olivine (ŏlĭvˈēn) [key], an iron-magnesium silicate mineral, (Mg,Fe)2SiO4, crystallizing in the orthorhombic system. It is a common constituent of magnesium-rich, silica-poor igneous rocks; metamorphism of some high magnesium sediments also can form olivine. Dunite consists almost entirely of olivine. It also occurs in lunar rocks and meteorites. Olivine has a characteristic yellow-green to olive-green color, hence the name. Transparent olivine of good color can be cut into gemstones; the gem form is known as peridot. Sources of gem-quality olivine are St. John's Island in the Red Sea, Myanmar, and Arizona. Magnesium-rich olivine has a high melting point and is used in the manufacture of refractories. It was formerly called chrysolite.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mineralogy and Crystallography

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