The streak of a mineral is the color of the powder produced when it is dragged across an un-weathered surface. Unlike the apparent color of a mineral, which for most minerals can vary considerably, the trail of finely ground powder generally has a more consistent characteristic color, and is thus an important diagnostic tool in mineral identification. If no streak seems to be made, the mineral's streak is said to be white or colorless. Streak is particularly important as a diagnostic for opaque and colored materials. It is less useful for silicate minerals, most of which have a white streak or are too hard to powder easily.
The apparent color of a mineral can vary widely because of trace impurities or a disturbed macroscopic crystal structure. Small amounts of an impurity that strongly absorbs a particular wavelength can radically change the wavelengths of light that are reflected by the specimen, and thus change the apparent color. However, when the specimen is dragged to produce a streak, it is broken into randomly oriented microscopic crystals, and small impurities do not greatly affect the absorption of light.
The surface across which the mineral is dragged is called a "streak plate", and is generally made of unglazed porcelain tile. In the absence of a streak plate, the unglazed underside of a porcelain bowl or vase or the back of a glazed tile will work. Sometimes a streak is more easily or accurately described by comparing it with the "streak" made by another streak plate.
Because the trail left behind results from the mineral being crushed into powder, a streak can only be made of minerals softer than the streak plate, around 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. For harder minerals, the color of the powder can be determined by filing or crushing with a hammer a small sample, which is then usually rubbed on a streak plate. Most minerals that are harder have an unhelpful white streak.
Some minerals leave a streak similar to their natural color, such as cinnabar and lazurite. Other minerals leave surprising colors, such as fluorite, which always has a white streak, although it can appear in purple, blue, yellow, or green crystals. Hematite, which is black in appearance, leaves a red streak which accounts for its name, which comes from the Greek word "haima", meaning "blood." Galena, which can be similar in appearance to hematite, is easily distinguished by its gray streak.
Beryl ( BERR-əl) is a mineral composed of beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate with the chemical formula Be3Al2Si6O18. Well-known varieties of beryl include emerald and aquamarine. Naturally occurring, hexagonal crystals of beryl can be up to several meters in size, but terminated crystals are relatively rare. Pure beryl is colorless, but it is frequently tinted by impurities; possible colors are green, blue, yellow, red (the rarest), and white. Beryl is also an ore source of beryllium.
Hematite, also spelled as haematite, is a common iron oxide with a formula of Fe2O3 and is widespread in rocks and soils. Hematite forms in the shape of crystals through the rhombohedral lattice system, and it has the same crystal structure as ilmenite and corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C (1,740 °F).
A mineral is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound that occurs naturally in pure form. Minerals are most commonly associated with rocks due to the presence of minerals within rocks. These rocks may consist of one type of mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different types of minerals, spacially segregated into distinct phases. Compounds that occur only in living beings are usually excluded, but some minerals are often biogenic or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry. Moreover, living beings often synthesize inorganic minerals that also occur in rocks.
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.
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material. Created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, it is one of several definitions of hardness in materials science, some of which are more quantitative. The method of comparing hardness by observing which minerals can scratch others is of great antiquity, having been mentioned by Theophrastus in his treatise On Stones, c. 300 BC, followed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, c. AD 77. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.
Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made by a potter is also called a pottery. The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." In archaeology, especially of ancient and prehistoric periods, "pottery" often means vessels only, and figures etc. of the same material are called "terracottas". Clay as a part of the materials used is required by some definitions of pottery, but this is dubious.
Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide (TiO2), and is the most common natural form of TiO2. Other rarer polymorphs of TiO2 are known, including anatase, akaogiite, and brookite.
A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. Ruby is one of the traditional cardinal gems, together with amethyst, sapphire, emerald, and diamond. The word ruby comes from ruber, Latin for red. The color of a ruby is due to the element chromium.
Fluorite (also called fluorspar) is the mineral form of calcium fluoride, CaF2. It belongs to the halide minerals. It crystallizes in isometric cubic habit, although octahedral and more complex isometric forms are not uncommon.
Plagioclase is a series of tectosilicate (framework silicate) minerals within the feldspar group. Rather than referring to a particular mineral with a specific chemical composition, plagioclase is a continuous solid solution series, more properly known as the plagioclase feldspar series (from the Ancient Greek for "oblique fracture", in reference to its two cleavage angles). This was first shown by the German mineralogist Johann Friedrich Christian Hessel (1796–1872) in 1826. The series ranges from albite to anorthite endmembers (with respective compositions NaAlSi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8), where sodium and calcium atoms can substitute for each other in the mineral's crystal lattice structure. Plagioclase in hand samples is often identified by its polysynthetic crystal twinning or 'record-groove' effect.
The mineral or gemstone chrysoberyl is an aluminate of beryllium with the formula BeAl2O4. The name chrysoberyl is derived from the Greek words χρυσός chrysos and βήρυλλος beryllos, meaning "a gold-white spar". Despite the similarity of their names, chrysoberyl and beryl are two completely different gemstones, although they both contain beryllium. Chrysoberyl is the third-hardest frequently encountered natural gemstone and lies at 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, between corundum (9) and topaz (8).
A waveplate or retarder is an optical device that alters the polarization state of a light wave travelling through it. Two common types of waveplates are the half-wave plate, which shifts the polarization direction of linearly polarized light, and the quarter-wave plate, which converts linearly polarized light into circularly polarized light and vice versa. A quarter-wave plate can be used to produce elliptical polarization as well.
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.
Ironstone is a sedimentary rock, either deposited directly as a ferruginous sediment or created by chemical replacement, that contains a substantial proportion of an iron compound from which iron can be smelted commercially. This term is customarily restricted to hard coarsely banded, nonbanded, and noncherty sedimentary rocks of post-Precambrian age. The Precambrian deposits, which have a different origin, are generally known as banded iron formations. The iron minerals comprising ironstones can consist either of oxides, i.e. limonite, hematite, and magnetite; carbonates, i.e. siderite; silicates, i.e. chamosite; or some combination of these minerals.
Psilomelane is a group name for hard black manganese oxides including hollandite and romanechite. Psilomelane consists of hydrous manganese oxide with variable amounts of barium and potassium. Psilomelane is erroneously, and uncommonly, known as black hematite, despite not being related to true hematite, which is an iron oxide.
Laumontite is a mineral, one of the zeolite group. Its molecular formula is Ca(AlSi2O6)2·4H2O, a hydrated calcium-aluminium silicate. Potassium or sodium may substitute for the calcium but only in very small amounts.
Optical mineralogy is the study of minerals and rocks by measuring their optical properties. Most commonly, rock and mineral samples are prepared as thin sections or grain mounts for study in the laboratory with a petrographic microscope. Optical mineralogy is used to identify the mineralogical composition of geological materials in order to help reveal their origin and evolution.
Porcelain tiles or ceramic tiles are porcelain or ceramic tiles commonly used to cover floors and walls, with a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 percent. The clay used to build porcelain tiles is generally denser. They can either be glazed or unglazed. Porcelain tiles are one type of vitrified tiles, and are sometimes referred to as porcelain vitrified tiles.
This is a list of pottery and ceramic terms.
Lavendulan is an uncommon copper arsenate mineral, known for its characteristic intense electric blue colour. It belongs to the lavendulan group, which has four members: