Mineralogy


Mineralogy is the branch of geology that studies the shape, structure, composition, properties and deposits of minerals. The earth is formed mainly by rocks; from the minerals and rocks on the earth’s surface, a large part of the resources necessary for the life of living beings on the planet are obtained. The primitive man used flint, obsidian and other minerals or rocks for the manufacture of weapons, in addition he decorated the caves with paintings made with pigments obtained from pulverized minerals until today.

What is mineralogy

Mineralogy is the science that is responsible for studying or investigating minerals regarding their behavior and relationship with other natural components. The definition of mineralogy is of utmost importance not only for the study and extraction of minerals, it also studies the different kinds of terrain and the risks that can be run on some surfaces of the earth.

Mineralogy plays a very important role in mineral sciences such as: petrology and metallogenesis.

The origin of mineralogy

From a practical point of view, mineralogy began in prehistory, during the Paleolithic era, man began to look for certain minerals to make weapons and utensils as well as to make colors with which they painted the walls of the caves and their own bodies. The preferred materials for the manufacture of these weapons and tools was flint or flint, in addition they used quartz, granite, fibrous actinolite, some schists and hard limestone and obsidian.

Later he began to use metals not only to make weapons, but also to make jewelry and objects of adornment and worship of the Gods. He soon discovered that their beauty increased with the use of precious stones. Among the minerals used to give shine and color to its ornaments are: turquoise, agate, red carnelian, hematite and agate, among others.

When the flint that was on the surface was exhausted, the man through surveys began to search the subsoil. At the end of the Paleolithic and the beginning of the Neolithic, perforations of a certain depth and gallery were made to reach the levels of flint located between the Eocene limestone. In various places in Europe these types of mines have been found in Germany, Belgium, France and England, as well as in the Nile Valley in Egypt.

It is estimated that approximately 5000 years ago, the Egyptians and Mesopotamians practiced underground mining in order to extract minerals that would be used in the preparation of bronze.

Areas of mineralogy

The areas covered by the mineralogy are shown below:

General mineralogy

When the question arises, what does general mineralogy study? It can be said that this area of ​​mineralogy studies crystallographic aspects. It is also known as Crystallography, which is the science that is responsible for the study of crystals in their internal structure, their external shape and the laws that govern crystal growth. Since its development and initiation it is intimately linked to mineralogy, but due to its preparation in the order of matter, which includes the organic, it specializes and emerges as an independent science that is divided into four parts that are:

  • Geometric Crystallography: It is responsible for the study of the external shape of crystals.
  • Structural Crystallography: This deals with the determination and description of the geometry of the internal structure of crystals.
  • Chemical crystallography: Describe and study the structural distribution of ions or atoms, as well as the unions between them.
  • Physical Crystallography: This is responsible for explaining and describing the properties of crystals.

Determinative mineralogy

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Determinative mineralogy is the science and art of identifying minerals through the study of their properties:

1. Physical properties: These are studied in detail in mineralogy courses, especially crystallography, hardness, brightness, exfoliation, color, stripe and density, in some cases even taste and texture. The purpose of this type of study is to be able to classify certain species in a definitive way, and to be able to locate them within limited groups of a similar nature.

2. Chemical Properties: The chemical tests used in this type of mineralogy are the same as those used in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of minerals, but at the time of their execution it is necessary to use a minimum of equipment and several reagents that in Most of them are simple and provide precise information on the presence of cations and anions, that is, the presence or absence of specific elements or combinations of these. Chemical studies allow:

  • Confirm the identity of the specimen or mineral.
  • Make the discrimination between alternate minerals.
  • Know some elements of the components of the sample, which guides to the solution of the problem.

Mineralogenesis

Mineralogenesis is responsible for analyzing the situation of the production of a mineral, the way it manifests itself on Earth and the methods for its extraction. Geological processes form minerals and these are divided according to energy sources into two groups that are:

1. The endogenous ones: They are of internal origin, they are linked with the internal energy of the earth and formed in the processes of the internal thermal energy of the terrestrial globe.

2. The exogenous: They are of external origin closely linked with the action of the hydrosphere, atmosphere and the biosphere on the lithosphere and under the influence of solar energy. This process occurs on the earth’s surface or very close to it, also on the atmosphere and the hydrosphere.

Economic mineralogy

It is one that is responsible for the analysis of minerals as a basic element for various industries, since their location, exploitation and use play a significant role for the economy of nations.

Topographic mineralogy

Topographic mineralogy is responsible for the study of mineral deposits in a specific country or region, through it it is possible to describe the minerals that are present in those areas, as well as the historical and cultural events related to them and their exploitation.

Mineralogy in Mexico

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Mexico is a country endowed with enormous mineral and non-mineral resources, for this reason, it has a great field of mineralogy study. The prestigious Mexican scientists and geologists Ortega Gutierrez, Enciso de la Vega and Victoria Morales, recognized, at the end of the second millennium, that mineralogy was a discipline almost completely abandoned by Mexican universities, due to the small number of specialists and researchers dedicated to develop it.

For this reason, at the beginning of the year 2000, the problem of limited development and the need to activate it in the areas of Mexican Sciences arose. Through the CONACYT Level II Heritage Chairs of Excellence program and the support of the University of Michoacán, various mineralogical investigations began to be carried out in order to reach a level of Advanced Mineralogy in line with that of other countries.

Mexico has mineral wealth determined by its geological history, the most important mining centers are located in the mountainous areas of the north of the country. The importance of this productive activity has decreased, but despite this, Mexico still occupies the first place in the production of silver and is one of the largest producers of graphite, bismuth, antimony, barite, arsenic and sulfur, it is also a important producer of zinc, gold, iron and copper. In addition to the above, Mexico is the sixth largest oil producer in the world, this being the export sector of this country.

Mining and its evolution have been influenced by the situation of other sectors that demand its products as inputs, in addition to the persistent weakness of international markets. The extraction of iron ore and its profits increased thanks to the growth of its demand for the smelting of this metal in the manufacturing industry.

Some of the most important minerals in this country are: turquoise, amethyst, eastern sunflower, chrysoberyl, diamond, ruby, emerald, heliotrope, agate, diamond spar, sapphire, cat’s eye, tiger’s eye, serpentine, aquamarine, obsidian, between many more.

At present, more than 60 new minerals have been discovered in the Mexican territory, which means that it speaks of great potential in the mineralogy area of ​​this country.

The Mineralogy Museum located in the La Garza university cultural center, is a heritage of Mexico, it is also the oldest museum in the entity and one of the oldest in the country in its specialty. A large collection of minerals extracted from the subsoil from all over the world are exhibited there, as well as a mummy found in Hidalgo more than 130 years ago.

The samples found in this museum exceed the thousands of specimens classified among minerals, igneous, sedimentary, metaphoric and fossil rocks from that area and the rest of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mineralogy

What is economic mineralogy?

It is one that develops mineral-based ornaments, in order to generate money to profit.

What is mineralogy for?

To study the physical and chemical properties of those organic species that are known as minerals.

Who is the father of mineralogy?

Abraham Gottlob Werner is considered the father of modern mineralogy, thanks to the contributions he made to Earth Sciences.

How do you pronounce mineralogy?

The word mineralogy is pronounced as it is written.

What is the mineralogical composition for?

To understand how each of the minerals are made.