This first module in a three-part series describes the history of our understanding of minerals and then defines a mineral, focusing on chemical composition and structure. 4. The shells of molluscs are composed of either calcite or aragonite, or both. Atoms have a tendency to gain or lose electrons so that their outer orbitals become stable; this is normally accomplished by these orbitals being filled with the maximum allowed number of valence electrons. Today, we build our houses out of drywall, made of gypsum; we make cement out of lime, a calcium oxide mineral; and we extract aluminum from the mineral bauxite to make aluminum foil and soda cans. Minerals are substances that are formed naturally in the Earth. Atoms of some elements, however, have more than one electron in the outer orbital and thus may bond to several neighbouring atoms to form groups, which in turn may join together in larger combinations. Mineral associations and phase equilibrium. Most importantly, this structure repeats itself. Anne E. Egger, Ph.D. “Defining Minerals” Visionlearning Vol. Each mineral has its own type of crystal structure. As the halite crystal is broken into smaller and smaller pieces, it retains its cubic structure. On the evolution of minerals. The amount of titanium relative to the amount of silicon and oxygen is on the order of parts per million, however, so this is considered an impurity rather than a change in the chemical composition. The extraordinary thing is, that most minerals owe their formation to life, or at least to the Great Oxygenation Event. Most crystals have imperfect shapes because their growth was limited by other crystals forming next to them. [5] A rock is a mixture of one or several minerals, in varying proportions.

A rock has only two of the characteristics minerals have–it is a solid and it forms naturally. The Cl2 molecules formed by linking two neighbouring chlorine atoms are stable and do not combine with other molecules. The study of minerals provides a window into the history of Earth and other planets in our solar system.

Diamonds are extremely hard and have a brilliant sparkle.

This structure results in one of the hardest natural substances on the planet (see Figure 6), a property that contributes to its value. We are supported by The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. A few substances with the same chemical composition as minerals can be produced by living creatures as part of their shells or bones.

[1], The study of minerals is called mineralogy.[2]. Van der Waals bonding is common in gases and organic liquids and solids, but it is rare in minerals. The chemical formula of salt, or halite, is NaCl, meaning each molecule of salt consists of one sodium atom (Na) and one chlorine atom (Cl). The physical and chemical properties of minerals are attributable for the most part to the types and strengths of these binding forces; hardness, cleavage, fusibility, electrical and thermal conductivity, and the coefficient of thermal expansion are examples of such properties. Crystals of covalently bonded minerals tend to exhibit lower symmetry than their ionic counterparts because the covalent bond is highly directional, localized in the vicinity of the shared electrons.


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