Timeline of the discovery and classification of minerals

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Georgius Agricola is considered the 'father of mineralogy'. Nicolas Steno founded the stratigraphy (the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification)), the geology characterizes the rocks in each layer and the mineralogy characterizes the minerals in each rock. The chemical elements were discovered in identified minerals and with the help of the identified elements the mineral crystal structure could be described. One milestone was the discovery of the geometrical law of crystallization by René Just Haüy, a further development of the work by Nicolas Steno and Jean-Baptiste L. Romé de l'Isle (the characterisation of a crystalline mineral needs knowledge on crystallography). Important contributions came from some Saxon "Bergraths"/ Freiberg Mining Academy: Johann F. Henckel, Abraham Gottlob Werner and his students (August Breithaupt, Robert Jameson, José Bonifácio de Andrada and others). Other milestones were the notion that metals are elements too (Antoine Lavoisier) and the periodic table of the elements by Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev. The overview of the organic bonds by Kekulé was necessary to understand the silicates, first refinements described by Bragg and Machatschki; and it was only possibly to understand a crystal structure with Dalton's atomic theory, the notion of atomic orbital and Goldschmidt's explanations. Specific gravity, streak (streak color and mineral hardness) and X-ray powder diffraction are quite specific for a Nickel-Strunz identifier (updated 9th ed.). Nowadays, non-destructive electron microprobe analysis is used to get the empirical formula of a mineral. Finally, the International Zeolite Association (IZA) took care of the zeolite frameworks (part of molecular sieves and/or molecular cages).


There are only a few thousand mineral species and 83 geochemically stable chemical elements combine to form them (84 elements, if plutonium and the Atomic Age are included). [1] The mineral evolution in the geologic time context were discussed and summarised by Arkadii G. Zhabin (and subsequent Russian workers), Robert M. Hazen, William A. Deer, Robert A. Howie and Jack Zussman.


Neolithic Age, and after it

Pallasite (olivine crystals of peridot quality in an iron-nickel matrix), Brahin (meteorite) Brahin pallasite, endcut.jpg
Pallasite (olivine crystals of peridot quality in an iron-nickel matrix), Brahin (meteorite)
Olive green peridot (syn. chrysolite) Gemperidot.JPG
Olive green peridot (syn. chrysolite)
Nephrite dish - House of Faberge (1890s) Nephrite dish - Faberge 1890s.jpg
Nephrite dish – House of Fabergé (1890s)

Greco-Roman and Byzantine period, mainly

After the fall of Constantinople (after 1453)

Paracelsus geburtsort gedenkstein.jpg
Paracelsus (birth place: near Devil's bridge), commemorative plaque.
De re metallica title page 1556.jpg
Front page of De re metallica, liber XII.

Lavoisier, Werner, Haüy, Klaproth, Berzelius and Dalton (after 1715)

Rene Just Hauy: Traite de Mineralogie - Tome cinquieme (1801) R. J. Hauy, Traite de Mineralogy (1801), collection Teylers Museum, Haarlem (The Netherlands)..jpg
René Just Haüy: Traité de Minéralogie – Tome cinquième (1801)

Maxwell, periodic table, electron and mole (after 1815)

Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover President & Mrs Hoover in Belvidere IL cph.3b12319.jpg
Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover

100 years 'American Mineralogist' (after 1915)

Prototype of the electron microprobe of Castaing, built by ONERA and duplicated by 'Cameca Science & Metrology Solutions' as MS85 Microsonde castaing MS85.jpg
Prototype of the electron microprobe of Castaing, built by ONERA and duplicated by 'Cameca Science & Metrology Solutions' as MS85

International Mineralogical Association period (after 1957)

Iowaite (IMA1967-002). Size: 1.4 cm x 0.9 cm x 0.2 cm. Locality: Palabora mine, Loolekop, Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Iowaite-605914.jpg
Iowaite (IMA1967-002). Size: 1.4 cm x 0.9 cm x 0.2 cm. Locality: Palabora mine, Loolekop, Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

IMA Master List of Valid Minerals period (after 1999)

After 100 years 'American Mineralogist' (after 2015)

Beginnings of the 'IMA Master List of Minerals'

Handbooks on mineralogy/ petrology

The System of Mineralogy of James D. Dana

Glossary of Mineral Species

Strunz Mineralogical Tables

Rock-Forming Minerals series

Carl Friedrich Rammelsberg series

Carl Hintze

Handbook for chemists and physicists (D'Ans Lax)

Max H. Hey

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mineral</span> Crystalline chemical element or compound formed by geologic processes

In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid substance with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.

Timeline of geology

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Torbernite</span> Copper uranyl phosphate mineral

Torbernite, also known as chalcolite, is a relatively common mineral with the chemical formula Cu[(UO2)(PO4)]2(H2O)12. It is a radioactive, hydrated green copper uranyl phosphate, found in granites and other uranium-bearing deposits as a secondary mineral. The chemical formula of torbernite is similar to that of autunite in which a Cu2+ cation replaces a Ca2+ cation. Torbernite tends to dehydrate to metatorbernite with the sum formula Cu[(UO2)(PO4)]2(H2O)8.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Silicate mineral</span> Rock-forming minerals with predominantly silicate anions

Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals made up of silicate groups. They are the largest and most important class of minerals and make up approximately 90 percent of Earth's crust.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lanthanite</span> Group of isostructural rare earth element carbonate minerals

