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Optical properties - Microcline
Crystal System: Triclinic
Color in PPL: Colorless
Pleochroism: N/A
Habit/Shape: Can be anhedral or euhedral. Grains are commonly elongate with a tabular appearance. May contain lamellae which formed from exsolved albite.
Relief: Low negative relief
Cleavage/Fracture Habit: Has perfect cleavage parallel to {001} and good cleavage on {010}. Cleavages intersect at 90°41'. It can be difficult to see cleavage in thin section due to microcline's low relief.
Twinning: Typically displays albite twinning and pericline twinning. This combination leads to a grid pattern, hence microcline displays gridiron twinning. Can also display carlsbad twinning, simple twins, or lack twinning altogether. Lamellae in microcline are discontinuous and "pinch and swell."
Birefringence: Up to first order white (roughly 0.007)
Extinction Habit/Angle: Inclined extinction to cleavage
Length Slow/Fast: N/A
Optic Sign: Biaxial negative
2Vx: 65-88°
Alteration: Commonly alters to sericite or clay.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Gridiron twinning distinguishes microcline from other feldspars. Distinguishable from plagioclase because the lamellae in plagioclase are continuous and do not "pinch and swell."

Microcline (KAlSi3O8) is an important igneous rock forming tectosilicate mineral. It is a potassium-rich alkali feldspar. Microcline typically contains minor amounts of sodium. It is common in granite and pegmatites. Microcline forms during slow cooling of orthoclase; it is stable at lower temperatures than orthoclase. Sanidine is a polymorph of alkali feldspar stable at yet higher temperature. Microcline may be clear, white, pale-yellow, brick-red, or green; it is generally characterized by cross-hatch twinning that forms as a result of the transformation of monoclinic orthoclase into triclinic microcline.

Additional recommended knowledge

Microcline may be chemically the same as monoclinic orthoclase, but because it belongs to the triclinic crystal system, the prism angle is slightly less than right angles; hence the name "microcline" from the Greek "small slope." It is a fully ordered triclinic modification of potassium feldspar and is dimorphous with orthoclase. Microcline is identical to orthoclase in many physical properties; it can be distinguished by x-ray or optical examination; viewed under a polarizing microscope, microcline exhibits a minute multiple twinning which forms a grating-like structure that is unmistakable.   Perthite is either microcline or orthoclase with thin lamellae of exsolved albite.

Amazon stone, or amazonite, is a beautiful green variety of microcline. It is not found anywhere in the Amazon basin, however, Spanish explorers who named it apparently confused it with another green mineral from that region.

A sodic alkali feldspar named anorthoclase also occurs; it is a crystalline solid solution of KAlSi3O8 and NaAlSi3O8, the sodium-aluminium silicate being in larger proportion.

See also


  • Alkali feldspars U. Texas
  • Mindat
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Microcline". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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