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Gemstones 250x250

The Mineral bytownite

Rough Brown Bytownite

Bytownite is a rarer form of feldspar, more commonly seen as a faceted gemstone then as a collectors mineral. It is usually translucent without a crystal form. Some other forms of feldspar, especially the transparent yellow form of Orthoclase, are faceted and incorrectly labeled as Bytownite.

Bytownite belongs to the Plagioclase Feldspar group, an isomorphous solid solution series. Albite is one member, containing sodium and no calcium. The other end member, Anorthite, contains calcium and no sodium. Bytownite is an intermediary member of this series. Bytownite is considered by some authorities as a variety of Anorthite rather then a separate mineral. The acclaimed Dana's System of Mineralogy lists Bytownite as an individual mineral, whereas the IMA does not recognize it as individual mineral species, but rather a sodium-rich variety of Anorthite.

Chemical Formula

(Ca,Na)Al1-2Si3-2O8

Color

Colorless, white, cream, pale yellow, yellow-brown, brown, gray

Crystal System

Triclinic

Properties

Streak
White
Hardness
6 - 6.5
Transparency
Transparent to translucent
Specific Gravity
2.72 - 2.74
Luster
Vitreous. Pearly on cleavage surfaces.
Cleavage
2,1 - basal ; 2,1 - prismatic ; 3,1 - pinacoidal. The cleavage angle is about 90º.
Fracture
Conchoidal to uneven
Tenacity
Brittle

Crystal Habits

Rarely occurs in crystals, which are tabular and usually twinned. Most often massive, grainy, and as compact crystal groupings. Also as blocky crystal fragments.

Additional Information

Composition
Sodium calcium aluminum silicate. The ratio of sodium to calcium is about 1:9. The amount of aluminum atoms are between 1 and 2, and the amount of silicon atoms are between 3 and 2.

 In the Plagioclase Feldspar series, Bytownite contains between 10 and 30 percent Albite (Ab), and between 70 and 90 percent Anorthite (An).
In Group
Silicates; Tectosilicates; Feldspar Group
Striking Features
Crystal habits, localities, and cleavage
Environment
Igneous dikes and in metamorphic rock.
Rock Type
Igneous, Metamorphic

Uses

The yellow and brown transparent forms of Bytownite are faceted as a rare feldspar gemstone.

Noteworthy Localities

Bytownite is a rare mineral, and occurs in many scattered localities usually lacking specimens of interest. It is named after the locality of Bytown, which was the old name for Ottawa (the capitol of Canada) where this mineral was first described. Only a handful of old specimens are noted from this locality. Bytownite occurrences include the Dorado Mine, Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico; Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, Mexico;  Plush, Lake Co., Oregon; and the vicinity of Pueblo Creek, Gila National Forest, Catron Co., New Mexico.

Common Mineral Associations

Quartz, Muscovite, Biotite, Hornblende

Distingushing Similar Minerals

Several minerals can be confused with Bytownite, but the localities and cleavage can usually distinguish it from all other minerals.

bytownite Photos



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