Weird and Wonderful of Nature: The Magnificent Minerals
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Weird and Wonderful of Nature: The Magnificent Minerals

The main source of phosphorus, used as fertilizer, is the mineral apatite, found in some sedimentary rocks, and also in deposits of the dropping (guano) of bats and birds.

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Weird and Wonderful of Nature: The Magnificent Minerals

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Core Facts

Minerals are inorganic substances that occur naturally in rock. There are more than 3000 known minerals, but 99 per cent are made up of just eight element: oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium and manganese.

Minerals occur in a pure state and in combinations, and include metals and gems as well as non-metallic minerals.

The majority of mineral deposit form underground but some form on the seabed and others from the evaporation of mineral-rich waters at the Earth’s surface.

Minerals are identified by their color, crystal structure, how they reflect light, their hardness, density, and the way that they break.

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Purple Fluorite Crystal

Common Industrial Minerals

Minerals/ Characteristics/ Uses

Albite/ White/ Glass, ceramics

Asbestos/ Whitish, fibrous/ Fire-proof fibres

Corundum/ Abrasive/ Sandpaper, emery boards

Fluorite/ Brittle, comes in several colors, including blue/ Iron and steel- making, microscope lenses, pottery glazes and toothpaste. Blue fluorite is a decorative stone known as Blue John

Graphite/ Soft, greasy/ Pencil, lead

Halite/ Colorless/ Rock salt

Kaolinite/ White clay/ Medicine, Chinaware, glossy paper

Phosphorus/ Colorless, waxy/ Fertilizers, fireworks, steel

Quartz/ Hard, many varieties/ Computer chip manufacture. Clocks and watches

Sulfur/ Pale yellow/ Paint, dyes, detergent, gunpowder, explosives, paper, medicines, insecticides, electrical insulation

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Explosive Application

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Sulfur is a versatile substance with many and varied uses. It is a vital ingredient in the manufacture of explosive, including fireworks.

How Mineral Deposits Form

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All rocks are composed of assemblages of minerals. The heat and pressure generated by geological processes, such as volcanism and metamorphism, can concentrate minerals into significant deposits.

Some minerals deposits form on the surface when water rich in minerals evaporates.

Minerals dissolved in seawater crystallize round volcanic vents on the seabed.

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Magma Chambers: Heated fluids seep into the rock around igneous, and minerals crystallise out, forming veins.

Evaporation: When water evaporates, salt, gypsum and other minerals build up around the water’s edge.

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Sea Floor: Minerals crystallize round vents, or precipitate from sea water.


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The basic ingredient of glass is silica, which is derived from quartz sand. The silica is heated until it melts, at about 1000°C/2012°F, shaped and then rapidly cooled. Other important raw ingredients in glass manufacture are lime and soda. Borax is added to make, glass heat-resistant. Lead oxide improves the sparkle and quality of cut glass. Laminated glass is made by sandwiching a layer of plastic in between two sheets of glass. This prevents pieces flying around if the glass is shattered.

Glass House

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Glass House: Glass has become an important element in the construction of modern buildings, with some spectacular results.


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The preservative properties and dietary importance of salt have made it a valuable commodity since ancient times. Salt was included in offering to the gods by the Romans and Greeks. Roman soldier were paid an allowance of salt, a salarium (from which we get ‘salary’). Salt was transported along the Via Salaria (Salt Route). Cakes of salt have been used as payment in Ethiopia and Tibet. Salt occurs naturally as halite, rock salt, in some sedimentary rocks and it can be crystallized from evaporating sea water.

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Salt-Making: Salt crystallizing out of sea water swept into mounds.

Weird and Wonderful

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The main source of phosphorus, used as fertilizer, is the mineral apatite, found in some sedimentary rocks, and also in deposits of the dropping (guano) of bats and birds.

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Mohs’ Hardness Scale

A minerals hardness is a measure of its resistance to scratching. It is established by scratching the mineral with a series of other minerals whose hardness is already known. Mohs’ Scale provides a measure for comparison, from 1 (soft) to 10 (hard), it is linear up to 9, but diamond (10) is about ten times harder than corundum.

1. Talc

2. Gypsum

3. Calcite

4. Fluorite

5. Apatite

6. Orthoclase

7. Quartz

8. Topaz

9. Corundum

10. Diamond

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Comments (1)

Another excellent topic about nature, Mr. Ghaz.