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Geosciences and Astrophysics

Most of the Earth is made of solid rock. The basic units from

which rocks are made are minerals.

Minerals are natural crystals, and so the geological world is

largely a crystalline world.

The properties of rocks are ultimately determined by the

properties of the constituent minerals, and many geological

processes represent the culmination - on a very grand scale - of

microscopic processes inside minerals.

For example, large-scale processes, such as rock formation,

deformation, weathering and metamorphic activity, are controlled

by small-scale processes, such as movement of atoms

(diffusion), shearing of crystal lattices (dislocation movement),

growth of new crystals (nucleation, crystallization), and phase

transformations.

An understanding of mineral structures and properties also allows

us to answer more immediate questions, such as why quartz and

diamond are so hard, and why solid granite rock is destined to

become soft, sticky clay.

Minerals are natural resources, providing raw materials for many

industries. Therefore, understanding minerals has geological as

well as economic applications.

Definition of the term MINERAL: a solid body, formed by natural

processes, that has a regular arrangement of atoms which sets

limits to its range of chemical composition and gives it a

characteristic crystal shape.

Definition of Crystallography

CRYSTALLOGRAPHY is the study of crystals.

CRYSTALLOGRAPHY is a division of the entire study of

mineralogy.

Geometrical, physical, and chemical CRYSTALLOGRAPHY

A CRYSTAL is a regular polyhedral form, bounded by smooth

faces, which is assumed by a chemical compound, due to the

action of its interatomic forces, when passing from the state of a

liquid or gas to that of a solid.

Polyhedral form: solid bounded by flat planes (CRYSTAL FACES).

Very slow cooling of a liquid allows atoms to arrange themselves

into an ordered pattern, which may extend of a long range (millions

of atoms). This kind of solid is called crystalline.

Example: The chemical composition of window glass is virtually

identical with that of quartz (a crystalline material): both are forms

of SiO2. Window glass is glassy because it is made by chilling

molten SiO2 very quickly; quartz crystals form when molten SiO2 is

cooled very slowly or by precipitation from solution.

Crystal Forms

During the process of crystallization, crystals assume various

geometric shapes dependent on the ordering of their atomic

structure and the physical and chemical conditions under which

they grow.

These forms may be subdivided, using geometry, into six systems.

CRYSTALLOGRAPHIC

AXES

systems:

(1) CUBIC

(2) TETRAGONAL

(3) ORTHORHOMBIC

(4) HEXAGONAL

(5) MONOCLINIC

(6) TRICLINIC

The three crystallographic axes

a1, a2, a3 (or a, b, c) are all

equal in length and

intersect at right angles (90

degrees) to each other.

(2) TETRAGONAL

Three axes, all at right

angles, two of which are

equal in length (a and b) and

one (c) which is different in

length (shorter or longer).

Note: If c was equal in length to

a or b, then we would be in the

cubic system!

(3) ORTHORHOMBIC

Three axes, all at right angles, and

all three of different lengths.

Note: If any axis was of equal length

to any other, then we would be in the

tetragonal system!

(4) HEXAGONAL

Four axes! Three of the axes fall in the

same plane and intersect at the axial cross

at 120 degrees between the positive ends.

These 3 axes, labeled a1, a2, and a3, are the

same length. The fourth axis, termed c, may

be longer or shorter than the a axes set.

The c axis also passes through the

intersection of the a axes set at right angle to

the plane formed by the a set.

(5) MONOCLINIC

Three axes, all unequal in length, two of

which (a and c) intersect at an oblique

angle (not 90 degrees), the third axis (b)

is perpendicular to the other two axes.

Note: If a and c crossed at 90 degrees,

then we would be in the orthorhombic

system!

(6) TRICLINIC

The three axes are all unequal in length

and intersect at three different angles

(any angle but 90 degrees).

Note: If any two axes crossed at 90

degrees, then we would be describing a

monoclinic crystal!

MILLER INDICES

Mathematical system for describing any crystal face or group of similar

faces (forms) developed by William H. Miller (1801-1880).

indices:

An octahedron is an eight-sided crystal

form that is the simple repetition of an

equilateral triangle about our 3

crystallographic axes. The triangle is

oriented so that it crosses the a1 (or a), a2

(or b), and a3 (or c) axes all at the same

distance from the axial cross. This unit

distance is given as 1. So the Miller indices

is (111) for the face that intercepts the

positive end of each of the 3 axes.

Note: A bar over the number tells me that

the intercept was across the negative end

of the particular crystallographic axis.

indices:

A cube face that intercepts the a3

(vertical) axis on the + end will not

intercept the a1 and a2 axes. If the

face does not intercept an axis, then

we assign a mathematical value of

infinity to it. So we start with Infinity,

Infinity, 1 (a1, a2, a3). So the Miller

indices of the +a3 intercept face

equals (001).

