Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, the processes by which they change over time. Geology can include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science. Geology describes the structure of the Earth on and beneath its surface, the processes that have shaped that structure, it provides tools to determine the relative and absolute ages of rocks found in a given location, to describe the histories of those rocks. By combining these tools, geologists are able to chronicle the geological history of the Earth as a whole, to demonstrate the age of the Earth. Geology provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, the Earth's past climates. Geologists use a wide variety of methods to understand the Earth's structure and evolution, including field work, rock description, geophysical techniques, chemical analysis, physical experiments, numerical modelling.
In practical terms, geology is important for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, evaluating water resources, understanding of natural hazards, the remediation of environmental problems, providing insights into past climate change. Geology is a major academic discipline, it plays an important role in geotechnical engineering; the majority of geological data comes from research on solid Earth materials. These fall into one of two categories: rock and unlithified material; the majority of research in geology is associated with the study of rock, as rock provides the primary record of the majority of the geologic history of the Earth. There are three major types of rock: igneous and metamorphic; the rock cycle illustrates the relationships among them. When a rock solidifies or crystallizes from melt, it is an igneous rock; this rock can be weathered and eroded redeposited and lithified into a sedimentary rock. It can be turned into a metamorphic rock by heat and pressure that change its mineral content, resulting in a characteristic fabric.
All three types may melt again, when this happens, new magma is formed, from which an igneous rock may once more solidify. To study all three types of rock, geologists evaluate the minerals; each mineral has distinct physical properties, there are many tests to determine each of them. The specimens can be tested for: Luster: Measurement of the amount of light reflected from the surface. Luster is broken into nonmetallic. Color: Minerals are grouped by their color. Diagnostic but impurities can change a mineral’s color. Streak: Performed by scratching the sample on a porcelain plate; the color of the streak can help name the mineral. Hardness: The resistance of a mineral to scratch. Breakage pattern: A mineral can either show fracture or cleavage, the former being breakage of uneven surfaces and the latter a breakage along spaced parallel planes. Specific gravity: the weight of a specific volume of a mineral. Effervescence: Involves dripping hydrochloric acid on the mineral to test for fizzing. Magnetism: Involves using a magnet to test for magnetism.
Taste: Minerals can have a distinctive taste, like halite. Smell: Minerals can have a distinctive odor. For example, sulfur smells like rotten eggs. Geologists study unlithified materials, which come from more recent deposits; these materials are superficial deposits. This study is known as Quaternary geology, after the Quaternary period of geologic history. However, unlithified material does not only include sediments. Magmas and lavas are the original unlithified source of all igneous rocks; the active flow of molten rock is studied in volcanology, igneous petrology aims to determine the history of igneous rocks from their final crystallization to their original molten source. In the 1960s, it was discovered that the Earth's lithosphere, which includes the crust and rigid uppermost portion of the upper mantle, is separated into tectonic plates that move across the plastically deforming, upper mantle, called the asthenosphere; this theory is supported by several types of observations, including seafloor spreading and the global distribution of mountain terrain and seismicity.
There is an intimate coupling between the movement of the plates on the surface and the convection of the mantle. Thus, oceanic plates and the adjoining mantle convection currents always move in the same direction – because the oceanic lithosphere is the rigid upper thermal boundary layer of the convecting mantle; this coupling between rigid plates moving on the surface of the Earth and the convecting mantle is called plate tectonics. The development of plate tectonics has provided a physical basis for many observations of the solid Earth. Long linear regions of geologic features are explained as plate boundaries. For example: Mid-ocean ridges, high regions on the seafloor where hydrothermal vents and volcanoes exist, are seen as divergent boundaries, where two plates move apart. Arcs of volcanoes and earthquakes are theorized as convergent boundaries, where one plate subducts, or moves, under another. Transform boundaries, such as the San Andreas Fault system, resulted in widespread powerful earthquakes.
Plate tectonics has provided a mechan
Recovery is a process by which deformed grains can reduce their stored energy by the removal or rearrangement of defects in their crystal structure. These defects dislocations, are introduced by plastic deformation of the material and act to increase the yield strength of a material. Since recovery reduces the dislocation density the process is accompanied by a reduction in a materials strength and a simultaneous increase in the ductility; as a result, recovery may be considered detrimental depending on the circumstances. Recovery is related to the similar process of recrystallization and grain growth, each of them being stages of annealing. Recovery competes with recrystallization, as both are driven by the stored energy, but is thought to be a necessary prerequisite for the nucleation of recrystallized grains, it is so called because there is a recovery of the electrical conductivity due to a reduction in dislocations. This creates defect-free channels; the physical processes that fall under the designations of recovery, recrystallisation and grain growth are difficult to distinguish in a precise manner.
