Have outside. A rock is a solid substance that

            Have you
ever wondered what the rocks in your back yard are made of? How about the lead
in your pencil? There is a scientific field devoted to answering these types of
questions called mineralogy. Mineralogy is the study of minerals, how they are
formed, and what they are made of. There are over 4,000 different types of
minerals according to the International Mineralogical Association.  For a substance to be called a mineral it must
have five basic characteristics:


The substance must be a solidIt must have a definite internal atomic
structureIt must be non-living (inorganic)It must have a chemical composition that changes
within specified limitsIt must be a natural phenomenon (occurs
naturally)   Types of Minerals             Though there
are over 4,000 types (or species) or minerals, they are divided into different
categories based on chemical make-up. There are many different mineral
categories, so we will look only at the five most common. The most common form
of minerals are silicate. Over 90% of the naturally occurring rock formations
on our planet are made up of silicate minerals. Silicate minerals are mostly
made up of oxygen and silica in the form of silicon dioxide (SiO2).            The other
major group of minerals are called non-silicate and are made up mainly of other
chemicals. Under the umbrella of non-silicate minerals are sulfides, halides,
oxides, and native elements. Sulfides are minerals that contain sulfur and
another metal. Halides are made of halogens like fluorine. Oxides are minerals
made up of oxygen and other metals, and native element minerals are made up of
a single element, such as carbon. 

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Major Mineral GroupsTypes of MineralsMineralsNatural History Museum – Rocks and MineralsAll About MineralsLearn About Rocks and MineralsThe Comprehensive
Guide to Rocks and MineralsPeriodic Table of Elements (interactive)Mineral
InformationFossils and
Minerals  Rocks – Our Basic Minerals             The type of
mineral you’ve probably had the most contact with are the rocks outside. A rock
is a solid substance that has a specific chemical make-up. There are many kinds
of rocks, and many different ways to make them. Some are made by pressure,
others heat, or layering. There is even a rock cycle, which illustrates how
rocks are formed and can change from one type of rock to another. Igneous Rock            Igneous
rocks are rocks made from lava and are further divided into two types, Plutonic
and volcanic, based on how the lave cools. Volcanic rock is made when lava
cools quickly, which prevents it from forming a definite crystalline structure.
One of the most common types of volcanic rock is pumice. Plutonic rock is made
when lava cools slowly, which gives it time to form a crystalline structure.
One of the most common types of Plutonic rock is granite. Sedimentary Rock            Sedimentary
rocks are formed by the layering of sediments like sand or gravel. Each new
layer of sediment puts weight on the layer under it and presses the layers
together. As time passes and the pressure on lower layers builds they undergo
cementation, where ions in the groundwater surrounding the sediment form
chemical bonds and make a crystalline structure that traps the sediment in
place. Sandstone is a common form of sedimentary rock made of grains of sand
fused together through cementation. Metamorphic Rock            Metamorphic
rock is rock that is made from other rocks. When igneous or sedimentary rocks
are exposed to high pressures or temperatures, the minerals that make them can
undergo chemical changes. These changes affect their crystalline structure and
can happen when the original rocks is exposed to a naturally occurring heat
source like lava, or is buried. Metamorphic rock can even be made of other
metamorphic rocks. 

Types of RocksWhat are the 3 Basic Types of Rocks?Rocks and MineralsRocks: Igneous, Metamorphic,
and Sedimentary Common Rock Forming MineralsRocks, Minerals, and Soils (interactive)The Rock
Cycle and How Rocks Form (interactive)Igneous RockMetamorphic RocksSedimentary Rock Mohs Scale for Minerals             One way
mineralogists classify rocks is by their hardness. The Mohs scale was created
by Friedrich Mohs in 1812 and is still in use today. Minerals are classified in
the scale by whether they can be used to scratch other minerals. Minerals that
can be scratched are softer than those that do the scratching. The Mohs scale
goes from 1 to 10, and all minerals fall somewhere within this range. The
softest mineral on the Mohs scale is talc, a white substance that you can
scratch with your fingernail. You might also recognize it as the main
ingredient in baby powder. The hardest material on the Mohs scale is diamond. 

Mohs Scale of
Mineral HardnessThe Mohs
Hardness TestMohs’ ScaleHow Hard is
Your Favorite Gemstone?Identifying
Minerals Through Hardness Branches of Mineralogy             Even though
mineralogy is the study of minerals, not everyone goes about studying them the
same way. There are many different branches of mineralogy, each focused on a
specific aspect of the substance. Physical mineralogy studies minerals based on
their physical structure and classifies them based on categories such as
lustre, hardness, and color. Optical mineralogy studies how minerals interact
with different types of light and classifies them based on their index of
refraction. Chemical mineralogy looks at the chemical make-up of minerals and
bio-mineralogy studies how organic material interacts with minerals. 

Earth Science Lab – Mineral Identification (interactive)Geology Science
Fair ProjectsWant to Be a Mineralogist?Mineral
Vocabulary FlashcardsMineralogy Vocabulary Worksheet               Minerals are
everywhere. They make up the ground we walk on and even the food we eat! Learn
about rocks, minerals, and the different types of mineralogy.


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