A mineral is a naturally-occurring, inorganic solid which possesses a characteristic internal atomic structure and a definite chemical composition.
If we take the definition of a mineral term by term, it becomes easier to understand:
- Minerals must occur naturally. This means man-made substances such as steel aren't minerals.
- Inorganic substances are those substances that are not living and are not formed by living processes.
- Crystalline solids are those solids in which the atoms composing the solid have an orderly, repeated pattern.
- Minerals will have definite chemical compositions, but these compositions may vary within given limits.
Substances that have these features will also have distinctive physical properties such as color, crystal form, cleavage, luster, streak, etc.
You can find out more about minerals by clicking on the buttons on the right.