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Feldspar crystal 18 cm × 21 cm × 8.5 cm (7.1 in × 8.3 in × 3.3 in) from Jequitinhonha valley, Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil
Category Tectosilicate
(repeating unit)
K Al Si
IMA symbol Fsp [1]
Crystal system Triclinic or monoclinic
Colorpink, white, gray, brown, blue
Cleavage two or three
Fracture along cleavage planes
Mohs scale hardness6.0–6.5
Luster Vitreous
Streak white
Diaphaneity opaque
Specific gravity 2.55–2.76
Density 2.56
Refractive index 1.518–1.526
Birefringence first order
Pleochroism none
Other characteristicsexsolution lamellae common
References [2]
Compositional phase diagram of the different minerals that constitute the feldspar solid solution Feldspar group.svg
Compositional phase diagram of the different minerals that constitute the feldspar solid solution

Feldspar ( /ˈfɛl(d)ˌspɑːr/ FEL(D)-spar; sometimes spelled felspar) is a group of rock-forming aluminium tectosilicate minerals, also containing other cations such as sodium, calcium, potassium, or barium. [3] The most common members of the feldspar group are the plagioclase (sodium-calcium) feldspars and the alkali (potassium-sodium) feldspars. [4] Feldspars make up about 60% of the Earth's crust, [3] and 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight. [5] [6]


Feldspars crystallize from magma as both intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks [7] and are also present in many types of metamorphic rock. [8] Rock formed almost entirely of calcic plagioclase feldspar is known as anorthosite. [9] Feldspars are also found in many types of sedimentary rocks. [10]


The feldspar group of minerals consists of tectosilicates, silicate minerals in which silicon ions are linked by shared oxygen ions to form a three-dimensional network. Compositions of major elements in common feldspars can be expressed in terms of three endmembers:

Solid solutions between K-feldspar and albite are called alkali feldspar. [11] Solid solutions between albite and anorthite are called plagioclase, [11] or, more properly, plagioclase feldspar. Only limited solid solution occurs between K-feldspar and anorthite, and in the two other solid solutions, immiscibility occurs at temperatures common in the crust of the Earth. Albite is considered both a plagioclase and alkali feldspar.

The ratio of alkali feldspar to plagioclase feldspar, together with the proportion of quartz, is the basis for the QAPF classification of igneous rock. [12] [13] [14] Calcium-rich plagioclase is the first feldspar to crystallize from cooling magma, but the plagioclase becomes increasingly sodium-rich as crystallization continues. This defines the continuous Bowen's reaction series. K-feldspar is the final feldspar to crystallize from the magma. [15] [16]

Alkali feldspars

Alkali feldspars are grouped into two types: those containing potassium in combination with sodium, aluminium, or silicon; and those where potassium is replaced by barium. The first of these include:

Potassium and sodium feldspars are not perfectly miscible in the melt at low temperatures, therefore intermediate compositions of the alkali feldspars occur only in higher temperature environments. [20] Sanidine is stable at the highest temperatures, and microcline at the lowest. [17] [18] Perthite is a typical texture in alkali feldspar, due to exsolution of contrasting alkali feldspar compositions during cooling of an intermediate composition. The perthitic textures in the alkali feldspars of many granites can be seen with the naked eye. [21] Microperthitic textures in crystals are visible using a light microscope, whereas cryptoperthitic textures can be seen only with an electron microscope.

Ammonium feldspar

Buddingtonite is an ammonium feldspar with the chemical formula: NH4AlSi3O8. [22] It is a mineral associated with hydrothermal alteration of the primary feldspar minerals.

Barium feldspars

Barium feldspars form as the result of the substitution of barium for potassium in the mineral structure. Barium feldspars are sometimes classified as a separate group of feldspars, [4] and sometimes they are classified as a sub-group of alkali feldspars. [23]

The barium feldspars are monoclinic and include the following:

Plagioclase feldspars

The plagioclase feldspars are triclinic. The plagioclase series follows (with percent anorthite in parentheses):

Intermediate compositions of exsolve to two feldspars of contrasting composition during cooling, but diffusion is much slower than in alkali feldspar, and the resulting two-feldspar intergrowths typically are too fine-grained to be visible with optical microscopes. The immiscibility gaps in the plagioclase solid solutions are complex compared to the gap in the alkali feldspars. The play of colours visible in some feldspar of labradorite composition is due to very fine-grained exsolution lamellae known as Bøggild intergrowth. The specific gravity in the plagioclase series increases from albite (2.62) to anorthite (2.72–2.75).


