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Orthoclase

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Orthoclase (KAlSi3O8) is an important igneous rock forming tectosilicate mineral. It is also known as alkali feldspar and is common in granite and related rocks.

Orthoclase is named based on the Greek for "straight fracture," because its two cleavages are at right angles to each other. Orthoclase crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system. It has a hardness of 6, a specific gravity of 2.56-2.58, and a vitreous to pearly luster. It can be colored white, gray, yellow or red; rarely green. Twinned crystals are quite common. Orthoclase is a common constituent of most granites and other felsic igneous rocks and is often found in huge crystals and masses in pegmatite veins. Orthoclase is used in the manufacture of porcelain and as a constituent of scouring powder. Adularia (from Adular) is found in low temperature hydrothermal deposits. When pearly and opalescent, orthoclase is called moonstone and is used in jewelry. These opalescent varieties are known to be an intergrowth of orthoclase and albite called perthite. A glassy kind of orthoclase, called sanidine, is typical of felsic volcanic rocks and is found in the trachytes of the Drachenfels, Germany.

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