Wavellite is a mineral that belongs to the phosphate class of minerals. It is renowned for its distinctive crystal formation, which often occurs in spherical or radial aggregates of tiny, bladed crystals. Wavellite is primarily composed of hydrated aluminum phosphate, and its chemical formula is typically given as Al3(PO4)2(OH)3·5H2O.


History and Discovery: Wavellite was first discovered in 1805 in Barnstaple, Devon, England, by the English mineralogist William Henry Wavell, after whom the mineral is named. Wavell initially found this mineral in a mineral collection and later, in 1805, he described and documented its properties. Since its discovery, wavellite has been found in various parts of the world, including the United States, Germany, Brazil, and several other countries.

Formation and Occurrence of Wavellite



Wavellite typically forms through the secondary alteration of primary aluminum phosphate minerals, often in the presence of water. The process of wavellite formation involves the following key steps:

  1. Primary Mineral Alteration: Wavellite is usually the product of the alteration of primary aluminum phosphate minerals, such as variscite or crandallite. These primary minerals are subjected to various geological processes and weathering over time.
  2. Hydrothermal Activity: Hydrothermal activity can play a significant role in the formation of wavellite. Hot water, often containing dissolved minerals and ions, can percolate through rocks and deposit aluminum and phosphate ions at specific locations.
  3. Hydration: The aluminum and phosphate ions combine with hydroxide ions and water molecules, leading to the formation of hydrated aluminum phosphate compounds. The chemical formula for wavellite, Al3(PO4)2(OH)3·5H2O, reflects this hydration process.
  4. Radial Growth: One of the defining characteristics of wavellite is its radial or spherical crystal growth. The bladed or acicular crystals radiate outward from a central point, creating distinctive, ball-like aggregates. This growth pattern is a result of the specific conditions under which wavellite forms.


Wavellite is found in various geological settings around the world. It is often associated with hydrothermal deposits, as well as in weathered or altered phosphate-rich rocks. Some common occurrences of wavellite include:

  1. Phosphate Deposits: Wavellite can be found in association with phosphate deposits, where primary phosphate minerals have undergone alteration due to weathering and hydrothermal activity. These deposits are often located in sedimentary rocks.
  2. Cave Environments: In some cases, wavellite has been discovered in cave environments, where water percolates through limestone or other rock types, carrying dissolved minerals that can precipitate and form wavellite crystals.
  3. Granitic and Aluminous Rocks: Wavellite has also been found in association with granitic rocks and aluminous minerals, although these occurrences are less common.
  4. Secondary Deposits: Wavellite can form as a secondary mineral in the oxidized zones of various ore deposits and is often associated with other secondary minerals.

Specific localities where wavellite has been found include areas in the United States (e.g., Arkansas), the United Kingdom (where it was first discovered), Germany, Brazil, and several other countries. The color and quality of wavellite specimens can vary widely depending on the specific geological conditions of its formation and the presence of impurities.

Physical, Optical and Chemical Properties of Wavellite


Physical Properties:

  1. Color: exhibits a range of colors, including green, blue, white, and occasionally yellow. The color can be quite vibrant, especially in well-preserved specimens.
  2. Luster: typically has a vitreous (glassy) to waxy luster, giving it a somewhat shiny appearance.
  3. Transparency: It is often translucent to opaque, with some specimens allowing light to pass through to varying degrees.
  4. Crystal Habit: The most distinctive feature of wavellite is its radial or spherical crystal habit. It forms as spherical aggregates of bladed or acicular crystals radiating outward from a central point, resembling a botryoidal or globular shape.
  5. Fracture: displays a conchoidal fracture, which means that it breaks into smooth, curved, and glass-like surfaces.
  6. Hardness: On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, wavellite typically ranks around 3.5 to 4.5. It is relatively soft compared to many other minerals and can be scratched with a knife or a copper coin.
  7. Specific Gravity: The specific gravity of wavellite ranges from about 2.3 to 2.4, indicating that it is denser than an equal volume of water.

Optical Properties:

  1. Refractive Index: has a refractive index ranging from approximately 1.527 to 1.536, which is indicative of its transparency.
  2. Birefringence: is typically non-birefringent, meaning that it does not exhibit double refraction.

