DIALLAGE, an important mineral of the pyroxene group, distinguished by its thin foliated structure and bronzy lustre. The chemical composition is the same as diopside, Ca Mg (SiO3) 2, but it sometimes contains the molecules (Mg, Fe") (Al, Fe"')2 SiO6 and Na Fe"' (SiO3) 2, in addition, when it approaches to augite in composition. Diallage is in fact an altered form of these varieties of pyroxene; the particular kind of alteration which they have undergone being known as "schillerization." This, as described by Prof. J. W. Judd, consists in the development of a fine lamellar structure or parting due to secondary twinning and the separation of secondary products along these and other planes of chemical weakness ("solution planes") in the crystal. The secondary products consist of mixtures of various hydrated oxides - opal, göthite, limonite, etc - and appear as microscopic inclusions filling or partly filling cavities, which have definite outlines with respect to the enclosing crystal and are known as negative crystals. It is to the reflection and interference of light from these minute inclusions that the peculiar bronzy sheen or "schiller" of the mineral is due. The most pronounced lamination is that parallel to the orthopinacoid; another, less distinct, is parallel to the basal plane, and a third parallel to the plane of symmetry; these planes of secondary parting are in addition to the ordinary prismatic cleavage of all pyroxenes. Frequently the material is interlaminated with a rhombic pyroxene (bronzite) or with an amphibole (smaragdite or uralite), the latter being an alteration product of the diallage.
Diallage is usually greyish-green or dark green, sometimes brown, in colour, and has a pearly to metallic lustre or schiller on the laminated surfaces. The hardness is 4, and the specific gravity 3.2 to 3.35. It does not occur in distinct crystals with definite outlines, but only as lamellar masses in deep-seated igneous rocks, principally gabbro, of which it is an essential constituent. It occurs also in some peridotites and serpentines, and rarely in volcanic rocks (basalt) and crystalline schists. Masses of considerable size are found in the coarse-grained gabbros of the Island of Skye, Le Prese near Bornio in Valtellina, Lombardy, Prato near Florence, and many other localities.
The name diallage, from diallage, "difference," in allusion to the dissimilar cleavages and planes of fracture, as originally applied by R. J. Haüy in 1801, included other minerals (the orthorhombic pyroxenes hypersthene, bronzite and bastite, and the smaragdite variety of hornblende) which exhibit the same peculiarities of schiller structure; it is now limited to the monoclinic pyroxenes with this structure. Like the minerals of similar appearance just mentioned, it is sometimes cut and polished for ornamental purposes.
(L. J. S.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)