Doherty et al. stated: "The authors have agreed that... recovery can be defined as all annealing processes occurring in deformed materials that occur without the migration of a high-angle grain boundary" Thus the process can be differentiated from recrystallisation and grain growth as both feature extensive movement of high-angle grain boundaries. If recovery occurs during deformation it is referred to as'dynamic' while recovery that occurs after processing is termed'static'; the principal difference is that during dynamic recovery, stored energy continues to be introduced as it is decreased by the recovery process - resulting in a form of dynamic equilibrium. A deformed metal contains a huge number of dislocations predominantly caught up in'tangles' or'forests'. Dislocation motion is difficult in a metal with a low stacking fault energy and so the dislocation distribution after deformation is random. In contrast, metals with moderate to high stacking fault energy, e.g. aluminum, tend to form a cellular structure where the cell walls consist of rough tangles of dislocations.
The interiors of the cells have a correspondingly reduced dislocation density. Each dislocation is associated with a strain field which contributes some small but finite amount to the materials stored energy; when the temperature is increased - below one-third of the absolute melting point - dislocations become mobile and are able to glide, cross-slip and climb. If two dislocations of opposite sign meet they cancel out and their contribution to the stored energy is removed; when annihilation is complete only excess dislocation of one kind will remain. After annihilation any remaining dislocations can align themselves into ordered arrays where their individual contribution to the stored energy is reduced by the overlapping of their strain fields; the simplest case is that of an array of edge dislocations of identical Burger's vector. This idealised case can be produced by bending a single crystal that will deform on a single slip system; the edge dislocations will rearrange themselves into tilt boundaries, a simple example of a low-angle grain boundary.
Grain boundary theory predicts that an increase in boundary misorientation will increase the energy of the boundary but decrease the energy per dislocation. Thus, there is a driving force to produce fewer, more misoriented boundaries; the situation in deformed, polycrystalline materials is more complex. Many dislocations of different Burger's vector can interact to form complex 2-D networks; as mentioned above, the deformed structure is a 3-D cellular structure with walls consisting of dislocation tangles. As recovery proceeds these cell walls will undergo a transition towards a genuine subgrain structure; this occurs through a gradual elimination of extraneous dislocations and the rearrangement of the remaining dislocations into low-angle grain boundaries. Sub-grain formation is followed by subgrain coarsening where the average size increases while the number of subgrains decreases; this reduces hence the stored energy in the material. Subgrain coarsen shares many features with grain growth. If the sub-structure can be approximated to an array of spherical subgrains of radius R and boundary energy γs.
RD Doherty. "Current Issues In Recrystallisation: A Review". Materials Science and Engineering. A238: 219–274.^ Callister, William D.. Materials Science and Engineering, An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 9780471736967
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents are arranged in a ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macroscopic single crystals are identifiable by their geometrical shape, consisting of flat faces with specific, characteristic orientations; the scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth is called crystallization or solidification; the word crystal derives from the Ancient Greek word κρύσταλλος, meaning both "ice" and "rock crystal", from κρύος, "icy cold, frost". Examples of large crystals include snowflakes and table salt. Most inorganic solids are not crystals but polycrystals, i.e. many microscopic crystals fused together into a single solid. Examples of polycrystals include most metals, rocks and ice. A third category of solids is amorphous solids, where the atoms have no periodic structure whatsoever.
Examples of amorphous solids include glass and many plastics. Despite the name, lead crystal, crystal glass, related products are not crystals, but rather types of glass, i.e. amorphous solids. Crystals are used in pseudoscientific practices such as crystal therapy, along with gemstones, are sometimes associated with spellwork in Wiccan beliefs and related religious movements; the scientific definition of a "crystal" is based on the microscopic arrangement of atoms inside it, called the crystal structure. A crystal is a solid where the atoms form a periodic arrangement.. Not all solids are crystals. For example, when liquid water starts freezing, the phase change begins with small ice crystals that grow until they fuse, forming a polycrystalline structure. In the final block of ice, each of the small crystals is a true crystal with a periodic arrangement of atoms, but the whole polycrystal does not have a periodic arrangement of atoms, because the periodic pattern is broken at the grain boundaries.
