Q:

How many minerals are there in the world?

A:

There are roughly 3,800 named minerals in the world and approximately 30 to 50 new minerals described each year, according to the Mineralogical Society of America. Several books and manuals list, describe and expound upon each named mineral and its properties. The most common mineral in the earth's crust is silicon.

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The International Mineralogical Association is responsible for naming and cataloging new minerals. Geologists submit proposals and discoveries to the organization's Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names before publishing the findings within two years of discovery. A sample of the mineral is stored in a museum so future specimens can be compared to it for study purposes.

Some of the most common minerals in the earth include quartz, mica, olivine, feldspar, amphibole and pyroxene. Quartz is made of silicon dioxide, a mineral most often identified as grains of sand on a beach or in a desert. Feldspar comes in many different varieties, as this mineral describes seven major blends of elements. Roughly 60 percent of the earth's crust is composed of feldspar. Mica peels into flat layers and comes in shades ranging from white to dark brown.

Other common minerals include talc, pyrite (fool's gold), calcite, clay and magnetite. A mineral is defined as a naturally occurring, inorganically formed, homogeneous solid that has been formed by geological processes and has a well defined chemical composition in addition to an ordered atomic structure.

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