5.3. Minerals – Review Questions

  • What are the three subatomic particles that make up atoms? What are their charges?


  • Define the term mineral, and list the 5 characteristics of minerals that distinguish them from other compounds.


  • What are the seven major classes of rock forming minerals? What elements are important constituents of each mineral class? Give one or two examples of minerals in each class of mineral.








  • Name the seven common rock-forming minerals.






  • Name two minerals with cubic crystal habit.


  • What are some differences in the properties of diamonds and graphite? Why do they have these different properties?



  • What are the seven main physical properties of minerals that we can use to help identify a mineral?  What other properties can also be useful for mineral identification?






  • What are the minerals or substances in the Mohs hardness scale? What is their order of hardness?



  • Does olivine have a definite or variable composition? Explain.


  • What silicate minerals are common in igneous rocks?


  •  Name three sets of cation pairs that can commonly substitute for one another in mineral structures. Hint: look at the chemical formulae for the end-members of olivine for one of the cation pairs.


  • Draw a silicon tetrahedron. What are a few examples of different kinds of silicate minerals that contain silicon tetrahedra? For each kind of mineral, are the silica tetrahedral in chains, sheets, a 3-D network, or individual tetrahedral?


  • Granite is a common rock type that contains several types of silicate minerals. What are three common minerals with either sheet silicate or 3-D silicate structure that are found in granite?


  • Search for examples of the following minerals on google image search: feldspar, pyrite, quartz, gypsum, calcite, mica, fluorite, hematite, native gold. How are the results similar? How are they different?
    Note: some of the search results will show minerals that are NOT the minerals you are searching for, or minerals that have been modified (e.g., dyed or coated quartz is very common). Can you pick out the natural/correctly identified specimens from the fakes?


  • Students often struggle with remember the different types of silicates so this exercise is to help you visualize each one and self-test yourself on examples. For each of the following:
    • silica tetrahedra (the building blocks of all silicates)
    • sheet silicate
    • three-dimensional (3D) network
    • independent tetrahedra
    • single chain
    • double chain
  • Sketch an example of each type of silicate mineral. Tip: if drawing scares you, try not to get too bogged down in the details, look for the bigger scale patterns in each type of silicate rather than worrying about the precise pattern of the tetrahedra. Are the silica tetrahedra in sheets? Are the sheets continuous or are there gaps? If there are gaps, where are they? Is there anything in them?
  • Write an example or two of each type of silicate mineral.





  • How is the structure of each type of silicate reflected in the properties of the minerals that have that structure? E.g., cleavage, compositional variations.















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