Chemical Properties:

  1. Chemical Formula: The chemical formula for wavellite is Al3(PO4)2(OH)3·5H2O, indicating that it contains aluminum, phosphate, hydroxide, and water molecules.
  2. Composition: is primarily composed of hydrated aluminum phosphate. It also contains hydroxide (OH) ions and water molecules. The presence of these water molecules makes wavellite a hydrated mineral.
  3. Cleavage: typically shows poor or indistinct cleavage. This means that it does not readily break along specific planes like some other minerals.
  4. Streak: When scratched on an unglazed porcelain streak plate, wavellite often leaves a white streak.
  5. Solubility: is soluble in acids. When subjected to acid tests, it will effervesce as it dissolves due to the release of carbon dioxide gas.
  6. Fluorescence: may exhibit weak fluorescence under ultraviolet (UV) light, with colors ranging from green to yellow or white.

These physical, optical, and chemical properties make wavellite a distinctive and intriguing mineral, especially for mineral collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate its unique crystal habit and colorful varieties.

Varieties and Coloration of Wavellite


Wavellite can exhibit various colors and coloration patterns, making it a visually appealing and interesting mineral for collectors. The specific coloration of wavellite is influenced by impurities and environmental factors during its formation. Here are some of the notable varieties and colorations of wavellite:

  1. Green Wavellite: Green is one of the most common and characteristic colors of wavellite. This green coloration can range from pale to deep green. The green hue is typically due to the presence of trace amounts of elements such as iron or copper.
  2. Blue Wavellite: Blue wavellite is less common but highly sought after for its striking color. This blue coloration is often the result of the presence of iron in the wavellite crystals. Blue wavellite specimens can be quite vibrant.
  3. White Wavellite: White wavellite is another variety, characterized by its colorless to whitish appearance. White wavellite is often valued for its purity and clarity, which allows for the observation of its unique crystal structure.
  4. Yellow Wavellite: While not as common as green or blue, yellow wavellite is found in some locations. This yellow color can result from various impurities or alterations in the mineral composition.
  5. Multicolored Wavellite: In some instances, wavellite specimens can exhibit multicolored patterns, where different areas of the specimen display distinct colors. These variations can be the result of mineral impurities and zoning during the mineral’s growth.
  6. Chatoyant Wavellite: Chatoyancy, or the cat’s-eye effect, is a rare optical phenomenon observed in some wavellite specimens. This effect creates a band of light across the surface of the mineral, giving it the appearance of a cat’s eye. Chatoyancy is typically due to the fibrous or acicular crystal structure and can enhance the value of the specimen.
  7. Botryoidal Wavellite: While not a color variation, botryoidal wavellite is characterized by its rounded, globe-like crystal formations. This unique crystal habit can add to the aesthetic appeal of the mineral.
  8. Drusy Wavellite: In some cases, wavellite crystals can grow as a coating of tiny crystals on a matrix, creating a sparkling, drusy texture. This can make the wavellite specimen more eye-catching.

The specific colors and patterns found in wavellite are the result of various factors, including the presence of different metal ions, variations in the local geology, and environmental conditions during formation. Collectors often value wavellite specimens for their range of colors and their unique crystal habits, making them prized additions to mineral collections.

Notable Localities


Wavellite has been found in various localities around the world, and some of these locations are renowned for producing high-quality specimens. Here are some notable localities where wavellite has been discovered:

  1. England: Wavellite was first discovered in England, specifically in Barnstaple, Devon. This is the locality where the mineral received its name. While it’s no longer a significant source of wavellite, historical specimens from this area are highly regarded.
  2. United States: Wavellite can be found in several states in the U.S., with Arkansas being one of the most famous and productive localities. The Mauldin Mountain locality in Garland County, Arkansas, is particularly well-known for its exceptional green and blue wavellite specimens. Other U.S. states, such as Alabama and North Carolina, have also produced wavellite, though not in as significant quantities as Arkansas.
  3. Germany: is found in some German localities, including Saxony and Bavaria. German wavellite specimens are known for their unique crystal habits and attractive coloration.
  4. Brazil: Brazil is another country where wavellite is found, with notable localities in Minas Gerais and Bahia. Brazilian wavellite specimens are often sought after for their quality and vibrant colors.
  5. Portugal: has been discovered in Portugal, particularly in the area around Panasqueira, where it is associated with other phosphate minerals. Portuguese wavellite specimens are known for their variety of colors.
  6. Ireland: has been found in parts of Ireland, and while not as well-known as some other localities, Irish specimens can exhibit attractive green and blue colors.
  7. Russia: has been identified in various regions of Russia, including the Ural Mountains. Russian wavellite specimens can display a range of colors, adding to their appeal.
  8. Australia: Some wavellite occurrences have been reported in Australia, although they are not as well-documented as those in other countries. These Australian specimens can have various colors and crystal habits.

