"Debacle" della nomenclatura CNMMN?: discussione

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Marco E. Ciriotti
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"Debacle" della nomenclatura CNMMN?: discussione

Messaggio da Marco E. Ciriotti » lun 06 set, 2004 18:35

John S. White con uno scritto pubblicato nella rubrica "Let's Get it Right" di Rocks & Minerals [White, J.S. (2004): The Nomenclature Debacle. Rock & Minerals, 79, 192-193] ha battezzato "una disfatta" l'operatività della Commissione sui Nuovi Minerali e sui Nomi dei Minerali (CNMMN) dell'International Mineralogical Association (IMA).
Come a tutti noto, questa commissione sovrintende a tutto ciò che concerne le specie minerali (tipologia di nomenclatura da adottare per dare un nome alle specie, regole per l'approvazione, la ridefinizione, il discredito, l'approvazione delle nuove specie, la loro classificazione, ecc., ecc.).
Facendo riferimento al nuovo Fleischer Glossary 2004 (che però, come già precisato su queste pagine, non è affatto un documento ufficiale CNMMN), White appura che molti nomi non vi figurano più (vedasi, ad esempio, "apophyllite", "hypersthene", "scapolite", "serpentine", "tantalite", "wolframite"). Le fasi della serie dell'apophyllite sono infatti correttamente classificate sotto fluoroapophyllite, hydroxyapophyllite e natroapophyllite.
L'autore sostiene che se si optava per un diverso tipo nomenclatura: quella a suffisso anzichè quella a prefisso, tutto sarebbe stato più chiaro e semplice. Avremmo infatti avuto nel glossario tre "apofilliti" una di seguita all'altra nel rispetto dell'ordine alfabetico: "apophyllite-F"; "apophyllite-OH", "apophyllite-Na". Un sistema analogo con una inutile parentesi è stato infatti già adottato per le specie con Terre Rare dominanti: vedasi, ad esempio, florencite-(Ce), florencite-(La), florencite-(Nd).
Dall'altro canto White fa rilevare che una serie di prefissi (ma non solo questi) hanno reso caotica e difficile la classificazione di alcuni minerali, in particolari gli anfiboli. Infatti nomi come sodic-ferro-antophyllite, potassic-magnesiosadanagaite, ferri-clinoferroholmquistite, fluoro-ferroleakeite, fluorocannilloite, fluororichterite sono lunghi e teoricamente portatori di confusione (White inoltre pare non condividere tecnicamente l'"organizzazione delle specie nel gruppo degli anfiboli"). Anche in questo caso, oltre a uniformare tra quelli scritti con e senza trattino, si sarebbe potuto optare per dei suffissi. Fluoro-ferroleakeite avrebbe potuto essere "leakeite-F-F2+" e fluorocannilloite, "cannilloite-F", rendendo tutto più semplice e ponendo immediatamente in sequenza logica le relazioni nelle serie di soluzioni solide.
Infine White lamenta il fatto che dal Glossary 2004 siano spariti del tutto nomi quali columbite, ecc. allorchè sarebbe bastato dire: "columbite (vedasi ferrocolumbite, magnesiocolumbite (e non "magnocolumbite" come scritto nell'articolo!), manganocolumbite" e così via.
Nello stesso volume di Rock & Minerals compaiono sei lettere di ricercatori e "amateur mineralogists" che si dichiarano tutti concordi con quanto asserito da John S. White.
Questo è quanto - a brevi linee - è comparso sulla rivista menzionata in merito al dibattito sulla nomenclatura dei minerali.

