The Mineral actinolite
Actinolite and Tremolite are two very similar minerals that form a series with each other and
essentially share the same chemical formula. Actinolite has a
greater presence of iron over magnesium, whereas Tremolite has a greater
presence of magnesium over iron.
The green color of Actinolite is produced by the iron in its chemical structure. The amount
of iron varies among specimens, causing different contrasts of green. More iron will give a specimen a darker color.
Actinolite sometimes occurs as thin, splintery inclusions inside
Quartz crystals. If the inclusions are parallel and dense, it will
cause chatoyancy in the Quartz.
Actinolite and Tremolite share several recognized varieties.
Mountain Leather, a thickly fibrous and leathery variety, has a silky luster, a soft felt-like feel, and elastic fibers. Nephrite, another fibrous variety, is made up of tough, interlocking fibers, so dense that the fibers are not discernible. Translucent Nephrite with a uniform or interesting color distribution that is extremely tough fits under the category of Jade.
Actinolite and Tremolite both contain a form of asbestos which is made of movable and elastic fibers. Actinolite asbestos is less common; most forms are in fact Tremolite. This form of the mineral contains significant health hazards and is further discussed in the Tremolite mineral detail page.
Light to dark green; grayish green to black.
Note: Some of these varieties are also varieties of other amphibole minerals, especially Tremolite.
Form of Actinolite where the magnesium is wholly replaced by iron. Ferro-actinolite is scientifically regarded as a distinct mineral species with a chemical formula of Ca2Fe5Si8O22(OH)2
Variety of Actinolite (or sometimes Tremolite) that is made up of tough, hard, interwoven fibers that are extremely dense.
Nephrite is one of the two minerals that form the important gemstone
Jade. Jade is cut into cabochons, beads, and earrings. Rings and
bracelets are sometimes carved out of an entire mass of Jade. Ornamental sculptures and figures are also carved from this gem.
Nephrite is only one form of Jade; the other form is the more valuable
The finely fibrous variety of Actinolite is occasionally used for industrial asbestos. Although fibrous Serpentine is the main source of asbestos, Actinolite and Tremolite are also asbestos producers. Because it is not affected by fire and is a poor heat conductor, asbestos is used in fire retardant devices and for heat protection.
Europe contains some excellent localities for Actinolite. The variety Byssolite, in hairy formation associated with Epidote comes from Knappenwand, Untersulzbach valley, Austria; and fine Byssolite and Actinolite included in Quartz from the Miage Glacier in the Val D'Aosta, Italy. Also in Italy is the Val Malenco, Sondrio Province; and the Passo di Vizze on the Italian/Austrian border. Good Actinolite comes from Norway at Selasvatn, Vegardshei; and at Altermark, Rana. A classic Nephrite locality is Jordanow Slaskie, Lower Silesia, Poland.
Large and lustrous Actinolite crystals from come from Otjiwarongo, Otjozondjupa Region, Namibia; and thin slender crystals, often included in Quartz from Alchuri in the Shigar Valley, Skardu, Pakistan.
In the U.S., noteworthy occurrences are the Carlton Quarry, Chester, Windsor Co., Vermont; the French Creek Mine, Chester Co., Pennsylvania; the Keystone Quarry, Cornog, Chester Co., Pennsylvania; the Calumet Mine, Chaffee Co., Colorado; and the Sears Creek in the Wenatchee Ridge, Chelan Co., Washington. In Canada, important Actinolite deposits are in Tory Hill and
Wilberforce, Haliburton Co., Ontario; and in the Bancroft District,
Hastings Co., Ontario.
Some of the most extensive Nephrite deposits are in the Granite
Mountains of Fremont Co., Wyoming. Alaska also contains several large
Nephrite deposits, namely the Jade Mountain Mine in the Kiana District; and in
the Shungnak River Mine and the Dahl Creek. Other important Nephrite occurences
are Bagby, Mariposa Co., California; and Jade Cove and Willow Creek,
Monterey Co, California.
Distingushing Similar Minerals
Tourmaline - Lacks cleavage, harder (7 - 7½).
Wollastonite - Softer (4½ - 5), different cleavage angle, usually fluorescent.
Epidote - Different cleavage angle, crystals are more glassy
Tremolite - No distinction can be made without x-ray equipment, although Tremolite is usually lighter in color.