What"s a Mineral?

A mineral is a homogeneous, naturally occurring, solid inorganic substance v a definable chemical composition and an inner structure characterized by an orderly plan of atoms, ions, or molecule in a lattice.

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Wow, that"s kind of a mouthful, yet each component of the definition is basic to explain.

Homogeneous: The material is the very same through and also through. Are any kind of of you old enough to remember when milk come in bottles and also you had to skim the cream off the top? Now, the all milk obtainable in grocery stores is homogenized, which means it has been processed so the the cream doesn"t separate.Naturally occurring: True minerals are not developed by the tasks of people. For example, manufactured commercial diamonds space “synthetic minerals.”Solid: Gases and also liquids space not minerals.Inorganic substance: Oil, gas, fat, and also plastic space organic and therefore not minerals.Definable chemistry composition: Minerals have a chemical formula you can write down.Orderly setup of atoms in a lattice: The atom, ions, or molecules occur in a certain repeating pattern called a decision lattice.
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It is a typical urban myth that glass acts choose a liquid over lengthy timescales. This myth, mainly perpetuated by tour guides in cities with old windows, is "proven" by pointing out to onlookers that the home window glass in old structures is thicker at the bottom. This is used as "evidence" that the glass flows downward over time because of gravity and also has piled up at the bottom that the pane. Actually, the fact that old windows space thicker at the bottom is an artifact of an old method of glass-blowing, called the "crown glass procedure." In this method, still-molten glass was be crazy on a disc to flatten it together it cooled. This had actually the result of make the key fatter at the edges. Climate the panes the glass were reduced with an asymmetrical thickness developed in to them. These panes were climate usually mounted with the thick finish down due to the fact that that is much more stable. For a an ext detailed evaluation of this topic, examine out Plumb, 1989. "Antique windowpanes and the circulation of supercooled liquids." J. Chem. Educ., 66, pp. 994-996.

Isotopes and Polymorphs

In bespeak to discuss the the group of various species of minerals, let"s take a quick look in ~ the regular Table that the Elements and review some an easy atomic chemistry. All elements in the regular table room made of one sort of atom, v a specific number of protons in its nucleus. The number of protons in the cell core is the atomic variety of the element. Listed below is an image of the periodic table. Ns assume this is acquainted to friend from high school and also college!


Periodic Table the the Elements.
Carleton College

Let"s take it the element carbon, for example. Its atom number is 6. That means it has actually 6 protons in the nucleus and also 6 electron orbiting. It can have various numbers of neutrons in its cell nucleus (6,7,8 space common). 2 atoms through the same number of protons, yet different numbers of neutrons room isotopes. Typical isotopes of carbon space carbon-12 and carbon-14, denoted choose this: C12 and also C14. The superscripts in the examples for carbon space the atom weights of the isotopes. C12 has 6 protons and 6 neutron in that is nucleus, for this reason its atomic load is 12. C14 has actually 6 protons and 8 neutron in that nucleus, therefore its atomic weight is 14. Two minerals that have the exact same chemical composition however different crystal lattice structures room called polymorphs. Because that example, graphite and diamond room both pure carbon, yet the means the carbon atoms space arranged is fully different, giving rise to their an extremely different chemical and also physical properties (see photos below). In graphite, the carbon atoms room arranged in sheets that are weakly bonded to every other. In a diamond, the lattice structure involves a much stronger shortcut framework.


Pencils write due to the fact that layers that graphite easily slip past each other and also can coat an additional object, such together paper, with simply a small pressure (top left). The decision lattice structure of graphite (top right). Diamonds look at a lot various from pencils! They space the hardest mineral known (bottom left). The decision lattice structure of diamond (bottom right).

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Silicate minerals

Not all of the aspects in the routine Table are an especially common in the Earth"s crust. Most minerals are formed from various arrangements of simply a handful of the most commonly developing elements. By weight, the two most abundant facets in the crust space oxygen and also silicon. The figure listed below shows the abundance of aspects in the crust together parts-per-billion by weight plotted vs. The atomic number of the element. View that oxygen (atomic number = 8, displayed by one of the yellow dots) and silicon (atomic number = 14, shown by one of the red dots) space the highest.