Esprimo brevemente il mio punto di vista sull'argomento.
Innanzitutto due precisazioni.
1) Il Glossary 2004 è il prodotto di due autori Mandarino & Back e quindi lacune come quella della "columbite" vanno ascritte a loro e non alla CNMMN; la stessa cosa vale i nomi soppressi di "hyperstene", "scapolite", ecc.
2) nel CD MINERAL di E.H. Nickel & M.C. Nichols, edito nel 2002 dalla MDI Materials Data, Inc., (riconosciuto dalla CNMMN) database delle specie minerali questo tipo di lacuna è generalmente assente: i nomi esistono sempre, ma per essi viene correttamente precisato che devono essere considerati non più nomi di specie ma nomi di serie o di gruppi.
Per quanto concerne la "tipologia" di nomenclatura adottata dalla CNMMN per anfiboli e molte altre serie di minerali, e cioè l'aver sostanzialmente preferito i prefissi ai suffissi, non posso che schierarmi a favore di quest'ultima soluzione, ma soltanto qualora si optasse per l'intenzione di procedere a una notevole e importante revisione di nomi di minerali mirante a snellimento e chiarezza/maggior trasparenza(?) dei nomi stessi.
La storia è vecchia assai, in quanto, ad esempio, l'adozione del termine hydroxyapophyllite risale al 1978 (e, forse, altri simili termini sono ancora più vecchi).
Allorchè nel 1997 Leake et al. diedero piede alla revisione del gruppo degli anfiboli seguirono gli esempi pre-esistenti. Ricordo di aver allora discusso e manifestato alcune delle stesse perplessità sollevate ora da White.
In questi ultimi tempi la CNMMN per molte nuove specie, tra loro correlate (serie, soluzioni solide, ecc.) (non solo le zeoliti) ha già optato per i suffissi di competenza (vedasi, ad esempio, molte specie del gruppo dell'eudialyte), seguendo un criterio logico, corretto e coerente.
Pertanto sarebbe auspicabile una iniziativa della CNMMN tendente a uniformare con suffissi tutte le specie tra loro correlate, convinto come sono che gli autori delle descrizioni "con prefissi" delle nuove specie non farebbero opposizione ad un simile cambiamento (il nome di una specie minerale è un diritto che spetta unicamente agli autori della descrizione della specie stessa e non una "proprietà" CNMMN).
Nell'occasione si dovrebbe approfittare per eliminare le parentesi dai nomi delle specie con Terre Rare dominanti (e quei pochi altri già esistenti), uniformando così tutta la grafia dei suffissi.
Attualmente i due criteri coesitono; quindi - ad oggi - la tipologia adottata è "mista".
Non considero tuttavia una debacle l'opzione sinora fatta dalla CNMMN per l'adozione in un gran numero di casi di prefissi a designazione di "qualità specifiche diversificanti le singole specie".
Le correlazione tra le diverse specie (che non hanno quindi una elencazione in sequela alfabetica) la si crea attraverso la loro appartenza a uno specifico gruppo e cioè con la classificazione delle specie. Soltanto la classificazione renderà giustizia, riunendo sotto lo stessa famiglia, gruppo, sottogruppo o serie, tutte le specie tra loro strettamente (o un po' meno strettamente) correlate (correlazione cristallochimica/strutturale).
L'adozione uniforme dei suffissi non permetterà comunque mai la formazione gerarchica corretta di tutte le specie appartenenti ad un determinato gruppo. Farà chiarezza, i nomi saranno più corti, eviterà forse qualche confusione (peraltro ugualmente possibile: confondere un suffisso Fe2+ con uno Fe3+ è estremamente facile!!!), ma dimentichiamoci di ottenere in sequenza alfabetica i nomi di tutte le specie appartenenti a un determinato gruppo...
Quindi - tutto sommato - OK per l'opzione suffissi, ma il termine "debacle" è decisamente fuori luogo. E se l'opzione non verrà esercitata (personalmente non la sento un'assoluta necessità), esistono decine di pubblicazioni sulla classificazione dei minerali, per chi vuole avere l'immediata correlazione tra le specie della stessa serie o gruppo (sono io stesso autore di una "classificazione"!...).
Ricordo al riguardo che una apposita commissione IMA sta lavorando sulla classificazione dei minerali (quali criteri, quali nomi, ecc.).
Ultima modifica di Marco E. Ciriotti il ven 08 ott, 2004 9:38, modificato 1 volta in totale.
Marco E. Ciriotti

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Messaggio da Marco E. Ciriotti » gio 07 ott, 2004 12:08

Nella speranza di far cosa gradita ai molti sistematici che seguono questo forum, riporto qui di seguito il testo di risposta del Prof. Ernest A.J. Burke, Presidente della CNMMN dell'IMA, a lettere inerenti l'argomento in oggetto (naturalmente il testo è in inglese):

Ernst A.J. Burke wrote:

Dear Rik and Kreigh,

I am finally back in my office after some weeks of vacation, and I
haven taken notice of your messages on nomenclature. Rather, they seem to be lamentations on the bad habits of the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN). I assume that your discussions have been sparked by the text of John S. White on what he calls the 'Nomenclature Debacle', a paper published in Rocks and Minerals in the May-June 2004 issue. Replies to this paper have been published (or should be soon) by Bill Birch, secretary of the CNMMN, and Joe Mandarino, one of my predecessors as CNMMN chairman. I agree with the reply of Bill Birch, I would have worded the reply of Joe Mandarino in
a different setting. Anyway, please read these replies to White, and
then I do not have to answer all your problems as these are handled in these replies.

