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What Is a Mineral? - Windows to the Universe

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What Is a Mineral?

Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. There are many different types of minerals. All of them are solid and all are made of atoms of elements.

Minerals can grow even though they are not alive. Most minerals grow into crystal shapes if they have enough space. But there are often so many different crystals growing in the same little area that they none of the crystals is able to grow very large.

There are two main ways that new crystals of minerals grow. Some minerals grow when molten rock like magma or lava cools. Other minerals grow when water evaporates away and solid minerals are left behind.

You can tell the difference between types of minerals! All you need to know is what each is like!


Last modified January 24, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.

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TES XXVI, 3 fall 2010 The Fall 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on rocks and minerals, including articles on minerals and mining, the use of minerals in society, and rare earth minerals, and includes 3 posters!

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