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Geology is the Way


When we think of minerals, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the perfect crystals that are on display in museums or in private collections. Transparent gems with beautiful colors, peculiar shapes and properties instill a sense of marvel but they look as nothing more than some extravagant item from some exotic location. This conclusion is wrong: minerals are everywhere around and within us and shape our lives in infinite ways. Our bones and teeth are made of minerals. Our houses, the soil they are built on, the interior of the Earth: all minerals. Even the items around us: the medicines we take, the computer I am using to write, my home appliances, cutlery, ceramics, pencils etc. – they all consist of synthetic minerals, repurposed minerals, or materials extracted from minerals. 

Many of us do not even realise how much we depend on minerals as a species. Our ability to extract resources from the Earth shaped our whole history and prehistory, from when we were hunter-gatherers to when we learnt to use minerals to produce more and more advanced items, from flint spearheads, to bronze and iron utensils, to Lithium batteries, computers, and phones containing silicon, metals, and Coltan. Despite our advancements, our whole existence relies on one meter of topsoil with the right mixture of clay minerals and organic matters to sustain crops. We live in a world made of solids, where we use solids to live.

There are currently 5500 natural minerals known to man. Studying mineralogy is not about adding a new mineral to that list, but it is about learning how our world made of solids work. The strength of bridges, buildings, and infrastructures depends on the properties of the crystals in metal alloys such as steel, and mixtures of minerals like concrete. The resources we use to make these materials come from minerals we find in nature – and whose properties and geologic setting we need to learn if we want to find. The ground we walk in is just mixtures of minerals and we rely on our understanding of minerals if we want to know if that ground is able to sustain a road, a house, or a bridge, or how the rocks that make that ground were formed. After all, minerals are to rocks what the bricks are to a house and, independently of what we want to study and understand in the Earth Sciences, everything starts from minerals.

In this section I will show minerals from the perspective of a geologist. Here, I will post many images of mineral grains and minerals in rocks taken in the field or on the samples of my collections. I will also add images collected at the petrographic microscope and at the scanning electron microscope.  Write me if you would like me to publish pages about specific minerals. If you like what I am doing, consider following me on my socials or support me at the price of a coffee!

Mineral Properties


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