Next, I will be the first to admit that mineralogical nomenclature is far from ideal, there are too many inconsistencies in the system, caused in the past, before 1959 and after 1959, 1959 being the starting year of the CNMMN. I will give only one example of inconsistent nomenclature, even incompatible with the CNMMN guidelines for mineral nomenclature: the amphiboles. But the CNMMN is continuously working on these problems, see the many subcommittees we have to clean up messes here and there. I am open for all suggestions which would enhance our mineral nomenclature, I have regularly discussions on this subject through the forum on the MINDAT website, and therefore I am a bit flabbergasted when a global e-mail campaign is proposed to change the views of the CNMMN. Flooding e-mail boxes will not change nomenclature, I assume, and such threats only darken a possible discussion before it can start. All proposals for changes can be submitted to the CNMMN and will then discussed appropriately by the members.

But before proposing changes, I must ask you to take notice of the current CNMMN guidelines on mineral nomenclature, lastly published in 1998 in several journals, but also available through the CNMMN website. You may then see that the setting of a halfway barrier in a solid solution is not artificial at all; you may then see why we really need Levinson modifiers for rare-earth minerals; you may then see that cerite-(Ce) is not pleonastic and that cerite-(La) is not a contradiction in terms. Please, let us have serious discussions! Also the allegation that scientists only describe new minerals for 15 minutes of fame or because of publication pressure does not help a discussion, it only shows that persons saying such things do not really understand science politics.

Anyway, most of the problems signalled by White and by you two are not the real problems. What is wrong in a collection if specimens are labelled 'olivine' or 'chabazite'? Nothing, they are the right names, even if they are not proper mineral names. I am surprised that you mention only such examples for having to go to an expensive machine in order to get the real name of a specimen. Are all your other minerals labelled correctly? I doubt so. Only one example: we all know that there are dozens and dozens of blue minerals in oxidation zones of copper and zinc ores. How did you identify these minerals without machines? Are you sure you have their right names? No, of course not. Why do collectors make a point with problems of olivine, apatite or chabazite, if they do not make a point within the dozens and dozens of (now) green minerals of the oxodation zones? Do you ever submit such minerals to a lab? Of course, Rik uses his own microprobe, so he should have no problems in labelling forsterites and fayalites, or do you? I do not know whether you follow discussions on the MINDAT website, but then we see the real problems for collectors, getting the right information, especially from mineral dealers.

I hope to have answered a bit your problems, and wish you the best with your collections!

Best regards,
Ernst Burke.

----------------------------------------------------
Ernst A.J. Burke
Faculty of Earth & Life Sciences
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1085
NL - 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tel. + 31 20 444 7345; Fax +31 20 646 2457
e-mail: ernst.burke@falw.vu.nl

Chair of the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names of the
International Mineralogical Association see
www.geo.vu.nl/users/ima-cnmmn/
_________________
Marco E. Ciriotti

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Messaggio da Marco E. Ciriotti » gio 31 mar, 2005 18:53

Ecco ora un'ulteriore round della questione "Debacle della nomenclatura".
La risposta del segretario della CNMMN e la controriposta di White.

<<My recent column titled "The Nomenclature Debacle" (May/June 2004) generated a remarkable volume of letters, all of them supportive except for the following one from Dr. William "Bill" D. Birch, senior curator of geosciences at Museum Victoria, in Australia. His thoughtful and well-reasoned letter is being presented here as this issue's column. It is reassuring that he hasn't beaten me up too badly, and in many instances it would appear that we are much in agreement.

Mineral Nomenclature--Is it Really That Bad?

John White's article (Rocks & Minerals, volume 79, pages 192-93) on the "nomenclature debacle," as he puts it, which affects mineralogy, deserves a response. As I am currently secretary of the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN) and have been involved with the commission's work since 1984, it is appropriate that I have a go at explaining how some of these problems have arisen.

Firstly, a little background on the CNMMN. At present, there are thirty countries represented, and each member is expected to vote monthly on a batch of anywhere from four to ten new mineral proposals. The data and the name for each mineral must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the members who vote. From time to time members are also asked to comment and vote on proposals to discredit or redefine existing minerals based on new data. In addition the commission regularly establishes expert subcommittees to investigate the nomenclature for particular mineral groups (pyroxene, zeolite, eudialyte, and so on) and to recommend changes.

