I Adore Labradorite

There’s a word, begins with s, means something like coincidence. Synergy? Sorta kinda not really. Szygy? Awesome word, totally incorrect. Synchronicity. That’s the word. This is synchronicity. Synchronicity has just happened. Because, you see, I wrote a bit about anorthosite and labradorite doing up my geolantern for the Accretionary Wedge, and whilst I was babbling about how totally amazing the mineral labradorite is, I thought that someday, I’d have to get round to photographing my bit of it and write it up. Along came a meme, and it seems someday is today.

Here she is:

Labradorite! From Madagascar!

I know, right? She doesn’t look all that exciting. You certainly don’t look at her and immediately think, “ZOMG the Moon is made of that stuff!” But it is. Anorthosite is what the lunar highlands are composed of, and anorthosite is predominately labradorite. This makes me want to grab a moon rock, polish it up, and start playing with its labradorescence, but NASA would probably become upset.

(If anybody’s got a bit of anorthosite from the moon that doesn’t belong to NASA and is within the price range of a second-tier cell phone tech support person, do let me know.)

So. We’ve got a rock that has exotic cousins and comes from a pretty exotic locale – I mean, Madagascar, amirite? But it’s just this dark little lump with a hint o’ shimmer. Pretty, but not extraordinary. Why all the fuss? It’s about this time that geologists and rock shop addicts in the audience start grinning that little oh-just-you-wait grin and do something that’ll make your eyes pop.

They tilt the rock, like so:

Getting shiny...

And you say, “Nope, I still don’t see it.” And they say, “Wait for it,” and tilt just a little bit more. And then, and then


There it comes. Labradorescence. That black rock turns brilliant blue with the flick of a wrist. How gorgeous as that? And it makes me wonder: if we could polish up the Moon, and tilt it just so in the sunlight, could we have a blue moon every night?

Keep tilting, and eventually the whole stone becomes a sea of deep blue fire:

Deep blue sea in a rock

Labradorescence is one thing that makes this mineral so special. You can find an outstanding definition of labradorescence and a fantastic writeup of anorthosite and labradorite at Sandatlas. It can look a bit like opalescence (adularescence), but you’ll see from his description that it’s not quite the same. Those interested in the optical phenomena of various minerals can spend some very happy moments here and here.

The other thing special about it is how very old it is. The anorthosite on the Moon is ancient. On Earth, the youngest you get is from the Proterozoic, so we’re talking nearly a billion years at best. There’s also quite a bit from the Archaen, stretching almost back to the beginning of the planet. Nothing newer that we know of. There are mysteries in this stuff we haven’t solved. And that’s an eye-popping thing to realize about my little bit of rock. It’s not just beautiful, it’s old and strange. Much like another beloved bit of my life:

Something Old and Something Old

I believe you can see why I squeed like someone encountering a basket of free kittens when I found this delight at that wonderful little rock shop in Vantage, Washington.

For those of you who like geology and goggies, Garry Hayes has got you covered.

Right. Meme’s live in the geoblogosphere. Getcher labradorite on!

I Adore Labradorite
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13 thoughts on “I Adore Labradorite

  1. 1

    Interesting that you should post this on the same day that Ron Schott did a post on Anorthosite and Labradorite. He has gigapans from the Adirondacks in Ny state. His giga pans range from the road cut scale down to some closeups.
    Its at ron.outcrop.org/blogs.

  2. D

    I also love labradorite. Its especially fun if you are buying jewelry made out of it; it’s already really pretty, and I was lucky enough to be told by the lady that was selling it that it contains “mystical sparkles”…made my whole day. I did not know that the moon is made of labradorite, that is amazing!

  3. 4

    I, too, love labradorite. I bought some labradorite beads from a usually reliable internet source that were B grade, and I was disappointed in the labradorescence of the beads; it was distinctly spotty. You have a very A grade piece of labradorite there!


  4. 5

    Seeing only the first photo, which is all that was visible from the main page, I was wondering how the Moon could be made of that stuff. The Moon isn’t all black. The other photos cleared that up, so to speak. It acts as a prism and a reflector. Cool.

  5. 7

    I fell in love with Labradorite the first time I saw it. I have a ring with a big stone that was cheap because the stone was cracked. I didn’t care. I love it.

  6. F

    Synchronicity – yeah, I just read Schott’s page yesterday. Howww wweeeird!

    I was wondering how the Moon could be made of that stuff. The Moon isn’t all black.

    Well, Luna is covered with regolith and basalts. Meteorites, you know.

  7. 13

    That is a beautiful rock.

    My work filter flags this page as “offensive and tasteless”. I’m trying to understand who could be offended by a photo of a shiny mineral, or your enthusing about said mineral.

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