AskDefine | Define cassiterite

Dictionary Definition

cassiterite n : a hard heavy dark mineral that is the chief source of tin

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A generally black mineral, composed of tin oxide, SnO2, which is an important ore of tin




Extensive Definition

Cassiterite is a tin oxide mineral, SnO2. It is generally opaque, but is translucent in thin crystals. Its luster and multiple crystal faces produce a desirable gem. Cassiterite is the chief ore of tin today.


Most sources of cassiterite today are found in alluvial or placer deposits containing the resistant weathered grains. The best source of primary cassiterite is the tin mines of Bolivia, where it is found in hydrothermal veins. Cassiterite is a widespread minor constituent of igneous rocks. The Bolivia veins and the old exhausted workings of Cornwall, England, are concentrated in high temperature quartz veins and pegmatites associated with granitic intrusives. The veins commonly contain tourmaline, topaz, fluorite, apatite, wolframite, molybdenite, and arsenopyrite. The current major tin production comes from placer or alluvial deposits in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Russia. Hydraulic mining methods are used to concentrate the fine particles of ore.


Crystal twinning is common in cassiterite and most aggregate specimens show crystal twins. The typical twin is bent at a near-60-degree angle, forming an "Elbow Twin". Botryoidal or reniform cassiterite is called wood tin.
Cassiterite is also used as a gemstone and collector specimens when quality crystals can be found.
The name derives from the Greek kassiteros for "tin" - or - from the Phoenician word Cassiterid referring to the islands of Ireland and Britain, the ancient sources of tin - or - as Roman Ghirshman (1954) suggests, from the region of the Kassites, an ancient people in west and central Iran.


  • Hurlbut, Cornelius S.; Klein, Cornelis, 1985, Manual of Mineralogy, 20th ed., John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp 306-307 ISBN 0-471-80580-7
  • Mineral galleries accessed 4-21-05
  • Mindat accessed 4-21-05
  • Webmineral accessed 4-21-05
cassiterite in Asturian: Casiterita
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cassiterite in Spanish: Casiterita
cassiterite in French: Cassitérite
cassiterite in Italian: Cassiterite
cassiterite in Hebrew: קסיטריט
cassiterite in Lithuanian: Kasiteritas
cassiterite in Hungarian: Kassziterit
cassiterite in Malay (macrolanguage): Kasiterit
cassiterite in Dutch: Cassiteriet
cassiterite in Korean: 석석
cassiterite in Japanese: 錫石
cassiterite in Polish: kasyteryt
cassiterite in Portuguese: Cassiterita
cassiterite in Finnish: Kassiteriitti
cassiterite in Ukrainian: Каситерит
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