In geology, mafic minerals are silicate minerals, magmas, and volcanic and intrusive igneous rocks that have relatively high concentrations of the heavier elements. The term is a combination of "magnesium" and ferric, the Latin word for iron (III), but mafic magmas also are rich in calcium and sodium.
Mafic minerals are usually dark in color and have specific gravities greater than 3. Common rock-forming mafic minerals include olivine, pyroxene, amphibole, biotite and other micas, augite and the calcium-rich plagioclase feldspars. Common mafic rocks include basalt and gabbro.
In terms of chemistry, mafic rocks are on the other side of the rock spectrum from the so-called felsic rocks. The term roughly corresponds to the older basic rock class.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04