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Thread: Malachite

  1. #1 Malachite 
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    Is there a way to artificially "grow" a mineral rock such as malachite, azurite, or rhodochrosite? If so, is there a way to "grow" them such that they layer themselves atop eachother?


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    Yes, for the malachite at least, not the rhodochrosite. Many of the newer malachite stalactites that are coming from the D R o t Congo are grown by miners hanging short copper wires from mine ceilings. These act as the nucleus for malachite to start precipitating out of the copper laden mine waters.


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    I meant more like in a lab setting, if there were a way for me, in my backyard/garage, to grow a malachite stalactite in something like a box. And why can't the Rhodochrosite be artificially grown? Is it formed in a different way than Malachite? Is there a big difference in formation amongst the various carbonate minerals?
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    I dont know if rhodochrosite can be, but I think the crystalization conditions are different enough from malachite for it to work. Its a member of the calcite group and I havent heard of any of that group being home made.

    As for the malachite, as long as you have the ability to dissolve carbonate and copper in water, the copper wire drip method should be doable min home conditions.

    BTW technically speaking, if its not natural, then one should not refer to something by its mineral name.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Thanks for the clarification. Basic copper carbonate and manganese carbonate.

    Calcite minerals, how are they formed? is there a big mechanical difference between the way that class of minerals forms and the class of minerals malachite/azurite fall into? Are there other minerals that form in similar ways to malachite?
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    Its all dependent on the conditions which the mineral rich fluids are present in as to what minerals may form. Malachite forms fairly easily as an oxide of copper carbon and oxygen, hence the patina that forms on copper roofs and statues. if you add a little electricity to water and lead you can get cerussite/anglesite (the white buildup on battery terminals in cars for example)

    Im not totally sure why calcite minerals are not as easy to grow.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    but calcite minerals grow in roughly the same way, super saturated solutions precipitating the minerals into... rock deposits? I'm not sure what to call them.
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    if I am understanding this article correctly (The interaction of magnesium with calcite during crystal growth at 25–90°C and one atmosphere) the crystalization is temperature dependent. I think you are looking for the term crystal deposits (rocks being aggregations of minerals)
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    does pressure affect the crystal growth in any appreciable way? Or is Temperature, and for the saturation leading to precipitation I would imagine it would be more of a temperature gradient from the solute mixture to the deposition on the crystalline mass, the driving condition that needs to be met, aside from the solution and saturation conditions? I know I may be dragging with the questions, and the brain picking may be getting annoying, but your answers are greatly appreciated.
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    Pressure will dictate, in many cases at least, the type of crystals that form, while the temperature and the saturation will affect when the crystals form.

    I have no problem with the questions and will answer them as best i can. :-)
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    Pressure affects the type of crystal that forms, as in crystalline structure? So, for something like basic copper carbonate, what different types of crystals will form under different pressures? And is there a certain point of pressure that makes a difference, or will as little as, say, 2 atmospheres of pressure affect the crystal structure?
    oxide

    And a basic setup of a pressurized box(high partial pressure of carbon dioxide) filled with carbonic acid and basic copper carbonate, being drip fed into a separate box at equal pressure(very low partial pressure of carbon dioxide) with a temperature gradient between the two boxes, where the bottom box, the drip box, would be a much lower temperature than the top box holding the solution. using a small bit of copper wire as a seed seems like a fantastic idea as well. does this seem like a viable set up to you?
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    It does, as it will affect the way the atoms and molecules of the different elements preferentially combine, this is why many minerals have high pressure equivalents. Acanthite (silver sulfide) is well known for having a high temp/pressure dimorph argentite. The crystal lattus of argentite will change when the temp/pressure drop below a certain point to that of acanthite leaving acanthite psueomorphs after the argentite.


    That sounds like a great inital set-up for trying to grow copper carbonates!
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    Alright... So, do you know if the same is true of copper carbonate, if it has high pressure/temperature dimorphs? Also, for argentite and acanthite, the crystal structures will transform even if it's fully formed at the prescribed temperature and pressure required? what about other carbonates, are they the same, or rather, is this pressure/temperature pseudomorph characteristic a very common thing amongst minerals in general, or is it a unique characteristic to a few crystal compositions?

