Minerals Topics

Mineral Basics (Part 1)

A mineral is a naturally-occurring, inorganic solid substance with a crystalline structure, a fixed or variable chemical composition, and a set of physical properties that can be used for identification.

Smoky Quartz

Smoky quartz, shown here, is an example of a mineral.  It occurs naturally and is solid and inorganic.  Its internal structure can be seen in its crystal form.  Its chemical composition is SiO2, or a combination of silicon and oxygen.  Its physical properties can be used to identify it. (Photograph by Parvinder Sethi)

Naturally-occurring means that minerals are formed through natural processes.  Synthetic (human-made) materials are not minerals

Inorganic means that minerals are formed from non-living materials.  Organic materials, such as fossils, oil, and gas, are not minerals. 

Plant Fossil

This plant fossil was formed from living materials.  Therefore, it is not a mineral. (Photograph by Parvinder Sethi)