The new mineral species vapnikite, Ca3UO6, was found in larnite pyrometamorphic rocks of the Hatrurim Formation at Jabel Harmun in the Judean desert, Palestinian Autonomy, Israel. Vapnikite is an analogue of the synthetic ordered double-perovskite β-Ca3UO6 and is isostructural with the natural fluorperovskite – cryolite Na3AlF6. Vapnikite Ca3UO6 (P21/n, Z = 2, a = 5.739(1), b = 5.951(1), c = 8.312(1) Å, β = 90.4(1)°, V = 283.9(1) Å3) forms yellow-brown xenomorphic grains with a strong vitreous lustre. Small grains up to 20–30 μm in size are wedged between larnite, brownmillerite and ye'elimite. Vapnikite has irregular fracture, cleavage and parting were not observed. The calculated density is 5.322 g cm−3, the microhardness is VHN25 = 534 kg mm−2 (mean of seven measurements) corresponding to the hardness of ~5 on the Mohs scale. The crystal structure of vapnikite Ca3UO6 differs from that of its synthetic analogue β-Ca3UO6 by having a larger degree of Ca, U disorder. Vapnikite formed at the high-temperature retrograde stage of pyrometamorphism when larnite rocks were altered by fluids/melts of high alkalinity.

You do not currently have access to this article.