One thing the commission does not do in its own right is publish glossaries or encyclopedias. It has negotiated an agreement with a private company to publish a list, available on the commission's Web site, of all CNMMN-approved species. But what may not be clear from White's article is that Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species is neither published on behalf of nor sanctioned by the commission. Obviously, there is a link through Joseph Mandarino, who edits the Glossary and is also a chairman emeritus of the CNMMN. He makes every endeavor to ensure that all relevant entries are an accurate record of CNMMN decisions. However, the exclusion from the Glossary of such common names as apatite, apophyllite, axinite, chlorite, and so on has nothing to do with the commission. There is no reason at all why these names could not be included if the editor thought it was appropriate to do so.

This leads me to make a point about the role of the Glossary in mineralogy today. There is no doubt that it makes a great contribution to our science through its completeness and accuracy, not to mention its convenience. But it is basically still a list, albeit a detailed one, and no one seriously interested in mineralogy, be they collector or dealer, should rely solely on it for all their mineralogical information. Sure, the "relatively new collector or the moderately casual collector" might have a few problems tracing names, but why should we pitch the nomenclature of our science at this level, as White implies that we do? Surely there are few novice collectors who want to stay that way! Trawling back through glossaries and encyclopedias to trace the origin and subsequent history of mineral names is one of the great attractions of our science, even more so because it is possible to follow such trails relatively easily using the wonderful historical literature available. I include the modern glossaries of Jeffrey de Fourestier and Peter Bayliss (see references in original column) among this literature, and they are ideal companions to Fleischer, Dana, Strunz, and others. Many of the common names White yearns for are not buried very deeply in the literature, so I find it hard to picture even a novice collector getting too frustrated at not finding these names in Fleischer.

A major point of White's article is aimed at the inconsistent approach by the commission to the use of prefixes and suffixes in mineral names. It is difficult to defend this situation, so I will not try too hard. But it should be remembered, and emphasized, that decisions on mineral names have been under the CNMMN's auspices for only about forty years--just 20 percent of the period during which minerals have been named and described. Changing a mineral name, even by removing a hyphen or by "Anglicizing" it, can be a complex and emotive process, as individual and, in some cases, national loyalties can be involved and there are often ramifications for other mineral names. Achieving the necessary two-thirds majority of members to effect a change can be difficult. The commission cannot insist that a proposer make a change to a name unless it is armed with this majority as a weapon. In cases where suggested names are queried by members of the commission, the proposers may be asked to reconsider, but that is just about all we can do. I say "just about" because the commission has taken a stand against mineral names with political overtones (i.e., in some cases where a country name has been proposed).

It would be great to be able to act unilaterally and make some of the changes White suggests. For example, the consistent use of hyphens, the removal or retention of diacritical marks, and the use of standard suffixes and prefixes are all matters that the commission has debated. However, when that majority agreement to bring about change has not eventuated, we have had to move on. On several occasions the commission has endeavored, unsuccessfully, to gain majority approval to extend to other groups the so-called Levinson system, which adds the symbol of the major rare-earth element in parentheses as a suffix to the root or trivial name, as in allanite-(Ce), for example. There was a real battle to have it accepted for minerals of the whiteite group, and a modified version, without the parentheses, was adopted for the zeolite-group nomenclature scheme. With the benefit of hindsight, the commission probably should have insisted that the zeolite subcommittee adopt exactly the same format as the Levinson system (i.e., with the parentheses), but I do not think that particular inconsistency is a major problem.

White uses some names from the amphibole group to highlight his concerns. It is true that some of these names present a soft target, but they have to be seen in the context of a very complicated group of minerals in which there are several structural sites and numerous exchangeable cations. Because we now have the techniques to accurately determine the nature of these sites and the cations that go in them, the "good old days" of hornblende and actinolite are long gone. I do have a confession to make here, though, because the current nomenclature scheme was introduced early in my time as secretary and my name is attached to it because I pushed Bernard Leake and his colleagues very hard to complete their report. The amphibole subcommittee had been working for more than ten years on updating the original scheme, and it was time to get something ruled off. Of course, naming them might have been made a bit easier if a Levinson-style scheme had been adopted. It was not, for some of the reasons I outlined above. Even if it had been, however, it would have had its own complications because in some cases the root or trivial name would have been followed by a string of cations (such as Na, K, Ca, Fe, Mn, and Al) in a very precise order enclosed in the parentheses. And this system would not have assisted mineralogists, he they professional or amateur, in identifying any particular amphibole mineral shoved under their noses or their microscopes! X-ray diffraction, electron microprobes, and single crystal studies would still be needed in most cases. Perhaps as a comfort to White, I suspect that, eventually, some form of the Levinson scheme will be applied to amphiboles, but whether it is in his or my lifetime, I am not willing to bet!

