UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information

Thanks for answering my questions from before, I have some questions about minerals and I was wondering if you could help me out.

How can so many different minerals (about 3000) form from the same basic elements on earth (about 20)? Are the majority of minerals made from combinations of just a few elements? Which ones?

Question Date: 2007-11-21
Answer 1:

There are four parts to this answer. These are:

1. There are about seventeen minerals on Earth's surface that are really common, and these account for most of the Earth's material and most of the common elements.

2. There are a lot of different proportions in which you can plug familiar elements together.

3. Even with the same proportions, there are a lot of different ways to shape a crystal lattice. Calcite and aragonite, for example, are both calcium carbonate, but they have a different crystal structure and thus are different minerals.

4. Of the approximately three thousand minerals that are rare, you have the other approx. seventy elements to play with to build them.

Answer 2:

Yes about 3000... Yes all minerals of course are made up of one or more of the naturally occurring elements numbering about 92.There are about 20 to 30 "common" minerals. The elements in these common minerals are Si, Al, O, Fe, Mg ,K, Ca, Na mainly. Then in the ore minerals in addition Cu, Ni, Cr,Zn, and many of the other metals.

The other anions are Cl, F, Phosphate group, sulphate groups, borates, and others.

Answer 3:

Not just minerals... *everything* is made from basic atoms. The most common minerals are those made from the most common elements Earth's crust: oxygen (47%), silicon (28%), aluminum (8%), iron (5%),calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium... Quartz and feldspar are two examples of minerals made mostly with oxygen and silicon.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use