Hematite (AE) or haematite (BE) is the mineral form of Iron(III) oxide, (Fe2O3), one of several iron oxides. Hematite crystallizes in the rhombohedral system, and it has the same crystal structure as ilmenite and as corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950°C.
Hematite (kidney ore) from MichiganHematite is a very common mineral, coloured black to steel or silver-gray, brown to reddish brown, or red. It is mined as the main ore of iron. Varieties include kidney ore, martite (pseudomorphs after magnetite), iron rose and specularite (specular hematite). While the forms of hematite vary, they all have a rust-red streak. Hematite is harder than pure iron, but much more brittle.
Huge deposits of hematite are found in banded iron formations. Grey hematite is typically found in places where there has been standing water or mineral hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone. The mineral can precipitate out of water and collect in layers at the bottom of a lake, spring, or other standing water. But, hematite can also occur without water, as the result of volcanic activity.
Clay-sized hematite crystals can also occur as a secondary mineral formed by weathering processes in soil, and along with other iron oxides or oxyhydroxides such as goethite, is responsible for the red color of many tropical, ancient, or otherwise highly weathered soils.
The name hematite is derived from the Greek word for blood (haima), since sometimes hematite can be red, as in Rouge, a powderized form of hematite. It shares this root with the word hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-transporting molecule in red blood cells, the iron of which causes blood to be red. The color of hematite lends it well in use as a pigment.
Rainbow Hematite from BrazilEspecially good specimens of hematite come from England, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and the Lake Superior region of the United States and Canada.
Hematite is an antiferromagnetic material below the Morin transition at 260K, and a canted antiferromagnet or weakly ferromagnetic above the Morin transition and below its Néel temperature at 948K, above which it is paramagnetic.
Hematite specimen showing well developed botryoidal structure for which this mineral is well-known.Hematite is part of a complex solid solution oxyhydoxide system having various degrees of water, hydroxyl group, and vacancy substitutions that affect the mineral's magnetic and crystal chemical properties. Two other end-members are referred to as potohematite and hydrohematite.
Hematite in popular culture
Since polished hematite is considered by many to be a gemstone, it has been used in jewelry over the course of the last 50 years in North America, especially in the western United States. Its use in jewelry reached a height in Europe in Victorian times when it was very popular. Hematite can be found used in jewelry and art created by the Native Americans.