Most macroscopic inorganic solids are polycrystalline, including all metals, ice, etc. Solids that are neither crystalline nor polycrystalline, such as glass, are called amorphous solids called glassy, vitreous, or noncrystalline; these have no periodic order microscopically. There are distinct differences between crystalline solids and amorphous solids: most notably, the process of forming a glass does not release the latent heat of fusion, but forming a crystal does. A crystal structure is characterized by its unit cell, a small imaginary box containing one or more atoms in a specific spatial arrangement; the unit cells are stacked in three-dimensional space to form the crystal. The symmetry of a crystal is constrained by the requirement that the unit cells stack with no gaps. There are 219 possible crystal symmetries, called crystallographic space groups; these are grouped into 7 crystal systems, such as hexagonal crystal system. Crystals are recognized by their shape, consisting of flat faces with sharp angles.
These shape characteristics are not necessary for a crystal—a crystal is scientifically defined by its microscopic atomic arrangement, not its macroscopic shape—but the characteristic macroscopic shape is present and easy to see. Euhedral crystals are those with well-formed flat faces. Anhedral crystals do not because the crystal is one grain in a polycrystalline solid; the flat faces of a euhedral crystal are oriented in a specific way relative to the underlying atomic arrangement of the crystal: they are planes of low Miller index. This occurs; as a crystal grows, new atoms attach to the rougher and less stable parts of the surface, but less to the flat, stable surfaces. Therefore, the flat surfaces tend to grow larger and smoother, until the whole crystal surface consists of these plane surfaces. One of the oldest techniques in the science of crystallography consists of measuring the three-dimensional orientations of the faces of a crystal, using them to infer the underlying crystal symmetry.
A crystal's habit is its visible external shape. This is determined by the crystal structure, the specific crystal chemistry and bonding, the conditions under which the crystal formed. By volume and weight, the largest concentrations of crystals in the Earth are part of its solid bedrock. Crystals found in rocks range in size from a fraction of a millimetre to several centimetres across, although exceptionally large crystals are found; as of 1999, the world's largest known occurring crystal is a crystal of beryl from Malakialina, Madagascar, 18 m long and 3.5 m in diameter, weighing 380,000 kg. Some crystals have formed by magmatic and metamorphic processes, giving origin to large masses of crystalline rock; the vast majority of igneous rocks are formed from molten magma and the degree of crystallization depends on the conditions under which they solidified. Such rocks as granite, which have cooled slowly and under great pressures, have crystallized.
Gneiss is a common and distributed type of metamorphic rock. Gneiss is formed by high temperature and high-pressure metamorphic processes acting on formations composed of igneous or sedimentary rocks. Orthogneiss is gneiss derived from igneous rock. Paragneiss is gneiss derived from sedimentary rock. Gneiss forms at higher pressures than schist. Gneiss nearly always shows a banded texture characterized by alternating darker and lighter colored bands and without a distinct foliation; the word gneiss has been used in English since at least 1757. It is borrowed from the German word Gneis also spelled Gneiss, derived from the Middle High German noun gneist "spark". Gneiss is formed from sedimentary or igneous rock exposed to temperatures greater than 320°C and high pressure. Gneissic rocks are medium- to coarse-foliated. Gneisses that are metamorphosed igneous rocks or their equivalent are termed granite gneisses, diorite gneisses, etc. Gneiss rocks may be named after a characteristic component such as garnet gneiss, biotite gneiss, albite gneiss, etc.
Orthogneiss designates a gneiss derived from an igneous rock, paragneiss is one from a sedimentary rock. Gneissose rocks have properties similar to gneiss. Gneiss appears to be striped in bands like parallel lines in shape, called gneissic banding; the banding is developed under high pressure conditions. The minerals are arranged into layers; the appearance of layers, called'compositional banding', occurs because the layers, or bands, are of different composition. The darker bands have more mafic minerals; the lighter bands contain more felsic minerals. A common cause of the banding is the subjection of the protolith to extreme shearing force, a sliding force similar to the pushing of the top of a deck of cards in one direction, the bottom of the deck in the other direction; these forces stretch out the rock like a plastic, the original material is spread out into sheets. Some banding is formed from original rock material, subjected to extreme temperature and pressure and is composed of alternating layers of sandstone and shale, metamorphosed into bands of quartzite and mica.
