Minerals are those substances found in meals and in the ground that our bodies require for healthy growth and development. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium are among the nutrients that are crucial for good health.
Typically created by inorganic processes, a mineral is a naturally occurring homogeneous solid with a specific chemical composition and a highly ordered atomic arrangement. About 100 of the known mineral species—the so-called rock-forming minerals—make up the majority of the known mineral species, which number in the thousands.
A mineral is different from its laboratory-produced synthetic counterparts since it must by definition form through natural processes. In industrial and research facilities, artificial versions of minerals, such as emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and other priceless gemstones, are frequently created and frequently resemble their natural counterparts.
A mineral is defined as a homogeneous solid, which means that it is made up of a single solid substance with a homogenous composition that cannot be physically divided into chemical compounds with a simpler structure. The scale on which homogeneity is defined determines how homogeneous something is. For instance, a specimen that seems homogeneous to the unassisted eye may disclose many mineral components when examined under a microscope or when subjected to X-ray diffraction methods. A mineral can be described by a precise chemical formula since it has a known composition. Because silicon (Si) and oxygen (O), the only two elements that make up quartz (silicon dioxide), always occur in a 1:2 ratio, their chemical formula is SiO2. Quartz is a pure substance, and most minerals do not have as clearly defined chemical compositions as quartz does. For instance, siderite occasionally contains magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), and, to a lesser amount, calcium (Ca), in addition to pure iron carbonate (FeCO3). The ratio of the metal cation to the anionic group is stable in siderite, but the amount of the replacement can change, therefore the composition is not fixed and ranges between specific limitations.
Minerals exhibit a highly organised, geometrically consistent interior atomic structure. Minerals are referred to as crystalline solids as a result of this characteristic. When conditions are right, crystalline materials can reveal their well-developed outward form, also known as the crystal form or morphology, which expresses their structured internal framework. Amorphous solids are defined as having no such organised interior organisation. Mineraloids are a broad category that includes many amorphous natural solids like glass.
Although current mineralogic practise frequently refers to compounds that are produced organically but meet all other requirements for minerals as minerals, minerals have historically been thought to only result from inorganic processes.
While minerals are logically categorised into groups like oxides, silicates, and nitrates based on their main anionic (negatively charged) chemical components, their naming is much less systematic or consistent. Names can be given to things based on their physical or chemical characteristics, such colour, or they can be drawn from other things that are judged acceptable, like a place, famous person, or mineralogist. Here are some examples of mineral names and where they came from: Goethite (FeO OH) was named in memory of German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; albite (NaAlSi3O8) takes its name from the Latin word (albus) meaning “white” in reference to its colour; manganite (MnO OH) reflects the mineral’s composition; Franklin, New Jersey, the U.S., is the source of the mineral franklinite (ZnFe2O4).
Occurrence and formation
All geologic environments and a wide range of chemical and physical variables, including changes in temperature and pressure, are present when minerals develop. The four main types of mineral formation are: (1) igneous, or magmatic, in which minerals crystallise from a melt; (2) sedimentary, in which minerals are produced as a byproduct of a process called sedimentation, which uses rock fragments from other rocks that have undergone weathering or erosion as its raw materials; and (3) metamorphic, in which new minerals replace older ones as a result of the effects of changing—usually increasing—temperature, pressure, or both on some existing rock type. The first three stages often produce a variety of rocks with various mineral compositions.
The Nature of Minerals
The internal ordered arrangement of atoms and ions that distinguishes crystalline solids from other solids is present in almost all minerals. Minerals may develop as well-formed crystals with regular geometric shapes and smooth flat surfaces under the right circumstances. The mostly accidental development of this desirable outward form has little bearing on a crystal’s fundamental qualities. As a result, material scientists most frequently refer to any solid having an ordered internal structure as a crystal, regardless of whether it has exterior faces or not.
A crystal’s morphology, also known as its outward shape, is what gives it its aesthetic appeal, while its geometry reveals the interior arrangement of its atoms. A number of symmetry elements can be expressed by the exterior shape of well-formed crystals. These symmetry components include mirror planes, rotation axes, rotoinversion axes, and a centre of symmetry.
Symmetry of elements
A crystal may be spun along an imaginary line called a rotation axis, and throughout a full rotation, it can appear one, two, three, four, or six times. (A sixfold rotation, for instance, happens when the crystal repeats itself every 60°, or six times in a 360° revolution.)
Rotation about an axis of rotation and inversion are combined on a rotoinversion axis. Rotoinversion axes are denoted by the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, where 1 represents a centre of symmetry (or inversion), 2 a mirror plane, and 3 a triple rotation axis combined with a centre of symmetry. Four has two top faces and two similar faces beneath that are reversed when the crystal’s axis is vertical. 6 is comparable to a mirror plane perpendicular to a triple rotation axis. A crystal has a centre of symmetry if an imaginary line can be drawn through the centre from any point on its surface and there is another point along the line that is equally spaced from the centre. This is the same as 1, also known as inversion. An effective method exists for identifying the centre of symmetry in a well-formed crystal. The presence of an identically shaped, inverted face at the top of the crystal when it is placed on any face of a tabletop establishes the existence of a centre of symmetry. A crystal can alternatively be divided into two halves using an imagined mirror plane (also known as a symmetry plane).
If an imaginary line can be drawn through any point on a crystal’s surface and terminate at its centre, the crystal has a centre of symmetry, and there is also a point along the line that is equally spaced from the centre. This corresponds to 1, or inversion. A well-formed crystal’s centre of symmetry may be found via a rather straightforward process. When the crystal is placed on any face of a tabletop, the presence of an identically shaped, horizontally inverted face at the top of the crystal establishes the existence of a centre of symmetry. Another method for cutting a crystal in half is to utilise an imagined mirror plane (also known as a symmetry plane).
