quartz - milky quartz from the Coso Range, Inyo County, California - student specimens UNIT OF 5 SPECIMENS
Quartz is the second most common rock-forming mineral after feldspar. The white color of milky quartz is caused by minute inclusions of fluid, gas or both, which interfere with its optical properties. This quartz was hydrothermally deposited as a dike in a granitic intrusive in the Coso Range, Inyo County, California. The area is still geothermically active, with a hydrothermal power plant on the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station producing electricity for the base and selling surplus power into the grid.
Pure quartz "silica" sand is used in the manufacture of glass. It is melted and cooled rapidly so that the atoms cannot organize into crystals. An unorganized mass of atoms is a characteristic of glass and accounts for its curved conchoidal fracture. Quartz also exhibits this fracture. As an example of this, think of the curved chips in the rim of a carelessly opened bottle.
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