Another cause of banding is "metamorphic differentiation", which separates different materials into different layers through chemical reactions, a process not understood. Not all gneiss rocks have detectable banding. In kyanite gneiss, crystals of kyanite appear as random clumps in what is a plagioclase matrix. Augen gneiss, from the German: Augen, meaning "eyes", is a coarse-grained gneiss resulting from metamorphism of granite, which contains characteristic elliptic or lenticular shear-bound feldspar porphyroclasts microcline, within the layering of the quartz and magnetite bands. Henderson gneiss is found in South Carolina, US, east of the Brevard Shear Zone, it has deformed into two sequential forms. The second, more warped, form is associated with the Brevard Fault, the first deformation results from displacement to the southwest. Most of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland have a bedrock formed from Lewisian gneiss. In addition to the Outer Hebrides, they form basement deposits on the Scottish mainland west of the Moine Thrust and on the islands of Coll and Tiree.
These rocks are igneous in origin, mixed with metamorphosed marble and mica schist with intrusions of basaltic dikes and granite magma. Gneisses of Archean and Proterozoic age occur in the Baltic Shield. List of rock types Blatt and Robert J. Tracy. Petrology: Igneous and Metamorphic, 2nd ed. Freeman, pp. 359–65. ISBN 0-7167-2438-3. Gillen, Con. Geology and landscapes of Scotland. Harpenden. Terra Publishing. ISBN 1-903544-09-2. Harper, Douglas. "gneiss", Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2015-03-01. Marshak, Stephen. Essentials of Geology. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-91939-4. McKirdy, Roger Crofts and John Gordon. Land of Mountain and Flood: The Geology and Landforms of Scotland. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 978-1-84158-357-0. Murray, W. H.. The Hebrides. London. Heinemann. Sacks, Paul E. and Donald T. Secor. "Kinematics of Late Paleozoic continental collision between Laurentia and Gondwana". Science, 250: 1702–05. Doi:10.1126/science.250.4988.1702. "Gneiss". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911. "Gneiss". New International Encyclopedia.
Feldspars are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up about 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight. Feldspars crystallize from magma as veins in both intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks and are present in many types of metamorphic rock. Rock formed entirely of calcic plagioclase feldspar is known as anorthosite. Feldspars are found in many types of sedimentary rocks; the name feldspar derives from the German Feldspat, a compound of the words Feld, "field", Spat meaning "a rock that does not contain ore". The change from Spat to -spar was influenced by the English word spar, meaning a non-opaque mineral with good cleavage. Feldspathic refers to materials; the alternate spelling, has fallen out of use. This group of minerals consists of tectosilicates. Compositions of major elements in common feldspars can be expressed in terms of three endmembers: potassium feldspar endmember KAlSi3O8, albite endmember NaAlSi3O8, anorthite endmember CaAl2Si2O8. Solid solutions between K-feldspar and albite are called "alkali feldspar".
Solid solutions between albite and anorthite are called "plagioclase", or more properly "plagioclase feldspar". Only limited solid solution occurs between K-feldspar and anorthite, in the two other solid solutions, immiscibility occurs at temperatures common in the crust of the Earth. Albite is considered both alkali feldspar. Alkali feldspars are grouped into two types: those containing potassium in combination with sodium, aluminum, or silicon; the first of these include: orthoclase KAlSi3O8, sanidine AlSi3O8, microcline KAlSi3O8, anorthoclase AlSi3O8. Potassium and sodium feldspars are not miscible in the melt at low temperatures, therefore intermediate compositions of the alkali feldspars occur only in higher temperature environments. Sanidine is stable at the highest temperatures, microcline at the lowest. Perthite is a typical texture in alkali feldspar, due to exsolution of contrasting alkali feldspar compositions during cooling of an intermediate composition; the perthitic textures in the alkali feldspars of many granites can be seen with the naked eye.
Microperthitic textures in crystals are visible using a light microscope, whereas cryptoperthitic textures can be seen only with an electron microscope. Barium feldspars are considered alkali feldspars. Barium feldspars form as the result of the substitution of barium for potassium in the mineral structure; the barium feldspars are monoclinic and include the following: celsian BaAl2Si2O8, hyalophane 4O8. The plagioclase feldspars are triclinic; the plagioclase series follows: albite NaAlSi3O8, oligoclase AlSi2O8, andesine NaAlSi3O8—CaAl2Si2O8, labradorite AlSi2O8, bytownite AlSi2O8, anorthite CaAl2Si2O8. Intermediate compositions of plagioclase feldspar may exsolve to two feldspars of contrasting composition during cooling, but diffusion is much slower than in alkali feldspar, the resulting two-feldspar intergrowths are too fine-grained to be visible with optical microscopes; the immiscibility gaps in the plagioclase solid solutions are complex compared to the gap in the alkali feldspars. The play of colours visible in some feldspar of labradorite composition is due to fine-grained exsolution lamellae.
