This sort of comes from my related question, but only sort of. Are there any areas on Earth with purplish-colored soil? The purple tint would come from some mineral, perhaps deposited by rivers or volcanic activity.

I don't know exactly what mineral. The only purple mineral I know for sure is amethyst. It does not hafta be pure purple. A purple-brown mix would be just fine.

The line "purple mountains majesty" comes to mind here, but that appears to be just a reddish/purplish sunset reflecting off of brown mountains. I'm looking for something real in the soil/rock, not an illusion.

Purplish sand and purplish rock are okay too. Really whatever the land is, that's what I'm asking for purple color.

One more semi-reference: Apollo 17 actually discovered orange soil on the Moon.

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    $\begingroup$ Another purple mineral is porphyry. It use to be associated with the royal families of the Byzantine Empire. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ There are purplish rocks (volcanic, I believe) around this general area of Nevada, for instance along I-80 about 20 miles east of Reno. Never took particular note of the soil, though. And the mountains often look purple during the day, simply due to distance. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred what's that mineral? I am unfamiliar with it. Always thought of porphyry in the context of igneous rock texture or copper ore deposits. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ South Dakota badlands have purplish layers. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 22:56

2 Answers 2


Soil color is highly dependant on the oxides and other minerals in the composition. Purplish tones appear to be possible by inclusion of manganese oxide compounds. There are locations in China that have markedly violet soils.

If you broaden your search to sands as well as soils, there are plenty of examples of garnet-based sands that can appear markedly purple. California's Pfeiffer Beach is one such location.

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    $\begingroup$ Reference for the Chinese soils, since I am unable to post more than two links: isric.org/sites/all/modules/pubdlcnt/pubdlcnt.php?file=/isric/… $\endgroup$
    – Zintlions
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for joining the site and getting around the bureaucratic rules. I will research manganese oxide compounds now. $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ I added the China link to your answer. Welcome to the site. Hope you visit regularly. $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 2:43

Yes, there are. Here are some examples from Southern Israel:

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Another exceptional example is the "rainbow mountain" in Peru:

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The cause of these colours is the usually trace oxide amount in the soil. The soil is usually composed mostly of silt-sized quartz. This quartz is coated with with various oxides. Differing proportions of these oxides will change the colour of the soil. Fe2O3 appears red, Fe3O4 is black and FeO(OH) is yellow. Manganese oxides (with either Mn2+, Mn3+, Mn4+, or mixed valence) can tint soil dark black, or slightly purple when mixed with iron oxides. Clays can also change the colour, with the famous example of green glauconite.

Variations of these minerals, grain size, and surrounding colour of the soil (to change your perception) can create just about any colour you can think of, including purple.


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