Minerals

Gypsum



An important construction material that has been used for thousands of years


Gypsum: Satin spar, a fibrous variety of gypsum from Derbyshire, England. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.

What is Gypsum?

Gypsum is an evaporite mineral most commonly found in layered sedimentary deposits in association with halite, anhydrite, sulfur, calcite, and dolomite. Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) is very similar to Anhydrite (CaSO4). The chemical difference is that gypsum contains two waters and anhydrite is without water. Gypsum is the most common sulfate mineral.

Gypsum wallboard and plaster: Wallboard and construction plaster are the primary industrial uses of gypsum in the United States. Photo

Uses of Gypsum

Gypsum uses include: manufacture of wallboard, cement, plaster of Paris, soil conditioning, a hardening retarder in portland cement. Varieties of gypsum known as "satin spar" and "alabaster" are used for a variety of ornamental purposes; however, their low hardness limits their durability.

Physical Properties of Gypsum

Chemical ClassificationSulfate
ColorClear, colorless, white, gray, yellow, red, brown
StreakWhite
LusterVitreous, silky, sugary
DiaphaneityTransparent to translucent
CleavagePerfect
Mohs Hardness2
Specific Gravity2.3
Diagnostic PropertiesCleavage, specific gravity, low hardness
Chemical CompositionHydrous calcium sulfate, CaSO4.2H2O
Crystal SystemMonoclinic
UsesUsed to manufacture dry wall, plaster, joint compound. An agricultural soil treatment.

Gypsum from Michigan: Gypsum from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.

Alabaster Gypsum: Alabaster, a variety of gypsum, from Pomaia, Italy. Specimen is approximately 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) across.

Alabaster gypsum jar: Jar made of beautiful translucent alabaster gypsum by David MacFarlane, photo

Gypsum translucency: The translucent characteristic of alabaster, a variety of gypsum, from Pomaia, Italy. Specimen is approximately 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) across.

The best way to learn about minerals is to study with a collection of small specimens that you can handle, examine, and observe their properties. Inexpensive mineral collections are available in the Store.

Selenite Gypsum: Selenite, a variety of gypsum from Penfield, New York. Specimen is approximately 2-1/2 inches (6.4 centimeters) across.

Gypsum from Virginia: Gypsum from North Holston, Virginia. Specimen is approximately 1-1/2 inches (3.8 centimeters) across.

Satin spar Gypsum: Satin spar, a fibrous variety of gypsum from Derbyshire, England. Specimen is approximately 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) across.

Gypsum from New York: Selenite, a variety of gypsum from Penfield, New York. Specimen is approximately 2-1/2 inches (6.4 centimeters) across.