Although not covered by White's critique, there is one aspect of mineral naming for which I am prepared to gently chastise the CNMMN for its acquiescence. This concerns the approval of double names of the form "billybloggsite." I acknowledge that the people these names honor are all worthy and have made notable contributions, but, to me, such names do nothing to raise the status of our science, and I always voted against them. (Please forgive me if I have offended any readers.)
Above all else, though, it should not be forgotten that the global approval system administered by the members of the CNMMN ensures that mineralogy is one of the most regulated and disciplined of the "taxonomy-based" natural sciences. Its work allows both professionals and amateurs to place great confidence in the veracity of the modern mineralogical literature. Problems over inconsistencies in some areas of nomenclature are minor when viewed in this context. The commission is mindful of the need for its decisions to be transparent, hence its annual published updates of new minerals approved and its informative Web site (www.geo.vu.nl/users/ima-cnmmn/).

In conclusion, White's insistence on the need for consistency in mineral nomenclature is important, and, over time, I suspect that many of the problems he identifies will be sorted out. In the meantime, I encourage all mineral lovers, from the wide-eyed novice to the crustiest of curators, to regularly bury themselves in the rich literature of our science. After all, what's in a name?

William "Bill" D. Birch>>


<<Counter Response

It is tempting to try to respond to all the points made by Dr. Birch, but that would extend this to excessive lengths. Some rebuttal, however, is in order. His comment "why should we pitch the nomenclature of our science at this level" (the relatively new collector or the moderately casual collector) implies that I favor a "dumbing-down" of the nomenclature. This is far from the case. Rather, I favor a tightening-up of the nomenclature so that it is rational, consistent, and convenient. Also, writing that "decisions on mineral names have been under the CNMMN's auspices for only about forty years--just 20 percent of the period in which minerals have been named and described" is a bit of a red herring. It implies that there were lots of hyphens in mineral names prior to the CNMMN's involvement in the naming process and that these names have been grandfathered into today's nomenclature. I ran a quick survey of the minerals in the Glossary (2004) beginning with a, b, and c and found only one with a hyphen that predated the CNMMN, whereas sixty with hyphens were introduced after the CNMMN began its deliberations, one of which even had a double hyphen!

Yes, it may indeed be difficult to get the CNMMN to endorse more consistency in mineral names, but I firmly believe that important changes could be effected if the effort were pushed more aggressively. Thank you, Bill, for a fine letter.

JOHN S. WHITE>>
Marco E. Ciriotti

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Messaggio da Marco E. Ciriotti » mar 19 apr, 2005 16:47

Per chi ha voglia e ... tempo, la risposta dell'emerito Prof. Mandarino:

"The following is the second rebuttal--this one by Joseph A. Mandarino--to my Let s Get It Right column titled "The Nomenclature Debacle;' which appeared in the May/June 2004 issue. (The first response, by William "Bill" D. Birch, was published in the November/December 2004 issue, pages 413-14.)

A REPLY FROM JAM

I read with interest the article "The Nomenclature Debacle" by John S. White in the May/June 2004 issue of Rocks & Minerals. After my second reading, I decided that I had to say something to clarify and correct some of the statements.

Paragraph 1

JSW Statement (line 3): White refers to the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN) as "tinkering with mineral names."

JAM Comment: The dictionary closest at hand defines tinker as "to work clumsily at anything." I can assure the reader that this is not true of the CNMMN. I spent twelve years as chairman of the group and would never apply the word tinker to the people with whom I worked. The members of the CNMMN are a dedicated group of mineralogists and/or crystallographers. The list of CNMMN members through the years reads like a Who's Who in descriptive mineralogy, white owes all of them an apology.

JSW Statement (lines 10-14): "Changes threaten to make most introductory mineral textbooks largely obsolete because familiar common names that appear in them are no longer found in references such as Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species (Mandarino 2004)."

JAM Comment: This is what is called progress. Old names (whether familiar or not) should be forgotten. It is not the fault of the CNMMN that people are using old, outdated books. Another matter involves "Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species (Mandarino 2004)." Those of you who have copies should note that the authors are Mandarino and Back.

