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Brazilian trigonal hematite crystal
Category Oxide minerals
(repeating unit)
iron(III) oxide, Fe2O3, α-Fe2O3
Strunz classification 04.CB.05
Crystal symmetry Trigonal hexagonal scalenohedral
H-M symbol: (32/m)
Space group: R3c
Unit cell a = 5.038(2) Å, c = 13.772(12) Å; Z = 6
Color Metallic gray, dull to bright red
Crystal habit Tabular to thick crystals; micaceous or platy, commonly in rosettes; radiating fibrous, reniform, botryoidal or stalactitic masses, columnar; earthy, granular, oolitic
Crystal system Trigonal
Twinning Penetration and lamellar
Cleavage None, may show partings on {0001} and {1011}
Fracture Uneven to sub-conchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness 5.5–6.5
Luster Metallic to splendent
Streak Bright red to dark red
Diaphaneity Opaque
Specific gravity 5.26
Optical properties Uniaxial (-)
Refractive index nω = 3.150–3.220, nε = 2.870–2.940
Birefringence δ = 0.280
Pleochroism O = brownish red; E = yellowish red
References [1][2][3]

Hematite, also spelled as haematite, is the mineral form of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3), one of several iron oxides. Hematite crystallizes in the rhombohedral lattice system, and it has the same crystal structure as ilmenite and corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C (1,740 °F).

Hematite is a mineral, colored black to steel or silver-gray, brown to reddish brown, or red. It is mined as the main ore of iron. Varieties include kidney ore, martite (pseudomorphs after magnetite), iron rose and specularite (specular hematite). While the forms of hematite vary, they all have a rust-red streak. Hematite is harder than pure iron, but much more brittle. Maghemite is a hematite- and magnetite-related oxide mineral.

Huge deposits of hematite are found in banded iron formations. Gray hematite is typically found in places that can have still standing water or mineral hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone National Park in North America. The mineral can precipitate out of water and collect in layers at the bottom of a lake, spring, or other standing water. Hematite can also occur without water, however, usually as the result of volcanic activity.

Clay-sized hematite crystals can also occur as a secondary mineral formed by weathering processes in soil, and along with other iron oxides or oxyhydroxides such as goethite, is responsible for the red color of many tropical, ancient, or otherwise highly weathered soils.

Crystal structure of hematite

Etymology and history

The name hematite is derived from the Greek word for blood αἷμα haima because hematite can be red, as in rouge, a powdered form of hematite. The color of hematite lends itself to use as a pigment. The English name of the stone is derived from Middle French: Hématite Pierre, which was imported from Latin: Lapis Hæmatites, which originated from Ancient Greek: αἱματίτης λίθος (haimatitēs lithos, “blood-red stone”).

Ochre is a clay that is colored by varying amounts of hematite, varying between 20% and 70%.[4] Red ochre contains unhydrated hematite, whereas yellow ochre contains hydrated hematite (Fe2O3H2O). The principal use of ochre is for tinting with a permanent color.[4]

The red chalk writing of this mineral was one of the earliest in the history of humans. The powdery mineral was first used 164,000 years ago by the Pinnacle-Point man possibly for social purposes.[5] Hematite residues are also found in old graveyards from 80,000 years ago. Near Rydno in Poland and Lovas in Hungary, palaeolitic red chalk mines have been found that are from 5000 BC, belonging to the Linear Pottery culture at the Upper Rhine.

Rich deposits of hematite have been found on the island of Elba that have been mined since the time of the Etruscans.


Hematite is an antiferromagnetic material below the Morin transition at 250 kelvin (K) or -9.7 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), and a canted antiferromagnet or weakly ferromagnetic above the Morin transition and below its Néel temperature at 948 K, above which it is paramagnetic.

The magnetic structure of a-hematite was the subject of considerable discussion and debate in the 1950s because it appeared to be ferromagnetic with a Curie temperature of around 1000 K, but with an extremely tiny moment (0.002 µB). Adding to the surprise was a transition with a decrease in temperature at around 260 K to a phase with no net magnetic moment. It was shown that the system is essentially antiferromagnetic, but that the low symmetry of the cation sites allows spin–orbit coupling to cause canting of the moments when they are in the plane perpendicular to the c axis. The disappearance of the moment with a decrease in temperature at 260 K is caused by a change in the anisotropy which causes the moments to align along the c axis. In this configuration, spin canting does not reduce the energy.[6][7] The magnetic properties of bulk hematite differ from their nanoscale counterparts. For example, the Morin transition temperature of hematite decreases with a decrease in the particle size. The suppression of this transition has also been observed in some of the hematite nanoparticles, and the presence of impurities, water molecules and defects in the crystals were attributed to the absence of a Morin transition. Hematite is part of a complex solid solution oxyhydroxide system having various contents of water, hydroxyl groups and vacancy substitutions that affect the mineral's magnetic and crystal chemical properties.[8] Two other end-members are referred to as protohematite and hydrohematite.

