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The Mineral epsomite




Epsomite most commonly forms as efflorescence on cave walls from deposition of material from saline springs. It generally is formed in arid regions and in dry caves which protect it from rain and moisture, for otherwise it dissolves. Epsomite may also form efflorescence in tunnels of sulfide mines from the deposition of sulfur and magnesium-rich water during mining operations. Epsomite is not commonly seen in collections, for it lacks appeal, is very fragile, and must be kept in dry areas to prevent it from disintegrating.

Epsomite forms a solid solution series with the following similar sulfates: Morenosite, a hydrous nickel sulfate (NiSO4 · 7H2O), and Goslarite, a hydrous zinc sulfate (NiSO4 · 7H2O).
Chemical Formula MgSO4 · 7H2O
Composition Hydrous magnesium sulfate, sometimes with iron replacing some magnesium
Variable Formula (Mg,Fe)SO4 · 7H2O
Color White, colorless, gray
Streak White
Hardness 2 - 2.5
Crystal System Orthorhombic
3D Crystal Atlas
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Crystal Forms
and Aggregates
Occurs massive, encrusting, globular, stalactitic, acicular, as fibrous groupings, as cotton-like bunches, and as felt-like masses. May occassionally form a pseudomorph after other minerals such as Glauberite.
Transparency Transparent to translucent
Specific Gravity 1.7
Luster Silky, dull
Cleavage Indiscernible
Fracture Conchoidal, earthy
Tenacity Brittle
Other ID Marks 1) Has a bitter, salt-like taste.
2) Soluble in water.
In Group Sulfates; Hydrous Sulfates
Striking Features Taste, solubility, and mode of occurrence.
Environment In sedimentary environments inside protected caves, in saline lake deposits, and as a secondary growth in mine tunnels.
Rock Type Sedimentary
Popularity (1-4) 3
Prevalence (1-3) 2
Demand (1-3) 2


Epsomite AUCTIONS
OTHER NAMES
Bitter Salt
Epsom
Epsom Salt



USES
Epsomite is an important industrial mineral. It is chiefly used for the production of epsom salts. It is also used in the preparation of pharmaceutical products, for the production of paper and sugar, and as dying material.

NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES
Epsomite was found as crusts produced by thermal springs in Epsom, Surrey, England, which is the locality it is named after. It occurs in certain areas in the Sahara Desert of Africa, the desert of Central Australia, and the Atacama Desert of Chile, where it sometimes forms thick beds.

In the U.S., it occurs in the saline lake beds on Kruger Mountain, near Oroville, Okanogan Co, Washington, and in the Carlsbad Caverns of New Mexico. Other occurrences are the Kalkar quarry, Santa Cruz Co., California; The Geysers, Sonoma Co., California; the White Caps mine in Manhattan, Nye Co., Nevada; Majuba Hill mine, Pershing Co., Nevada; and Bisbee, Cochise Co., Arizona.


DISTINGUISHING SIMILAR MINERALS
Epsomite can be distinguished from other minerals by its habit, taste, and mode of occurrence, although it may be confused with Melanterite, which has a greener color and a different taste.


 
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
 
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