Why It Matters: Rock Forming Minerals

Identify and compare common rock forming minerals, mineral structures and mineral properties.

One of the related fields of geology is mineralogy: the study of minerals. Geologists rely on minerals for many reasons. Not only are some minerals considered resources we use, such as gypsum, but they are the basis for the formation of rocks. Minerals are classified in different ways based on the elements that they contain. Matter (elements) makes up the minerals and minerals make up rocks. We can’t understand rocks and rock forming process or some of the other areas of geology until we have a basic knowledge of minerals.

Occupation Focus: Mineralogist

Mineralogists specialize in minerals—their identification, their chemistry, and their formation. Mineralogists work can work in laboratories, in museums, for corporations, or for the government, but they mainly work “in the field.” It is not uncommon to find them in very remote locations such as caves. They can focus on mineral identification for resource locations, the economic value of the mineral such as diamonds, they can examine the chemical content of minerals to help learn about the interior of the Earth and the various geologic processes. Regardless of what they area they are focusing on, mineralogists need a solid foundation in both chemistry and geology.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the basic chemistry involved in mineral formation and structures.
  • Identify and classify common rock forming minerals.
  • Identify the most common elements in the Earth’s crust and their order of abundance.


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