Sherman, David M. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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- Classification and systematics
- Thermodynamics and phase transformations
- Occurrence and formation
- Economic aspects
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A naturally occurring solid phase with a restricted chemical composition and a definite atomic arrangement. This is really an idealized definition insofar as some minerals (especially those that form at low temperature) have poorly defined atomic structures. A few solid geological materials (such as coal and obsidian) are not minerals because they have no ordered crystal structure and a completely variable composition. Rocks are usually made up of one or more minerals. In a thermodynamic sense, a mineral is a separate phase that is made up of one or more components. For example, the mineral olivine [(Fe,Mg)2SiO4; illustration] can be viewed as being made up of fayalite (Fe2SiO4) and forsterite (Mg2SiO4) in a solid solution.
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