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TITLE: Exotic Minerals

[Photo: Volcanic Vent]
Rich in Beryllium
Though scarce in the Earth's crust, beryllium is concentrated in pegmatites. Beryllium's light weight and resistance to corrosion make it important for manufacturing high-strength alloys for rockets, satellites, jets, and even golf clubs. Its transparency to radiation makes it indispensable for scientific and medical instruments. It is also used to make fluorescent lamps and electronic components in computers, stereos, and video players.

Phosphates and Much More
Pegmatites are famous for producing an incredible variety of minerals. One of the most diverse mineral families found in these deposits is phosphates — minerals that combine phosphorus (P) and oxygen (O) with metals. More than 100 different phosphate minerals have been found in pegmatites. These chemically complex deposits also concentrate rare metals such as niobium and tantalum to form a range of unusual minerals.

  [Photo: Yellow Pegmatite Containing Phosphates]

Rich in Lithium
Pegmatites are a major source of the lightweight metal lithium, which is used in antidepressants and other medicines and to make batteries and hydrogen bombs. Lithium compounds also are used to produce rubber, high-temperature greases, ceramics and glass that are heat- and shock-resistant, and aluminum alloys for aircraft.

  [Photo: Pegmatite Containing Lithium]

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits