AskDefine | Define minerals

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of mineral

Extensive Definition

A mineral is a naturally occurring substance formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure and specific physical properties. A rock, by comparison, is an aggregate of minerals and need not have a specific chemical composition. Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms. The study of minerals is called mineralogy.
    • Sub-metallic -slightly less than metallic reflectivity: magnetite
    • Non-metallic lusters:
      • Adamantine - brilliant, the luster of diamond also cerussite and anglesite
      • Vitreous -the luster of a broken glass: quartz
      • Pearly - iridescent and pearl-like: talc and apophyllite
      • Resinous - the luster of resin: sphalerite and sulfur
      • Silky - a soft light shown by fibrous materials: gypsum and chrysotile
      • Dull/earthy -shown by finely crystallized minerals: the kidney ore variety of hematite
  • Color indicates the appearance of the mineral in reflected light or transmitted light for translucent minerals (i.e. what it looks like to the naked eye).
    • Iridescence - the play of colors due to surface or internal interference. Labradorite exhibits internal iridescence whereas hematite and sphalerite often show the surface effect.
  • Streak refers to the color of the powder a mineral leaves after rubbing it on an unglazed porcelain streak plate. Note that this is not always the same color as the original mineral.
  • Cleavage describes the way a mineral may split apart along various planes. In thin sections, cleavage is visible as thin parallel lines across a mineral.
  • Fracture describes how a mineral breaks when broken contrary to its natural cleavage planes.
    • Chonchoidal fracture is a smooth curved fracture with concentric ridges of the type shown by glass.
    • Hackley is jagged fracture with sharp edges.
    • Fibrous
    • Irregular
  • Specific gravity relates the mineral mass to the mass of an equal volume of water, namely the density of the material. While most minerals, including all the common rock-forming minerals, have a specific gravity of 2.5 - 3.5, a few are noticeably more or less dense, e.g. several sulfide minerals have high specific gravity compared to the common rock-forming minerals.
  • Other properties: fluorescence (response to ultraviolet light), magnetism, radioactivity, tenacity (response to mechanical induced changes of shape or form), piezoelectricity and reactivity to dilute acids.

Chemical properties of minerals

Minerals may be classified according to chemical composition. They are here categorized by anion group. The list below is in approximate order of their abundance in the Earth's crust. The list follows the Dana classification system.

Silicate class

The largest group of minerals by far are the silicates (most rocks are ≥95% silicates), which are composed largely of silicon and oxygen, with the addition of ions such as aluminium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Some important rock-forming silicates include the feldspars, quartz, olivines, pyroxenes, amphiboles, garnets, and micas.

Carbonate class

The carbonate minerals consist of those minerals containing the anion (CO3)2- and include calcite and aragonite (both calcium carbonate), dolomite (magnesium/calcium carbonate) and siderite (iron carbonate). Carbonates are commonly deposited in marine settings when the shells of dead planktonic life settle and accumulate on the sea floor. Carbonates are also found in evaporitic settings (e.g. the Great Salt Lake, Utah) and also in karst regions, where the dissolution and reprecipitation of carbonates leads to the formation of caves, stalactites and stalagmites. The carbonate class also includes the nitrate and borate minerals.

Sulfate class

Sulfates all contain the sulfate anion, SO42-. Sulfates commonly form in evaporitic settings where highly saline waters slowly evaporate, allowing the formation of both sulfates and halides at the water-sediment interface. Sulfates also occur in hydrothermal vein systems as gangue minerals along with sulfide ore minerals. Another occurrence is as secondary oxidation products of original sulfide minerals. Common sulfates include anhydrite (calcium sulfate), celestine (strontium sulfate), barite (barium sulfate), and gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate). The sulfate class also includes the chromate, molybdate, selenate, sulfite, tellurate, and tungstate minerals.

Halide class

The halides are the group of minerals forming the natural salts and include fluorite (calcium fluoride), halite (sodium chloride), sylvite (potassium chloride), and sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride). Halides, like sulfates, are commonly found in evaporitic settings such as playa lakes and landlocked seas such as the Dead Sea and Great Salt Lake. The halide class includes the fluoride, chloride, bromide and iodide minerals.

