Fracture (mineralogy)

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In the field of mineralogy, fracture is the texture and shape of a rock's surface formed when a mineral is fractured. Minerals often have a highly distinctive fracture, making it a principal feature used in their identification.

Mineralogy Scientific study of minerals and mineralised artifacts

Mineralogy is a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals and mineralized artifacts. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.

A fracture is the separation of an object or material into two or more pieces under the action of stress. The fracture of a solid usually occurs due to the development of certain displacement discontinuity surfaces within the solid. If a displacement develops perpendicular to the surface of displacement, it is called a normal tensile crack or simply a crack; if a displacement develops tangentially to the surface of displacement, it is called a shear crack, slip band, or dislocation.


Fracture differs from cleavage in that the latter involves clean splitting along the cleavage planes of the mineral's crystal structure, as opposed to more general breakage. All minerals exhibit fracture, but when very strong cleavage is present, it can be difficult to see.

Cleavage (crystal) tendency of crystalline materials to split along definite crystallographic structural planes

Cleavage, in mineralogy, is the tendency of crystalline materials to split along definite crystallographic structural planes. These planes of relative weakness are a result of the regular locations of atoms and ions in the crystal, which create smooth repeating surfaces that are visible both in the microscope and to the naked eye.

Crystal structure Ordered arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules in a crystalline material

In crystallography, crystal structure is a description of the ordered arrangement of atoms, ions or molecules in a crystalline material. Ordered structures occur from the intrinsic nature of the constituent particles to form symmetric patterns that repeat along the principal directions of three-dimensional space in matter.


Conchoidal fracture

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Conchoidal fracture breakage that resembles the concentric ripples of a mussel shell. It often occurs in amorphous or fine-grained minerals such as flint, opal or obsidian, but may also occur in crystalline minerals such as quartz. Subconchoidal fracture is similar to conchoidal fracture, but with less significant curvature. (Note that obsidian is an igneous rock, not a mineral, but it does illustrate conchoidal fracture well.)

Tashan Omondi found Conchoidal fractures often result in a curved breakage surface that resembles the rippling, gradual curves of a mussel shell; the word "conchoid" is derived from the word for this animal. A swelling appears at the point of impact called the bulb of percussion. Shock waves emanating outwards from this point leave their mark on the stone as ripples. Other conchoidal features include small fissures emanating from the bulb of percussion.

Mussel Common name for members of several families of bivalve molluscs

Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.

Flint Cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz

Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as the variety of chert that occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Flint was widely used historically to make stone tools and start fires.

Earthy fracture

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Earthy fracture is reminiscent of freshly broken soil. It is frequently seen in relatively soft, loosely bound minerals, such as limonite, kaolinite and aluminite.

Soil mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life

Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Earth's body of soil, called the pedosphere, has four important functions:

Limonite Oxide mineral

Limonite is an iron ore consisting of a mixture of hydrated iron(III) oxide-hydroxides in varying composition. The generic formula is frequently written as FeO(OH)·nH2O, although this is not entirely accurate as the ratio of oxide to hydroxide can vary quite widely. Limonite is one of the three principal iron ores, the others being hematite and magnetite, and has been mined for the production of iron since at least 2500 BCE.

Kaolinite phyllosilicate mineral

Kaolinite is a clay mineral, part of the group of industrial minerals with the chemical composition Al2Si2O5(OH)4. It is a layered silicate mineral, with one tetrahedral sheet of silica (SiO
) linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina (AlO
) octahedra. Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are known as kaolin or china clay.

Hackly fracture

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Native copper

Hackly fracture (also known as jagged fracture) is jagged, sharp and not even. It occurs when metals are torn, and so is often encountered in native metals such as copper and silver.

