Mineral identification


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For assistance identifying meteorites:

A mineral specimen does not need to be broken down to check if it has cleavage or a fracture. The areas where stress has been exerted on the mineral has to be checked first. The marks of fracture are hardly present in the minerals that have the perfect or good cleavages.

Mineral Properties, Photos, Uses and Descriptions

The minerals that have poor cleavages can fracture more in comparison to the ones that have perfect cleavages. The mineral has to be observed by a mineralogist to find out if there are any fractured edges or cleaved surfaces. If the mineral has cleavages, the smoothness of the surface of the mineral has to be noted down. There might be no cleaved surfaces visible on the mineral. In order to determine a cleavage, a piece has to be chipped off from the mineral.

Step 2: Color

This is something to do carefully and gently so that the value of the mineral does not degrade in any manner. If fractures are discovered on the surface of the mineral, it can be determined that the mineral does not have cleavage at all.


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Hope this article has helped your query, cheers! Last Updated on 1 year ago In mineralogy, fracture and cleavage are used to describe the tendency of minerals to break. What is a Cleavage?

Cleavage can be measured by three main factors, which are; The quality of the cleavage. The habit of the cleavage. The number of sides exhibiting the cleavage. Quality of Cleavage The quality of cleavage can be perfect, good, poor, indistinct, or nothing at all.

Mineral Properties

Number of Sides that Exhibit Cleavage A number of minerals are known to exhibit the cleavage only on a single side. Cleavage Habits There are various habits of cleavages that exist, which depend on the crystallization mode of these minerals. The best examples of the basal cleavage are Mica. Cubic Cleavage: Cleavages that are exhibited on the minerals of an isometric crystal system are known as the cubes.

In this type of cleavage, the cubes can break off from a cube that already exists. For example, you have Galena.


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Octahedral Cleavage: A cleavage that is present on the minerals belonging to the isometric crystal system are octahedral cleavages. Pages 2 through 4 contain nonmetallic minerals. The left column sorts the minerals into those that break with cleavage and those that break by fracturing. Information about additional mineral properties such as streak, color, luster, diaphaneity, specific gravity and more is also given on the chart.

If you would like to share this chart with your students please link to this page so they can see a description of the chart and read the story about how it was created.


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Art decided that he could do a better job than the chart provided by his professor and his efforts were successful! Teachers appreciate the chart because the mineral specimens and properties included on the chart can be edited.

This allows modification to suit the mineral specimens available in their classroom, the grade level of their students and the terminology that they prefer to use in while teaching. You can download Art's mineral identification chart by using your right mouse button on the link below and saving it to your hard drive. You can then print it and use it right away.

Minerals listed on the chart include: goethite, sphalerite, biotite, graphite, pyrite, hematite, magnetite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, bornite, epidote, orthoclase, plagioclase, nepheline, augite, hornblende, apatite, serpentine, dolomite, fluorite, barite, calcite, phlogopite, chlorite, muscovite, kaolinite, halite, gypsum, talc, corundum, tourmaline, garnet, quartz, olivine, limonite, and bauxite - but you can add as many others as you want or delete any that are present.

Download Mineral Identification Chart.

How to Identify a Mineral

Cleavage: The mineral splits along closely spaces parallel planes, leaving a mirror surface which will flash at you if rotated in the light. Cleavage is controlled by the internal crystalline order of the mineral. A mineral can have 1 , 2, 3 , 4, or 6 planes of cleavage.

For assistance identifying meteorites:

If more than one 1 plane is present, it is important to note the angles between the cleavages. Cleavage can be obscured, but is diagnostic when present. Terms such as Perfect, Good in 2 directions, Poor, etc. Cleavage can be tough to distinguish from external crystalline form, and it's always a shame to break a good "crystal" when checking for cleavage.

This is almost impossible to measure in the field, but a rough approximation can be determined. Effervescence the Fizz test : Minerals containing calcium carbonate CaCO 3 will generally react when exposed to weak acid usually hydrochloric acid HCl , but even vinegar will work. Carbon dioxide CO 2 is released and the mineral or rock literally "fizzes. Magnetism: Magnetite is naturally magnetic. Don't put a chunk near your computer! Taste: Some minerals have a distinctive taste.

Notable examples include Halite rock salt , and Chalcanthite a copper sulfate - be careful with this one!!

Cross-references

I don't generally recommend the taste test. Smell: Some minerals have a distinctive odor. Sulfur is a good example. Rock Summary Igneous Sedimentary Metamorphic. Index Mineral.

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