ANALCITE, a commonly occurring mineral of the zeolite group. It crystallizes in the cubic system, the common form being the icositetrahedron (211), either alone (fig. 1) or in combination with the cube (100); sometimes the faces of the cube predominate in size, and its corners are each replaced by three small triangular faces representing the icositetrahedron (fig. 2). Although cubic in form, analcite usually shows feeble double refraction, and is thus optically anomalous. This feature of analcite has been much studied, Sir David Brewster in 1826 being the earliest investigator. Crystals of analcite are often perfectly colourless and transparent with a brilliant glassy lustre, but some are opaque and white or pinkish-white. The hardness of the mineral is 5 to 5 1/2, and its specific gravity is 2.25. Chemically, analcite is a hydrated sodium and aluminium silicate, NaAlSi2O6 + H2O; small amounts of the sodium being sometimes replaced by calcium or by potassium. The water of crystallization is readily expelled by heat, with modification of the optical characters of the crystals. Before the blowpipe the mineral readily fuses with intumescence to a colourless glass. It is decomposed by acids with separation of gelatinous silica.
FIG. 1. FIG. 2.
Analcite usually occurs, associated with other zeolitic minerals, lining amygdaloidal cavities in basic volcanic rocks such as basalt and melaphyre, and especially in such as have undergone alteration by weathering; the Tertiary basalts of the north of Ireland frequently contain cavities lined with small brilliant crystals of analcite. Larger crystals of the same kind are found in the basalt of the Cyclopean Islands (Scogli de' Ciclopi or Faraglioni) N.E. of Catania, Sicily. Large opaque crystals of the pinkish-white colour are found in cavities in melaphyre at the Seisser Alpe near Schlern in southern Tirol. In all such cases the mineral is clearly of secondary origin, but of late years another mode of occurrence has been recognized, analcite having been found as a primary constituent of certain igneous rocks such as monchiquite and some basalts. The irregular grains, of which it has the form, had previously been mistaken for glass.
Owing to the fact that analcite often crystallizes in cubes, it was long known as cubic zeolite or as cuboite. The name now in use was proposed in 1797 in the form analcime, by R. J. Hauy, in allusion to the weak (analkis) electrification of the mineral produced by friction. Euthallite is a compact, greenish analcite, produced by the alteration of elaeolite at various localities in the Langesund-fjord in southern Norway. Eudnophite, from the same region, was originally described as an orthorhombic mineral dimorphous with analcite, but has since been found to be identical with it. Cluthalite, from the Clyde (Clutha) valley, is an altered form of the mineral. (L. J. S.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)