The structure of a feldspar crystal is based on aluminosilicate tetrahedra. Each tetrahedron consists of an aluminium or silicon ion surrounded by four oxygen ions. Each oxygen ion, in turn, is shared by a neighbouring tetrahedron to form a three-dimensional network. The structure can be visualized as long chains of aluminosilicate tetrahedra, sometimes described as crankshaft chains because their shape is kinked. Each crankshaft chain links to neighbouring crankshaft chains to form a three-dimensional network of fused four-member rings. The structure is open enough for cations (typically sodium, potassium, or calcium) to fit into the structure and provide charge balance. [26]


The name feldspar derives from the German Feldspat, a compound of the words Feld ("field") and Spat ("flake"). Spat had long been used as the word for "a rock easily cleaved into flakes"; Feldspat was introduced in the 18th century as a more specific term, referring perhaps to its common occurrence in rocks found in fields (Urban Brückmann, 1783) or to its occurrence as "fields" within granite and other minerals (René-Just Haüy, 1804). [27] The change from Spat to -spar was influenced by the English word spar, [28] meaning a non-opaque mineral with good cleavage. [29] Feldspathic refers to materials that contain feldspar. The alternate spelling, felspar, has fallen out of use. The term 'felsic', meaning light coloured minerals such as quartz and feldspars, is an acronymic word derived from feldspar and silica, unrelated to the obsolete spelling 'felspar'.


Chemical weathering of feldspars happens by hydrolysis and produces clay minerals, including illite, smectite, and kaolinite. Hydrolysis of feldspars begins with the feldspar dissolving in water, which happens best in acidic or basic solutions and less well in neutral ones. [30] The speed at which feldspars are weathered is controlled by how quickly they are dissolved. [30] Dissolved feldspar reacts with H+ or OH ions and precipitates clays. The reaction also produces new ions in solution, with the variety of ions controlled by the type of feldspar reacting.

The abundance of feldspars in the Earth's crust means that clays are very abundant weathering products. [31] About 40% of minerals in sedimentary rocks are clays and clays are the dominant minerals in the most common sedimentary rocks, mudrocks. [32] They are also an important component of soils. [32] Feldspar that has been replaced by clay looks chalky compared to more crystalline and glassy unweathered feldspar grains. [33]

Feldspars, especially plagioclase feldspars, are not very stable at the Earth's surface due to their high formation temperature. [32] This lack of stability is why feldspars are easily weathered to clays. Because of this tendency to weather easily, feldspars are usually not prevalent in sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks that contain large amounts of feldspar indicate that the sediment did not undergo much chemical weathering before being buried. This means it was probably transported a short distance in cold and/or dry conditions that did not promote weathering, and that it was quickly buried by other sediment. [34] Sandstones with large amounts of feldspar are called arkoses. [34]


Feldspar is a common raw material used in glassmaking, ceramics, and to some extent as filler and an extender in paint, plastics, and rubber. In the US, about 66% of feldspar is consumed in glassmaking, including glass containers and glass fibre. Ceramics (including electrical insulators, sanitaryware, tableware and tile) and other uses, such as fillers, accounted for the remainder. [35]

Glass: Feldspar provides both K2O and Na2O for fluxing, and Al2O3 and CaO as stabilizers. As an important source of Al2O3 for glassmaking, feldspar is valued for its low iron and refractory mineral content, a low cost per unit of Al2O3, no volatiles and no waste. [36]

Ceramics: Feldspars are used in the ceramic industry as a flux to form a glassy phase in bodies during firing, and thus promote vitrification. They also are used as a source of alkalies and alumina in glazes. [36] The composition of feldspar used in different ceramic formulations varies depending on various factors, including the properties of the individual grade, the other raw materials and the requirements of the finished products. However, typical additions include: tableware, 15% to 30% feldspar; high-tension electrical porcelains, 25% to 35%; sanitaryware, 25%; wall tile, 0% to 10%; and dental porcelain up to 80% feldspar. [37]

Earth sciences: In earth sciences and archaeology, feldspars are used for potassium-argon dating, argon-argon dating and luminescence dating.

