin.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/9/1/83. 
  7. ^ "Asbestos in Your Home". United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2003. http://www.epa.gov/region8/sf/libby/inhome.html. Retrieved 2007-11-20. [dead link]
  8. ^ Mindat page for Violane
  • S. Carter, C.B. Ponton, R.D. Rawlings, P.S. Rogers, Microstructure, chemistry, elastic properties and internal-friction of silceram glass-ceramics, Journal of Materials Science 23 (1988) 2622-2630.
  • T. Nonami, S. Tsutsumi, Study of diopside ceramics for biomaterials, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 10 (1999) 475-479.
  • A. Karnis, L. Gautron, Promising Immobilization of cadmium and Lead inside Ca-rich Glass-Ceramics, Proceedings of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, vol. 40 (2009) ISSN: 2070-3740.
  • A. Goel, D.U. Tulyaganov, V.V. Kharton, A.A. Yaremchenko, J.M.F. Ferreira, Electrical behaviour of aluminosilicate glass-ceramic sealants and their interaction with metallic SOFC interconnects, Journal of Power Sources 195 (2010) 522-526.
  • Hurlbut, Cornelius S.; Klein, Cornelis, 1985, Manual of Mineralogy, 20th ed., Wiley, pp 403–404, ISBN 0-471-80580-7
  • Mindat: Diopside
  • Mindat: Chromian diopside, with locales
  • Webmineral
  • Mineral galleries
  • Handbook of Mineralogy, Mineral Data Publishing, 2001, Diopside PDF version
  • http://gemstone.org/gem-by-gem/english/diopside.html
  • Greek-English-Greek dictionary

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Diopside — Catégorie IX : silicates[1] Diopside Val d Aoste …   Wikipédia en Français

  • diopside — ● diopside nom masculin (grec diopsis, action de voir à travers) Minéral du groupe des pyroxènes, de composition CaMgSi6O6, monoclinique, que l on trouve dans les roches magmatiques basiques et dans certaines roches métamorphiques (pyroxénites,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Diopside — Di*op side, n. [Gr. di = di s twice + ? a sight, fr. the root of ? I shall see: cf. F. diopside.] (Min.) A crystallized variety of pyroxene, of a clear, grayish green color; mussite. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • diopside — [dī äp′sīd΄, dī äp′sid] n. [Fr < di (see DI 2) + Gr opsis, appearance, sight (< ōps, EYE); assoc. in meaning with Gr diopsis, transparency < dia , through + opsis, sight] a light colored, hard, crystalline pyroxene, CaMg(Si2O6), calcium… …   English World dictionary

  • diopside — /duy op suyd, sid/, n. Mineral. a monoclinic pyroxene mineral, calcium magnesium silicate, CaMg(SiO3)2, occurring in various colors, usually in crystals. [1800 10; DI 3 + Gk óps(is) appearance + IDE] * * * Common silicate mineral in the pyroxene… …   Universalium

  • diopside — di·ò·psi·de s.m. TS mineral. minerale dei pirosseni, costituito da silicato di calcio e magnesio, che si presenta in cristalli prismatici bianchi, incolori o verdi, contenuto in alcune rocce metamorfiche {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1817. ETIMO: der …   Dizionario italiano

  • diopside — diopsidas statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Mineralas. formulė CaMg[Si₂O₆] atitikmenys: angl. diopside rus. диопсид …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • diopside — noun Etymology: French, from di + Greek opsis appearance more at optic Date: circa 1808 a green to white mineral that consists of pyroxene containing little or no aluminum • diopsidic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • diopside — noun A monoclinic pyroxene mineral, a magnesium calcium silicate with the chemical formula CaMgSiO, found in igneous and metamorphic rocks …   Wiktionary

  • diopside — (di o psi d ) s. m. Terme de minéralogie. Minéral du Piémont, d un gris verdâtre, identique avec le pyroxène. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Termes grecs signifiant deux et vue …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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