    Also, I suppose if it DOES happen in nature, it would be exceedingly rare, but do multiple different minerals form together, like for example, if you have a mass of calcite, would some other mineral, like dolomite, for example, form on top of it, like a coating around the calcite? Is this possible, or is that not a known phenomena? Again, i can't imagine it being a very common thing to happen naturally, but the type of situation I can think of where this would happen is stalactites or stalagmites where the mineral deposit for one type of mineral runs low, or through some phenomena, a different mineral begins to be deposited for some reason, like a mass of calcium situated near a mass of iron, or magnesium, or some other element to form a mineral. Could that happen, or would something else happen in that situation?
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    There are no direct dimorphs of malachite that i am aware of. There are related copper carbonates that usually involve the addition of one or more other elements to he chemistry. For many minerals there are high temp dimorphs, but they usually only at very high temperatures, and many do alter to the low temperature analogs well before the average surface temperature of the earth.

    Actually multiple minerals occurring together is the norm and mono mineral assemblages are the rather rare opposite. Remember all a rock is is a grouping of minerals (usually in massive form). Most ore veins show a distinct paragenesis with a mappable sequence of mineral deposition of oldes t to youngest crystalizations.
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    And, massive form is a type of crystalline form, right? Alright, that makes a lot of sense, but i mean more would there be a "complete" separation of the different crystals, or would there be a murkiness where the two are kind of occupying the same space? and by "complete" i mean that there would be no murkiness where the two crystals overlap, so to speak, but would maintain a kind of structural integrity, as if it was one mass instead of separated masses.

    Ugh, i'm not sure how to say it right to get the point across, i'm really hoping this makes sense
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    In geology and mineralogy massive means crystal grains with no distinct external morphology (think granite), while crystalline means minerals that have distinct visible external crystal morphology (thing amethyst points)

    If I am understanding you correctly this is the type of material you are referring to:
    Quartz.jpg

    This is quartz intergrown with sphalerite. The sphalerite crystals have small pyrite crystals studding the faces
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    yes, that would be basically what i was thinking. Awesome!

    the basic plan I have is to make a multiple layered massive crystal, with several different points for the crystals to begin growing, to provide very pretty patterns in for any cut slab out of the total mass. I would personally love to grow multiple different crystals into a single mass, to give fantastic displays when polished. the way i figure, fast growth achieving a large block of crystal, say a cylinder on the order of 4"-5" radius by around 12-18" tall would be very fun to play with, either cutting out slabs, or carving out figures. I imagine the whole process would lead to some truly magnificent pieces of art, especially when polished.

    Also, is there any way to determine if a chunk of something such as calcite or dolomite is natural, or any way to figure out which region it came from(non-destructive tests preferable)?
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    Excellent concept!

    The easy, but by no means anywhere near infallible method is by mineral associations on a specimen (such as additional crystals and matrix composition) However this only works when the mineral is rare enough not to be found on every street corner, figuratively speaking. Calcite, dolomite and quartz are all extremely common, and provenience is often not determinable without destructive testing, and often not then either. sorry!
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    i believe substrate is the proper word, but is there a specific substrate that ground water goes through that allows mineral laden water to drip into caves? Are there filters that would prevent the water from carrying the minerals to a deposition location and forming a crystalline mass? Er, some kind of substance that would force the growth instead of allowing the saturated water to pass?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician View Post
    i believe substrate is the proper word, but is there a specific substrate that ground water goes through that allows mineral laden water to drip into caves? Are there filters that would prevent the water from carrying the minerals to a deposition location and forming a crystalline mass? Er, some kind of substance that would force the growth instead of allowing the saturated water to pass?
    At that point it is a matter of rock unit permeability more then composition. If the rock unit has a low permeability then the water will slow and deposit the elements it is carrying. If there is high permeability the water will not slow and probably pick up more elements. The composition of the rock will determine the elements dissolved in the water when it reaches the cavity. Most often the waters pick up elements, rarely will the water loose elements. Element lode loss is most always due to temperature drop and water flow slowing.
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  22. #21  
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    You need time.
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    Yes, I do need time, but is there any way to speed the process? What factors contribute to the speed of the deposition process? Is there anyway to make it happen vastly faster than it would under natural conditions?
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    Not sure if I am any help here but..... In the human body calcium has to be ionised in order for it to be mineralised into bone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician View Post
    Yes, I do need time, but is there any way to speed the process? What factors contribute to the speed of the deposition process? Is there anyway to make it happen vastly faster than it would under natural conditions?
    The process in nature would involve very small concentrations. Using even a moderately high concentration of carbonates should drastically increase the rate of deposition.

