Crystals Articles / How do crystals grow?
Crystals are formed from either molten rock and liquid or gaseous "Mineral Soup" - raw elemental ingredients from deep, deep within our Earth. Each one is a naturally occuring hybrid of chemical Elements with geometry, maths and colour.
Crystals grow in a huge variety of different ways and processes. We will look at some of the more common ones here.
Crystals very often grow within small Air Pockets, known as 'a Vug', which get 'pushed up' from near the molten centre of the planet to within reach of human exploration, or even right near the surface. As the molten rock mineral ingredients cool, the crystal begin to form.
Slow cooling produce very large crystals, fast cooling: much smaller.
The Process of Nucleation. Most of the time when just a few molecules joined together, they break apart again. However, sometimes enough solute molecules join together, a so-called "critical size", where the combined attractive forces between the solute molecules become stronger than the other forces in the solution.
This when this "protocrystal" (a sort of pre-crystal) becomes a nucleation site. As this protocrystal floats around in solution, it encounters other solute molecules. These solute molecules feel the attractive force of the protocrystal and join in. That's how the crystal begins to grow.
Oversaturation of the solution with elements will allow crystals to 'fall out' of the solution. They then replicate the initial fractal pattern, perfectly aligning the atom structure, layer by layer, for millenia.
This amazing article
explains how "There are many different ways that even Quartz grows - MacroCrystalline Quartz, Watery Solutions and CryptoCrystalline. The Quartz from Watery Solutions - typically grow in hot watery solutions, in so-called hydrothermal environments, at temperatures between 100°C and 450°C and often at very high pressures. There are no free SiO2 molecules in such a watery solution, instead, quartz crystals grow by addition of dissolved orthosilicic acid, H4SiO4 at their surface, giving off water, layer by layer.
The most interesting temperature changes for quartz collectors are those associated with an uplift of large bodies of rock due to tectonic activity. When crustal plates collide, large parts of the earth's crust are bent and lifted up several kilometers from their initial position, in particular in the case of continent-continent collisions. Rocks appear at the surface that once have been up to more than 50 kilometers below the surface. The temperature at these depths is about 800-1200°C, and at a depth of 20 kilometers it is still around 200-400°C. If a water-filled cavity is lifted up together with the surrounding rock, it can take millions of years until it reaches the surface, and of course it will take millions of years to cool down. Under such conditions - which are met in alpine-type clefts, for example - quartz crystals of exceptional size and clarity can form.
Quartz crystals often do not grow continuously, but in short phases. "
All these crystal articles are written by me, Loren Warn of Pixie Crystals, from personal experience. Please do not copy them without reference AND giving a web-link to their source.
Loren : Pixie Crystals founder, photographer, owner and author