Guide to Rocks and Minerals

Rocks and Minerals

Rocks and minerals are the essential constituents of planet Earth. The earth's crust is roofed by mostly sand, water, and ice, but if you tear the earth's crust deep enough you will reach the world of rocks. Rocks are actually composed of various types of minerals, i.e. if you analyze a sample of rock and break it into its components then you may encounter more than one type of minerals present in it and come to the conclusion that rocks are essentially compounds of numerous types of minerals. The three basic types of rocks are:

  • Igneous rocks: This type of rock is formed when lava from volcanoes cools down and becomes hard. The example of igneous rock includes basalt and obsidian.
  • Sedimentary rocks: These are softer rocks which are formed from pebbles, shells, sand and other materials. Limestone is an example of Sedimentary rocks.
  • Metamorphic rocks: The pressure and heat under the surface of the earth causes changes that result in the formation of metamorphic rocks. Marble is an example of metamorphic rocks.

What are rocks? : Some on the go facts about Rocks.
Rocks Rock: Get exhaustive details on the different types of rocks.
Rocks and Minerals in Pictures: Images of different types of rocks and minerals.

What are Minerals?

Minerals are naturally occurring solid chemical materials that are formed through bio-geochemical processes and have a distinctive chemical configuration, an extremely ordered atomic structure and specific physical properties.
Minerals are not as perplexing as it may seem from the above paragraph. Minerals can be considered as substances which are the building blocks of all rocks. For example, sodium, silicates, iron, nickel, oxides, etc. In a nutshell, minerals are composed of the same element throughout i.e. if you cut a mineral sample, then unlike rocks it would appear identical all the way through.
Some facts about minerals: Useful information on minerals collected by students from the University of Kentucky.
Minerals and their types: A detailed account of various types of minerals
Rocks are fascinating: Some fascinating facts about rocks and minerals

The Study of Rocks and Minerals

The study of rocks is known as geology and the people who locate, collect and study them are known as geologists. Collection of rocks generally varies depending upon the collector's ability to search for the rocks in a specific region.
History: The study of the physical material of the earth dates back at least to ancient Greece when Theophrastus (372-287 BC) wrote the work PeriLithon (On Stones). According to some modern scholars, such as Fielding H. Garrison, modern geology originated during medieval Islamic times. Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni (973-1048 AD) was one of the first Muslim geologists who worked on the geology of India and whose works comprised of the most primitive writings on Indian geology. Another Muslim scholar named Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 981-1037) explained the formation of mountains, the coming of earthquakes and other valuable topics which are considered compulsory elements of contemporary geology.
History of Geology: Facts about the history of geology
Alfred Wegener's work on geology : Research based on continental drifting

Collecting Rocks and Minerals - An Interesting Hobby

The hobby of collecting rocks and minerals is fun and easy, especially because you can start it as soon as you pick up an ordinary rock. Go into your driveway and pick up a rock. Great, you've just begun your new rock collection!
Rock collecting is an ideal hobby for children because one can find rocks anywhere, and best of all they are absolutely free! Family parks are good areas for collecting rocks and the same goes for any nearby stream.
An inspirational statement about this hobby by Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein, 1914:

"The love of precious stones and mineral specimens is deeply implanted in the human heart. The cause of this must be sought out not only in their coloring and brilliance but also in their durability. All the autumn colors of foliage and flowers, even the deep blue sky and the glory of sunset clouds, only last for a short time and are subject to constant changes, but the sheen and color of a precious stone or mineral specimen is the same today as it was thousands, or millions of years ago and will be for countless years to come. In a world of change, this permanence has an indelible charm that was appreciated early in the history of mankind and remains to this day and beyond."

The more serious mineral enthusiasts usually travel to a lot of places where you usually wouldn't go unless you are a mineral enthusiast yourself. Thousands of rocks and mineral enthusiasts turn up at major rocks and minerals exhibitions every year.
Rocks and Minerals: Some quick facts about rocks and minerals
Retired? Collect Rocks!: An irresistible hobby for retired people
Mineral Rich Africa: Is Africa losing out on its mineral edge?
Just in case you're getting serious about this rock collecting business, you have the following options:

  • Join a rocks and minerals Club
  • Go on field trips
  • Visit the nearest off road areas with your friends and explore them for niche rocks
  • Collect rocks along the roadside on your way home from school/college
  • You can buy different specimens generally available at Gem and Mineral Shows

Collecting Rocks is Fun: For details on the collection of rocks
Development and Growth : A detailed study on the opportunities of growth in mineral-rich countries

Minerals and Business

The mining industry is one of the most critical sectors that have huge bearings on national and international economies. South Africa, Chile, Turkey and many African and South American countries depend heavily on the mining industry for employment and their overall economic growth. Gold mining for instance, is determining the future of the South African economy and its status in the international markets.

Beauty of Rocks and Minerals

Rocks might seem like dull objects but they are some of nature's most beautiful and stunning creations. Numerous rocks and minerals are used for personal as well as interior and exterior decoration purposes. The prices of such rocks may vary from hundreds to millions of dollars.
Some of the world's most beautiful sceneries owe a lot to the magnificent structures of rocks that have been justly distributed around in nature. These are especially attractive to tourists and rock fanatics who travel around the world in search of such sceneries.

Incredible Links to Rocks and Minerals
Healthy Minerals : Learn how to stay healthy with the right minerals
Beautiful Australian Rocks: Stunning Rocks from Australia
Benefits of Igneous Rocks: Learn the unique benefits of igneous rocks
Rock Beauty - The Most Beautiful Rocks Around the World
Photo Argus: An amazing collection of rocks and minerals photography.
About.com: a very nice collection of rocks and minerals picture galleries.
Home & Garden webshots: Nice of collection of rocks and minerals pictures by an enthusiast
Web Tumble: An extensive collection of links for rocks and minerals pictures and other information.
Children's Museum Amazing facts about rocks and minerals for kids
Journey to the Center of the Earth A geology project by students from Pattie Elementary School, Virginia
Rock and Mineral Detectives Information on how to research and classify rocks and minerals
Mineral Information Institute: A giant collection of information on minerals
National Geographic: Pictures and information on minerals and gems from National Geographic
The Mineral Kingdom - Complete Knowledgebase of rocks, minerals and gem stones  
Great Links to Rocks and Minerals a great compilation of links to resources on rocks and minerals

Fun Games and Facts about Rocks and Minerals
NASA: ABC's of rock facts by NASA
Australian Mines Atlas: Factsheets on all major minerals
Rock World - Fascinating facts about rocks and minerals
Rock Collector - A guide to rocks and minerals.
Gem Fix: Factsheet on gems
Structure of rocks: Fact sheets on the structure of rocks
Mining Adventures - Online Mining Games and Adventures
Gold Miner - Play the Famous Gold Miner Game Online

Related Links on StartLocal

Mineral Exploration
Geologists: - Sydney - Brisbane - Adelaide - Hobart - Melbourne - Perth -
Environmental Consultants: Sydney - Brisbane - Adelaide - Hobart - Melbourne - Perth
Geotechnical Consultants & Engineers
Soil Testing and Investigation
Geologists and Geophysicists Supplies

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