|How is a mineral formed?|
|Question Date: 2018-03-13|
Minerals are the building blocks of rocks, and
like rocks they can be formed in a wide range
of geologic settings. Minerals can be formed
during igneous processes when magma cools.
Minerals can also be formed in metamorphic
environments, where pre-existing rocks are
taken to high temperatures and pressures.
Minerals are formed in sedimentary settings
when they precipitate out from water, or
when water evaporates leaving minerals
behind (like salt deposits). Finally, minerals
are even formed by living organisms. For
instance, your tooth enamel is made from a type
of mineral called apatite.
The diverse ways in which minerals form goes to
show how complicated the Earth system is.
Furthermore, minerals can be recycled into new
rock types. For example, quartz is a mineral
found in igneous rocks like granite. It can be
weathered away from igneous rocks and carried by
rivers into sedimentary basins. From there, a
sedimentary rock can form from the quartz (and
other minerals). In this way, minerals can be
much older than the actual rock that they are
Minerals can form many ways, but minerals often
form from gases, liquids, and solids. For
gases minerals can form from in a gas with vapor
in it, which is the way snowflakes form. Yes, the
ice that makes up snowflakes is a mineral!
A mineral like salt can form from the drying
up of a liquid with other material dissolved
in it, or it can form by that liquid
crystallizing. An example of a liquid
crystallizing might be when ice crystals form on a
freezing lake. Crystallization is also the way
that minerals can form in magma chambers bellow
A new mineral can form by transforming from
another mineral. That might happen because the
atoms in a mineral need to rearrange because of a
change in temperature or pressure. An example of a
mineral changing like this is when the mineral
that is used in pencil lead, called graphite,
changes to diamond at high pressures. There are a
couple other ways for minerals to form, but these
are the main ones.
If we could zoom in to view the atoms in a mineral
we would see that minerals need to have a
regular structure of their atoms, which then gets
repeated. So liquid water is not a mineral
because the atoms aren't regularly arranged, but
ice is a mineral.
Minerals generally form in two main ways:
1. When magma (hot melted elements inside the
earth's crust) or lava (hot melted elements on the
earths surface, like a volcano eruption) cools
down. If its magma, when it cools it will turn
into minerals inside the earths crust, if its
lava, when it cools down it will turn into
minerals on the earths surface.
2. Crystallization of materials dissolved in
water. When the minerals become too
concentrated to be dissolved anymore, the elements
inside them combine and crystalize to make
Hope that helps!
Minerals are formed in different ways. Did you
know that lots of minerals are formed by the
actions of living things? There are
many, many more minerals on Earth now than there
were before there was life on Earth.
There's a mineralogist [a person who studies
minerals] named Bob Hazen who has a mineral named
after him. It's called Hazenite. He says it's
made from the poop of bacteria! You can read
about it here:
Rocks are made of many minerals. Minerals
are crystals with a specific composition. For
example, the mineral calcite is a crystal of
calcium carbonate. My favorite mineral is
mica. The black specks in granite rock are
black mica. I think life started between
sheets of black mica. You can see that on my
Professor Helen Hansma and mica
I don't have any good links for how minerals
are formed. The links talk about volcanic lava,
but that's not how most minerals are formed. I'm
giving you this link:
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