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What is Dolomite Mineral?

Dolomite is an anhydrous carbonate mineral made up primarily of calcium magnesium carbonate (CaMg(CO3)2). A sedimentary carbonate rock consisting primarily of the mineral dolomite is also known as a dolostone rock or dolostone rock type. The word "dolostone" is often used to refer to the dolomitic rock type. Dolomite is a type of limestone in which the mineral dolomite, calcium magnesium carbonate [CaMg(CO3)2], dominates the carbonate fraction. Dolomite also exists in an amorphous form, known as dolomite powder.


Carl Linnaeus is credited with being the first to describe the mineral dolomite in 1768. Deodat Gratet de Dolomieu (1750–1801), a French naturalist and geologist, first identified it as a rock in buildings of the old city of Rome in 1791, and later as samples collected in the mountains now known as the Dolomite Alps of northern Italy. After Dolomieu, Nicolas-Theodore de Saussure was the first to name the mineral.


Properties of Dolomite

  • The trigonal-rhombohedral system is used to crystallise dolomite. It forms crystals that are white, tan, green, or pink in colour. Dolomite is a double carbonate of calcium and magnesium ions arranged in an alternating structural structure. It does not dissolve or effervesce as quickly as calcite in cold dilute hydrochloric acid unless it is in fine powder form (dolomite powder). Twinning of crystals is very popular. Colourless, translucent, buff-coloured, pinkish, or bluish dolomite crystals. 

  • Granular dolomite is a medium to dark grey, brown, or white granular dolomite found in rocks. Dolomite crystals vary in transparency from translucent to transparent, but dolomite grains in rocks are usually translucent or nearly opaque. 

  • The lustre varies from dull to subvitreous. Dolomite, like calcite, cleaves into six-sided polyhedrons with diamond-shaped faces. Dolomite and calcite have different relationships between lamellar twinning and cleavage planes, and this distinction can be used to differentiate the two minerals in coarse-grained rocks like marbles. 

  • Dolomite has a hardness of 3\[\frac{1}{2}\] to 4 on the Mohs scale and a specific gravity of 2.85. 

  • In dolomite and calcite, there are relationships between lamellar twinning and cleavage planes. When thin parts of the minerals are examined under a microscope, this disparity can be seen.

  • Some dolostones have granular dolomite, with individual grains varying in size from microscopic to a few millimetres in diameter. The majority of dolomite marbles are coarsely granular, with individual grains varying in size from 2 to 6 millimetres (0.079 to 0.24 inch).

  • Dolomite vein grains may be several centimetres in diameter. Dolomite crystals in saddle-shaped clusters, most of which occur on fracture surfaces, range in size from 0.5 to 2 centimetres (0.20 to 0.79 inch) in diameter.

  • Dolomite, iron-dominant ankerite, and manganese-dominant kutnohorite form a solid solution. The crystals have a yellow to brown hue due to the small quantities of iron in the structure. Manganese replacements account for up to 3% MnO in the structure. 

  • The crystals have a rosy pink colour due to the high manganese content. Magnesium is also replaced in the structure by lead, zinc, and cobalt. Dolomite Mg3Ca(CO3)4 is a mineral that is closely related to huntite Mg3Ca(CO3)4.

  • Dolomite aquifers are important as aquifers and contribute to karst terrain formation because they can be dissolved by slightly acidic water.

Composition of Dolomite

Ferrous iron usually replaces some of the magnesium in dolomite, and a complete sequence between dolomite and ankerite [CaFe(CO3)2] is very possible. Manganese may also be used to replace magnesium, but only to a small degree and usually only in conjunction with iron. Barium and lead for calcium, as well as zinc and cobalt for magnesium, are known to substitute within the dolomite structure, though in small quantities.


Dolostones have been found to contain nearly all of the natural elements in trace amounts. However, it is unknown which ones are found in dolomite; others may be found in other mineral constituents of the examined rocks. Just a few of these elements, such as strontium, rubidium, boron, and uranium (U), are known to occur definitively within the dolomite structure.


Dolomite effervesces with dilute hydrochloric acid, but more slowly than calcite; it tends to smoulder slowly in general, and in some cases only after the rock has been powdered or the acid has been warmed, or both. In the field, this variation in the character of effervescence is normally used to differentiate dolomite from calcite. Staining methods, which are often based on chemical properties or standard compositions, may be used in the lab to differentiate between these minerals. The stains commonly used are particularly useful for examining rocks composed of alternate lamellae of dolostone and limestone composition.


Structure of Dolomite

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Dolomite is a calcium element or magnesium element carbonate mineral. CaMg(CO3)2 is the formula unit composition. The trigonal crystal system of dolomite has a rhombohedral habit. Unlike magnesian calcites, calcium and magnesium are divided into complete separate planes in ideal dolomite. Just a few per cent of calcium is substituted for magnesium in most dolomite samples, and vice versa. 


In a condensed form, the dolomite structure is similar to that of calcite, but magnesium ions replace calcium ions in any other cation layer. As a result, the ideal dolomite structure will include a calcium layer, a carbonate layer, a magnesium layer, another carbonate layer, and so on. The Dolomites, unlike calcites, may exhibit order-disorder relationships, as defined for potassium feldspars. This happens because the purity of some of the cation layers isn't perfect for example, some calcium layers may contain magnesium, and some magnesium layers may contain calcium. 


The word proto dolomite is also used to describe Holocene dolomites with less-than-ideal dolomite structures. The majority of ancient dolostone dolomites, on the other hand, tend to be well organised. In technical literature, modifications that may represent a variety of calcium-versus-magnesium layering aberrations are discussed extensively.


Distribution of Dolomite

Dolomite is a common mineral found in Spain, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary. When ground, dolomitic limestone (dolostone) can be used as a soil liming material, as well as for building stones and gravel.


