Epidote: Properties, Occurrence, Uses

Epidote is a mineral belonging to the sorosilicate group, primarily composed of calcium, aluminum, iron, and silica. It typically occurs in metamorphic rocks, where it forms as a result of the alteration of primary minerals under high-pressure and temperature conditions. Epidote is known for its distinctive green color, ranging from yellow-green to dark green or nearly black, and often appears as elongated crystals or masses within its host rock.

Epidote is appreciated not only for its aesthetic value in the form of gemstones but also for its significance in geological studies due to its presence in various rock formations. Epidote commonly forms in metamorphic rocks, such as schist and gneiss, and occasionally in igneous rocks. It can also be present in some igneous rocks, particularly those that are rich in calcium. The mineral is valued for its distinctive green color and is sometimes used as a gemstone.

The name "epidote" comes from the Greek word "epidosis," which means "increase." This name refers to the fact that epidote crystals often have one side that is longer than the other. 



Natural epidote mineral in various forms, including polished stone, individual crystals, and a cluster.

Epidote Properties

Epidote Composition

Epidote is a complex silicate mineral. Its primary components include calcium, aluminum, and iron. The chemical formula is Ca₂(Al,Fe³⁺)₃(SiO₄)(Si₂O₇)O(OH). typically written as , indicating the presence of both aluminum and iron which can substitute for each other within the crystal structure.

Epidote Physical Properties

  • Color: Epidote is known for its distinctive green color, which can range from yellow-green to dark green. The color variation is due to the amount of iron present in the mineral. In some cases, it can also appear brown, yellow, or nearly black.
  • Transparency: Epidote can be transparent, allowing light to pass through, or translucent, where light passes through but is diffused.
  • Luster: Epidote has a vitreous, or glassy, luster, giving it a shiny appearance.
  • Crystal System: Epidote crystals belong to the monoclinic crystal system, which means they have three unequal axes with one inclined angle.
  • Streak: When rubbed on a porcelain plate, epidote leaves a white or colorless streak.
  • Hardness: On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, epidote ranges from 6 to 7, making it relatively hard.
  • Cleavage: Epidote exhibits perfect cleavage in one direction, meaning it tends to break along flat planes.
  • Fracture: Its fracture is uneven to conchoidal.
  • Habit: Epidote often forms elongated, prismatic crystals that can be striated (having parallel lines or grooves). It can also appear in granular or massive forms.
  • Density: The density of epidote is between 3.3 and 3.5 grams per cubic centimeter.
  • Tenacity: Despite its hardness, epidote is brittle and can break or shatter easily.
  • Solubility: Epidote is insoluble in water and most acids.
  • Magnetism: Epidote is non-magnetic.
  • Twinning: Epidote often shows polysynthetic twinning, where the crystal is composed of several twin segments repeated in parallel.

epidote crystal structure
Epidote crystal structure

Epidote Optical Properties

  • Fluorescence: Epidote does not exhibit fluorescence under ultraviolet light.
  • Pleochroism: Epidote shows strong pleochroism, meaning it can appear different colors (yellow-green to brownish-green) when viewed from different angles.
  • Refractive Index: Epidote has a refractive index ranging from 1.725 to 1.778, indicating how much it bends light.

Epidote Additional Properties

  • Piezoelectric: It can generate an electric charge under mechanical stress.
  • Radioactivity: Some specimens may contain trace amounts of radioactive elements.


epidote thin section

Thin section of rock showing epidote grains.

Epidote Properties in Thin Section

Color: Epidote can vary in color, commonly green to yellow-green, but can also appear brownish-green or nearly colorless.

Crystal Habit: Epidote typically occurs as anhedral grains or granular aggregates. Crystals can be columnar, prismatic, bladed, or acicular, with the long dimension parallel to the b axis.

Relief: Epidote exhibits high relief in thin section, making it stand out prominently from surrounding minerals.

Cleavage: Epidote shows one perfect cleavage parallel to the elongation of the grains. This cleavage is generally poor, meaning it is not always well-developed.

Pleochroism: Epidote can display pleochroism, ranging from colorless to yellow-green. Some varieties show distinct pleochroism, where the color changes depending on the direction of light transmission. Clinozoisite, a member of the epidote group with lower iron content, tends to exhibit weaker pleochroism compared to typical epidote.

Interference colors: Epidote has moderate to high birefringence, resulting in interference colors that range from first-order gray to third-order colors. Anomalous interference colors may occur, especially influenced by the iron content variation within epidote.

Extinction angle: Extinction typically parallels the length of elongate grains (0°), but inclined extinction relative to cleavage can range from 0-25° for clinozoisite and 25-40° for typical epidote.

Twinning: Twinning on {100} planes is common in epidote.


Thin section of rock showing epidote grains.
Thin section of rock showing epidote grains.

Epidote Occurrence: Where is Epidote Found?

Epidote is a common silicate mineral that often occurs in metamorphic rocks, particularly those that have undergone low to moderate grades of regional metamorphism. It can also form in hydrothermal veins and in some igneous rocks. Here are some key points about its occurrence:

Metamorphic Rocks

Schists and Gneisses: Formed through regional metamorphism.

Blueschists and Greenschists: Low to medium-grade metamorphic rocks.

Amphibolites: Formed through medium to high-grade metamorphism.

Hydrothermal Veins

Vein Mineralization: Epidote frequently occurs in hydrothermal veins along with minerals like quartz, calcite, and various sulfides. These veins can be found in a wide range of host rocks, including both igneous and sedimentary rocks.

Skarns: In skarn deposits, which form due to the interaction of magmatic fluids with carbonate rocks, epidote can be a significant mineral, often associated with garnet, pyroxene, and wollastonite.

Igneous Rocks

Granite: As a secondary mineral in altered granite.

Diorite: Often found in association with hydrothermal veins in dioritic rocks.


epidote crystals
prismatic epidote crystals from Monte Barbeston in the Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Italy.
Photo by: Klaus Schäfer

Epidote Uses

Epidote is a group of related minerals often used in various applications due to its unique properties. Here are some of its uses:

Gemstone: Epidote can be cut and polished into gemstones. The green varieties are particularly attractive when faceted or cabbed, though they are not as commonly used in jewelry as harder gemstones due to their susceptibility to scratching and chipping.

Metaphysical and Healing Properties: Epidote is believed by some to have spiritual and healing properties. It is often used in crystal healing practices to enhance perception, stimulate personal growth, and increase spiritual development.

Geological Indicator: In geology, epidote is often used as an indicator mineral in metamorphic rocks to understand the conditions of formation. Its presence can give clues about the pressure and temperature conditions during the rock's metamorphic history.

Collector's Mineral: High-quality specimens of epidote are highly sought after by mineral collectors. Well-formed crystals can be quite beautiful and are prized additions to mineral collections.

Industrial Uses: Although not a primary industrial mineral, epidote can be found in some industrial processes. For example, it can be present in materials used for road construction and other aggregates due to its durability.


Unakite (epidotic granite)

Unakite (epidotic granite) is a distinctive rock consisting of greenish epidote, salmon-colored potassium feldspar, and gray quartz.

Tumbled Unakite
Tumbled Unakite (epidotic granite)

Prismatic crystals of epidote from Concesion Morgan 3, Coayllo, Canete, Lima, Peru
Photo: Weinrich Minerals.

crystals of epidote
Needlelike crystals of epidote from Dagua, Valle, Colombia
Photo: Weinrich Minerals

Epidote in Quartz
Epidote in Quartz This stone occurs in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Photo: GemstoneGeeks.
Polished  Epidote in Quartz
Polished  Epidote in Quartz

Next Post Previous Post