Chemical properties of rocks and minerals


Each individual mineral and rock has a distinct chemical composition which can be written as chemical formula. Except for native elements, minerals are salts composed of positively charged cations (e.g. K+, Na+, Ca++, Fe+++) and negatively charged anionic groups (e.g. CO3, PO4). The list below gives the main mineral groups and examples of each corresponding anionic group.


Silicates - are the largest group. About 86% of the earth's volume is silicate. A complex form of other materials often surrounds silicate because of its ability to polymerise. The silicate group has been subdivided into a number of smaller groups using their mineral structures as a basis. These include:

  1. Tectosilicates - quartz, feldspars, zeolites
  2. Phyllosilicates - micas, serpentines, clays, chlorites
  3. Inosilicates - pyroxenes, pyroxinoids
  4. Cyclosilicates - tourmalines, beryl
  5. Sorosilicates - epidote, vesuvianite
  6. Nesosilicates - garnets, olivine, alumino-silicates


  • Arsenites and vanadates     AsO4   and   VO4
    (Adamite, Erythrite, Mimetite, Olivenite, Carnotite, Vanadinite)
  • Carbonates     CO3
    (Calcite, Cerussite, Dolomite, Siderite, Smithsonite)
  • Halides   Cl   Cl2   F   F2
    (Atacamite, Carnallite, Cryolite, Fluorite, Halite)
  • Native elements     Au   Ag
    (Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron)
  • Nitrates and borates     NO3   and   BO3  B3O4
    (Nitratine, Chambersite, Inderite, Borax)
  • Oxides and hydroxides     O   O2   and   OH   (OH)2
    (Baddeleyite, Corundum, Chrysoberyl, Rutile, Goethite, Manganite)
  • Molybdates and tungstates     MoO4   and   WO4
    (Ferrimolybdite, Wulfenite, Wolframite)
  • Phosphates     PO4
    (Anapaite, Apatite, Brazilianite, Chalcosiderite, Fluorapatite, Herderite, Lazulite)
  • Silicates    SiO4   Si2O4
  • Sulphides    S   S2
    (Chalcocite, Cinnabar, Galena, Jamesonite, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Stibnite)
  • Sulphates and chromates     SO4   and   CrO4
    (Anhydrite, Barite, Celestite, Sulphohalite)
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