Despite the presence of vast deposits of dolomite in the geological record, there is no evidence of dolomite formation under current environmental conditions, such as marine sediments and soils. Dolomite preparation in the laboratory at room temperatures and pressures is still one of the most difficult tasks in mineralogy.


Formation of Dolomite

Modern dolomite formation has been discovered in supersaturated saline lagoons along the Rio de Janeiro coast of Brazil, including Lagoa Vermelha and Brejo do Espinho, under anaerobic conditions. Many people believe that dolomite can only form with the aid of sulfate-reducing bacteria e.g. Desulfovibrio brasiliensis. 


Low-temperature dolomite, on the other hand, can be found in natural habitats that are rich in organic matter and microbial cell surfaces. This happens as a result of carboxyl groups associated with organic matter forming a complex with magnesium. Dolomite is found in large deposits in the geological record, but it is relatively uncommon in modern environments. 


In 1999, the first reproducible inorganic low-temperature syntheses of dolomite and magnesite were reported. During periodic periods of dissolution and reprecipitation, the initial precipitation of a metastable "precursor" (such as magnesium calcite) will eventually change into more and more of the stable phase (such as dolomite or magnesite). Breaking Ostwald's step rule is the general concept that governs the direction of this irreversible geochemical reaction.


A biogenic occurrence of dolomite has been discovered. The development of dolomite in the urinary bladder of a Dalmatian dog, probably as a result of illness or infection, is one example.


Dolomite Uses

The various type of dolomite uses are discussed below:

  • Dolomite is used as an ornamental stone, a concrete aggregate, and a magnesium oxide source, as well as in the Pidgeon magnesium production process. It is a significant petroleum reservoir rock that also serves as the host rock for massive strata-bound MVT ore deposits of base metals including lead, zinc, and copper. Dolomite is often used in place of calcite limestone as a flux for the smelting of iron and steel when calcite limestone is unavailable or too expensive. Therefore, known as dolomite limestone. The processing of float glass necessitates a large amount of refined dolomite.

  • Dolomite and dolomitic limestone are used in horticulture as a pH buffer and magnesium source in soils and soilless potting mixes. In marine (saltwater) aquariums, dolomite is used as the base to help buffer changes in the pH of the water.

  • Calcined dolomite is also used as a catalyst in the high-temperature gasification of biomass to kill tar. Particle physics researchers want to create particle detectors under layers of dolomite so that they can find as many exotic particles as possible. Dolomite can insulate against cosmic ray interference without contributing to background radiation levels because it contains only trace amounts of radioactive materials.

  • Dolomite is highly prized by collectors and museums as it forms huge, translucent crystals, in addition to being an industrial mineral. The specimens found in the Eugui, Esteribar, Navarra (Spain) magnesite quarry are considered among the best in the world. You can easily find the dolomite powder price on the internet.

Did You Know?

  • Dolomite can be found in several parts of Europe, Canada, and Africa.

  • Rare hot pink dolomite varieties can be found in Africa's Congo.

  • The Dolomite Problem refers to the debate among scientists about the origins of dolomite beds.

  • Dolomite does not bubble when exposed to acid, which is a distinguishing feature between dolomite and limestone.

  • The Dolomites are an Italian mountain range composed of dolomite rock.

  • Dolomite can be used as a calcium or magnesium supplement.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question: What are the Uses of Dolomite?

Answer: The uses of dolomite are given below:

Dolomite is used as an ornamental stone, a concrete aggregate, and a magnesium oxide source, as well as in the Pidgeon magnesium production process. Dolomite ore is a good source of magnesium. It is a significant petroleum reservoir rock that also serves as the host rock for massive strata-bound MVT ore deposits of base metals including lead, zinc, and copper. Dolomite is often used in place of calcite limestone as a flux for the smelting of iron and steel when calcite limestone is unavailable or too expensive. The processing of float glass necessitates a large amount of refined dolomite. 

Question: What are the Properties of Dolomite?

Answer: The properties of dolomite are given below:

  • The trigonal-rhombohedral system is used to crystallise dolomite.

  • It forms crystals that are white, tan, green, or pink in colour.

  • Dolomite is a double carbonate of calcium and magnesium ions arranged in an alternating structural structure. Unless it's in the form of a fine powder.

  • It does not dissolve or effervesce (fizz) as quickly as calcite in cold diluted hydrochloric acid.

  • Twinning of crystals is very popular.

  • Colorless, translucent, buff-colored, pinkish, or bluish dolomite crystals.

  • Granular dolomite is a medium to dark grey, brown, or white granular dolomite found in rocks.

  • Dolomite crystals range from transparent to translucent, but dolomite grains in rocks are typically translucent or nearly opaque.

  • The lustre ranges from subvitreous to dull.

  • Dolomite cleaves into six-sided polyhedrons with diamond-shaped faces, similar to calcite.

  • Dolomite's lamellar twinning and cleavage planes vary from those of calcite (see figure), and this variation can be used to tell the two minerals apart in coarse-grained rocks like marbles.

  • The Mohs hardness of dolomite ranges from 3 ½ to 4.

  • The specific gravity of dolomite is around 2.85. 

  • Triboluminescent dolomites exist.

  • Some dolostones have granular dolomite, with individual grains varying in size from microscopic to a few millimetres in diameter.

  • The majority of dolomite marbles are coarsely granular, with individual grains varying in size from 2 to 6 millimetres (0.079 to 0.24 inch).

  • Dolomite vein grains may be several centimetres in diameter.

  • Saddle-shaped groups of dolomite crystals, most of which occur on fracture surfaces, measure from 0.5 to 2 centimetres (0.20 to 0.79 inch) across.

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