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What is a Mineral

A Mineral is a solid inorganic substance occurring in nature and that which has chemical formulae, normally a biogenic one. Besides, its atomic structure is orderly arranged. It is quite different from a rock; a rock is possibly a combination of a non-mineral or a mineral, its chemical combination is not definite. The correct definition of a mineral is still under research, particularly when it is related to a suitable biogenic variety that has a value, and also one with a well oriented atomic structure. Mineralogy is the study of minerals.

Of the 4,900 varieties of minerals that are identified, more than 4,660 are accepted by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). More than 90% of the crust of the earth consists of silicate minerals. It is the chemistry of the earth that regulates the varieties and amounts of minerals. Almost 75% of the crust of the earth is formed by oxygen and Silicon; this is directly transformed into a larger number of silicate minerals. It is the physical and chemical properties of minerals that discriminate them from each other. The different species are identified by their changes in crystal structure and chemical combination. It is this property of the mineral that consequently has influence with the environmental geological formation. The alteration in the mineralogy has resulted in the differences in the pressure, temperature and the vast composition of rock formation. But as long as the pressure and temperature remains constant, the vast composition of the rock remains intact, so too its mineralogy.

What Makes a Mineral a Mineral?
The primary four essential criteria requirements that make anything a mineral are:
First and foremost, every mineral is a solid. However, water is not a mineral even though there are minerals present in water, because water is a liquid.
The formation of every mineral is by nature. This indicates that we cannot make a mineral in a laboratory. Hence, Gems that are synthetic, such as cubic Zirconia for that matter, is not a mineral.
The chemical composition of every mineral is precise and exclusive, similar to the DNA of the mineral – this distinguishes one mineral from the other.
Thus we arrive at the conclusion that all minerals posses a crystalline configuration. Minerals are among the few very attractive materials on the earth; the reason for this is that they are oriented in a systematic geometrical design. The atoms of the similar variety of minerals are at all times oriented in the same manner.

Properties of Minerals
These are the physical properties by which a mineral is recognized with ease.
Luster
Tenacity
Color
Specific Gravity
Magnetism
Odor
Diaphaneity or Amount of Transparency
Taste
Crystalline Structure
Hardness
Cleavage of Fracture
Streak


Classification of minerals
The separation of the minerals is done on the basis of various grouping of its chemistry.

Silicate minerals
Silicate minerals are the very common group of minerals found on the Earth, where each of them has the main ingredients of oxygen and silica. The majority of the silicate minerals form by the cooling of the molten rock. It takes place either on the surface of the Earth, close to the Earth or far below the ground. The silicate minerals can be further classified into 6 groups, they are-:

Tectosilicates
This type of silicate has the polymerization at its highest degree. They are also referred as Framework silicates. Due to the secure form and tough covalent bonds, these silicates are usually seen to be chemically stable. Some of the examples of Tectosilicates are Feldspar, Zeolites, Feldspathoids and Quartz.

Phyllosilicates
This type of silicate consists of polymerized tetrahedral sheets that are joined at three sites of oxygen. These types of silicates are very flexible, transparent and elastic due to their unique chemical structures. Some of the examples are Kaolinite-Serpentine groups, Chlorite and Mica.

Inosilicates
This type of silicate consists of continuous chains bounded by repeated tetrahedra. The chains can be single or double. Single chain silicate example is Pyroxenes and a silicate with double chain is Amphibole.

Cyclosilicates
This silicate is also known as Ring silicate as it possesses a ring structure of 3,4,6,8,9 and 12 members. Examples are beryl and tourmaline group.

Sorosilicates
The other name of Sorosilicate is Disilicates which have silicon and oxygen in a ratio of 2:7 due to the tetrahedron bonding. The example for this type of silicate is the Epidote group members.

Orthosilicates
This type of silicate is also referred as Nesosilicates and it has 1:4 ratio of silicon to oxygen. It is hard in nature. It develops blocky Equant crystals. Some of the examples are Topaz, Staurolite and Zircon.

Non-silicate minerals
There exist several groups of other minerals called non-silicate minerals. A few of these groups of mineral forms on the cooling of magma; whereas other non-silicate minerals form when the residual crystals are left over after the evaporation of water, if not on the decay of other minerals. Non-silicate minerals also have subclasses like native elements, sulfides, oxides, halides, carbonates, sulfates, phosphates and organic minerals.

Uses of Common minerals
Lead – Lead is mainly used in the manufacture of batteries. In addition, it is used in the protection of radiation in treatment where x-ray is used by dentists and doctors. It is also used as a shield for your Television screen as a protection from the source of radiation.

Zinc – Mainly it is used to restrain rust in the manufacturing of trains, ships, bridges, cars and buildings.

Copper –used in the construction of copper wire for conduction of electricity required for your appliances, such as your home, office, cars, churches and schools.

Iron – They make use of this in the manufacture of steel for construction of buildings, cans, subways, cars, ships, towers, turbines that transmit power, appliances and heavy equipments.

Clays – it is used to give a coating to the sheets of magazines, newspapers, boxes, brochures and stationery in order that the ink used for printing on these articles is not smudged and appear brighter. In addition, it is used as an abrasive and brightener in toothpastes and also used in medicines to give a soft coating for your stomach.

Salt – used for preserving food for more or less every frozen and canned food where salt is needed. To melt the ice on highways and roads during the winter season, and for improving the taste of food items. In addition, it is also used in the production of various chemicals, refining petroleum, detergents and soaps, making paper and treating water.

Gravel, stone, sand and cement – used in water purification plants in order to safeguard your health, in building constructions varying from the simple homes to the highest skyscrapers on the earth, it is used in the construction of the foundation of schools and houses, to decorate your gardens and yards, sidewalks, highways and streets.

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