Twining is the regular intergrowth of two or more crystal grains so that each grain is either a mirror copy of its neighbour or is rotated relative to it in crystallography. Other grains added to the twin create crystals that frequently have symmetrical joints and are occasionally shaped like stars or crosses.
From the very beginning of crystal growth, twinning frequently happens. Although the atomic structures of the individuals that make up a twin have different orientations, they must share some common planes or directions. They must be easy to combine and derivable from one another by a straightforward motion.
Examining Crystal Structures
The underlying internal architecture of a crystalline material, or its crystal structure, is expressed in a mineral’s outward morphology. The three-dimensional regular (or ordered) arrangement of chemical units (atoms, ions, and anionic groups in inorganic materials; molecules in organic substances) that makes up a crystal structure are repeated in different ways by translational and symmetry operations and are referred to as motifs.
Crystals’ internal atomic structure has the same symmetry components that can be seen in their outward morphology, such as rotation and rotoinversion axes, mirror planes, and a centre of symmetry. There are translations and symmetry operations that combine translations and these symmetry components. A motif is translated when it is repeated in a linear pattern at intervals equal to the translation distance, which is often on the 1 to 10 level. Screw axis, which combine rotation and translation, and glide planes, which combine mirroring and translation, are two instances of translational symmetry components. Since the internal translation distances are so minute, only extremely high-magnification electron beam techniques, such as those used in a transmission electron microscope, can directly observe them.
Illustrating crystal structures
On a two-dimensional paper or within a computer simulation, the exterior morphology of a three-dimensional collection of crystal formations may be shown. The crystal structure can also be projected onto a flat surface for demonstration. This may be a representation of the high-temperature form of silicon dioxide (SiO2) called tridymite; however, the structural motif units in this instance are SiO4 tetrahedrons, which are made up of a silicon atom surrounded by four oxygen atoms. Three-dimensional physical replicas of such formations may be created or bought commercially, which can help visualise complicated crystal structures in the real world. These models scale up the interior atomic organisation by a huge amount (one centimetre may represent one angstrom, for example).
In crystallography, polymorphism is the phenomenon in which a solid chemical compound exists in more than one crystalline form; the forms have similar solutions and vapours but have somewhat different physical and, occasionally, chemical characteristics. It has been suggested that the term “allotropy” should only refer to different molecular forms of an element, such as oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3), and that the term “polymorphism” should instead refer to various crystalline forms of the same species, whether a compound or an element. German scientist Eilhardt Mitscherlich found variations in the crystalline structures of numerous elements and compounds in the 1820s.
The conditions under which synthetic crystalline substances are prepared frequently determine which polymorph will form; special care must be taken when producing pigments because the colour, reflectivity, and opacity of the various polymorphic modifications of a single substance frequently vary.
Any solid object made up of crystallites, which are arbitrarily aligned crystalline areas, is referred to as a polycrystal (q.v.). When a substance solidifies quickly, it forms polycrystalline materials because the structurally ordered regions that grow from each nucleation site intersect with one another. Even colourless polycrystals are opaque because of the variable configuration of the borders between individual crystallites, which scatter light instead of reflecting or diffracting it evenly. The absence of long-range order in polycrystals also affects other mechanical, electrical, or magnetic characteristics of single crystals.
Diadochy: When one atom or ion (charged atom) can take the place of another in a specific crystal lattice. The degree of replacement is determined by the temperature of equilibration, the accessibility of the replacing ion, as well as the ion’s radius, charge, and electronic structure in relation to its diadochic partner. The replaceability can be either total or partial. For instance, the magnesium ion may completely be replaced by an iron ion in olivine structures.
Any form of small body known as a crystallite is found in glassy igneous rocks like obsidian and pitchstone. Although they frequently lack any discernible crystallographic form and are too small to polarise light, crystallites are considered to be incipient or embryonic crystals. They develop when molten rock material, or magma, congeals so quickly that crystallisation is not completed. Microlites, which are somewhat bigger forms that may be identified as certain mineral species, are distinguished from crystallites. Crystallites come in many different types, and names have been given to them to denote their distinct shapes. For instance, scopulites might be feathery or flower-like while globulites are often round or spherical. A crystallite’s faster-growing faces get smaller, making the slower-growing faces longer. Bacillites are rod-shaped crystallites made up of several smaller elongate forms. Longulites (elongated), spiculites (tapered towards both ends), and clavalites (dumbbell-shaped) are examples of belonites, which are elongated with pointy or rounded ends.
Basic Source of Minerals
Foods including cereals, bread, meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, dried fruit, and vegetables all contain minerals. Some minerals are more important to us than others. In comparison to iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, and copper, for instance, we require greater amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride.
Minerals in food
Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium are among the nutrients that are crucial for good health.
Minerals include calcium and iron amongst many others and are found in:
- milk and dairy foods.
- fruit and vegetables.
Importance of Minerals
Minerals are necessary building blocks for our daily lives and are fundamental to the advancement of economic, social, and technological systems. For instance, consider the following: Agriculture: Other mineral products are also used to improve soil, including phosphate rock, potash, and lime.
Deficiency of Most Common Mineral
More than 25% of individuals globally suffer from iron insufficiency, one of the most prevalent nutritional deficits (1, 2). The percentage increases to 47% for preschoolers.
Mineral deficiency can lead to disease such as anemia and goitre.
Symptoms of mineral nutrients
6 Signs of Nutrient Deficiency
- Severe hair loss. …
- Burning sensation in the feet or tongue. …
- Wounds are slow to heal. …
- Bone pain. …
- Irregular heartbeat. …
- Your night vision deteriorates.