what is a mineral?

noun: solid homogeneous inorganic substances occurring in nature having a definite chemical composition

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A mineral is a solid, naturally occurring substance with a definite chemical composition and a unique crystal structure. The term "mineral" comes from the Latin word "mineralis," meaning "something mined." Minerals are typically formed through various geological processes and can be found in rocks, soil, and water.

To determine if a substance is a mineral, you can follow these steps:

1. Solid: Minerals are always solids at room temperature, meaning they have a definite shape and volume.

2. Inorganic: Minerals are not formed by living organisms. They originate from non-living materials and natural geological processes.

3. Occurring in nature: Minerals are naturally formed within the Earth or on its surface without human intervention. They are not artificially created.

4. Definite chemical composition: Minerals have a specific chemical formula, meaning they consist of a precise combination of chemical elements. For example, quartz is composed of silicon and oxygen.

5. Crystal structure: Minerals have a unique internal arrangement of atoms, which results in their characteristic crystal shapes. This ordered arrangement can be observed under a microscope or by analyzing the mineral's physical properties.

By examining these characteristics, geologists and mineralogists can identify and classify mineral samples.