JSW Statement (lines 14-16): He lists names of nine "species" as examples of familiar names.

JAM Comment: The point I must make is that these are not valid species, and white does a disservice to mineralogy by using them.

JSW Statement (lines 17-21): "Many of these changes result from the failure of the mineralogical community to develop a hierarchical system, a system with categories or classes of names that can be used depending upon how much is known about the composition and structure of a particular mineral specimen."

JAM Comment: There are many inconsistencies here. First, what is meant by "a particular mineral specimen"? Most specimens that I have examined in about sixty-five years of my interest in minerals consist of more than one mineral, so one should not refer to the specimen's composition and structure. I assume White means species not specimens. This may be splitting hairs on my part, but when speaking about nomenclature, one should use correct nomenclature. So, if my assumption is correct, what can I say about his statement? Don't many collectors use phrases such as % member of the amphibole group" or % member of the calcite group," and so on? Do we need a pronouncement from the CNMMN for this? I think not.

Paragraph 2

JSW Statement (lines 7-8): "I argued strenuously with one of the authors for this change, but to no avail."

JAM Comment: Arguing with one of the authors is inappropriate. Why didn't he write to the CNMMN?

JSW Statement (lines 8-11): "After all, suffixes have been added effectively with many other minerals, such as florencite-(Ce), florencite-(La), and florencite-(Nd) as well as many members of the monazite group."

JAM Comment: The Levinson system of nomenclature was proposed originally for rare-earth minerals in order to avoid a proliferation of trivial names. It succeeded. The so-called extended Levinson system has been successfully used in many cases not involving rare-earth minerals; the zeolite group is an excellent example. It probably is only a matter of time before the system is applied elsewhere. I suspect that changing the names of the three members of the apophyllite group is not a high priority.

JSW Statement (lines 11-16): "To compound the matter, the same paper also proposed naming the other end of the series fluorapophyllite rather than apophyllite-(F) or apophyllite-F. What this means now is that if one attempts to search for apophyllite in the Glossary, it cannot be found, leaving the uninformed to wonder what happened to it."

JAM Comment: Yes, "apophyllite" will not be found in Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species because (note the last two words of that title) it is not the name of a valid species.

JSW Statement (lines 21-23): "Natroapophyllite, described later, would also be grouped with its related species if its name were changed to apophyllite-(Na) or apophyllite-Na."

JAM Comment: Adding Na as a suffix along with OH and F is ridiculous and implies that Na, OH, and F occupy the same position in the structure, which definitely is not the case for Na. Natroapophyllite has dominant Na and F; how do you handle the suffix there? Do you use two suffixes? What happens if an apophyllite group member is found with dominant Na and OH? A key aspect of nomenclature is to look ahead.

Paragraph 3

JSW Statement (lines 1-3): "The worst imaginable nightmare was introduced when the CNMMN agreed to adopt the amphibole classification of Bernard E. Leake et al. (1997)."

JAM Comment: The phrase "worst imaginable nightmare" is overdramatic. I've had some terrible nightmares but none connected with the amphibole group. However, let's move on. First, I want to point out that the latest revision of the amphibole-group classification is by Leake et al. (2004 or 2003), not 1997. This was necessitated by better analytical procedures for the detection of lithium and other factors. Collectors certainly do not have access to instrumentation that will allow them to assign the correct name to an amphibole, but that is not the purpose of the classification. It was not developed for the collector any more than DNA testing was developed for the layperson. It is part of the centuries-old philosophy of science to develop classification schemes for everything in nature. So what does a collector do with his or her unknown amphibole? I mentioned earlier that it can always be called "a member of the amphibole group" until further information is available. For example, a recently described amphibole is obertiite, a monoclinic amphibole with the formula Na[Na.sub.2] ([Mg.sub.3][Fe.sup.3+][Ti.sup.4+]) [Si.sub.8][O.sub.22]O.sub.2]. It is pale pink and has physical, optical, and crystallographic properties similar to those of the other monoclinic members of the amphibole group. So far, it is known from only the type locality: the Bellerberg quarry, Laacher See district, Eifel region, Germany, where it is associated with tridymite, fluororichterite, hematite, ruffle, aegirineaugite, kinoshitalite, and fluorapatite in cavities of basaltic flows. Now, if I had a specimen corresponding to the foregoing data from this locality, I think I would be more than tempted to call it obertiite. On the other hand, if I couldn't match its description to that of obertiite but could see that it had the physical appearance of an amphibole, I would call it "an unidentified member of the amphibole group."