Native metal Metal that is found in its metallic form, either pure or as an alloy, in nature

A native metal is any metal that is found pure in its metallic form in nature. Metals that can be found as native deposits singly or in alloys include aluminium, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, indium, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, niobium, rhenium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc, as well as two groups of metals: the gold group, and the platinum group. The gold group consists of gold, copper, lead, aluminium, mercury, and silver. The platinum group consists of platinum, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium, and ruthenium. Amongst the alloys found in native state have been brass, bronze, pewter, German silver, osmiridium, electrum, white gold, and silver-mercury and gold-mercury amalgam.

Native copper Mineral (as opposed to the chemical element)

Native copper is an uncombined form of copper that occurs as a natural mineral. Copper is one of the few metallic elements to occur in native form, although it most commonly occurs in oxidized states and mixed with other elements. Native copper was an important ore of copper in historic times and was used by pre-historic peoples.

Silver Chemical element with atomic number 47

Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.

Splintery fracture

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Splintery fracture comprises sharp elongated points. It is particularly seen in fibrous minerals such as chrysotile, but may also occur in non-fibrous minerals such as kyanite.

Chrysotile The most commonly encountered form of asbestos

Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United States and a similar proportion in other countries. It is a soft, fibrous silicate mineral in the serpentine subgroup of phyllosilicates; as such, it is distinct from other asbestiform minerals in the amphibole group. Its idealized chemical formula is Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4. The material has physical properties which make it desirable for inclusion in building materials, but poses serious health risks when dispersed into air and inhaled.

Kyanite nesosilicate mineral

Kyanite is typically a blue aluminosilicate mineral, usually found in aluminium-rich metamorphic pegmatites and/or sedimentary rock. Kyanite in metamorphic rocks generally indicates pressures higher than four kilobars. It is commonly found in quartz. Although potentially stable at lower pressure and low temperature, the activity of water is usually high enough under such conditions that it is replaced by hydrous aluminosilicates such as muscovite, pyrophyllite, or kaolinite. Kyanite is also known as disthene, rhaeticite and cyanite.

Uneven fracture

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Uneven fracture is a rough surface or one with random irregularities. It occurs in a wide range of minerals including arsenopyrite, pyrite and magnetite.

Related Research Articles

Obsidian Naturally occurring volcanic glass

Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.

Calcite carbonate mineral

Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The Mohs scale of mineral hardness, based on scratch hardness comparison, defines value 3 as "calcite".

Lustre or luster is the way light interacts with the surface of a crystal, rock, or mineral. The word traces its origins back to the Latin lux, meaning "light", and generally implies radiance, gloss, or brilliance.

Chert A hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of crystals of quartz (silica) that are very small

Chert is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of crystals of quartz (silica) that are very small (microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline). Quartz (silica) is the mineral form of silicon dioxide (SiO2). Chert is often of biological origin (organic) but may also occur inorganically as a chemical precipitate or a diagenetic replacement (e.g., petrified wood). Geologists use chert as a generic name for any type of microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline quartz.

Lithic flake portion of rock removed from an objective piece by percussion or pressure

In archaeology, a lithic flake is a "portion of rock removed from an objective piece by percussion or pressure," and may also be referred to as a chip or spall, or collectively as debitage. The objective piece, or the rock being reduced by the removal of flakes, is known as a core. Once the proper tool stone has been selected, a percussor or pressure flaker is used to direct a sharp blow, or apply sufficient force, respectively, to the surface of the stone, often on the edge of the piece. The energy of this blow propagates through the material, often producing a Hertzian cone of force which causes the rock to fracture in a controllable fashion. Since cores are often struck on an edge with a suitable angle (x<90°) for flake propagation, the result is that only a portion of the Hertzian cone is created. The process continues as the flintknapper detaches the desired number of flakes from the core, which is marked with the negative scars of these removals. The surface area of the core which received the blows necessary for detaching the flakes is referred to as the striking platform.

In archaeology, a tool stone is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools, or stones used as the raw material for tools.

