Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fifty great minerals

For the last 34 million years, the “50 great books” meme has been polluting the otherwise focused blogosphere. More recently, knockoffs such as the top 7.5x101 - 103 popular science books, or the top foods list have been appearing. As a geologist I am mortified that such frivolities should appear when there are much more important things to put in fanciful-yet-judgmental bandwagon lists. I mean, let’s be honest here. Books and food comprise a volumetrically insignificant part of this planet’s mass. If we want to list something substantial, we should to isotopes. Or rocks. Or minerals.

So without further ado, here is the list of 50 minerals that everyone should see.
Use bold to indicate minerals you’ve seen in the wild. Italics is for those seen in laboratories, museums, stores, or other non field locations. Ex pet nerds may use underlining to indicate those that they’ve grown with their own two hands. And I won’t bother with stuff you intend on seeing- if you didn’t want to see all these minerals yourself, you’d be spending your precious lunch hour on a physics or biomedical blog.

50 minerals everyone should see:
Andalucite
Apatite
Barite
Beryl
Biotite
Chromite
Chrysotile
Cordierite
Corundum
Diamond
Dolomite
Florencite
Galena
Garnet
Graphite
Gypsum
Halite
Hematite
Hornblende
Illite
Illmenite
Kaolinite
Kyanite
Lepidolite
Limonite
Magnetite
Molybdenite
Monazite
Nepheline
Olivine
Omphacite
Opal
Perovskite
Plagioclase
Pyrite
Quartz
Rutile
Sanidine
Sillimanite
Silver (native)
Sphalerite
Staurolite
Sulphur (native)
Talc
Tourmaline
Tremolite
Turquoise
Vermiculite
Willemite
Zeolite
Zircon

8 comments:

Kim said...

I want to meet people who have seen perovskite in the field (or who can convince me that they were certain that they saw illite in the field, and who can tell me its crystallinity based on field evidence).

Silver Fox said...

I know one person who would probably claim to be able to recognize illite in the field, but that's only after years of x-ray work, and I'm sure he'd x-ray the suspect clay anyway.

But I'd surely never swear to it!

Profndezas... said...

Very interesting list of minerals... many of them present in Caves!

Silver Fox said...

I also like the '34 million years' for the great books meme. That seems about right, somehow. (Is that relative to internet historty or blog history?) Maybe it's just that 34 million years is just a good time in geologic history.

Steve Bloom said...

Silver Fox, I'll have you know that the whole planet gave that list the cold shoulder.

Chuck, to make this list interesting there ought to be a punning contest. I'll start: "The andalucite prothesis that was attached to my wrist after that unfortunate chainsaw incident is attractive but prone to brittle failure in use"

Lynne said...

I agree, what is perovskite doing in this list?? What "field" are those people going to? And how can I borrow their unobtainium?

Also, seriously lacking pyroxene and pyroxenoid love here! I could underline another mineral with some cpx in there!

Brett said...

Unbelievable -- no "rhodochrosite"?

Poseur.
.
.
.
B

Chuck said...

Perovskite (The calcium titanite mineral, not the magnesium silicate) occurs in trace element enriched silica&iron-poor rocks of various types.

And omphacite is a clinopyroxene.