Oligoclase - Encyclopedia

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OLIGOCLASE, a rock-forming mineral belonging to the plagioclase division of the felspars. In chemical composition and in its crystallographical and physical characters it is intermediate between albite (NaA1Si 3 O 8) and anorthite (CaAl 2 Si 2 O 8), being an isomorphous mixture of three to six molecules of the former with one of the latter. It is thus a sodalime felspar crystallizing in the anorthic system. Varieties intermediate between oligoclase and albite are known as oligoclase-albite. The name oligoclase was given by A. Breithaupt in 1826 from the Gr. 6Xi'yos, little, and rcaa y, to break, because the mineral was thought to have a less perfect cleavage than albite. It had previously been recognized as a distinct species by J. J. Berzelius in 1824, and was named by him soda-spodumene (Natron - spodumen), because of its resemblance in appearance to spodumene. The hardness is 64 and the sp. gr. 2.65-2.67. In colour it is usually whitish, with shades of grey, green or red. Perfectly colourless and transparent glassy material found at Bakersville in North Carolina has occasionally been faceted as a gem-stone. Another variety more frequently used as a gemstone is the aventurine-felspar or " sun-stone " (q.v.) found as reddish cleavage masses in gneiss at Tvedestrand in southern Oligocene System 8.


Paris Basin.


North German Region.

Other Localities.

Alps and .S.



Sands and sandstones of

Ormoy, Fontainebleau and

Lower sands of


Septarian Clay,


Cyrena marls of Mainz.


5 .



Lignites of Hdring,


5 u

W u "


Hamstead Beds.

Sands of Morigny, Falun of

Jeurre, Oyster marls.

Molasse of Etrechy.

Sands of Bergh


Clay of Boom.

Stettin sands.

Gypsiferous limestone of Aix,


Lower marine Molasse of



a ,

U,? ig

g ' a -


Bembridge Beds.

Limestonene beds of of Brie,


Sands of Vieux-Jones.

Clays of Egeln and


Lignites of Celas





' l

O 3 c


Osborne Beds.

"Glaises vertes," and

Cyrene marls.

Supragypseous marls,

limestones of Champigny,

Clays of

Sands of Grimmertingen.


Glauconitic sands of


Lignites of Brunstatt.

Marls of Priabona,





'a' '. Headon


"First " and " Second"

masses of gypsum.

Sands of Wemmel.

limestones of Crosara.

The land flora of this period was a rich one consisting largely of evergreens with characters akin to those of tropical India. and Australia and subtropical America. Sequoias, sabal palms, ferns, cinnamon-trees, gum-trees, oaks, figs, laurels and willows were common. Chara is a common fossil in the fresh-water beds. The most interesting feature of the land fauna was undoubtedly the astonishing variety of mammalians, especially the long series from the White river beds and others in the interior of North America. Pachyderms were very numerous. Many of the mammals were of mixed types, Hyaenodon (between marsupials and placentals), Adapis (between pachyderms and lemurs), and many were clearly the forerunners of living genera. Rhinocerids were represented in the upper Oligocene by the hornless Aceratherium; Palaeomastodon and Arsinoitherium, from Egypt are early proboscidian forms which may have lived in this period; Anchitherium, Anchippus, &c., were forerunners of the horse. Palaeotherium, Anthracotherium, Palaeogale, Steneofiber, Cynodictis, Dinictis, Ictops, Palaeolagus, Sciurus, Colodon, Hyopotamus, Oreodon, Poebrotherium, Protoceras, Hypertragulus and the gigantic Titanotherids (Titanotherium, Brontotherium, &c.) are some of the important genera, representatives of most of the modern groups, including carnivores (Canidae and Felidae), insectivores, rodents, ruminants, camels. Tortoises were abundant, and the genus Rana made its appearance. Rays and dogfish were the dominant marine fish; logoonal brackish-water fish are represented by Prolebias, Smerdis, &c. Insects abounded and arachnids were rapidly developing. Gasteropods were increasing in importance, most of the genera still existing (Cerithium, Potamides, Melania, large Naticas, Pleurotomaria, Voluta, Turritella, Rostellaria, Pyrula). Cephalopods, on the other hand, show a falling off. Pelecypods include the genera Cardita, Pectunculus, Lucina, Ostrea, Cyrena, Cytherea. Bryozoa were very abundant (Membranipora, Lepralia, Hornera, Idmonea). Echinoids were less numerous than Norway; this presents a brilliant red metallic glitter, due to the presence of numerous small scales of haematite or gothite enclosed in the felspar.

Oligoclase occurs, often accompanying orthoclase, as a constituent of igneous rocks of various kinds; for instance, amongst plutonic rocks in granite, syenite, diorite; amongst dike-rocks in porphyry and diabase; and amongst volcanic rocks in andesite and trachyte. It also occurs in gneiss. The best developed and largest crystals are those found with orthoclase, quartz, epidote and calcite in veins in granite at Arendal in Norway. (L. J. S.)

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