Minor use: Some household cleaners (such as Bar Keepers Friend and Bon Ami) use feldspar to give a mild abrasive action. [38]


The USGS estimated global production of feldspar in 2020 to be 26 million tonnes, with the top four producing countries being: China 2 million tonnes; India 5 million tonnes; Italy 4 million; Turkey 7.6 million tonnes. [39]

Commercial grades

Typical mineralogical and chemical analyses of three commercial grades used in ceramics are: [40]

Product nameNorfloat KForshammarFFF K6
Producing companyNorth Cape Sibelco  [ nl ]Sibelco
Albite, %234041
Microcline, %712337
Anorthite, %3-4
Quartz , %3338
SiO2, %65.975.767.9
Al2O3, %18.614.118.3
Fe2O3, %
TiO2, %-0.020.01
CaO, %0.400.300.70
MgO, %-0.100.01
K2O, %
Na2O, %
LOI, %


In October 2012, the Curiosity rover found high feldspar content in a Mars rock. [41]


See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Granite</span> Type of igneous rock

Granite is a coarse-grained (phaneritic) intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the continental crust of Earth, where it is found in igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few centimeters across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mineral</span> Crystalline chemical element or compound formed by geologic processes

In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid substance with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Syenite</span> Intrusive igneous rock

Syenite is a coarse-grained intrusive igneous rock with a general composition similar to that of granite, but deficient in quartz, which, if present at all, occurs in relatively small concentrations. It is considered a granitoid. Some syenites contain larger proportions of mafic components and smaller amounts of felsic material than most granites; those are classed as being of intermediate composition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orthoclase</span> Tectosilicate mineral found in igneous rock

Orthoclase, or orthoclase feldspar (endmember formula KAlSi3O8), is an important tectosilicate mineral which forms igneous rock. The name is from the Ancient Greek for "straight fracture", because its two cleavage planes are at right angles to each other. It is a type of potassium feldspar, also known as K-feldspar. The gem known as moonstone (see below) is largely composed of orthoclase.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anorthoclase</span>

The mineral anorthoclase ((Na,K)AlSi3O8) is a crystalline solid solution in the alkali feldspar series, in which the sodium-aluminium silicate member exists in larger proportion. It typically consists of between 10 and 36 percent of KAlSi3O8 and between 64 and 90 percent of NaAlSi3O8.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plagioclase</span> Type of feldspar

Plagioclase ( PLAJ-(ee)-ə-klayss, PLAYJ-, -⁠klayz) is a series of tectosilicate (framework silicate) minerals within the feldspar group. Rather than referring to a particular mineral with a specific chemical composition, plagioclase is a continuous solid solution series, more properly known as the plagioclase feldspar series. This was first shown by the German mineralogist Johann Friedrich Christian Hessel (1796–1872) in 1826. The series ranges from albite to anorthite endmembers (with respective compositions NaAlSi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8), where sodium and calcium atoms can substitute for each other in the mineral's crystal lattice structure. Plagioclase in hand samples is often identified by its polysynthetic crystal twinning or "record-groove" effect.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anorthite</span> Calcium-rich feldspar mineral

Anorthite (an = not, ortho = straight) is the calcium endmember of the plagioclase feldspar mineral series. The chemical formula of pure anorthite is CaAl2Si2O8. Anorthite is found in mafic igneous rocks. Anorthite is rare on the Earth but abundant on the Moon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andesite</span> Type of volcanic rock

Andesite is a volcanic rock of intermediate composition. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between silica-poor basalt and silica-rich rhyolite. It is fine-grained (aphanitic) to porphyritic in texture, and is composed predominantly of sodium-rich plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albite</span> Mineral, Na-feldspar, Na-silicate, tectosilicate

