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Identifying Rocks & Minerals

Once you start getting interested in rocks & minerals, you will want to be able to identify them when you see them. It is a lot easier to identify minerals because there are only a limited amount that are commonly found. Rocks are much harder to identify because rocks are made up of many different minerals. Sometimes the "ingredient minerals" can be seen, but sometimes they cannot.

DIFFERENCE between Rocks & Minerals

All rocks are made of 2 or more minerals, but minerals are not made of rocks. A mineral is the same all the way through.

It is not easy to tell the difference between rocks & minerals because there are so many kinds of them. It takes years of study to be able to accurately identify a mystery rock and even then rockhounds want to know where the specimen came from. For more information see How Rocks & Minerals are Formed

All rocks are made of 2 or more minerals, but minerals are not made of rocks. A mineral is the same all the way through. That is one reason we speak of a sample or a specimen rather than a rock.

There are about 3000 known minerals on earth. Minerals have specific charactersitics that makes them easier to identify.

Because rocks are made of 2 or more minerals, there are many, many rocks and they can look very different. Rocks are harder to identify that minerals.

PROPERTIES OF MINERALS

The most common characteristics used when describing minerals are: COLOUR, STREAK, LUSTER, SPECIFIC GRAVITY, CRYSTAL FORM, CLEAVAGE, FRACTURE, TENACITY, HARDNESS, TRANSPARENCY

Few minerals have special properties like MAGNETISM, CHATOYANCY, FLUORESCENCE, ODOR, CONDUCTIVITY and BURN PROPERTIES

For more details about the characteristics that are used in the identification & study of minerals, click here.

MINERAL FIELD TESTS

When out in the field, one sometimes needs to do a field test to detrmine what was found and to figure out if it is worth collecting. Read more about a geologist's suggestion on field testing, click here.

Identifying Rocks & Minerals

1 DIFFERENCE between Rocks & Minerals

2 PROPERTIES OF MINERALS

3 MINERAL FIELD TESTS