Einaudi, Marco T. Department of Applied Earth Science, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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A bright-green, basic carbonate of copper [Cu2CO3-(OH)2]. Malachite is the most stable copper mineral in natural environments in contact with the atmosphere and hydrosphere. It occurs as an ore mineral in oxidized copper sulfide deposits; as a stain on fractures in rock outcrops; as a corrosion product of copper and its alloys (except in industrial-urban environments, where the basic copper sulfate dominates); as suspended particles in streams and in alluvial sediments; and as encrustations on bronze artifacts in seawater and on coccoliths floating in the oceans. It can be distinguished from other green copper minerals by its effervescence in acid. The combination of hardness (3.5–4 on Mohs scale) ideal for carving, color variation in concentric layers, and adamantine-to-silky luster has made malachite a highly prized ornamental stone. Its rare blocky-tabular crystals up to 5 mm (0.2 in.), its pseudomorphs after azurite crystals to 2 cm (0.8 in.), and its more common felty tufts perched on bright blue azurite are eagerly sought by mineral collectors.
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