Talc

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Talc (derived from the Persian tālk (تالک ) via Arabic talk (تلك)) is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate with the chemical formula H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2. In loose form, it is the widely-used substance known as talcum powder. It occurs as foliated to fibrous masses, its monoclinic crystals being so rare as to be almost unknown. It has a perfect basal cleavage, and the folia are non-elastic, although slightly flexible. It is very soft and sectile (can be cut with a knife); as the defining mineral for the value of 1 on Mohs hardness, it can be easily scratched by a fingernail. It has a specific gravity of 2.5–2.8, a clear or dusty luster, and is translucent to opaque. Talc is not soluble in water, but it is slightly soluble in dilute mineral acids. Its colour ranges from white to grey or green and it has a distinctly greasy feel. Its streak is white.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed predominantly of talc.

Contents

Formation

Talc is a metamorphic mineral resulting from the metamorphism of magnesian minerals such as serpentine, pyroxene, amphibole, olivine, in the presence of carbon dioxide and water. This is known as talc carbonation or steatization and produces a suite of rocks known as talc carbonates.

Talc is primarily formed via hydration and carbonation of serpentine, via the following reaction;

Talc can also be formed via a reaction between dolomite and silica, which is typical of skarnification of dolomites via silica-flooding in contact metamorphic aureoles;

Talc can also be formed from magnesian chlorite and quartz in blueschist and eclogite metamorphism via the following metamorphic reaction:

In this reaction, the ratio of talc and kyanite is dependent on aluminium content with more aluminous rocks favoring production of kyanite. This is typically associated with high-pressure, low-temperature minerals such as phengite, garnet, glaucophane within the lower blueschist facies. Such rocks are typically white, friable, and fibrous, and are known as whiteschist.

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