Zircon is a nesosilicate mineral having the composition ZrSiO4. As such, it has unpolymerized silica tetrahedra with zirconium as the charge balancing cation.
Highlighting FeaturesSilicon (Si) atoms A tetrahedrally-coordinated silicon atom Zirconium (Zr) atoms A single zirconium atom in 8-fold coordination Single unit cell All atoms
Zircon is the primary source of the metal zirconium, a metal used in the construction of nuclear reactors due to its low neutron absorption cross-section, its resistance to corrosion, and its extremely high melting point. Large crystals of zircon are sometimes used as gemstones.
Importance in Soil Environments
Zircon is an accessory mineral found in soils in the heavy mineral fraction. It is the main mineral in soils containing the element zirconium; thus analysis of soils for Zr usually gives a fairly good indication of the quantity of zircon present. Zircon is very resistant to weathering; hence its concentration in soils can often be used as an indicator of the amount of silicate or other minerals that have been lost by weathering.
Robinson, K., G.V. Gibbs, and P.H. Ribbe. 1971. The structure of zircon: A comparison with garnet. American Mineralogist 56:782-790