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CHAPTER 2:

MINERALS
INTRODUCTION
From the earliest time, man has found important uses of
minerals.

E.g. clay for bricks and pottery; quartz and jade for
weapons, garnet, amethyst and other coloured stones
for ornaments and also gold, silver and copper for
ornaments and utensils.

An in depth study of geology usually begins with an


introduction to mineral, considering that earth's solid
surface is composed of rocks and soils that are primarily
mineral aggregates.

Mineralogy is therefore a subdivision of geology since


minerals constitute the rocks of the earth's crust.
In civil engineering, the study of minerals is important because:

Minerals, rocks, and soils that occur at and beneath the earth's
surface are the materials with which the engineer must
work.

In the designing of any structure, engineers must be able to


evaluate and distribute natural materials present at site to
base the design upon this assessment.

Knowledge of minerals is essential for engineers who deals


with earth materials since minerals are partially
responsible for the physical and mechanical properties of
rock and soil encountered in mines, tunnels and
excavations.

In industry, minerals are directly incorporated into chemicals,


abrasives, and fertilizers and are processed into thousands of
other useful products.
The Nature and Origin of Minerals
Minerals are formed in various ways and different conditions.

Most of the minerals require thousands of year to develop and others need just
a few years. There are few cases that need only a few hours to develop.

The mineral formations takes places either in the molten rock or magma, near
the Earth surface or deep in the Earth crust as a result of transforming.

What is a mineral?

They occur naturally as inorganic solids.

They have a specific internal structure; that is, their atoms are precisely
arranged into a crystalline solid.

They have a chemical composition that varies within definite limits and can
be expressed by chemical formula.

They have definite set of physical properties (hardness, cleavage, crystal form
etc) that result from their crystalline structure and composition.
Physical Properties of Minerals
The minerals can be identified by their physical properties.

Which are characteristics that can be observed or determined


by simple tests.

The physical properties are:

(a) Colour
(b) Streak
(c) Cleavage and fracture
(d) Luster
(e) Hardness
(f) Reaction with acid
Colour
The colour of the mineral = seen by eye.

Colour results from a mineral’s chemical composition,


impurities that may present in the sample, flaws or damage
in the internal structure, the light in the room or strong
reflective surfaces.

Unfortunately, even though color is the easiest physical


property to determine, it is not the most useful in helping to
characterize a particular mineral.

The problem is some minerals display a rainbow of colors


(shown by the mineral fluorite (CaF2) ).

Therefore, colour is a general rather than specific


indicator. Quartz, for example, ranges through the spectrum
from clear, colourless crystals to purple, red, white, grey and
jet black.
The many colors of fluorite
Streak
Streak - colour of finely powdered mineral particles produced by
scraping the specimen along a roughened surface such as porcelain
plate.

The mark left behind can be a characteristic feature of the mineral.

The streak is not necessarily the same as the colour of the


mineral,

Haematite, for example produces a reddish brown streak, even


though the sample may have a metallic grey appearance.

The limitation of a streak plate is that it can only be used on


minerals with a hardness less than seven.

The combination of luster, color, and streak may be enough to


permit identification of the mineral.
Cleavage and fracture
There are two ways in which a mineral can break –
(1) Cleavage and (2) fracture.

Cleavage planes = When a minerals broke and


observed to a split along particular planes.

Micas are examples of minerals with excellent


cleavage in one direction.

Fracture = Surface of rupture is more irregular.


Examples of Cleavage Fracture
Luster
Luster - property that results from the manner in which light is reflected from a
mineral.

In another words luster is the shine of a mineral.

Luster is described in terms of the degree of brightness.

The terms to describe luster are :

Metallic, earthy, waxy, greasy, vitreous (glassy), adamantine (or brilliant, as in a


faceted diamond).

Other shiny, but somewhat translucent or transparent luster (glassy, adamantine),


along with dull, earthy, waxy, and resinous luster, are grouped as non-metallic.

Metallic : like polished metal e.g. galena


Submetallic : less brilliant
Dull : e.g. chalk
Vitreous : like broken glass e.g. quartz
Cont’d

Type of Lustre:

Vitreous Luster – a mineral having a glassy shine. E.g. Quartz and


Calcite.

Pearly Lustre – a mineral having a pearly shine. E.g. Muscovite.

Metallic lustre – a mineral with a metallic shine. E.g. Magnetite (Iron Ore).

Silky lustre – a mineral with a silky shine. E.g. Asbestos.

Resinious lustre – a mineral with a greasy shine like resin. E.g. Talc.

Admantine lustre – The mineral having a diamond like shine.


E.g. Diamond and Zircon
Cont’d

Transparency:

Transparency is the degree to which a medium allows light to pass through it.

The transparency may be either opaque, translucent, or transparent.

