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Lab - Identifying Minerals

Name_______________________________Pd_

Since there are more than 3,800 minerals that exist, telling them apart can be quite difficult. Each mineral
has its own specific properties based on its chemical composition and crystal structure. Properties used to
identify minerals include: color, streak, luster, density, hardness, crystal structure, cleavage and fracture, and
special properties. Using the minerals and materials provided, you will explore how many of these
properties are used to identify minerals.
Demonstration:
a) Fluorescence is a special property, which allows some minerals to glow under UV light. Write down
at least 4 colors that the minerals produce under UV light. (2 pts)
1)

2)

3)

4)

b) Some minerals are magnetic. Name the magnetic mineral shown by your teacher. ( 1pt) _______________
Station #1
The color of a mineral is easily observed. Thus, it is helpful in identifying it.
1) List the colors of the minerals in the box at this station.

2) Are any of the minerals the same color? If so, name at least pair that are alike.

3) Look at the quartz samples in the plastic bag. Is each sample the same color?
Name the colors of the different samples._______________________________
4) Considering the answers from above, why might it be difficult to use only a mineral's color to identify it?

Station #2
Luster is used to describe how light reflects off a mineral's surface. Luster can be metallic (shiny) or
nonmetallic (glassy, waxy, greasy, pearly, dull, silky, and earthy). Pick any 5 minerals, using page 69 in your
text, write their names below, and describe their luster.
1) 3)
2) 4)

5)

3)

Station #3
4)
Streak is the color of a mineral's powder. You can observe this by rubbing a mineral against a
ceramic tile. Using the minerals in the box, determine the color of the streak for the minerals below.
5)____________________#1

__________________#4

___________________#7

6)

#2

#5

7)

#3

#8

#6

8)

Is there a relationship between the color of a mineral and the color of its streak? Explain.

9)
10)

Station #4
The way a mineral breaks apart can give clues that help identify it. Minerals either split easily along

flat
surfaces (cleavage), or they split apart unevenly into curved or irregular pieces (fracture).

11)

1) Which minerals in the set seem to have cleavage, breaking along flat, even surfaces? Write their
numbers.
12)

13)

2) Which minerals seem to fracture, breaking into irregular pieces? Write their numbers.

14)
15)

Station #5
Hardness is a mineral's ability to resist being scratched. It is one of the best clues in naming minerals.

1) Use your fingernail to try to scratch talc (#1), calcite (#3) and quartz (#7). Which were you able to
scratch?________________
2) Now try to scratch the same minerals with a penny. Which were you able to scratch? _

_____

16)

3) Were there any minerals that you could not scratch with either your fingernail or the penny?_______________
4) Write the 3 minerals in order of increasing hardness.______________________________________________

Station #6
18)
Read the characteristics of some minerals below. Refer to p.806-807 in your book to help identify
each one.
17)

19)

1) Luster: metallic

2) Luster: glassy

3) Luster:

glassy, greasy
20)
21)

Hardness: 2.5-3
Color: rich yellow

Density: 2.1-2.6
Streak: white

Hardness: 7
Other: used

to make glass
22)
23)

Name: _______________________
Name: ______________________

Name: ______________________