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Article: Apatite


General Information and Occurrences of Apatite

  • Apatite is a phosphate mineral in the apatite group, with a hexagonal crystal system.
  • It is usually green but can also be colorless, yellow, blue, violet, or pink.
  • Apatite is commonly found as an accessory mineral in igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • It can also be found in clastic sedimentary rocks and phosphorite, a phosphate-rich sedimentary rock.

Uses of Apatite

  • Apatite is primarily used as a source of phosphate in fertilizer manufacturing and other industrial applications.
  • It has been used as a pigment in ancient Chinese terracotta and enamel for metalware.
  • A byproduct of apatite digestion with sulfuric acid is hydrogen fluoride, which can be used in the production of hydrofluoric acid.
  • Apatite can be a source of uranium and vanadium as trace elements.
  • It was used in the Halophosphor fluorescent tube phosphor system.

Gemology of Apatite

  • Apatite is occasionally used as a gemstone, with faceted and cabochon-cut varieties.
  • Chatoyant apatite stones are known as 'cats-eye apatite.'
  • Transparent green apatite stones are known as 'asparagus stone.'
  • Blue apatite stones have been called 'moroxite.'
  • Major sources of gem apatite include Brazil, Myanmar, Mexico, and several other countries.

Apatite in Thermodynamics and Lunar Science

  • The thermodynamic properties of apatite have been studied, including its enthalpies of formation and structural properties.
  • Apatite has been found in moon rocks collected during the Apollo program.
  • Re-analysis of these samples revealed the presence of water trapped in apatite as hydroxyl, suggesting the existence of water on the lunar surface.
  • Estimates indicate that the lunar surface could contain water at a rate of at least 64 parts per billion, 100 times greater than previous estimates.
  • If the minimum amount of mineral-locked water were converted to liquid, it would cover the Moon's surface in approximately one meter of water.

Bio-leaching and Apatite Group

  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi Suillus granulatus and Paxillus involutus can release elements from apatite.
  • Mycorrhizal fungi increase phosphorus uptake in plants through the release of phosphate from apatite.
  • Apatite is a prototype of chemically, stoichiometrically, or structurally similar minerals, biological materials, and synthetic chemicals.
  • Minerals similar to apatite are known as apatites, such as lead apatite (pyromorphite) and barium apatite (alforsite).
  • Apatites have potential uses as pigments, phosphors, and for absorbing and immobilizing toxic heavy metals.

Apatite Data Sources

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