Magnetite is a natural magnet, hence the name, giving it a very nice distinguishing characteristic. Explaining the magnetism is not easy but here is a go at it. Remember, electricity produces magnetic fields just as magnetism produces electic fields. Magnetite is a member of the spinel group which has the standard formula A(B)2O4. The A and B represent usually different metal ions that occupy specific sites in the crystal structure. In the case of magnetite, Fe3O4, the A metal is Fe +2 and the B metal is Fe +3; two different metal ions in two specific sites. This arrangement causes a transfer of electrons between the different irons in a structured path or vector. This electric vector generates the magnetic field.
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MAGNETITE Chemical Formula: Fe3O4, Iron Oxide Class: Oxides and Hydroxides Group: Spinel Uses: Major ore of iron and as mineral specimens Physical caracteristics : Color is black. Luster is metallic to dull. Transparency: Crystals are opaque. Crystal System is isometric; 4/m bar 3 2/m Crystal Habits are typically octahedrons but rarely rhombododecahedron and other isometric forms, most commonly found massive or granular. Twinning of octahedrons into spinel law twins is seen occassionally. Cleavage is absent although octahedral parting can be seen on some specimens. Fracture is conchoidal. Hardness is 5.5 - 6.5 Specific Gravity is 5.1+ (average for metallic minerals) Streak is black. Associated Minerals aretalc and chlorite (schists), pyrite and hematite. Other Characteristics: Magnetism stronger in massive examples than in crystals, striations on crystal faces (not always seen). Notable Occurrences include South Africa, Germany, Russia and many locallities in the USA. Best Field Indicators are magnetism, crystal habit and streak.
Major ore of iron and as mineral specimens
Magnetite is a mineral, one of the two common naturally occurring iron oxides (chemical formula Fe3O4) and a member of the spinel group. Magnetite is the most magnetic of all the naturally occurring minerals on Earth. Naturally magnetized pieces of magnetite, called lodestone, will attract small pieces of iron, and this was how ancient people first noticed the property of magnetism.
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