Fire agate

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Fire agate (type of chalcedony)

High Grade Slaughter Mountain Arizona Fire Agate Rough.jpg

Raw fire agate prior to refinement geode
Category Oxide mineral
(repeating unit)
Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2)
Crystal system Trigonal, monoclinic
Formula mass 60 g / mol
Color Blue to yellow to red
Cleavage Absent
Fracture Uneven, splintery, conchoidal
Mohs scale hardness 6 - 7
Luster Waxy, vitreous, dull, greasy, silky
Diaphaneity Translucent
Specific gravity 2.59 - 2.61

Fire agate, a variety of chalcedony, is a semi-precious natural gemstone discovered so far only in certain areas of central and northern Mexico and the southwestern United States (New Mexico, Arizona and California). Approximately 24-36 million years ago these areas were subjected to massive volcanic activity during the Tertiary Period. The fire agates were formed during this period of volcanism when hot water, saturated with silica and iron oxide, repeatedly filled cracks and bubbles in the surrounding rock.

Chalcedony Microcrystalline varieties of quartz, may contain moganite as well

Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. Chalcedony's standard chemical structure (based on the chemical structure of quartz) is SiO2 (silicon dioxide).

Iron oxide chemical compound composed of iron and oxygen

Iron oxides are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen. All together, there are sixteen known iron oxides and oxyhydroxides.

Fire agates have beautiful iridescent rainbow colors, similar to opal, with a measurement of hardness on the Mohs scale of between 5 and 7 which reduces the occurrence of scratching when polished gemstones are set in jewelry. The vibrant iridescent rainbow colors found within fire agates, created by the Schiller effect as found in mother-of-pearl, is caused by the alternating silica and iron oxide layers which diffract and allow light to pass and form an interference of colors within the microstructure layering of the stone causing the fire effect for which it is named.

Opal A hydrated amorphous form of silica

Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica (SiO2·nH2O); its water content may range from 3 to 21% by weight, but is usually between 6 and 10%. Because of its amorphous character, it is classed as a mineraloid, unlike crystalline forms of silica, which are classed as minerals. It is deposited at a relatively low temperature and may occur in the fissures of almost any kind of rock, being most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl, and basalt. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia.

Mohs scale of mineral hardness qualitative ordinal scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material. Created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, it is one of several definitions of hardness in materials science, some of which are more quantitative. The method of comparing hardness by observing which minerals can scratch others is of great antiquity, having been mentioned by Theophrastus in his treatise On Stones, c. 300 BC, followed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, c. 77 AD. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.

Related Research Articles

Agate A rock consisting of cryptocrystalline silica alternating with microgranular quartz

Agate is a rock consisting primarily of cryptocrystalline silica, chiefly chalcedony, alternating with microgranular quartz. It is characterized by its fineness of grain and variety of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of host rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.

Flint Cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz

Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white or brown in colour, and often has a glassy or waxy appearance. A thin layer on the outside of the nodules is usually different in colour, typically white and rough in texture. From a petrological point of view, "flint" refers specifically to the form of chert which occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Similarly, "common chert" occurs in limestone.

Lustre or luster is the way light interacts with the surface of a crystal, rock, or mineral. The word traces its origins back to the Latin lux, meaning "light", and generally implies radiance, gloss, or brilliance.

Jasper Chalcedony variety colored by iron oxide

Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz and/or chalcedony and other mineral phases, is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. The common red color is due to iron(III) inclusions. The mineral aggregate breaks with a smooth surface and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for items such as vases, seals, and snuff boxes. The specific gravity of jasper is typically 2.5 to 2.9. A green variety with red spots, known as heliotrope (bloodstone), is one of the traditional birthstones for March. Jaspilite is a banded iron formation rock that often has distinctive bands of jasper.

Chert A hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of crystals of quartz (silica) that are very small

Chert is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of crystals of quartz (silica) that are very small (microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline). Quartz (silica) is the mineral form of silicon dioxide (SiO2). Chert is often of biological origin (organic) but may also occur inorganically as a chemical precipitate or a diagenetic replacement (e.g., petrified wood). Geologists use chert as a generic name for any type of microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline quartz.

Slag glass-like by-product left over after a desired metal has been separated from its raw ore

Slag is the glass-like by-product left over after a desired metal has been separated from its raw ore. Slag is usually a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. However, slags can contain metal sulfides and elemental metals. While slags are generally used to remove waste in metal smelting, they can also serve other purposes, such as assisting in the temperature control of the smelting, and minimizing any re-oxidation of the final liquid metal product before the molten metal is removed from the furnace and used to make solid metal.