Type of Transparency:

Opaque – A mineral which does not pass any light, and nothing can be seen
through it. The light is refracted again and again at many boundary surfaces until
it finally becomes reflected and absorbed. Granular, fibrous or columnar as well
as aggregates always opaque. E.g. Orthoclase, Magnetite And Hornblende.

Transparent - Mineral which allows the light pass through fully and objects on
the other sides are seen clearly through the mineral. E.g. Colourless Quartz and
calcite.

Semi Transparent – Mineral which allows light pass partially and objects are
seen hazy through the mineral. E.g. Slightly milky white varieties Quartz and
Calcite.

Translucent – A mineral which allows only some diffused light to pass through it.
E.g. milky white varieties Quartz and Calcite.
Cont’d

Transparent - Quartz

Semi Transparent- Sulfur


Hardness
Hardness is a measure of a mineral's resistance to
abrasion.

In case of mineral identification, hardness is a relative scale


that refers to the difficulty of scratching the mineral.

The hardness is described using an arbitrary scale of ten


standard minerals.

The scale is called the MOH's scale of hardness.

The hardness of any object is controlled by the strength of


bonds between atoms and is measured by the ease or
difficulty with which it can be scratched.
Reaction with acid
When dilute hydrochloric acid (typically
10%) is dripped onto some minerals a
reaction takes place.

On calcite (CaCO3), bubbles of carbon


dioxide are produced; in some iron
sulphide ores, hydrogen sulphide is
produced.
Silicate Mineral
What are silicate minerals?

A group of minerals contains SiO44- as the dominant


polyanion.

In these minerals the Si4+ cation is always surrounded by 4


oxygens in the form of a tetrahedron.

Because Si and O are the most abundant elements in the


Earth, this is the largest group of minerals.

Approximately 30% of all minerals are silicates and some


geologists estimate that the crust has been about 95%
silicate minerals, of which some 60% is feldspar and 12%
quartz.
Structure and Classification of the Silicates

In all silicate structures investigated, the silicon atoms


are in fourfold coordination with oxygen.

The bonds between silicon and oxygen are so strong


that the four oxygen are always found at the corners
of a tetrahedron of nearly constant dimensions and
regular shape.

Hence the existence of a silicon tetrahedron will make


a mineral as a silicate mineral and its absence will
make it as a non-silicate mineral.
The silicon-oxygen tetrahedron is the basic building block of the silicate
minerals. This is the most important building block in geology because it
is the basic unit for 95% of the minerals in the crust
Silicate classification is based on the following
types of linkages:

1. Single chains – pyroxene

2. Double chains – amphiboles

3. Two dimensional sheets minerals - micas,


chlorites, and clay minerals.

4. Three dimensional frameworks - feldspar and


quartz
Silicon-oxygen tetrahedral groups can form single chains, double
chains and sheets by sharing of oxygen ions among silica ions

Single chain Double chain

Sheet
Rock Forming Minerals
Minerals vary greatly in their chemical composition and
physical properties.

Before we begin the study of rocks it is necessary to


know the chief rock forming minerals.

Although there are more than 2000 known minerals,


only a few are abundant in the most common rock
forming minerals and can be identified by its physical
properties by simple tests.

Minerals are classified according to chemical


composition and structure.
Oxygen and Silicon make up approximately 75% of
weight of rocks.

Silicon and Oxygen occur on combination with other


abundant element to form silicate minerals.

This group is called the silicate group because all its


members contain a specific structural combination of
silicon and oxygen, even though most silicate
minerals also contain other elements.

Thus silicate minerals is the chief rock forming


minerals.
Quartz
Most common of silica group minerals.

Crystallization from the magma took place below 867°C and stable
practically over the whole range of geological conditions.

Present in silica-rich igneous rocks both volcanic and plutonic and


can be recognized by glassy grains of irregular shape without
cleavage.

Stable both physically and chemically, therefore difficult mineral to


alter or breakdown once formed.

Important constituent in most metamorphic rocks, usually colourless


or white, but can occur in practically any shade, glassy luster.

Can be utilized in construction industry.


Quartz Mineral
Feldspar group
Most important group, abundant and constitute the most
of rock forming minerals.

Make up to 60% of the earth's crust Found almost on all


of the igneous rocks, in some sedimentary and many
metamorphic rocks.

Two major types of feldspar: Potassium feldspar


(K-feldspar) and Plagioclase feldspar.

Good cleavage in two directions, porcelain luster and


hardness of 6.
Cont’d
The plagioclase feldspars:
– Albite, (Sodium aluminum silicate)
– Oligoclase, (Sodium calcium aluminum silicate)
– Andesine, (Sodium calcium aluminum silicate)
– Labradorite, (Calcium sodium aluminum silicate)
– Bytownite, (Calcium sodium aluminum silicate)
– Anorthite, (Calcium aluminum silicate)

The K-feldspars or alkali felspars:


– Microcline, (Potassium aluminum silicate)
– Sanidine, (Potassium sodium aluminum silicate)
– Orthoclase, (Potassium aluminum silicate)
Feldspar Mineral

Albite Oligoclase

Andesine Anorthite
Mica
Micas are a group of monoclinic minerals and are
characterized by perfect cleavage.

