In this work we report the first finding of CaCl2β·4H2O, long known as a synthetic phase. The mineral, called ghiaraite, was discovered in 2011 in a sample belonging to the Real Museo Mineralogico di Napoli (Italy), that had been collected in 1872 at Vesuvius volcano and stored in a glass sealed vial. It is associated with chlorocalcite (KCaCl3), hematite, sylvite, and halite. The mineral was found inside an ejecta of 5 m in size transported by a lava flow to the locality of Massa di Somma. Here with the ejecta still hot the sample was collected and rapidly stored in a sealed glass vial to preserve it from the atmospheric conditions. Ghiaraite is triclinic, space group P1̄, with unit-cell parameters: a = 6.3660(5), b = 6.5914(5), c = 8.5568(6) Å, α = 93.504(6)°, β = 97.778(7)°, γ = 110.557(6)°, V = 330.802(9) Å3, Z = 2. The calculated density is 1.838 g/cm3 using the ideal formula and the powder X-ray diffraction data. It occurs as euhedral isometric grains up to 5–6 μm long intimately intermixed with chlorocalcite. The eight strongest reflections in the X-ray powder diffraction pattern [listed as d(Å)(I)(hkl)] are: 2.628(100)(022̄); 2.717(88)(103̄); 4.600(88)(11̄ 1̄); 2.939(77)(200); 2.204(75)(121), 5.874(73)(100), 6.124(47)(010); 3.569(46)(111̄).
Ghiaraite was approved by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification with IMA number 2012-072. The mineral was named in honor of Maria Rosaria Ghiara (b. 1948), Head of Real Museo Mineralogico of Napoli and Centro Musei delle Scienze Naturali e Fisiche dell’Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II for her important work in promoting the scientific research focused on the mineralogy of Vesuvius volcano.