Thursday, May 31, 2007
Twinned Crystals Crystal twinning
Crystal twinning occurs when two separate crystals share some of the same crystal lattice points in a symmetrical manner. The result is an intergrowth of two separate crystals in a variety of specific configurations. A twin boundary or composition surface separates the two crystals. Crystallographers classify twinned crystals by a number of twin laws. These twin laws are specific to the crystal system. The type of twinning can be a diagnostic tool in mineral identification.
Simple twinned crystals may be contact twins or penetration twins. Contact twins share a single composition surface often appearing as mirror images across the boundary. Quartz, gypsum, and spinel often exhibit contact twinning. In penetration twins the individual crystals have the appearance of passing through each other in a symmetrical manner. Orthoclase, staurolite, pyrite, and fluorite often show penetration twinning.