The Five Criteria Used to Define a Mineral
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic solids with a unique chemical composition and specific physical properties. According to the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) there are five criteria used to define a mineral: chemical composition, crystal structure, physical properties, occurrence, and classification (Hurlbut & Kammerling, 2019). Chemical composition is the most important criterion and is the basis of mineral classification. Minerals are composed of atoms and molecules, some of which are essential to that mineral’s identity. Common elements found in minerals include oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, and magnesium (Griess, 2020). The crystal structure of a mineral is the arrangement of its atoms, which is repeated in three dimensions. This structure, which can be seen in the form of a crystal, determines the physical properties of the mineral, such as hardness and cleavage (Hurlbut & Kammerling, 2019). Physical properties are those that are observed and measured without the aid of a microscope. Examples include luster, streak, hardness, cleavage, and color. These properties can help identify minerals, as most minerals have a unique combination of them. Cont…
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