Lanthanites are a group of isostructural rare earth element (REE) carbonate minerals. This group comprises the minerals lanthanite-(La), lanthanite-(Ce), and lanthanite-(Nd). This mineral group has the general chemical formula of (REE)2(CO3)3·8(H2O). Lanthanites include La, Ce, and Nd as major elements and often contain subordinate amounts of other REEs including praseodymium (Pr), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu) and dysprosium (Dy). The lanthanite crystal structure consists of layers of 10-fold coordinated REE-oxygen (O) polyhedra and carbonate (CO32−) groups connected by hydrogen bonds to interlayer water molecules, forming a highly hydrated structure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borate mineral</span> Mineral which contains a borate anion group

The Borate Minerals are minerals which contain a borate anion group. The borate (BO3) units may be polymerised similar to the SiO4 unit of the silicate mineral class. This results in B2O5, B3O6, B2O4 anions as well as more complex structures which include hydroxide or halogen anions. The [B(O,OH)4] anion exists as well.


Agardite is a mineral group consisting of agardite-(Y), agardite-(Ce), agardite-(Nd), and agardite-(La). They comprise a group of minerals that are hydrous hydrated arsenates of rare-earth elements (REE) and copper, with the general chemical formula (REE,Ca)Cu6(AsO4)3(OH)6·3H2O. Yttrium, cerium, neodymium, lanthanum, as well as trace to minor amounts of other REEs, are present in their structure. Agardite-(Y) is probably the most often found representative. They form needle-like yellow-green (variably hued) crystals in the hexagonal crystal system. Agardite minerals are a member of the mixite structure group, which has the general chemical formula Cu2+6A(TO4)3(OH)6·3H2O, where A is a REE, Al, Ca, Pb, or Bi, and T is P or As. In addition to the four agardite minerals, the other members of the mixite mineral group are calciopetersite, goudeyite, mixite, petersite-(Ce), petersite-(Y), plumboagardite, and zálesíite.

Founded in 1958, the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) is an international group of 40 national societies. The goal is to promote the science of mineralogy and to standardize the nomenclature of the 5000 plus known mineral species. The IMA is affiliated with the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mixite</span> Copper bismuth arsenate mineral

Mixite is a rare copper bismuth arsenate mineral with formula: BiCu6(AsO4)3(OH)6·3(H2O). It crystallizes in the hexagonal crystal system typically occurring as radiating acicular prisms and massive encrustations. The color varies from white to various shades of green and blue. It has a Mohs hardness of 3.5 to 4 and a specific gravity of 3.8. It has an uneven fracture and a brilliant to adamantine luster.

Karl Ludwig Felix Machatschki was an Austrian mineralogist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tschermakite</span> Amphibole, double chain inosilicate mineral

The endmember hornblende tschermakite (☐Ca2(Mg3Al2)(Si6Al2)O22(OH)2) is a calcium rich monoclinic amphibole mineral. It is frequently synthesized along with its ternary solid solution series members tremolite and cummingtonite so that the thermodynamic properties of its assemblage can be applied to solving other solid solution series from a variety of amphibole minerals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nickel–Strunz classification</span> Scheme for categorizing minerals

Nickel–Strunz classification is a scheme for categorizing minerals based upon their chemical composition, introduced by German mineralogist Karl Hugo Strunz in his Mineralogische Tabellen (1941). The 4th and the 5th edition was also edited by Christel Tennyson (1966). It was followed by A.S. Povarennykh with a modified classification.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Népouite</span> Nickel ore from the serpentine family (phyllosilicate)

Népouite is a rare nickel silicate mineral which has the apple green color typical of such compounds. It was named by the French mining engineer Edouard Glasser in 1907 after the place where it was first described, the Népoui Mine, Népoui, Poya Commune, North Province, New Caledonia. The ideal formula is Ni3(Si2O5)(OH)4, but most specimens contain some magnesium, and (Ni,Mg)3(Si2O5)(OH)4 is more realistic. There is a similar mineral called lizardite in which all of the nickel is replaced by magnesium, formula Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4. These two minerals form a series; intermediate compositions are possible, with varying proportions of nickel to magnesium.

Karl Hugo Strunz was a German mineralogist. He is best known for creating the Nickel-Strunz classification, the ninth edition of which was published together with Ernest Henry Nickel.

Ernst Friedrich Glocker was a German mineralogist, geologist and paleontologist.

Friedrich August Frenzel was a German mineralogist. He was born in a miner's family in Freiberg, Saxony. In 1861 he was awarded a scholarship which enabled him to study mineralogy at Bergakademie Freiberg. There he attracted the attention of August Breithaupt who asked him to help with organising the mineralogical collections of the academy and with testing mineral samples, and to assist in the professor's mineralogical research. In 1865 Frenzel finished his studies and was awarded the title of a mining inspector. From then on, he worked for 25 years as a chemist in the metallurgical laboratories. He also lectured at the Bergakademie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lizardite</span> Magnesium phyllosilicate mineral of the serpentine group

Lizardite is a mineral from the serpentine subgroup with formula Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4, and the most common type of mineral in the subgroup. It is also a member of the kaolinite-serpentine group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tilleyite</span> Calcium sorosilicate mineral

Tilleyite is a rarely occurring calcium sorosilicate mineral with formula Ca3[Si2O7]·2CaCO3. It is chemically a calcium silicate with additional carbonate ions. Tilleyite crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system and forms only poorly developed, irregularly defined, tabular crystals and spherical grains. In its pure form it is colorless and transparent, however due to multiple refractions of light from lattice defects or polycrystalline formation, it can also appear white, with the transparency decreasing accordingly.


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