ANHYDRITE, a mineral, differing chemically from the more commonly occurring gypsum in containing no water of crystallization, being anhydrous calcium sulphate, CaSO4. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic system, and has three directions of perfect cleavage parallel to the three planes of symmetry. It is not isomorphous with the orthorhombic barium and strontium sulphates, as might be expected from the chemical formulae. Distinctly developed crystals are somewhat rare, the mineral usually presenting the form of cleavage masses. The hardness is 3½ and the specific gravity 2.9. The colour is white, sometimes greyish, bluish or reddish. On the best developed of the three cleavages the lustre is pearly, on other surfaces it is of the ordinary vitreous type.
Anhydrite is most frequently found in salt deposits with gypsum; it was, for instance, first discovered, in 1794, in a salt mine near Hall in Tirol. Other localities which produce typical specimens of the mineral, and where the mode of occurrence is the same, are Stassfurt in Germany, Aussee in Styria and Bex in Switzerland. At all these places it is only met with at some depth; nearer the surface of the ground it has been altered to gypsum owing to absorption of water.
From an aqueous solution calcium sulphate is deposited as crystals of gypsum, but when the solution contains an excess of sodium or potassium chloride anhydrite is deposited. This is one of the several methods by which the mineral has been prepared artificially, and is identical with its mode of origin in nature, the mineral having crystallized out in salt basins.
The name anhydrite was given by A. G. Werner in 1804, because of the absence of water, as contrasted with the presence of water in gypsum. Other names for the species are muriacite and karstenite; the former, an earlier name, being given under the impression that the substance was a chloride (muriate). A peculiar variety occurring as contorted concretionary masses is known as tripe-stone, and a scaly granular variety, from Vulpino, near Bergamo, in Lombardy, as vulpinite; the latter is cut and polished for ornamental purposes.
(L. J. S.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)