What is the most abundant mineral family on Earth? Not just Earth's crust.

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Let's start with the definition of a mineral. A mineral is a substance that is naturally found in nature, has a specific chemical formula, is usually solid and inorganic, and has a crystalline structure. So, by definition we find minerals in Earth's crust, whether that is the ground we can...

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Let's start with the definition of a mineral. A mineral is a substance that is naturally found in nature, has a specific chemical formula, is usually solid and inorganic, and has a crystalline structure. So, by definition we find minerals in Earth's crust, whether that is the ground we can see or the ground that is below water. 

The vast majority of minerals (about 98-99%) are made up of one or more of 8 different elements. These elements starting with the greatest abundance are oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. 

Silicon and oxygen combine very readily to form different silicates, and silicone can combine with other elements to create a wide variety of silicates. One of the most common silicates is quartz, which is SiO2. The secret to the versatility of silicon is that it easily creates bonds with oxygen to form a tetrahedron structure, and these bonds are very strong and stable. From here, other cations can bond as well, creating many different minerals.

Therefore, the silicates are the most common group of minerals on Earth. They make up between 95-97% (these numbers vary depending on the study you are reading, but it is accepted that the percentage is very high) of the Earth's crust and can be found anywhere in the world. 

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