Oxide class

Oxides are extremely important in mining as they form many of the ores from which valuable metals can be extracted. They also carry the best record of changes in the Earth's magnetic field. They commonly occur as precipitates close to the Earth's surface, oxidation products of other minerals in the near surface weathering zone, and as accessory minerals in igneous rocks of the crust and mantle. Common oxides include hematite (iron oxide), magnetite (iron oxide), chromite (iron chromium oxide), spinel (magnesium aluminium oxide - a common component of the mantle), ilmenite (iron titanium oxide), rutile (titanium dioxide), and ice (hydrogen oxide). The oxide class includes the oxide and the hydroxide minerals.

Sulfide class

Many sulfide minerals are economically important as metal ores. Common sulfides include pyrite (iron sulfide - commonly known as fools' gold), chalcopyrite (copper iron sulfide), pentlandite (nickel iron sulfide), and galena (lead sulfide). The sulfide class also includes the selenides, the tellurides, the arsenides, the antimonides, the bismuthinides, and the sulfosalts (sulfur and a second anion such as arsenic).

Phosphate class

The phosphate mineral group actually includes any mineral with a tetrahedral unit AO4 where A can be phosphorus, antimony, arsenic or vanadium. By far the most common phosphate is apatite which is an important biological mineral found in teeth and bones of many animals. The phosphate class includes the phosphate, arsenate, vanadate, and antimonate minerals.

Element class

The elemental group includes metals and intermetallic elements (gold, silver, copper), semi-metals and non-metals (antimony, bismuth, graphite, sulfur). This group also includes natural alloys, such as electrum (a natural alloy of gold and silver), phosphides, silicides, nitrides and carbides (which are usually only found naturally in a few rare meteorites).

Organic class

The organic mineral class includes biogenic substances in which geological processes have been a part of the genesis or origin of the existing compound. Minerals of the organic class include various oxalates, mellitates, citrates, cyanates, acetates, formates, hydrocarbons and other miscellaneous species. Examples include whewellite, moolooite, mellite, fichtelite, carpathite, evenkite and abelsonite.

See also


minerals in Afrikaans: Mineraal
minerals in Arabic: معدن
minerals in Min Nan: Khòng-bu̍t
minerals in Belarusian: Мінерал
minerals in Bosnian: Minerali
minerals in Bulgarian: Минерал
minerals in Catalan: Mineral
minerals in Czech: Minerál
minerals in Welsh: Mwyn
minerals in German: Mineral
minerals in Estonian: Mineraal
minerals in Modern Greek (1453-): Ορυκτό
minerals in Spanish: Mineral
minerals in Esperanto: Mineralo
minerals in Basque: Mea
minerals in Persian: کانی (معدن)
minerals in French: Minéral
minerals in Irish: Mianra
minerals in Galician: Mineral
minerals in Korean: 광물
minerals in Hindi: खनिज
minerals in Croatian: Minerali
minerals in Indonesian: Mineral
minerals in Icelandic: Steind
minerals in Italian: Minerale
minerals in Hebrew: מינרל
minerals in Kazakh: Минерал
minerals in Lao: ແຮ່ທາດ
minerals in Latin: Minerale
minerals in Latvian: Minerāls
minerals in Lithuanian: Mineralas
minerals in Lombard: Mineràj
minerals in Hungarian: Ásvány
minerals in Macedonian: Минерал
minerals in Malay (macrolanguage): Mineral
minerals in Mongolian: Эрдэс
minerals in Dutch: Mineraal
minerals in Japanese: 鉱物
minerals in Norwegian: Mineral
minerals in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mineral
minerals in Low German: Mineral
minerals in Polish: Minerał
minerals in Portuguese: Mineral
minerals in Romanian: Mineral
minerals in Quechua: Qiqlla
minerals in Russian: Минерал
minerals in Sicilian: Minirali
minerals in Simple English: Mineral
minerals in Slovak: Nerast
minerals in Slovenian: Mineral
minerals in Serbian: Минерал
minerals in Serbo-Croatian: Minerali
minerals in Sundanese: Mineral
minerals in Finnish: Mineraali
minerals in Swedish: Mineral
minerals in Tamil: கனிமம்
minerals in Thai: แร่
minerals in Vietnamese: Khoáng vật
minerals in Turkish: Mineral
minerals in Ukrainian: Мінерали
minerals in Yiddish: מינעראל
minerals in Chinese: 礦物
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1