Chapter 5.  Minerals

After reading the chapter and attending all lectures and viewing the films, you should be able to:
1. explain the general structure of an atom in terms of the major subatomic particles: proton, neutron, and electron.
2. distinguish between the terms matter, element, molecule, and compound.
3. have a general familiarity with the periodic table of the elements; be able to give the chemical symbol of the list of elements and ions provided to you in lecture.
4. interpret the chemistry shorthand
using terms such as atomic number, elemental symbol, and atomic mass.
5. using the element Carbon, give examples of several isotopes.  Which, if any are radioisotopes?  Explain the phenomenon of radioactive decay.
6. elucidate the structure of the electron shells of a simple atom.
7. list the types of chemical bonds which are of importance to geology:  ionic bonds, covalent bonds, metallic bonds, hydrogen bonds, and Van der Waals bonds.
8. explain the role electrons play in each of these bonds.
9. define a mineral.
10. estimate the approximate number of known minerals and be familiar with most of the rock-forming minerals.
11. explain the physical properties of minerals which may be used to identify them.  This would include the following terms and their modifiers:
  • crystal form . . . crystal faces . . . polymorphs
  • cleavage
  • fracture
  • hardness . . . Mohs hardness scale
  • color
  • streak
  • luster
  • specific gravity
  • miscellaneous properties:
    1. thermoluminescence/pyroelectricity
    2. triboluminescence
    3. piezoelectricity
    4. fluorescence
    5. phosphorescence
    6. magnetism
    7. taste
    8. effervescence with acid
    9. radioactivity
    10. flexibility
    11. double refraction
    12. feel
    13. odor
12. list the most common minerals of the crust.
13. have a general familiarity with the taxonomy of minerals into chemical groups such as native elements, oxides, hydroxides, sulfides, halides, silicates, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates.
14. explain the silicon-oxygen tetrahedron as the unit of silicates.
15. explain the phenomenon of solid solution.
16. list and explain the four common ways that minerals form in the earth.

Critical Thinking Questions and Activities:
1. Select a mineral and look it up in one or two good mineralogical references.
2. Determine and track the price of a mineral commodity such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, or one of the rare earth minerals.
3. Try growing your own crystals.  Have a contest to see who can grow the largest salt or sugar crystals.

Field Trip Opportunities:
1. Visit the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, or the Smithsonian Institutes collection in Washington, DC to see some good specimens.
2. Local mineral collecting with the Scranton Mineralogical Society.  Contact:  Ed McFarland.