APOPHYLLITE, a mineral often classed with the zeolites, since it behaves like these when heated before the blowpipe and has the same mode of occurrence; it differs, however, from the zeolites proper in containing no aluminium. It is a hydrous potassium and calcium silicate, H7KCa4(SiO3)8 + 4(H2O). A small amount of fluorine is often present, and it is one of the few minerals in which ammonium has been detected. The temperature at which the water is expelled is higher than is usually the case with zeolites; none is given off below 200°, and only about half at 250°; this is slowly reabsorbed again from moist air, and is therefore regarded as water of crystallization, the remainder being water of constitution. When heated before the blowpipe, the mineral exfoliates, owing to loss of water, and on this account was named apophyllite by R.J. Haüy in 1806, from the Greek , from, and , a leaf.
Fig. 1. Fig. 2.
Apophyllite always occurs as distinct crystals, which belong to the tetragonal system. The form is either a square prism terminated by the basal planes (fig. 2), or an acute pyramid (fig. 1). A prominent feature of the mineral is its perfect basal cleavage, on which the lustre is markedly pearly, presenting, in white crystals, somewhat the appearance of the eye of a fish after boiling, hence the old name fish-eye-stone or ichthyophthalmite for the mineral. On other surfaces the lustre is vitreous. The crystals are usually transparent and colourless, sometimes with a greenish or rose-red tint. Opaque white crystals of cubic habit have been called albine; xylochlore is an olive-green variety. The hardness is 4, and the specific gravity 2.35.
The optical characters of the mineral are of special interest, and have been much studied. The sign of the double refraction may be either positive or negative, and some crystals are divided into optically biaxial sectors. The variety known as leucocyclite shows, when examined in convergent polarized light, a peculiar interference figure, the rings being alternately white and violet-black and not coloured as in a normal figure seen in white light.
Apophyllite is a mineral of secondary origin, commonly occurring, in association with other zeolites, in amygdaloidal cavities in basalt and melaphyre. Magnificent groups of greenish and colourless tabular crystals, the crystals several inches across, were found, with flesh-red stilbite, in the Deccan traps of the Western Gháts, near Bombay, during the construction of the Great Indian Peninsular railway. Groups of crystals of a beautiful pink colour have been found in the silver veins of Andreasberg in the Harz and of Guanaxuato in Mexico. Crystals of recent formation have been detected in the Roman remains at the hot springs of Plombières in France.
(L. J. S.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)