Going back to White's statement about the amphibole classification, it may not be perfect, but it does set rules for naming new members of the group, and that's what nomenclature is all about.

SW Statement (lines 3-11): "... has created a quagmire of complexity that none but those equipped with the most sophisticated analytical instrumentation can utilize in attempting to organize their amphibole species in an orderly fashion."

JAM Comment: Those of us without the instrumentation to which he refers don't have to feel left out. Our amphiboles can still receive the correct names by using various properties and/or locality information as discussed earlier for obertiite.

And yes, John, "hornblende" is gone because it has no validity. Like many people, I keep a small personal telephone directory. If friends die, I remove their names from it. After all, I'm not going to call those people anymore, although I probably will have fond memories of some of them. Have fond memories of hornblende; it's gone but not forgotten.

Paragraph 4

JSW Statement (lines 1-8): "We now have such delightful and user-friendly names as sodic-ferro-anthophyllite, potassic-magnesiosadanagaite, and ferri-clinoferroholmquistite. To assign the first of these names to a particular amphibole we not only have to establish that there is sodium present above, though not exceeding, a certain amount, but we also have to do the same with iron; we also have to establish the oxidation state of the bulk of the iron. Piece of cake, right?"
JAM Comment: I am amazed that somebody with a science background is upset with a scientific classification. It's a good thing for you that you didn't go into a biological science; if you had, you would have been dealing not only with a binomial system of nomenclature but one in which the words are in Latin.

Paragraph 5

JSW Statement (lines 1-5): Here White refers to the "fictitious" or "fantasy" names of amphiboles in the classification.

JAM Comment: The people on the amphibole subcommittee of the CNMMN produced their classification on the basis of their collective years of intense study of the crystal-lochemical relationships in that group. In a sense, they predicted that certain new compositions would be discovered. It's fortunate that they set up those pigeonholes because some of the pigeons have come home to roost.

Paragraph 6

JSW Statement (lines 1-10): White is upset with the CNMMN's use of hyphens. First, he cites the inconsistencies among amphibole group names. Then, he remarks on the inconsistencies among suffixes.

JAM Comment: Regarding the amphibole names, I see no cause for alarm; this certainly hasn't given me any problems. With regard to the suffixes that he cites for allanite-(Ce), allanite-(Y), chabazite-Ca, chabazite-K, and chabazite-Na, the first two minerals are rare-earth members of the epidote group, and the other three are members of the zeolite group. He should read the report and recommendations of the zeolite subcommittee of the CNMMN, which explains that they chose not to enclose the suffixes in parentheses to make them stand out from rare-earth minerals that follow the Levinson system of nomenclature.

Regarding White's preference for no parentheses because it reduces the number of characters per name by two, I'm tempted to call him John Whi, but then he might call me Joe Mandari.

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JSW Statement (lines 1-2): "The columbite group does not exist anymore; it too has just gone away."

JAM Comment: Nonsense! The group is alive and well. If you look at the entries in Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species (Mandarino and Back 2004) for ferrocolumbite, magnocolumbite, and manganocolumbite on pages 84, 161, and 164, respectively, you will see that each of those entries ends with the phrase, Columbite group. The same is true for the other members of that group: ferrotantalite (p. 86), fersmite (p. 87) and manganotantalite (p. 165). The section listing all groups had to be eliminated in the current edition of Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species to keep the size of the book manageable, but I will be publishing a separate mineral-group booklet soon.

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JSW Statement (line 5): "When compared to the three thousand or so species names..."

JAM Comment: There are more than 4,000 valid species. The current edition of Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species contains 4,007 entries, and at the time this article was written (early August 2004) the total number of published valid species was 4,052.

JSW Statement (lines 6-10): "Names such as apatite, apophyllite, chlorite, serpentine, and tantalite are very common names that appear frequently in the world of a beginning collector, so their absence from references can only lead to frustration."

JAM Comment: If we educate beginning collectors so that they know why some names are discarded, we can avoid this frustration. Explaining is much better than complaining.

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JSW Statement (1-6): This statement is in regard to the books by de Fourestier (1999) and Bayliss (2000).

JAM Comment: Some of the problems cited here (and elsewhere in the article) might be solved by the booklet published by the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium in 2000. It contains a list of all varietal names, synonyms, and doubtful species deleted from Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species (eighth edition). This is out of print now, but if there is sufficient interest, I'm sure it can be reprinted.

