Common Green Rocks and Minerals

Green and greenish rocks get their color from minerals that contain iron or chromium and sometimes manganese. By studying a material's grain, color, and texture, you can easily identify the presence of one of the minerals below. Be sure to examine your sample on a clean surface and pay close attention to the material's luster and hardness.

Chlorite

Chlorite
James St. John / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The most widespread green mineral, chlorite is rarely present by itself. In microscopic form, it gives a dull olive-green color to a wide range of metamorphic rocks from slate and phyllite to schist. Although it appears to have a flaky structure like mica, chlorite gleams rather than sparkles and doesn't split into flexible sheets. The mineral has a pearly luster.

Actinolite

Actinolite
Andrew Alden

Actinolite is a shiny medium-green silicate mineral with long, thin crystals. You'll find it in metamorphic rocks such as marble or greenstone. Its greenish color is derived from iron. A white variety that does not contain iron is called tremolite. Jade is a type of actinolite.

Epidote

Epidote
DEA / PHOTO 1 / Getty Images

Epidote is common in medium-grade metamorphic rocks as well as late-stage igneous rocks such as pegmatites. It ranges in color from yellow-green to green-black to black, depending on its iron content. Epidote is occasionally used as a gemstone.

Glauconite

Glauconite

John Krygier/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Glauconite is most commonly found in greenish marine sandstones and greensands. It's a mica mineral, but because it forms through the alteration of other micas it never forms crystals. Instead, glauconite typically appears as bands of blue-green within rocks. Because of its relatively high potassium content, it is used in fertilizer as well as in artist paints.

Jade (Jadeite/Nephrite)

Jadeite
Christophe Lehenaff / Getty Images

Two minerals, jadeite and nephrite, are recognized as true jade. Both occur where serpentinite is found but form at higher pressures and temperatures. Jade typically ranges from pale to deep green, with less common varieties appearing lavender or blue-green. Both forms are commonly used as gemstones.

Olivine

Olivine
Scientifica / Getty Images

Dark primary igneous rocks (basalt, gabbro, and so on) are the exclusive homes of olivine. The mineral is usually found in small, clear olive-green grains and stubby crystals. A rock made entirely of olivine is called dunite. Olivine is most commonly found below the earth's surface. It gives the rock peridotite its name, peridot being the gem variety of olivine.

Prehnite

Prehnite
Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto / Getty Images

Prehnite is a silicate derived from calcium and aluminum. It can frequently be found in botryoidal clusters along with pockets of zeolite minerals. The mineral has a light bottle-green color and is translucent, with a glassy luster; it is frequently used as a gemstone.

Serpentine

Serpentine
J Brew / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Serpentine is a metamorphic mineral that occurs in some marbles but is more often found by itself in serpentinite. It typically occurs in shiny, streamlined forms, asbestos fibers being the most notable exception. The mineral's color ranges from white to black but is usually dark olive-green. The presence of serpentine is often evidence of prehistoric deep-sea lavas that have been altered by hydrothermal activity.

Other Green Minerals

Mariposite
Yath / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Several other minerals are also typically green, but they aren't widespread and are quite distinctive. These include chrysocolla, diopside, dioptase, fuchsite, several of the garnets, malachite, phengite, and variscite. You're more likely to find them in rock shops than in the field.