The specific gravity in the plagioclase series increases from albite to anorthite. Chemical weathering of feldspars results in the formation of clay minerals such as illite and kaolinite. About 20 million tonnes of feldspar were produced in 2010 by three countries: Italy and China. Feldspar is a common raw material used in glassmaking, to some extent as a filler and extender in paint and rubber. In glassmaking, alumina from feldspar improves product hardness and resistance to chemical corrosion. In ceramics, the alkalis in feldspar act as a flux. Fluxes melt at an early stage in the firing process, forming a glassy matrix that bonds the other components of the system together. In the US, about 66% of feldspar is consumed in glassmaking, including glass containers and glass fiber. Ceramics and other uses, such as fillers, accounted for the remainder. In earth sciences and archaeology, feldspars are used for K-Ar dating, argon-argon dating, luminescence dating. In October 2012, the Mars Curiosity rover analyzed a rock that turned out to have a high feldspar content.
List of minerals – A list of minerals for which there are articles on Wikipedia List of countries by feldspar production This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Feldspar and nepheline syenite". Bonewitz, Ronald Louis. Rock and Gem. New York: DK Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7566-3342-4. Media related to Feldspar at Wikimedia Commons
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Microscopy is the science of investigating small structures using such an instrument. Microscopic means invisible to the eye. There are many types of microscopes, they may be grouped in different ways. One way is to describe the way the instruments interact with a sample to create images, either by sending a beam of light or electrons to a sample in its optical path, or by scanning across, a short distance from the surface of a sample using a probe; the most common microscope is the optical microscope, which uses light to pass through a sample to produce an image. Other major types of microscopes are the fluorescence microscope, the electron microscope and the various types of scanning probe microscopes. Although objects resembling lenses date back 4000 years and there are Greek accounts of the optical properties of water-filled spheres followed by many centuries of writings on optics, the earliest known use of simple microscopes dates back to the widespread use of lenses in eyeglasses in the 13th century.
The earliest known examples of compound microscopes, which combine an objective lens near the specimen with an eyepiece to view a real image, appeared in Europe around 1620. The inventor is unknown. Several revolve around the spectacle-making centers in the Netherlands including claims it was invented in 1590 by Zacharias Janssen and/or Zacharias' father, Hans Martens, claims it was invented by their neighbor and rival spectacle maker, Hans Lippershey, claims it was invented by expatriate Cornelis Drebbel, noted to have a version in London in 1619. Galileo Galilei seems to have found after 1610 that he could close focus his telescope to view small objects and, after seeing a compound microscope built by Drebbel exhibited in Rome in 1624, built his own improved version. Giovanni Faber coined the name microscope for the compound microscope Galileo submitted to the Accademia dei Lincei in 1625; the first detailed account of the microscopic anatomy of organic tissue based on the use of a microscope did not appear until 1644, in Giambattista Odierna's L'occhio della mosca, or The Fly's Eye.
The microscope was still a novelty until the 1660s and 1670s when naturalists in Italy, the Netherlands and England began using them to study biology. Italian scientist Marcello Malpighi, called the father of histology by some historians of biology, began his analysis of biological structures with the lungs. Robert Hooke's Micrographia had a huge impact because of its impressive illustrations. A significant contribution came from Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who achieved up to 300 times magnification using a simple single lens microscope, he sandwiched a small glass ball lens between the holes in two metal plates riveted together, with an adjustable-by-screws needle attached to mount the specimen. Van Leeuwenhoek re-discovered red blood cells and spermatozoa, helped popularise the use of microscopes to view biological ultrastructure. On 9 October 1676, van Leeuwenhoek reported the discovery of micro-organisms; the performance of a light microscope depends on the quality and correct use of the condensor lens system to focus light on the specimen and the objective lens to capture the light from the specimen and form an image.
Early instruments were limited until this principle was appreciated and developed from the late 19th to early 20th century, until electric lamps were available as light sources. In 1893 August Köhler developed a key principle of sample illumination, Köhler illumination, central to achieving the theoretical limits of resolution for the light microscope; this method of sample illumination produces lighting and overcomes the limited contrast and resolution imposed by early techniques of sample illumination. Further developments in sample illumination came from the discovery of phase contrast by Frits Zernike in 1953, differential interference contrast illumination by Georges Nomarski in 1955. In the early 20th century a significant alternative to the light microscope was developed, an instrument that uses a beam of electrons rather than light to generate an image; the German physicist, Ernst Ruska, working with electrical engineer Max Knoll, developed the first prototype electron microscope in 1931, a transmission electron microscope.