JSW Statement (lines 8-11): This concerns White's suggestion that the CNMMN "drop all of the modifying prefixes and make suffixes of them. Then, at least, apophyllite-(OH) or apophyllite-OH and apophyllite-(F) or apophyllite-F (take your pick!) would become neighbors once again in an alphabetical listing."

JAM Comment: There are two points to be made here. First, by publishing the names listed above, White has placed four nonvalid names in print; this is not a way to prevent confusion. Second, the phrase "take your pick!" implies that the choice of names is a matter for the reader; I don't think I have to point out how frivolous that is.

References

I call attention to some errors. (1) Leake et al. 1997: A more up-to-date report is by Leake et al. published in 2003 or 2004, depending on which journal you go to. For example, the report was published in the Canadian Mineralogist in 2003 and in the American Mineralogist in 2004. (2) The last entry should read: Mandarino, J. A., and M. E. Back. 2004, and the title should be given as Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species.

Joseph A. Mandarino

Chairman Emeritus CNMMN

63 Moore Avenue

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M4T 1V3

COUNTER RESPONSE FROM JSW

There is no doubt that the CNMMN has worked long and hard in trying to monitor the quality of the data relating to new mineral species that appear in the literature. They have been less diligent, I believe, in trying to make the nomenclature user-friendly. Dr. Mandarino's spirited defense of their efforts is fun to read, but it does not change the fact that the nomenclature could be vastly improved if those on the commission would give the matter appropriate attention. Mandarino found nothing good to write about my column, but I take comfort in the fact that it generated an amazing volume of responses--many written and far more that were verbal--all of which were supportive except this one and that of William "Bill" Birch, which appeared in the November/December 2004 issue. Clearly the column struck a nerve, and one hopes that the CNMMN is paying attention. If I truly offended any CNMMN members by accusing them of "tinkering" with the nomenclature, I do offer a sincere apology.

Mandarino states that "It's a good thing for [me] that didn't go into a biological science; if had would have been dealing not only with a binomial system of nomenclature but one in which the words are in Latin." The biologists, to their credit, have not abandoned common names but continue to use them without hesitation; thus, we can still find terms such as fireflies in the literature, instead of having to remember the more cumbersome generic name Photinus. Mandarino would essentially outlaw the use of common names, names that he now considers "invalid." To follow his logic, names such as Japanese beetle, stinkbug, paper wasp, and tsetse fly would be banned from the literature. Heck, we couldn't even ride a horse anymore, we would have to mount an Equus caballus!

Most of Dr. Mandarino's comments are of the "nit" category and are highly debatable. For example, how many mineralogists can be expected to forever remember that parentheses with suffixes are used, according to the Levinson system, only for rare-earth minerals? The two "errors" that are detailed in Dr. Mandarino's critique probably should not be considered errors. The first is that I did not cite more current references for the Leake et al. report. I saw no need--and still don't--for citing the later reports; they do not diminish the validity of my comments. With respect to neglecting to properly credit the authorship of the 2004 edition of Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species, when the column was written in 2003, I was unaware that a second author (M. E. Back) had entered the picture. An alert editor subsequently changed the year from 2003 to 2004, but we all missed the introduction of Back.

RESPONSE FROM JAM TO THE COUNTER RESPONSE

I was surprised to read the following statements in the second paragraph of Mr. White's counter response:

Mandarino would essentially outlaw the use of
common names, names that he now considers
"invalid" To follow his logic, names such as
Japanese beetle, stinkbug, paper wasp, and tsetse
fly would be banned from the literature.
I read my rebuttal several times before I sent the final version for publication and twice after I received the galleys. Nowhere did I see anything like the above statement. I, like White, am not a biologist, so references to biological terms are not germane. As a mineralogist, I strongly condemn the use of nonvalid mineral names. White's attempt at drawing a comparison between biological and mineralogical names is weak. Are there "common" names in minerals? Isn't cuprosklodowskite just cuprosklodowskite, quartz just quartz, and so forth?
In his last paragraph, White states that most of my comments are of the "nit" category. The implication is that I am picking nits. If that is so, who put the nits in his column, and shouldn't they be removed by somebody?

John S. White, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, operates Kustos, a museum/collector consulting and mineral/ gem sales business.

JOHN S. WHITE"
Marco E. Ciriotti

«Things are interesting only in so far as they relate themselves to other things»

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