    Also, carbonates tend to precipitate more readily at higher temperatures. This may or may not be true for copper carbonates.
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    moderately high temperature and extremely low partial pressure of is the idea for the deposition box, to allow the water to release the and as such lower acidity of the water, which should force the carbonates to precipitate relatively easily and quickly. This the theory, at least, I'll find out if practice works. I intend to do this with copper and manganese carbonates(if I can make it work), among potential others. I'd like to make a large composite crystal with each of the crystal structures both separate and combined. Something you'd never see in nature, but would love to see happen. With any luck, I'll be able to have several distinct and complete crystals in the mass.
    Last edited by Arcane_Mathematician; August 12th, 2011 at 06:08 PM. Reason: forgot the tex tags
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    Rock unit permeability, this is related to the porosity of a rock, right? Are there ideal porous materials for this type of application, or would it be something of a 'trial and error' method of finding the right one? Does thickness of the stone between solution reservoir and the crystal forming cavity matter? Would some very porous material, such as a slab of Pumice, for example, work? What rocks are standard for the natural pathway of carbonate minerals in caves?
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    Permeability is essentially the measure of how quickly fluids can travel through a rock, whereas porosity is the total volume that the rock can hold. They are not necessarily correlatable; pumice may have a high total porosity, but the effective porosity and the permeability can be extremely low because the air spaces are vesicular in nature and are not always interconnected. This is why pumice often floats in water.

    I can't think of any reason an artificial membrane or something similar wouldn't work, anyway, since the main function of it would be to control the rate of flow of the solution into the cavity (if I've understood your setup right). Mimicking nature by passing the solution through permeable strata seems unnecessary.
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    It would have to be a very durable membrane too, since it will be supporting a relatively large volume of water with no support beneath itself. I figured a rock of some sort would be able to hold up the saturated water better, there will be an 8"-10" diameter circle that will have no support beneath it(it will be held up outside of the circle) where the water will be ultimately flowing through. Also, there will be multiple short bare copper wires strung into the "cave ceiling" in this apparatus, and a membrane may not be the best support for the wires and growing crystals until they become a full column.
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    How about getting a section of acrylic fish tank and modifying it with braces to support the "ceiling"
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    Sorry for being vague what i meant was electrifying the copper wires you could affect growth speed. Please let me know how different AC frequencies affect crystal growth, if at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    How about getting a section of acrylic fish tank and modifying it with braces to support the "ceiling"
    I have the support structure figured out, it's just a matter of the space directly beneath the permeable section where the crystal growth will occur there won't be any support simply because that space will be occupied by the crystal mass growth. I'd personally prefer something solid and at least somewhat strong, so that I can be sure it will hold up to the volume of water directly above it. If I went for the membrane plan, I'd be a bit worried about the weight over the support void and the copper wires hung in it. I know that putting a small hole and gluing a copper wire into the rock won't drastically affect the durability of the rock.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Time Taken View Post
    Sorry for being vague what i meant was electrifying the copper wires you could affect growth speed. Please let me know how different AC frequencies affect crystal growth, if at all.
    The copper wires are being hung as a copper catalyst to facilitate the growth of the copper-salt crystals. I don't think electricity will really affect much of anything, and I'm not entirely sure how to even connect my set up to an electrical circuit, unless it was in a capacitor style set up with the plates being 1 on top with the bare wire and the second on the bottom set of bare wire (each directly beneath a "ceiling" wire, so that the water dripping from the "ceiling" wires will hit the "floor" wires and any left over precipitate will ideally deposit on that wire). I will attempt to do it if I can, perhaps on the second go I'll hook up the wires such that they are all interconnected and just have a small loop hanging down for the water to deposit on, so that there is a complete circuit.
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