ELEMENTS OF SYMMETRY

PLANES OF SYMMETRY

Any two dimensional surface that, when passed through the center of the

crystal, divides it into two symmetrical parts that are MIRROR IMAGES

is a PLANE OF SYMMETRY

In the left figure the planes of symmetry are parallel to the faces of the cube

form, in the right figure the planes of symmetry join the opposite cube edges.

AXES OF SYMMETRY

Any line through the center of the crystal around which the crystal may be

rotated so that after a definite angular revolution the crystal form

appears the same as before is termed an axis of symmetry. Depending

on the amount or degrees of rotation necessary, four types of axes of

symmetry are possible when you are considering crystallography:

When rotation repeats form every 60 degrees, then we have sixfold or

HEXAGONAL SYMMETRY.

When rotation repeats form every 90 degrees, then we have fourfold or

TETRAGONAL SYMMETRY.

When rotation repeats form every 120 degrees, then we have threefold or

TRIGONAL SYMMETRY.

When rotation repeats form every 180 degrees, then we have twofold or

BINARY SYMMETRY.

CENTER OF SYMMETRY.

Most crystals have a center of

symmetry, even though they may

not possess either planes of

symmetry or axes of symmetry.

Triclinic crystals usually only have

a center of symmetry. If you can

pass an imaginary line from the

surface of a crystal face through

the center of the crystal (the axial

cross) and it intersects a similar

point on a face equidistance from

the center, then the crystal has a

center of symmetry.

The crystal face arrangement symmetry of any given crystal is simply

an expression of the internal atomic structure. The relative size of a

given face is of no importance, only the angular relationship or position

to other given crystal faces.

applied to natural crystals and minerals, includes such descriptive terms

as tabular, equidimensional, massive, reniform, drusy, and encrusting.

A FORM is a group of crystal faces, all having the same relationship to the

elements of symmetry of a given crystal system. These crystal faces display

the same physical and chemical properties because the ATOMIC

ARRANGEMENT (internal geometrical relationships) of the atoms composing

them is the same.

Note: Crystals, even of the same mineral, can have differing

CRYSTAL FORMS, depending upon their conditions of growth.

Example: Various Crystal Forms of

Peruvian Pyrite

Pyrite is a common mineral which often

exhibits several forms on a single crystal.

One form is usually dominant, presenting

the largest faces on the crystal. Peruvian

pyrite commonly has cubic, octahedral,

and dodecahedral forms on a single

crystal. Crystals with the same forms

present, but with different dominant forms

will each appear very different.

There are 32

forms in the

nonisometric

(noncubic) crystal

systems and

another 15 forms

in the isometric

(cubic) system.

Crystal Lattice Structures

Simple

Cubic and

Related

Structures

of the element carbon.

The nucleus contains six protons and six

neutrons. Electrons orbiting the

nucleus are confined to specific

orbits called energy-level shells.

A.

Three-dimensional representation

showing the first energy-level shells.

The first shell can contain two

electrons, the second eight.

B.

B. Two-dimensional representation

of the carbon atom to show the

number of protons and neutrons in

the nucleus and the number of

electrons in the energy-level shells.

The first energy-level shell is full

because it contains two electrons.

The second shell contains four

electrons and so is half full.

combines with an atom of the element fluorine. The lithium atom transfers

its lone outer-shell electron to fill the fluorine atom's outer shell, creating an

Li+ cation and a F- anion in the process. The electrostatic force that keeps

the lithium and fluorine ions together in the compound lithium fluoride is an

ionic bond.

The arrangement of ions in

the most common lead

mineral, galena (PbS). Lead

forms a cation with a charge

of 2+, and sulfur forms an

anion with a charge of 2-. To

maintain a charge balance

between the ions, there must

be an equal number of Pb and

S ions in the structure.

The packing arrangement of

ions is repeated continuously

through a crystal. The ions are

shown pulled apart along the

black lines to demonstrate

how they fit together.

A.

B.

Anion with the four oxygens touching each other in natural position.

Silicon (dashed circle) occupies central space.

Exploded view showing the relatively large oxygen anions at the

four corners of the tetrahedron, equidistant from the relatively small

silicon cation.

Summary of the way silicate anions polymerize to form the common silicate

minerals. The most important polymerizations are those that produce chains,

sheets, and three-dimensional networks.

Snow Crystals

Snow crystals: Individual ice crystals, often with six-fold symmetrical

shapes. They grow directly from the condensing water vapor in the air, size

microscopic to at most a few mm in diameter

Snowflakes: Collections of snow crystals, loosely bound together into a puffball. Can grow to large sizes (up to 10 cm across)

Plate forms:

Simple sectored plate

Columns forms:

Hollow column

(sheet-like crystal)

Needle crystal

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