Reference work entry
Serpentine is the collective term for the serpentine family of minerals, and it has the chemical formula Mg 6[Si 4O 10](OH) 8. It contains aluminium, iron, nickel and cobalt and is a silicate mineral with a foliated structure. The crystals are small, bladed or platy, and the aggregates are blocky or fibrous. Its colour is white, yellow, green or brown. It has translucent to opaque diaphaneity, a specific gravity of 2.52, a Mohs hardness of 2.5–3.5, and conchoidal to splintery fractures. Serpentine is the product of the hydrothermal metasomatism of olivine and pyroxene in ultramafic rocks, and it can also form when dolomite is affected by hydrothermal processes. Serpentine is the raw material for manufacturing calcium-magnesium-phosphate fertilizers and refractory tools. Serpentine with a dense texture and an apple-green colour is a good material for carving and is called Xiuyan jade in Chinese (Fig. 20).
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