Soapstones are crystalline-textured, talc-rich metamorphic rocks. Essentially pure talcose soapstone is called steatite (“soapstone” and “steatite” are sometimes considered synonyms). Being composed of talc (magnesium hydroxy-silicate - Mg3Si4O10(OH)2), soapstone has a soapy feel and is very soft - it is easily scratched.
Soapstone (steatite) (5 cm across) - this is commercial-grade steatite. This rock comes from a quarry owned by Steatite of Southern Oregon, apparently located near the crest of Elliott Creek Ridge (sections 9-11, T41S, R3W, Squaw Lakes 7.5’ USGS topographic quadrangle) in far-southwestern Jackson County, southwestern Oregon, USA.
Location: apparently at about 42° 00” 57” North, 123° 02’ 11” West.
Steatite in the Elliott Creek Ridge area has a metamorphic date of 141 million years (early Early Cretaceous). It formed by metamorphic alteration of serpentinized peridotites/ultramafites.