Gibbsite, Al(OH)3, is one of the mineral forms of aluminium hydroxide. It is often designated as γ-Al(OH)3 (but sometimes as α-Al(OH)3 .). It is also sometimes called hydrargillite (or hydrargyllite).
Gibbsite is an important ore of aluminium in that it is one of three main phases that make up the rock bauxite. Bauxite is often thought of as a mineral but it is really a rock composed of hydroxide and oxyhydroxide minerals, as well as clays, silt, and iron oxides and hydroxides.
The structure of gibbsite is interesting and analogous to the basic structure of the micas. The basic structure forms stacked sheets of linked octahedrons of aluminium hydroxide. The octahedrons are composed of aluminium ions with a +3 charge bonded to six octahedrally coordinated hydroxides with a -1 charge. Each of the hydroxides is bonded to only two aluminium atoms because one third of the octahedrons are vacant a central aluminium. The result is a neutral sheet since +3/6 = +1/2 (+3 charge on the aluminiums divided by six hydroxide bonds times the number of aluminiums) and -1/2 = -1/2 (-1 charge on the hydroxides divided between only two aluminiums); thus the charges cancel. The lack of a charge on the gibbsite sheets means that there is no charge to retain ions between the sheets and act as a "glue" to keep the sheets together. The sheets are only held together by weak residual bonds and this results in a very soft easily cleaved mineral.