This Planet Really Rocks!
What is a Mineral?
Do you know the difference between a rock and a mineral? Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. Here are some of the basic characteristics of minerals to help you understand what they are:
Minerals are found in the earth or are naturally occurring substances. They are found in dirt, rocks, and water. They are not made by man.
Minerals are chemical substances. Some minerals like gold or silver are made of only one element. Other minerals, like quartz and calcite, are combinations of two or more elements.
Minerals always have the same chemical makeup. For example, quartz will always consist of one part silicon (an element) two parts oxygen (another element).
Minerals are usually solid crystals. They have a number of flat surfaces in an orderly arrangement. For example, a crystal of quartz is always hexagonal because of the way the atoms of silicon and oxygen join together.
About 2,000 minerals have been found. Oxygen is part of many minerals. Minerals containing oxygen make up almost half of the earth's crust. Quartz is a common mineral. Other common minerals are feldspar, mica, and horneblend. Many rocks are made of these common minerals.
Some minerals are rare and expensive. They are called gems . Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are good examples of such minerals. Gold and silver are also minerals. Together, these natural substances are used to make beautiful jewelry.
To learn more about rocks and minerals, click on next below.
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