Onyx Banded variety of the mineral chalcedony

Onyx primarily refers to the parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony. Agate and onyx are both varieties of layered chalcedony that differ only in the form of the bands: agate has curved bands and onyx has parallel bands. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color. Commonly, specimens of onyx contain bands of black and/or white. Onyx, as a descriptive term, has also been applied to parallel banded varieties of alabaster, marble, obsidian and opal, and misleadingly to materials with contorted banding, such as "Cave Onyx" and "Mexican Onyx".

Iridescence property in which fine colors, changeable with the angle of view or angle of illumination, are produced on a surface by the interference of light that is reflected from both the front and back of a thin film

Iridescence is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, butterfly wings and seashells, as well as certain minerals. It is often created by structural coloration.

Chrysoprase apple-green, gem-quality, chalcedony variety

Chrysoprase, chrysophrase or chrysoprasus is a gemstone variety of chalcedony that contains small quantities of nickel. Its color is normally apple-green, but varies to deep green. The darker varieties of chrysoprase are also referred to as prase.

Lithophysa felsic volcanic rock

A lithophysa is a felsic volcanic rock with a small spherulitic cavity and concentric chambers. Its shape is spherical or lenticular. These rocks are usually found within obsidian or rhyolite.

Moss agate agate variety

Moss agate is a semi-precious gemstone formed from silicon dioxide. It is a form of chalcedony which includes minerals of a green colour embedded in the stone, forming filaments and other patterns suggestive of moss. The field is a clear or milky-white quartz, and the included minerals are mainly oxides of manganese or iron. It is not a true form of agate, as it lacks agate's defining feature of concentric banding. Moss agate is of the white variety with green inclusions that resemble moss. It occurs in many locations. The colors are formed due to trace amounts of metal present as an impurity, such as chrome or iron. The metals can make different colors depending on their valence.


Opalescence refers to the optical phenomena displayed by the mineraloid gemstone opal. However, there are three notable types of opal, each with different optical effects, so the intended meaning varies depending on context. The optical effects seen in various types of opal are a result of refraction or reflection (common) due to the layering, spacing, and size of the myriad microscopic silicon dioxide spheres and included water in its physical structure. When the size and spacing of the silica spheres are relatively small, refracted blue-green colors are prevalent; when relatively larger, refracted yellow-orange-red colors are seen; and when larger yet, reflection yields a milky-hazy sheen.

Dichroic glass glass which displays two different colors by undergoing a color change in certain lighting conditions

Dichroic glass is glass which displays two different colors by undergoing a color change in certain lighting conditions.

Lake Superior agate

The Lake Superior agate is a type of agate stained by iron and found on the shores of Lake Superior. Its wide distribution and iron-rich bands of color reflect the gemstone's geologic history in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan. In 1969 the Lake Superior agate was designated by the Minnesota Legislature as the official state gemstone.

Ceramic glaze layer or coating of vitreous substance fused to a ceramic object

Ceramic glaze is an impervious layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fused to a ceramic body through firing. Glaze can serve to color, decorate or waterproof an item. Glazing renders earthenware vessels suitable for holding liquids, sealing the inherent porosity of unglazed biscuit earthenware. It also gives a tougher surface. Glaze is also used on stoneware and porcelain. In addition to their functionality, glazes can form a variety of surface finishes, including degrees of glossy or matte finish and color. Glazes may also enhance the underlying design or texture either unmodified or inscribed, carved or painted.


Ammolite is an opal-like organic gemstone found primarily along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains of North America. It is made of the fossilized shells of ammonites, which in turn are composed primarily of aragonite, the same mineral contained in nacre, with a microstructure inherited from the shell. It is one of few biogenic gemstones; others include amber and pearl.1 In 1981, ammolite was given official gemstone status by the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), the same year commercial mining of ammolite began. It was designated the official gemstone of the City of Lethbridge, Alberta in 2007.

Colored gold various colours of gold obtained by alloying gold with other elements

Pure gold is slightly reddish yellow in color, but colored gold in various other colors can be produced.

Biggs jasper

Biggs jasper is a variety of the mineral jasper. It is a "picture jasper" – a jasper that exhibits particular patterns and colors – and is used as an opaque gemstone. It exhibits intricate, shell- or layer-like patterns in shades of brown ranging from beige to dark brown.