Mineralogy of roofing slates – part I
From a petrological point of view, the minerals constituents of a rock can be divided into primary, secondary and accessories minerals. The primary minerals are the original components of the rock, and their abundance is higher than 5%, while accessory minerals are found in abundances below 5%. Finally, secondary minerals are result of the geological processes subsequent to the slate formation.
In roofing slates, depending on the author, the percentages of different minerals vary, but the characteristic minerals are the same.
Therefore, the characteristics minerals in roofing slates are quartz, chlorite and muscovite.
Usually present as small rounded fragments formed by metamorphism which caused the slates.
Quarzt grains in a slate sample from Galicia, Spain.
There are two types of chlorite, chamosite, rich in iron, and clinochlore, rich in magnesium. Generally chlorites are secondary minerals formed during metamorphism, and it is usual to find them partially replaced by muscovite, which is a key factor to distinguish them from the quartz.
Chlorite crystals. Slate sample from Galicia, Spain.
Always forms the matrix of the slate, since it has a very small grain size and at the petrological microscope is seen as a dark background. It is also often found as needle-like crystals formed during and after metamorphism.
Mica needles, slate sample from Galica, Spain.
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Abbreviations: Q: Cuarzo, Chm: Chamosita, Ms: Moscovita, Alb: Albita, Rt: Rutilo, Ill: Illmenita, Zr: Zircón, Trm: Turmalina, Ap: Apatito, Prg: Paragonita, Ana: Anatasa.