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Cassiterite (tin dioxide)


A hard, dense, brown to black mineral composed of Tin dioxide. Cassiterite is the principal ore of Tin. Starting in the 15th century, cassiterite was mined in Saxony and Bohemia. Currently it is mined in southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia), Bolivia (Llallagua), Nigeria, Russia, England (Cornwall), and the U.S. (Virginia, Washington, California). Cassiterite has a dull metallic luster and can be transparent to opaque. It has occasionally been used as a gemstone.

Synonyms and Related Terms

tinstone; tin stone; wood tin; stream tin; Zinnstein (Deut.); Kassiterit (Deut.); cassitérite (Fr.); casiterita (Esp.); cassiterite (Port.); cassiteriet (Ned.)



Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Tetragonal crystal system with prisms, pyramids or fibers.
  • Good cleavage in two directions.
  • Fracture = uneven.
  • Luster = adamantine to dull.
  • Streak = white, gray or brown.
  • Insoluble in acids.
  • Pleochroism. High birefringence under crossed polars. Straight extinction.
  • Fluorescence: Weak yellow in SW; white in LW
Composition SnO2
Mohs Hardness 6.0 - 7.0
Density 6.8-7.1 g/ml
Refractive Index about 2.0

Resources and Citations

  • Database of Luminescent Minerals: Cassiterite
  • Mineralogy Database: Cassiterite
  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004
  • Henry Hodges, Artifacts: An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology, Ronald P. Frye, Kingston, Canada, 1988
  • Robert Fournier, Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Pottery, Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA, 1992
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "cassiterite" [Accessed December 11, 2001].
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • Wikipedia: Cassiterite (accessed Sept 2 2005 and May 2023)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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