Nomenclature of the amphibole supergroup

Frank C. Hawthorne*, Roberta Oberti, George E. Harlow, Walter V. Maresch, Robert F. Martin, John C. Schumacher, Mark D. Welch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

522 Citations (Scopus)


A new classification and nomenclature scheme for the amphibole-supergroup minerals is described, based on the general formula AB(2)C(5)T(8)O(22)W(2), where A = square, Na, K, Ca, Pb, Li; B = Na, Ca, Mn2+, Fe2+, Mg, Li; C = Mg, Fe2+, Mn2+, Al, Fe3+, Mn3+, Ti4+, Li; T = Si, Al, Ti4+, Be; W = (OH), F, Cl, O2-. Distinct arrangements of formal charges at the sites (or groups of sites) in the amphibole structure warrant distinct root names, and are, by implication, distinct species; for a specific root name, different homovalent cations (e.g., Mg vs. Fe) or anions (e.g., OH vs. Fe2+) are indicated by prefixes (e.g., ferro-, fluoro-). The Classification is based on the A, B, and C groups of cations and the W group of anions, as these groups show the maximum compositional variability in the amphibole structure. The amphibole supergroup is divided into two groups according to the dominant W species: (w)(OH,F,Cl)-dominant amphiboles and O-w-dominant amphiboles (oxo-amphiboles). Amphiboles with (OH, F, Cl) dominant at W are divided into eight subgroups according to the dominant charge-arrangements and type of B-group cations: magnesium-iron-manganese amphiboles, calcium amphiboles, sodium-calcium amphiboles, sodium amphiboles, lithium amphiboles, sodium-(magnesium-iron-manganese) amphiboles, lithium-(magnesium-iron-manganese) amphiboles and lithium-calcium amphiboles. Within each of these subgroups, the A- and C-group cations are used to assign specific names to specific compositional ranges and root compositions. Root names are assigned to distinct arrangements of formal charges at the sites, and prefixes are assigned to describe homovalent variation in the dominant ion of the root composition. For amphiboles with O dominant at W, distinct root-compositions are currently known for four (calcium and sodium) amphiboles, and homovalent variation in the dominant cation is handled as for the (w)(OH,F,Cl)-dominant amphiboles. With this classification, we attempt to recognize the concerns of each constituent community interested in amphiboles and incorporate these into this classification scheme. Where such concerns conflict, we have attempted to act in accord with the more important concerns of each community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2048
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Amphibole
  • nomenclature
  • classification
  • chemical composition
  • crystal chemistry
  • IRON
  • NA(NAMG)MG5SI8O22(OH)(2)

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