Albite is a plagioclase feldspar mineral. It is the sodium endmember of the plagioclase solid solution series. It represents a plagioclase with less than 10% anorthite content. The pure albite endmember has the formula NaAlSi
. It is a tectosilicate. Its color is usually pure white, hence its name from Latin, albus. It is a common constituent in felsic rocks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metasomatism</span> Chemical alteration of a rock by hydrothermal and other fluids

Metasomatism is the chemical alteration of a rock by hydrothermal and other fluids. It is traditionally defined as metamorphism which involves a change in the chemical composition, excluding volatile components. It is the replacement of one rock by another of different mineralogical and chemical composition. The minerals which compose the rocks are dissolved and new mineral formations are deposited in their place. Dissolution and deposition occur simultaneously and the rock remains solid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scapolite</span> Group of rock-forming silicate minerals

The scapolites are a group of rock-forming silicate minerals composed of aluminium, calcium, and sodium silicate with chlorine, carbonate and sulfate. The two endmembers are meionite and marialite. Silvialite (Ca,Na)4Al6Si6O24(SO4,CO3) is also a recognized member of the group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perthite</span> Intergrowth of two feldspars

Perthite is used to describe an intergrowth of two feldspars: a host grain of potassium-rich alkali feldspar (near K-feldspar, KAlSi3O8, in composition) includes exsolved lamellae or irregular intergrowths of sodic alkali feldspar (near albite, NaAlSi3O8, in composition). Typically, the host grain is orthoclase or microcline, and the lamellae are albite. If sodic feldspar is the dominant phase, the result is an antiperthite and where the feldspars are in roughly equal proportions the result is a mesoperthite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oligoclase</span> Sodium-rich plagioclase feldspar mineral

Oligoclase is a rock-forming mineral belonging to the plagioclase feldspars. In chemical composition and in its crystallographic and physical characters it is intermediate between albite (NaAlSi3O8) and anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8). The albite:anorthite molar ratio of oligoclase ranges from 90:10 to 70:30.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Essexite</span> Igneous rock type

Essexite, also called nepheline monzogabbro, is a dark gray or black holocrystalline plutonic igneous rock. Its name is derived from the type locality in Essex County, Massachusetts, in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sanidine</span> Form of potassium feldspar

Sanidine is the high temperature form of potassium feldspar with a general formula K(AlSi3O8). Sanidine is found most typically in felsic volcanic rocks such as obsidian, rhyolite and trachyte. Sanidine crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system. Orthoclase is a monoclinic polymorph stable at lower temperatures. At yet lower temperatures, microcline, a triclinic polymorph of potassium feldspar, is stable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Celsian</span>

Celsian is an uncommon feldspar mineral, barium aluminosilicate, BaAl2Si2O8. The mineral occurs in contact metamorphic rocks with significant barium content. Its crystal system is monoclinic, and it is white, yellow, or transparent in appearance. In pure form, it is transparent. Synthetic barium aluminosilicate is used as a ceramic in dental fillings and other applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metamorphic facies</span> Set of mineral assemblages in metamorphic rocks formed under similar pressures and temperatures

A metamorphic facies is a set of mineral assemblages in metamorphic rocks formed under similar pressures and temperatures. The assemblage is typical of what is formed in conditions corresponding to an area on the two dimensional graph of temperature vs. pressure. Rocks which contain certain minerals can therefore be linked to certain tectonic settings, times and places in the geological history of the area. The boundaries between facies are wide because they are gradational and approximate. The area on the graph corresponding to rock formation at the lowest values of temperature and pressure is the range of formation of sedimentary rocks, as opposed to metamorphic rocks, in a process called diagenesis.

This glossary of geology is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to geology, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other terms related to the Earth sciences, see Glossary of geography terms.

The Goldich dissolution series is a method of predicting the relative stability or weathering rate of common igneous minerals on the Earth's surface, with minerals that form at higher temperatures and pressures less stable on the surface than minerals that form at lower temperatures and pressures.


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