In lithic reduction, the striking platform is the surface on the proximal portion of a lithic flake on which the detachment blow fell; this may be natural or prepared. Types of striking platforms include:

Selenite (mineral) mineral variety

Selenite, also known as satin spar, desert rose, or gypsum flower are four crystal structure varieties of the mineral gypsum. These four varieties of gypsum may be grouped together and called selenite.

Powellite molybdate mineral

Powellite is a calcium molybdate mineral with formula CaMoO4. Powellite crystallizes with tetragonal - dipyramidal crystal structure as transparent adamantine blue, greenish brown, yellow to grey typically anhedral forms. It exhibits distinct cleavage and has a brittle to conchoidal fracture. It has a Mohs hardness of 3.5 to 4 and a specific gravity of 4.25. It forms a solid solution series with scheelite (calcium tungstate, CaWO4). It has refractive index values of nω=1.974 and nε=1.984.

Apache tears

"Apache tears" is the popular term for rounded pebbles of obsidian or "obsidianites" composed of black or dark-colored natural volcanic glass, usually of rhyolite composition and bearing conchoidal fracture. Also known by the lithologic term "marekanite", this variety of obsidian occurs as subrounded to subangular bodies up to about 2 inches in diameter, often bearing indented surfaces. Internally the pebbles sometimes contain fine bands or microlites and though in reflected light they appear black and opaque, they may be translucent in transmitted light. Apache tears fall between 5 and 5.5 in hardness on the Mohs scale.

Charoite inosilicate mineral

Charoite (K(Ca,Na)2Si4O10(OH,F)·H2O) is a rare silicate mineral, first described in 1978 and named for the Chara River. It has been reported only from the Sakha Republic, Siberia, Russia. It is found where a syenite of the Murunskii Massif has intruded into and altered limestone deposits producing a potassium feldspar metasomatite.

Lithic technology includes a broad array of techniques and styles in archaeology, which are used to produce usable tools from various types of stone. The earliest stone tools were recovered from modern Ethiopia and were dated to between two-million and three-million years old. The archaeological record of lithic technology is divided into three major time periods: the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic. Not all cultures in all parts of the world exhibit the same pattern of lithic technological development, and stone tool technology continues to be used to this day, but these three time periods represent the span of the archaeological record when lithic technology was paramount. By analysing modern stone tool usage within an ethnoarchaeological context insight into the breadth of factors influencing lithic technologies in general may be studied. See: Stone tool. For example, for the Gamo of Southern Ethiopia, political, environmental, and social factors influence the patterns of technology variation in different subgroups of the Gamo culture; through understanding the relationship between these different factors in a modern context, archaeologists can better understand the ways that these factors could have shaped the technological variation that is present in the archaeological record.

Normandite sorosilicate mineral

Normandite is a brittle orange brown sorosilicate mineral discovered in 1997 by Charles Normand, of Montreal. Normandite occurs in Khibiny Massif, Kola, Russia; in Poudrette quarry, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec and Tenerife, Canary Islands. It is found in nepheline syenite and in miarolitic cavities in nepheline syenite, associated with nepheline, albite, microcline, aegirine, natrolite, catapleiite, kupletskite, eudialyte, cancrinite, villiaumite, rinkite, and donnayite-(Y).

Eucryptite nesosilicate mineral

Eucryptite is a lithium bearing aluminium silicate mineral with formula LiAlSiO4. It crystallizes in the trigonal - rhombohedral crystal system. It typically occurs as granular to massive in form and may pseudomorphically replace spodumene. It has a brittle to conchoidal fracture and indistinct cleavage. It is transparent to translucent and varies from colorless to white to brown. It has a Mohs hardness of 6.5 and a specific gravity of 2.67. Optically it is uniaxial positive with refractive index values of nω = 1.570 - 1.573 and nε = 1.583 - 1.587.

This glossary of geology is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to geology, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other terms related to the Earth sciences, see Glossary of geography terms.

Mendipite halide mineral

Mendipite is a rare mineral that was named in 1939 for the locality where it is found, the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. It is an oxyhalide of lead with formula Pb3Cl2O2.