Mine tailings

Hematite is present in the waste tailings of iron mines. A recently developed process, magnetation, uses magnets to glean waste hematite from old mine tailings in Minnesota's vast Mesabi Range iron district.[9] Falu red is a pigment used in traditional Swedish house paints. Originally, it was made from tailings of the Falu mine.[10]


Image mosaic from the Mars Exploration Rover Microscopic Imager shows Hematite spherules partly embedded in rock at the Opportunity landing site. Image is ca. 5 cm (2 in) across.

The spectral signature of hematite was seen on the planet Mars by the infrared spectrometer on the NASA Mars Global Surveyor ("MGS") and 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft in orbit around Mars.[11] The mineral was seen in abundance at two sites[12] on the planet, the Terra Meridiani site, near the Martian equator at 0° longitude, and the Aram Chaos site near the Valles Marineris.[13] Several other sites also showed hematite, e.g., Aureum Chaos.[14] Because terrestrial hematite is typically a mineral formed in aqueous environments or by aqueous alteration, this detection was scientifically interesting enough that the second of the two Mars Exploration Rovers was sent to a site in the Terra Meridiani region designated Meridiani Planum. In-situ investigations by the Opportunity rover showed a significant amount of hematite, much of it in the form of small spherules that were informally named "blueberries" by the science team. Analysis indicates that these spherules are apparently concretions formed from a water solution. "Knowing just how the hematite on Mars was formed will help us characterize the past environment and determine whether that environment was favorable for life".[15]

Hematite carving, 5 cm (2 in) long.


Hematite's popularity in jewelry was at its highest in Europe during the Victorian era. Certain types of hematite or iron oxide-rich clay, especially Armenian bole, have been used in gilding. Hematite is also used in art such as in the creation of intaglio engraved gems. Hematine is a synthetic material sold as magnetic hematite.[16]


See also


  1. ^ Anthony, John W.; Bideaux, Richard A.; Bladh, Kenneth W. and Nichols, Monte C. (ed.). "Hematite". Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF). III (Halides, Hydroxides, Oxides). Chantilly, VA, US: Mineralogical Society of America.  
  2. ^ Hematite. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  3. ^ Hematite. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  4. ^ a b "Ochre". Industrial Minerals. Minerals Zone. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  5. ^ Researchers find earliest evidence for modern human behavior in South Africa. (2007-10-17). Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  6. ^ Dzyaloshinsky, I. (1958). "A thermodynamic theory of "weak" ferromagnetism of antiferromagnetics". Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 4 (4): 241.  
  7. ^ Moriya, T. (1960). "Anisotropic Superexchange Interaction and Weak Ferromagnetism". Phys. Rev. 120: 91.  
  8. ^ Dang, M.-Z.; Rancourt, D.G.; Dutrizac, J.E.; Lamarche, G. and Provencher, R. (1998). "Interplay of Surface Conditions, Particle Size, Stoichiometry, Cell Parameters, and Magnetism in Synthetic Hematite-like Materials". Hyperfine Interactions 117: 271–319.  
  9. ^ Redman, Chris. (2009-05-20) The Next Iron Rush, Fortune Magazine, May 25, 2009, pp. 86–90. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  10. ^
  11. ^ NASA MGS TES Press Release, May 27, 1998 "Mars Global Surveyor TES Instrument Identification of Hematite on Mars" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 13, 2007)
  12. ^ Bandfield, J.L. (2002). "Global mineral distributions on Mars". J. Geophys Res. 107.  
  13. ^ Glotch, T. D., and Christensen, P. R. (2005). "Geologic and mineralogic mapping of Aram Chaos: Evidence for a water-rich history". J. Geophys. Res. 110: E09006.  
  14. ^ Glotch, T. D., Rogers, D. and Christensen, P. R. (2005). "A Newly Discovered Hematite-Rich Unit in Aureum Chaos: Comparison of Hematite and Associated Units With Those in Aram Chaos". Lunar and Planetary Science Conference XXXVI.  
  15. ^ Hematite. NASA. Last Updated: 12 Jul 2007
  16. ^ Magnetic hematite. (2011-06-18). Retrieved on 2011-06-22.

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