The transmission electron microscope works on similar principles to an optical microscope but uses electrons in the place of light and electromagnets in the place of glass lenses. Use of electrons, instead of light, allows for much higher resolution. Development of the transmission electron microscope was followed in 1935 by the development of the scanning electron microscope by Max Knoll. Although TEMs were being used for research before WWII, became popular afterwards, the SEM was not commercially available until 1965. Transmission electron microscopes became popular following the Second World War. Ernst Ruska, working at Siemens, developed the first commercial transmission electron microscope and, in the 1950s, major scientific conferences on electron microscopy started being held. In 1965, the first commercial scanning electron microscope was developed by Profess
A mineral is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound that occurs in pure form. A rock may consist of a single mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different minerals, spacially segregated into distinct phases. Compounds that occur only in living beings are excluded, but some minerals are biogenic and/or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry. Moreover, living beings synthesize inorganic minerals that occur in rocks. In geology and mineralogy, the term "mineral" is reserved for mineral species: crystalline compounds with a well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure. Minerals without a definite crystalline structure, such as opal or obsidian, are more properly called mineraloids. If a chemical compound may occur with different crystal structures, each structure is considered different mineral species. Thus, for example and stishovite are two different minerals consisting of the same compound, silicon dioxide; the International Mineralogical Association is the world's premier standard body for the definition and nomenclature of mineral species.
As of November 2018, the IMA recognizes 5,413 official mineral species. Out of more than 5,500 proposed or traditional ones; the chemical composition of a named mineral species may vary somewhat by the inclusion of small amounts of impurities. Specific varieties of a species sometimes have official names of their own. For example, amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral species quartz; some mineral species can have variable proportions of two or more chemical elements that occupy equivalent positions in the mineral's structure. Sometimes a mineral with variable composition is split into separate species, more or less arbitrarily, forming a mineral group. Besides the essential chemical composition and crystal structure, the description of a mineral species includes its common physical properties such as habit, lustre, colour, tenacity, fracture, specific gravity, fluorescence, radioactivity, as well as its taste or smell and its reaction to acid. Minerals are classified by key chemical constituents.
Silicate minerals comprise 90% of the Earth's crust. Other important mineral groups include the native elements, oxides, carbonates and phosphates. One definition of a mineral encompasses the following criteria: Formed by a natural process. Stable or metastable at room temperature. In the simplest sense, this means. Classical examples of exceptions to this rule include native mercury, which crystallizes at −39 °C, water ice, solid only below 0 °C. Modern advances have included extensive study of liquid crystals, which extensively involve mineralogy. Represented by a chemical formula. Minerals are chemical compounds, as such they can be described by fixed or a variable formula. Many mineral groups and species are composed of a solid solution. For example, the olivine group is described by the variable formula 2SiO4, a solid solution of two end-member species, magnesium-rich forsterite and iron-rich fayalite, which are described by a fixed chemical formula. Mineral species themselves could have a variable composition, such as the sulfide mackinawite, 9S8, a ferrous sulfide, but has a significant nickel impurity, reflected in its formula.
Ordered atomic arrangement. This means crystalline. An ordered atomic arrangement gives rise to a variety of macroscopic physical properties, such as crystal form and cleavage. There have been several recent proposals to classify amorphous substances as minerals; the formal definition of a mineral approved by the IMA in 1995: "A mineral is an element or chemical compound, crystalline and, formed as a result of geological processes." Abiogenic. Biogenic substances are explicitly excluded by the IMA: "Biogenic substances are chemical compounds produced by biological processes without a geological component and are not regarded as minerals. However, if geological processes were involved in the genesis of the compound the product can be accepted as a mineral."The first three general characteristics are less debated than the last two. Mineral classification schemes and their definitions are evolving to match recent advances in mineral science. Recent changes have included the addition of an organic class, in both the new Dana and the Strunz classification schemes.
The organic class includes a rare group of minerals with hydrocarbons. The IMA Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names adopted in 2009 a hierarchical scheme for the naming and classification of mineral groups and group names and established seven commissions and four working groups to review and classify minerals into an official listing of their published names. According to these new r