It’s important to note that the quality and availability of wavellite specimens from these localities can vary over time, and collectors often prize specimens with vibrant colors and well-defined crystal structures. Wavellite’s unique spherical crystal habit and diverse color variations make it an attractive mineral for collectors, and specimens from these notable localities are highly sought after in the world of mineralogy and mineral collecting.

Applications and Uses Areas


Wavellite is primarily valued for its aesthetic qualities and is not typically used in industrial or commercial applications due to its relative rarity and the availability of more common and practical materials. However, it does have some limited applications and uses in specific areas:

  1. Mineral Collecting: Wavellite is highly regarded among mineral collectors and enthusiasts. Its unique crystal habit, vibrant colors, and aesthetic appeal make it a prized addition to mineral collections. Collectors often seek out well-preserved wavellite specimens to display and appreciate its beauty.
  2. Lapidary Arts: In lapidary, wavellite can be cut and polished to create cabochons, beads, or decorative gemstones. These finished pieces can be used in jewelry, such as pendants, earrings, or brooches, and are appreciated for their unique appearance and color variations.
  3. Metaphysical and Spiritual Uses: Some individuals believe that certain minerals, including wavellite, possess metaphysical or spiritual properties. Wavellite is associated with attributes like emotional balance, personal growth, and creativity in some belief systems. As such, it may be used as a healing or meditation stone.
  4. Historical and Decorative Items: In the past, certain cultures might have used wavellite for decorative purposes in ornaments, carvings, or art pieces. While these historical uses are relatively rare compared to other minerals and gemstones, they add to the mineral’s historical significance.
  5. Research and Education: Wavellite, like other minerals, is used in research and educational settings to study mineral properties, crystallography, and geology. It serves as a valuable specimen to teach students about mineral identification and crystal formation.
  6. Display and Museums: Museums and geological exhibits often showcase high-quality wavellite specimens to educate the public about minerals and geological processes. These exhibits contribute to the understanding and appreciation of Earth’s natural history.

While wavellite is not used in mainstream industrial applications, its unique characteristics and historical significance in the field of mineralogy make it an important and appreciated mineral among collectors, researchers, and those interested in the aesthetic and metaphysical qualities of minerals.

Wavellite in Art and Jewelry


Wavellite, with its distinctive crystal formations and attractive colors, has found its way into the world of art and jewelry. While it may not be as commonly used as more traditional gemstones, it is appreciated by artists and jewelry designers for its uniqueness and aesthetic appeal. Here are some ways in which wavellite is utilized in art and jewelry:


  1. Cabochons: is often cut and polished into cabochons, which are smooth, rounded, and usually non-faceted gemstones. These cabochons are then set into various types of jewelry, such as rings, pendants, earrings, and brooches. The natural patterns and colors of wavellite make each cabochon unique.
  2. Beads: can be shaped into beads for use in necklaces and bracelets. These beads, with their vibrant colors and distinctive crystal structure, can create eye-catching and unusual jewelry designs.
  3. Carvings: Some skilled artisans create intricate carvings and sculptures from wavellite. These carvings can be used as focal points in jewelry or as standalone art pieces.


  1. Sculptures: Wavellite’s unique crystal habit makes it suitable for use in sculptures. Artists can incorporate wavellite specimens into their works to add texture, color, and a natural aesthetic to their creations.
  2. Mixed Media Art: Artists often use a variety of materials in their work. Wavellite can be integrated into mixed media art pieces, serving as a natural and visually striking element within a broader artistic context.
  3. Inlay Work: Wavellite, when cut into small pieces, can be used as an inlay material in woodworking, metalwork, or other artistic projects. This inlay work can add a touch of color and natural beauty to various art forms.
  4. Mineral Specimen Displays: Many art collectors and museums incorporate high-quality wavellite specimens into their displays. These specimens are appreciated not only for their scientific and geological significance but also for their artistic and aesthetic value.

Wavellite’s range of colors and distinctive crystal habits, such as botryoidal formations, make it a favored choice for artists and jewelry designers seeking to create unique, eye-catching pieces. Its relative rarity and individuality add to its appeal in the world of art and jewelry, where one-of-a-kind and unconventional materials are highly valued.