Address: 740 N. Red Rock Rd. - St. George, Utah, 84770
Calcite (Rough & Optical)
Calcite is a common constituent of sedimentary rocks, limestone in particular, much of which is formed from the shells of dead marine organisms. Approximately 10% of sedimentary rock is limestone. Calcite is the primary mineral in metamorphic marble. It also occurs as a vein mineral in deposits from hot springs, and it occurs in caverns as stalactites and stalagmites.
Calcite may also be found in volcanic or mantle-derived rocks such as carbonatites, kimberlites, or rarely in peridotites. Lublinite is a fibrous, efflorescent form of calcite. Calcite is often the primary constituent of the shells of marine organisms, e.g., plankton (such as coccoliths and planktic foraminifera), the hard parts of red algae, some sponges, brachiopods, echinoderms, most bryozoa, and parts of the shells of some bivalves (such as oysters and rudists). Calcite is found in spectacular form in the Snowy River Cave of New Mexico as mentioned above, where microorganisms are credited with natural formations. Trilobites, which are now extinct, had unique compound eyes. They used clear calcite crystals to form the lenses of their eyes.
Calcite crystals are trigonal-rhombohedral, though actual calcite rhombohedra are rare as natural crystals. However, they show a remarkable variety of habits including acute to obtuse rhombohedra, tabular forms, prisms, or various scalenohedra. Calcite exhibits several twinning types adding to the variety of observed forms. It may occur as fibrous, granular, lamellar, or compact. Color is white or none, though shades of gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, or even black can occur when the mineral is charged with impurities. Calcite is transparent to opaque and may occasionally show phosphorescence or fluorescence.
High-grade optical calcite was used in World War II for gun sights, specifically in bomb sights and anti-aircraft weaponry.