Natrolite

Geology

Natrolite

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The name natrolite is derived from natron (Greek for soda) and lithos (Greek for stone). Natrolite is sometimes called needle stone or needle-zeolite, in reference to the many slender ‘needles’ growing from the crystal. Despite appearing white at first glance, on closer inspection the crystal is transparent and may display hues of a variety of colours. It grows commonly in basalt cavities and will fluoresce orange to yellow under ultraviolet light. These specimens were obtained from Dean Quarry in St Keverne, which from 1890 until its closure in 2005 was mined for stone used in roads and sea walls. Plans to reopen the quarry for the purpose of constructing a new renewable energy tidal lagoon were scrapped by the Government in 2018, with debates as to how the site should be used going forward continuing to this day. Many crystals have been mined from Dean Quarry over the years, which was somewhat renowned for its ‘fine zeolites’ such as the Natrolite on display here.

By Jacob Hannam (Intern from University of Exeter)

Sources:

  1. Tschernich, Zeolites of the World, Geoscience Press, 1992.

Cornwall Live: Cornwall Dean Quarry future on hold after blow to Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project (June 2018)

Falmouth Packet: Outdoor activity centre plan for Dean Quarry near St Keverne (July 2019)

Crystal Classics: Natrolite on Calcite CC14146