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Minerals are solid naturally occuring chemical substances. They have many uses and purposes in society. Minerals have a crystalline structure with specific properties. These properties are used in their classification. Silicates which are composed of silica and oxygen, with additional ions are important because these form rocks like quartz, mica, garnet, olivine and others. These are used in building materials as well as gemstones. Quartz is in the continental crust. Carbonates, contain carbon and oxygen. They are found in calcite and aragonite, dolomite and others. Carbonates can be found in caves where stalactites and stalagmites are formed. Carbonates are produced by corals and mussels. The Great Barrier reef is formed of carbonates. Paints, glass, ceramics and cement production rely on the presence of carbonates. Sulfates contain sulfur and oxygen. They are usually found in evaporite environments. One sulfate, gypsum is used in wall board. Halides are natural salt found in evaporite settings. Salts are important--halite is used to salt roads in winter. Salt is a preservative of food and a flavor enhancer. Oxides are found in many of the ores that valuable metals are extracted. Hematite, is iron oxide, hydrogen oxide is ice, magnetite is also iron oxide. Sulfides are metal ores. Examples are pyrite--fool's gold, chalcopyrite or copper sulfide, galena--lead sulfide. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and one of the most important metals in society. Phosphates are found in teeth and bones of animals. Some minerals are elemental and include silver, gold, copper, and semi-metals including sulfur, graphite. These are valuable minerals used for jewelry, explosives, pencils. Last is the organic minerals. These substances were produced by life processes. Examples are acetates, citrates, and others.
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