Typically paper thin, shiny, elastic cleavage plates.

Only two common occurring mica known as biotite (dark


brown to black), usually less commercial value and
muscovite (colourless or slightly tinted).

Abundant in granite and in many metamorphic rocks and


is also a significant component of many sandstones.
Pyroxene
High temperature minerals found in many
igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Usually dark coloured (dark green to


black) and contains silicates of iron and
magnesium.

Occurs in basic and ultrabasic rocks.


Olivine
Occurs chiefly in basic and ultrabasic rocks with (MgFe)2
SiO4 present.

Crystallizes at a high temperature, over 1000oC, one of


the first minerals to form from basic magmas, and
common in basalt.

The only mineral clearly visible in the hand specimen.

Probably the major constituent of the material beneath


the Earth's crust.
Amphiboles
This mineral has much in common with pyroxenes and
consist of complex silicates which are magnesium,
calcium and iron.

Hornblende the most abundant amphibole is a common


constituent of igneous and metamorphic rock.

Colour ranges from green to black.

Common in metamorphic rock known as amphibolite.


Calcite
Composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and principal mineral of
limestone.

Can be precipitated directly from seawater and removed from it by


organisms to make shells.

Dissolved in groundwater and reprecipitated as new crystals in


caves and fractures in rock.

Soft (3.0) and easy to scratch, effervesces (bubbles) in dilute


hydrochloric acid, perfect cleavage in three directions but not at right
angle.

Major component of limestone and major mineral metamorphic rock,


marble.
Dolomite
Composed of magnesium and carbonate (CO2).

Widespread in sedimentary rocks, forming when


calcite reacts with solutions of magnesium
carbonate in seawater or groundwater.

It will effervesces in dilute hydrochloric acid only


if it is in powdered form.
Clay minerals
Constitute major part of the soil and thus
encountered more frequently than other
minerals.

Form when air and water interact with the


various silicate minerals breaking them to
form clay and other products.
Halite and Gypsum
Two most common minerals formed by the
evaporation of seawater or saline lake water.

Halite (common salt, NaCI) easily identified by


its taste, very soft and scratched easily with
finger nail.

Gypsum composed of calcium sulphate and


water (CaSO42H2O).
Chlorite (MgFe)5Al(Si3AI)O10(OH)8

A green flaky minerals formed by hydrous


silicates of magnesium and aluminum.

Found in igneous rocks and in


metamorphic rocks such as chlorite-schist
and in some clays.
Serpentine Mg6Si4O10(OH)8
An alteration of olivine, pyroxene or
hornblende.

Change from olivine to serpentine may be


brought about by action of water and
silica.

Found in basic and ultrabasic rocks.


Talc Mg3Si4O1O(OH)3
Soft flaky mineral, white or greenish white, easily
scratched by finger nails.

Occurs as a secondary product in basic and ultrabasic


rocks and in talc-schist.

Kaolin (China Clay) AI4 Si4O10(OH)8


Derived from breakdown of feldspar by action of water
and carbon dioxide.
White or grey, soft with texture of flour and clayey smell
when damp.
Non Silicate Minerals
Refer Table 2.0 for common, economically important non-silicate mineral.

Oxides and Hydroxides:

These are minerals that are form by combination of various cations with
oxygen.

Some examples of this type of minerals are hematite, ilmenite, magnetite,


Bauxite, Limonite and Cassiterite.

Carbonates and Sulfates:

Consist of framework similar to the silica tetrahedra.

An important mineral in this group is gypsum, the main ingredient in


building materials.

The most important carbonate minerals are calcite which combines calcium
with the carbonate ion, and dolomite which contains calcium and
magnesium in its structure.
Halides:

Often occurring as chemical deposited


sediments formed by evaporation and as
vein minerals in igneous rocks.

Example of halide mineral is halite or rock


salt deposit from the evaporation of
enclosed bodies of salt water.
Table 2.0: Examples of important non-silicate minerals
Minerals which make up the three broad categories of rocks

quartz, biotite, muscovite, amphiboles (e.g.


Igneous rocks hornblende), pyroxenes (e.g. augite),
orthoclase, olivine
parent igneous rocks - quartz and feldspar
the earth's surface minerals -clay minerals,
Sedimentary rocks hydrous aluminum silicates, carbonates,
calcite and dolomite, those deposited from
saline waters - rock salt and gypsum
quartz, feldspar, amphiboles, pyroxenes,
Metamorphic rocks micas, garnet chlorites, the carbonates
metamorphosed limestone
End of the Chapter 2…

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