Hazen, Robert M. Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
- Era of planetary formation
- Era of crust and mantle reworking
- Era of biologically mediated mineralogy
- Implications of mineral evolution
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Mineral evolution frames the science of mineralogy in the context of Earth's 4.5-billion-year geological history. The central premise of mineral evolution is that Earth's near-surface distribution of minerals has changed significantly as a consequence of physical, chemical, and biological processes. Earth's mineral evolution can be divided into three eras—(1) the era of planetary formation, (2) the era of crust and mantle reworking, and (3) the era of biologically mediated mineralogy—and further subdivided into 10 stages (see table). A surprising result of this approach is that two-thirds of the more than 4500 known species of minerals on Earth are the consequence of biological activity, and thus most of Earth's mineralogical richness would not occur on a nonliving planet or moon.
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