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The chemical formula of mineral Microlite is indicated by (Ca,Na)2Ta2O6(O,OH,F) or Calcium Sodium Tantalum Oxide Hydroxide Fluoride. Microlite belongs to the Oxides and Hydroxides mineral class. It is also a member of the Pyrochlore Group of minerals. Microlite is considered as a very minor ore of tantalum. It is also most commonly used as mineral specimen and it is most often found exhibiting nice and interesting images when viewed under polarizing microscopes used in the field of optical mineralogy. Microlite is also sometimes cut for gemstone purposes. This oxide mineral is quite difficult to distinguish. But it is fortunate to know that there are few of these mineral form well-shaped octahedral crystals. Mineral Microlite is known to crystallize in the monoclinic system of crystal formation and it is commonly found forming fine octahedral crystals that are typically and characteristically modified by other isometric forms. It is also interesting to note that other members of the Pyrochlore Group also form octahedrons. But it can sometimes be reliably differentiated by color, streak, and other characteristics.

            Mineral Microlite generally contains impurities of radioactive elements called rare earth. This radioactive element produces the slight radioactivity in mineral Microlite. It is occasionally placed in the informal group of minerals called Rare Earth Oxides but most studies in optical mineralogy shows that Microlite does not contain a significant amount of these metals. Mineral Microlite is an end member of a solid solution series between itself and the mineral pyrochlore. Microlite and pyrochlore have similar structures and properties. But it is important to know that microlite is the tantalum rich end member and pyrochlore is the niobium rich end member.

            Mineral Microlite is most commonly found in pale yellow, reddish-brown, red, olive or even emerald green color that are most often found fascinating and attractive when viewed with the aid of polarizing light microscope used in optical mineralogy. Microlite is also commonly found exhibiting vitreous to resinous luster when viewed in reflected light of petrographic polarizing microscope. Mineral Microlite is also most commonly found showing indistinct cleavage in four directions forming octahedral form. Microlite is also usually found exhibiting subconchoidal to uneven fracture when it is viewed with the aid of polarized microscopes used in the field of optical mineralogy. The hardness measure of the mineral Microlite when it is evaluated using the Mohs scale method is usually found ranging from 5 to 5.5. When mineral specimen of Microlite is rubbed on a white porcelain streak plate, it is most commonly found leaving white or pale yellow to brown streak. The specific gravity measure of mineral Microlite is approximately 4.3 grams per cubic centimeters to 5.7 grams per cubic centimeters, which is heavy for non-inclusion of trace metals into the structure.

            Most Microlite crystals are generally translucent with darker specimens being opaque. The crystal habit of mineral Microlite as described in the field of optical mineralogy usually include octahedral crystals that are modified by other isometric forms. Microlite is also found granular as disseminated grains and massive forms. Although the name microlite was applied to the mineral for the tiny crystals that were first found, larger crystals up to 2cm have been found. Since Microlite is slightly radioactive, it should be stored away from other minerals that are subject to damage from radioactivity and human exposure should be limited.

Microlite is most commonly found associated with other interesting minerals such as quartz, feldspar, calcite, columbite, tantalite, biotite, zircon, lepidolite, simpsonite, and spodumene. The best field indicators of mineral Microlite include crystal habit, fracture, luster, color, radioactivity, hardness, association, specific gravity, and environment. Mineral Microlite is most commonly found in granitic pegmatite dikes and more rarely in calcite rich rocks called carbonatites. Microlite notably occurs at several localities including Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Australia, and many areas in USA.



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Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 2:30 am
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The Oxides and Hydroxides Mineral Class
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