New Internationally Approved Mineral Symbols from the University of Greifswald

Examples of mineral symbols by Laurence Warr - Mineralogical Society of America, 2021

The new nomenclature takes on 991 of the existing symbols for the more common rock-forming minerals and introduces 4753 new symbols for minerals which had not previously been given an abbreviation. The symbol nomenclature can be used in English and German. Generally, the symbols are based on the traditional use of three-letter text abbreviations, known as Kretz symbols. However, in order to cover all of the minerals, two and four-letter symbols are also used. Furthermore, additional element-specific information is provided to describe minerals that are chemically related.

The methods behind the nomenclature are more systematic and extensive than previously. This eliminates conflicts between chemical symbols. For example, the new symbol for pyrrhotite is Pyh instead of the previous Po, which is the chemical symbol for polonium. The list retains as much element-specific information as possible. For example: Bi for bismuth, Bis for bismite, Bit for bismutite and Bin for Bismuthinite. It also uses consistent abbreviations for common name components, e.g. Pshl for pseudosinhalite. Here, the P stands for pseudo, Shl for sinhalite and Hl for halite. Newly approved symbols will be published together with new kinds of minerals in IMA-CNMNC newsletters and relevant research work.

An accompanying list of IMA-CNMNC-compatible symbols for clay minerals was published in the journal Clay Minerals (DOI: 10.1180/clm.2020.30).

Further Information
Working group Economic Geology and Mineralogy [de] at the University of Greifswald

Warr, L.N. (2021). IMA-CNMNC approved minerals symbols. Mineralogical Magazine, 85(3), 291-320. DOI:
Warr, L.N. (2021). A brief history of mineral symbols. Elements, 17 (3): 152. DOI:
Warr, L.N. (2021). Thousands of new and improved mineral symbols. Nature 598, 566. DOI:
Warr, L.N. (2020). Recommended abbreviations for the names of clay minerals and associated phases. Clay Minerals, 85(3), 291-320. DOI:

Media Photo [de]

Contact at the University of Greifswald
Prof. Dr. Laurence N. Warr
Institute of Geography and Geology
Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Straße 17 A, 17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 3834 420 4578