Hematite

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Hematite, also spelled as hæmatite, is the mineral form of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3), one of several iron oxides. Hematite crystallizes in the rhombohedral 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.

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. Grey hematite is typically found in places where there has been standing water or mineral hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. 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.

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Etymology and history

The name hematite is derived from the Greek word for blood αἷμα aima because hematite can be red, as in rouge, a powdered form of hematite. The color of hematite lends it well in 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”).

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