The Eight Types of Minerals
That’s probably enough information to get you through a cocktail hour, but why not try diving a little deeper? To get a better understanding of minerals you can learn more about the specific types of minerals, and how they are formed. Here is a look at the eight types of minerals and their properties.
1. Silicate Minerals
The first classification of minerals is silicate minerals. They are known as rock-forming minerals. In fact, they are the largest classification of rock-forming minerals, and they help to make up 90% of the Earth’s crust. Silica tetrahedron is the building block of silicate minerals, and it can be arranged in different ways to form different types of silicate minerals.
Individual silicate minerals can be grouped according to the ratio of their silicon and oxygen atoms. Examples of silicate minerals include Kyanite, a blue mineral found in aluminum-rich metamorphic or sedimentary rock, as well as the popular mineral topaz.
2. Native Element Minerals
Native elements refer to minerals that only contain the atoms of one type of element. They occur naturally in an uncombined form. These types of native element minerals include anything from metals, to non-metals, to naturally occurring alloys.
The most noteworthy examples of native element minerals are considered gold and diamonds.
3. Carbonate Minerals
Carbonates are minerals that have a basic carbonate ion structure. This means that they have a carbon atom that is bonded with three oxygen atoms. From this basic building block come lots of combinations of minerals, the most common of which is Calcite.
4. Halide Minerals
Halide minerals are those with a dominant halide anion meaning that a halogen element, which are Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, and Iodine, bonds with a radical metallic element. These types of minerals are often water soluble, and deposits of them can be found in various desert or arid areas.
Halite is perhaps the most well known halide because it is used to produce sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt.
5. Oxide Minerals
CC 2.0 by James St. John via Wikimedia Commons
Oxide minerals are those that have an oxide anion. An oxide anion is one that is comprised of at least one oxygen atom. This oxide anion is then bonded with a metal ion to create oxide minerals. Metals like Hametie and Magnetie are found as oxides.
6. Phosphate Minerals
CC Public Domain by Reno Chris via Wikimedia Commons
Phosphates are similar to silicates because they involve a form of tetrahedral. There are many phosphate minerals, but most are considered rare. A common one that you have probably heard of is turquoise. Turquoise is formed from a combination of phosphorous, copper, and aluminum.
7. Sulfate Minerals
Sulfate minerals contain sulfur atoms that are bonded with oxygen atoms. This often occurs in places where salt-water evaporates. The mineral gypsum is a sulfate mineral, and you will find it used in anything from fertilizer to plaster, to chalk. It often appears in nature as a crystal.
8. Sulfide Minerals
Sulfides are also formed from sulfur. They are made when sulfur atoms combine with metals. They differ from sulfates because there is no oxygen involved. Pyrite, or fool’s gold is a common sulfide mineral.
Adding to Your Understanding of the World
Learning about the eight types of minerals will surely take you back to your high school chemistry days, but it can also give you a more complete view of the world. You might find that you want to brush up on chemical compounds, or do some further reading. You may start to recognize minerals more, and not only will you be able to hold your own in a conversation, you might turn a few heads doing it.