What Is a Mineral?

Earth Science - Middle School

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Table Of Contents: What Is a Mineral?

1. Minerals Are Naturally Occurring
A substance must meet four criteria to be classified as a mineral. First, it must be naturally occurring. Minerals are always formed by natural processes, such as cooling molten lava.
2. Minerals Are Inorganic
Minerals are inorganic, nonliving substances. They cannot be made up of any material that was once a living organism.
3. Minerals Are Solid Substances
A mineral must be a solid substance. It has volume and shape, and is not a liquid or gas.
4. Minerals Have a Crystal Structure
Every mineral has a specific crystal structure with particles arranged in a repeated pattern. A mineral's atomic structure determines its crystal structure.
5. Is a Rock a Mineral?
A rock is not a mineral. A rock is composed of one or more minerals and sometimes contains organic material. Coal is considered a rock.
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