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Last updated date: 25th Feb 2024
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What is Quartz?

Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals found on Earth. Its chemical composition primarily constitutes silicon dioxide (SiO2) or silica and oxygen; however, minor impurities, including sodium, lithium, titanium, and potassium, can also be present. Its physical and chemical properties make it one of the most useful natural materials on the planet.

A widely distributed mineral on the Earth's surface, quartz is a crucial constituent of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. It is formed in igneous rocks as magma cools and silicon dioxide crystallises.

Quartz is highly resistant to chemical and mechanical weathering and can form at all temperatures. This is why mountaintops and beaches, sea, and desert sand are abundant with quartz.

In this article, we will learn quartz types and meanings and know where quartz come from.

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Importance and Uses of Quartz

The demand for quartz is quite high due to its economic importance and quartz use in a huge variety of sectors. Here are some of them.

  • Quartz is highly durable and chemically inert with most substances, in addition to its heat resistance and other electrical properties, which makes it a valuable mineral in electronic products.

  • Its lustre, colour, and diaphaneity make it useful as a gemstone and in making glass.

  • Different types of quartz are used in different industries, including as gemstones, like rose quartz, smoky quartz, amethyst, and citrine.

  • Quartz is a major component of Sandstone, essentially used as a building stone.

  • Silica sand or Quartz sand is used in the glassmaking industry to manufacture ceramics, glass and moulds for metal casting. It is used to make container glass, flat plate glass, speciality glass, and fibreglass.

  • Crushed quartz is an excellent abrasive used in sandpaper, sandblasting, and grit for sanding and sawing.

  • Silica glass (also known as fused quartz) is employed in optics to transmit ultraviolet light.

  • The ability of quartz crystals to vibrate at precise frequencies makes the mineral useful in extremely accurate time-keeping instruments where radio and television signals are required to be transmitted at specific and stable frequencies.

  • Quartz fibres also find their use in extremely sensitive weighing devices.

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Quartz Occurrence

Quartz is an important mineral in silica-rich felsic rocks such as granodiorites, rhyolites, and granites, which is present in high concentrations in sandstones and other detrital rocks. Microcrystalline varieties of silica, such as flint, chert, jasper, and agate, also consist of an exemplary quartz network.

The world's major and primary quartz-producing countries include Japan, Russia, and China. Additionally, Brazil, Belgium, France, Bulgaria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Germany also mine significant amounts of this mineral.

Existence of Quartz

Quartz minerals exist in two forms. Let us discuss the types of quartz or quartz types and their meanings.

  • Alpha or the low quartz - It is stable at 573 °C (1,063 °F).

  • Beta or high quartz is stable above the temperature of 573 °C.

The two types of quartz only differ in the alpha-beta transition, which occurs due to small movements of their constituent atoms. The alpha-quartz structure is trigonal with a right-handed symmetry group, while the beta-quartz structure is hexagonal, with either left- or right-handed symmetry groups equally populated in crystals.

At the transition temperature, the beta-quartz's tetrahedral shape twists, which results in the symmetry of alpha-quartz. However, the beta-quartz changes into tridymite at temperatures more than 867 °C (1,593 °F). At very high pressure, the alpha-quartz transforms into the coesite and still, at higher pressures, as stishovite.

Quartz: A Piezoelectric

Quartz is a naturally occurring piezoelectric crystal. A piezoelectric crystal is one that develops both positive and negative charges on an alternate prism edge when subjected to higher stretching or pressure. These charges are proportional to the change in pressure. Since a quartz crystal has silicon atoms with a positive charge and oxygen atoms with a negative charge, when it is stretched or pressed, the arrangement of the atoms changes slightly, giving it a piezoelectric property.

Thus, a quartz plate is used as a pressure gauge, as a depth-sounding apparatus. Also, due to its properly cut plates, quartz can be used for frequency control in televisions, radios, and other electronic communications equipment, and crystal-controlled watches and clocks.

Synthetic and Artificial Treatment

It is important to remember that not all quartz varieties are naturally occurring. Some clear quartz crystals are also treated using gamma or heat irradiation to induce the colour where it would not otherwise occur naturally; this treatment depends on the location where the quartz is mined.

Prasiolite, which is an olive-coloured material, can be produced by heat treatment; natural prasiolite has also been observed in the Lower Silesia in Poland. Although the citrine takes place naturally, the majority is given as the result of smoky or heat-treating amethyst quartz. To deepen its colour, carnelian is widely heat-treated.

So, after reading this article, you will have gained a better understanding of the quartz meaning, quartz mineral uses, types of quartz and its occurrence.

FAQs on Quartz

1. Explain about Quartz Mining?

Answer: Quartz is extracted from the open-pit mines. Occasionally, miners use explosives to expose the deep pockets of quartz. Very frequently, backhoes and bulldozers are used to remove clay and soil and expose quartz veins that are then worked using hand tools. Proper care should be taken to avoid the sudden temperature changes that can damage the crystals.

2. Give some related Silica Minerals of Quartz?

Answer: Cristobalite and Tridymite are SiO2's high-temperature polymorphs that take place in the high-silica volcanic rocks. Coesite is given as SiO2's denser polymorph, which is found in a few meteorite impact sites and in the metamorphic rocks that are formed at pressures greater than those typical of the crust of Earth. 

3. Explain Quartz Safety.

Answer: As silica is a form of quartz, it is a possible cause for concern in different workplaces. Grinding, cutting, sanding, chipping, polishing, drilling and manufacturing of natural stone products can release hazardous levels of small and crystalline silica dust particles into the air that workers breathe.

4. Give the Piezoelectricity of Quartz?

Answer: Quartz crystals have piezoelectric properties, which means that when mechanical stress is applied, they produce an electrochemical charge. Early use of the quartz crystal property was in the phonograph pickups. The most common piezoelectric use of today's quartz is as a crystal oscillator. A quartz clock is a familiar device that is one of the quartz mineral uses.