MAGNETITE, a mineral forming the natural magnet (see MAGNETISM), and important also as an iron-ore. It is an ironblack, opaque mineral, with metallic lustre; hardness about 6, sp. gr. 4-9 to 5-2. When scratched, it yields a black streak. It is an oxide of iron having the formula FeaOi, corresponding with 72-4% of metal, whence its great value as an ore. It may be regarded as a ferroso-ferric oxide, FeO.FezOs, or as iron ferrate, Fe"Fe 2 "'O4. titanium is often present, and occasionally the mineral contains magnesium, nickel, etc. It is always strongly magnetic. Magnetite crystallizes in the cubic system, usually in octahedra, less commonly in rhombic dodecahedra, and not infrequently in twins of the" spinel type " (fig. i). The rhombic faces of the dodecahedron are often striated parallel to the longer diagonal. There is no distinct cleavage, but imperfect parting may be obtained along octahedral planes.
Magnetite is a mineral of wide distribution, occurring as grains in many massive and volcanic rocks, like granite, diorite and dolerite. It appears to have crystallized from the magma at a very early period of consolidation. Its presence contributes to FIG. i.
the dark colour of many basalts and other basic rocks, and may cause them to disturb the compass. Large ore-bodies of granular and compact magnetite occur as beds and lenticular masses in Archean gneiss and crystalline schists, in various parts of Norway, !en, Finland and the Urals; as also in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as in Canada. In some cases it appears to have segregated from a basic eruptive magma, and in other cases to have resulted from metamorphic action. Certain deposits appear to have been formed, directly or indirectly, by wet processes. Iron rust sometimes contains magnetite. An interesting deposit of oolitic magnetic ore occurs in the Dogger (Inferior Oolite) of Rosedale Abbey, in Yorkshire; and a somewhat similar pisolitic ore, of Jurassic age, is known on the continent as chamoisite, having been named from Chamoison (or Chamoson) in the Valais, Switzerland. Grains of magnetite occur in serpentine, as an alteration -product of the olivine. In emery, magnetite in a granular form is largely associated with the corundum; and in certain kinds of mica magnetite occurs as thin dendritic enclosures. Haematite is sometimes magnetic, and A. Liversidge has shown that magnetite is probably present. By deoxidation, haematitemay be converted into magnetite, as proved by certain pseudomorphs; but on the other hand magnetite is sometimes altered to haematite On weathering, magnetite commonly passes into limonite, the ferrous oxide having probably been removed by carbonated waters. Closely related to magnetite is the rare volcanic mineral from Vesuvius, called magnoferrite, or magnesioferrite, with the formula MgFejO 4 ; and with this may be mentioned a mineral from Jakobsberg, in Vermland, Sweden, called jakobsite, containing MnFe 2 O 4 . (F. W. R.*)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)