Dolomite is an important rock-forming mineral that named is French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu. It is a colorless to white, pale brown, grayish, reddish, or pink mineral. Its crystals are commonly rhombohedral or tabular, often have curved faces, and sometimes cluster in saddle-shaped aggregates. Dolomite may be striated horizontally and twinned. Some crystals may be up to 2 in (5 cm) long. It can also be coarse to fine granular, massive, and, rarely, fibrous.

Polymorphism & Series: Forms two series, with ankerite and with kutnohorite.

Mineral Group: Dolomite group.

Name: Honors Dieudonne (D´eodat) Sylvain Guy Tancr`ede de Gratet de Dolomieu (1750–1801), French geologist and naturalist, who contributed to early descriptions of the species in dolostone.

Association: Fluorite, barite, calcite, siderite, quartz, metal sulfides (hydrothermal); calcite, celestine, gypsum, quartz (sedimentary); talc, serpentine, magnesite, calcite, magnetite, diopside, tremolite, forsterite, wollastonite (metamorphic); calcite, ankerite, siderite, apatite (carbonatites).


Dolomite is the main constituent in dolomite rocks and dolomitic marbles. It occurs as a replacement deposit in limestone affected by magnesium-bearing solutions, in talc schists, and in other magnesium-rich metamorphic rocks. Dolomite is found in hydrothermal veins associated with lead, zinc, and copper ores. It is also found in altered, silica-poor igneous rocks, in some carbonatites, and in serpentinites. Crystals of dolomite frequently form in cavities in limestone and marble.

Chemical Properties of Dolomite

Chemical Classification Carbonate
Chemical Composition CaMg(CO3)2
Common Impurities Fe,Mn,Co,Pb,Zn

Physical Properties of Dolomite

Color Colorless, white, pink, green, gray, brown, black
Streak White
Luster Vitreous, pearly
Cleavage Perfect, rhombohedral, three directions
Diaphaneity Transparent to translucent
Mohs Hardness 3.5 to 4
Crystal System Hexagonal
Tenacity Brittle
Density 2.84 – 2.86 g/cm3 (Measured)    2.876 g/cm3 (Calculated)
Parting Noted in lamellar twins on {0221}. Twin gliding on {0221};

Optical Properties of Dolomite

RI values: nω = 1.679 – 1.681 nε = 1.500 – 1.503
Twinning Common as simple contact twins
Optic Sign Uniaxial (-)
Birefringence 0.179
Relief Moderate
Optical Extinction Parallel


Formed by diagenesis or hydrothermal metasomatism of limestone; a primary phase in hypersaline sedimentary environments; a major component of some contact metamorphic rocks and marbles; a gangue in hydrothermal veins; in carbonatites and ultramafic rocks.

Uses Area

  • Construction aggregate
  • Cement manufacture
  • Dimension stone,
  • Calcined to produce lime,
  • Sometimes an oil and gas reservoir,
  • A source of magnesia for the chemical industry, agricultural soil treatments,
  • Metallurgical flux


A major rock-forming mineral, abundant worldwide with numerous commercial uses. Some localities for fine examples include:

  • In Italy, from Traversella and Brosso, Piedmont.
  • Exceptional crystals from Eugui, Navarra Province, Spain.
  • At Trieben and Hall, Tirol, Austria. From Freiberg and Schneeberg, Saxony, Germany.
  • At Lengenbach, Binntal, Switzerland. From Trepca, Serbia, Yugoslavia. At Frizington, Cumbria, England.
  • In the Vuoriyarvi carbonatite complex, Kola Peninsula, Russia.
  • Fine crystals from Brumado, Bahia, and in the Morro Velho gold mine, Nova Lima, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
  • At Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico.
  • In the USA, in New York, from Lockport, Niagara Co., eastward to Walworth, Wayne Co.; at Stony Point, Alexander Co., North Carolina; in the Mississippi Valley region, in the Tri-State district, at Joplin, Jasper Co., Missouri; Galena, Cherokee Co., Kansas; and Picher, Ottawa Co., Oklahoma.


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